Best Men’s Running Underwear – 2021 Buying Guide
While some athletes ditch underwear altogether, we know that simply isn’t an option for some. Your basic cotton underwear may be comfortable, but it is not ideal for running. That’s why we compiled a list of the ideal undergarments that are composed of materials that fit like a glove and help to manage moisture.
So, ditch those cotton briefs and pop on a pair of running underwear that will help your runs stay dry and comfortable.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Most standard underwear does not provide sport-incorporated technology that can help to reduce chafing that may occur during longer runs.
Sporting underwear will keep you dry and irritation-free by using wicking fabric. This “wicks” away moisture from your skin to the fabric, which is then transferred to the outer surface to keep you dry.
However, this is only effective if the underwear fits snugly. Athletes thankfully have a wide variety of sporting underwear that they can choose from; the list is also endless when you look at the compression short options.
The fabrics used in various products differ from one manufacturer to another depending on several factors.
Fabrics offer different degrees of strength and durability. Overall though, the choice comes down to personal comfort.
Fabrics can be organized into two groups:
Synthetic Fibers: Synthetic fibers make up 90% of runner’s underwear. Examples include: nylon, polyesters, and polyester-spandex blends. Synthetics tend to be more durable and lightweight to keep runners dry and fresh during their run, and are the preferred choice of most athletes.
Natural Fibers: Natural fibers, like cotton, provide good stretch to the wearer during body movement. However, they do not wick away sweat as effectively and are less durable.
Below are some of the fabrics that are used in making sporting and running underwear:
✔ Combed Cotton: a popular fabric in underwear for cyclists since it is very good at preventing chafing.
✔ Coolmax: is a polyester, wicking fabric that leaves a runner feeling dry and cool. It is also resistant to fading, wrinkling, and shrinking when washed; best suited for outdoor training.
✔ Egyptian Cotton: very popular type of cotton fabric that has been made to be more affordable. It is considered one of the softest fabrics to provide maximum comfort to the wearer.
✔ Italian Nylon: incorporates lycra for extra stretching; the fabric offers athletes abrasion resistance and a four-way stretch. It is mostly preferred by endurance athletes because of its strength and antimicrobial properties that contribute to healing open wounds.
✔ PIMA Cotton: a cotton fabric that grows in Australia and the US. Some manufacturers have created PIMA cotton with combinations of Egyptian and American cotton. The American fabric adds extra strength and durability, while the Egyptian provides added comfort to reduce irritation.
✔ Spandex: this ia a very popular form of polyurethane. Its compression capabilities make it one of the most loved fabrics by athletes, especially those involved in cycling and running activities. It’s lightweight and strong, but provides no absorbent capability. This is the best option for athletes who experience allergic reactions to latex.
The many styles in men’s underwear come with different levels of support and insulation depending on your running climate.
Boxers: offer a low level of support due to the loose fit, and are made from materials that offer sweat-wicking abilities. They provide good air flow and do not hold in heat, also preventing chafing during your run.
Boxer Briefs: combine the length of boxers and the tight fit of briefs. These provide more firm support than boxers, and more insulation to hold in heat. They are made from very lightweight materials that have compression abilities.
Jock Strap: are mostly worn by athletes who are involved in high-intensity sporting activities. They have a belt that is elastic and a pouch that offers protective support. They provide very little insulation to the runner.
Support Briefs: utilizes the comfortability offered by the usual briefs and the protection that comes from a jockstrap. This design offers a very high degree of support and above average insulation for cold climates.
Compression Shorts: provides excellent support due to its adjustable pouch. Its design always enables the runner to be cool and dry during the workout. Its design and length have enhanced insulation.
It is important to have your proper measurements taken before making your size selection.
Underwear should not too tight, as this will restrict blood flow to the area, causing rashes or chafing. However, loose-fitting underwear will not provide adequate support needed for protection, due to friction from the extra fabric and the body.
All underwear designs are determined by the size of the waist, and manufacturers often provide a sizing chart for you when you are shopping. If you are shopping in-store, it is also encouraged to try a few styles on before selecting.
You may also want to consider the terrain you will run in and what undergarments are best for your needs.
Most sporting activities are affected by a change in weather conditions. If it's hot and dry, select a lightweight boxer made of breathable fabric with wicking capabilities. If it a cold and wet, opt for a style with more insulation and a closer fit like compression shorts.
Top 10 Picks
1. New Balance
This design from New Balance checks all of the boxes of what runners need. It is composed of stretchy materials that help to wick away moisture without hindering your full range of motion. Users love this option because it comes in a wide variety of sizing options so you can find the right fit for your body type, and comes in a variety of unique color options as well. Plus, it comes in at a super affordable price point that won’t break the bank.Read more
What we love about this option from New Balance is that it is composed of 90 percent polyester and 10 percent spandex. This blend of materials fits your body like a glove, and won’t bunch up as you train. This material blend is ideal to help mitigate moisture and cut down on chafing on those hots days. Plus, you can toss them into the washing machine with the rest of your gear!
Small quality-of-life features also make this design a great option. It boasts a tagless design, which runners love because it feels like they aren’t wearing anything at all. Tags are small, but they can be the only thing you're thinking about when going for a long run. We also love that this design boasts 4-way stretch panels that stick to your body and provide a full range of motion.
If you need something simple and affordable that comes from a trusted brand that knows what runners need. This design from New Balance is a great choice. We love that it is composed of stretchy and durable materials that are easy to pop into the washing machine and work overtime to help mitigate moisture to keep you cool, comfortable, and dry.
2. Adidas ClimaCool
Adidas Sport Performance ClimaCool has it all in the name. Not only is Adidas a trusted brand, but they are also updating their gear to always bring you the best. This underwear cools and enhances performance by allowing you to get on with your workout without further discomfort. ClimaCool men’s underwear was made with extreme wicking technology to keep you dry no matter how extensive your workout.Read more
They remove the sweat from the skin using the vapor to cool while expelling humidity through the top of the fabric. They are also tagless, eliminating the itchiness of old fashioned tags.
The highly durable elastic waistband fits snug around the waist without cutting into circulation or creating discomfort. That elasticity is shared throughout the 92% polyester and 8% spandex fiber blend. It keeps the shorts feeling like you don't even have them on.
The elasticity and comfort are also fused throughout the fit of the underwear, giving them a more natural fit than most men’s active underwear.
Sport Performance ClimaCool are tag-free and do not create circulation issues due to tightness, they flex with the body like an extra layer of skin. Some are raving they are the best they have ever felt as far as fabric and feel.
With consumers raving about the “naked” feel while eliminating the issue of chaffing that is actually caused with going commando, we couldn't help but take notice of how Adidas hit on point with all our features and evaluation criteria standards. This also is true when it comes to cost.
This design from Neleus provides runners with all of the essential design features to keep you dry and comfortable no matter how hard you train. While this design is great for running, the stretch materials also make it ideal for sports and even weight training. Plus, it comes in at a super affordable price point that is worth checking out.Read more
It is composed of a blend of 85 percent polyester and 15 percent spandex. The higher spandex thread count fits your body like a glove and provides a good deal of compression. It works to wick away heat and sweat away from the body where it quickly evaporates on the surface.
Users also love that this design is packed with features to keep them comfortable. It has flatlock seams the cut down on rubbing and chafing when engaging in repetitive movements. It even hosts a large phone pocket along the side that is a perfect and secure place to stash your gear!
If you are in the market for something that provides slight compression and is made from a high spandex count to really contour to your body and doesn’t shift around, this is a great option from Neleus. The best part? A pack of 3 comes in at a super affordable price tag that won’t drain your bank account!
Who doesn’t love a compression garment? Runners love this design from Runhit because they fit like a glove, wick away moisture, and provide slight compression to soothe hip flexors and other stability muscles. It is composed of super durable materials that wash up quite well and is offered in a wide variety of sizing options to help find the right fit for your frame.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it provides users with modest compression. The materials are made from a blend of 88 percent polyester and 12 percent spandex. These materials contour to the shape of your body, and lift sweat as well as hot air up and away from your body to keep you cool and dry.
This design also boasts smaller features that you will really appreciate on those long runs. It utilizes flatlock stitching that won’t rub or chafe your skin on those long runs on hot days. A secure fit waistband stays in place as you run, and provides additional compression to your hips and lower abs as well.
If you are in the market for something that wicks away moisture to keep you cool and dry while delivering slight compression to your muscles, this design from Runhit is a great choice. It comes in a wide variety of colors and designs, and clocks in at a price point that won’t break the bank.
5. Under Armour
On the lower end of the price spectrum, the Original Series Boxerjock from Under Armour is a great way to get higher end performance without paying the price. With an extra-breezy front mesh panel you aren’t going to get a whole lot of protection from this underwear, but what you will get are a comfortable fit and an extremely high moisture absorption rate.Read more
- Constructed from 100% synthetic fibers
- Patented HeatGear fabric is light on the skin
- Has an articulated mesh fly panel for superior breathability
- 4-way stretch fabrication allows for a perfect mixture of support and mobility
- Under Armour’s Moisture Transport System wicks sweat & dries fast
- Performance grade athletic waistband
Protip: If you are one of those runners who like to go commando but don’t want to take the associated risks, these are a great choice. Often times they feel as if you are wearing nothing at all.
6. ExOfficio Give-N-Go
Built to perform at a high level with minimal maintenance, the Give-N-Go boxers from ExOfficio are another good choice for runners. Made with Aegis Microbe Shield incorporated material, these underpants are well suited for a hard run or anything you can throw at them really. They also feature a functional fly making access a breeze. Made from high grade materials, these will last for quite a while and will certainly not turn into next year’s throwaways.Read more
- Quick-drying, easy to wash allowing you to pack lighter if traveling
- Treated with Aegis Microbe Shield fights bacteria like no other
- Moisture-wicking, light, and breathable
- Constructed from 94 percent nylon, 6 percent Lycra
- Made in the USA
- Terry elastic backed, easily maneuverable fly
Protip: Be absolutely sure you size these right, the elastic can be tight so go up a size if in doubt.
At a glance, these briefs from Jockey might not appear all that different than their plain cotton predecessors. The fabric of the performance midway brief has just enough polyester and lycra to wick moisture like a more synthetic material. Factor in a really smart design — which includes an H-fly (providing no-gap support) — a fit that feels tailored and you’ve got a winning combination.Read more
- Microfiber performance Midway® brief offers up premium performance and mid range pricing
- Contour fitted H-fly provides support and a customized fit
- Breezy microfiber fabric wicks away moisture, making sure that you stay cool and dry
- Odor control technology allows you to reuse with confidence
Protip: Great for all day use. Probably our number one choice to wear to the office and then straight out onto the trail.
8. Tsla Compression
It will be definitely the last time you complain about the lack of colors when it comes to underwear. Tsla has more than 30 colors to choose from but that’s not the most important feature. To be honest these can be worn as underwear or as normal shorts. The fabric contains polyester and spandex. The big amount of elasticity will provide full range of movement.Read more
- Two way air circulation design
- The shorts feature UPF 50+ sun protection
- Non abrasion material
Protip: These boxers will be best for hot summer days. The fabric releases the hit and wicks the moisture in the proper way so you can enjoy fresh and dry fit. It’s advisable to order one size up as these run small.
9. Adidas Sport Performance
These Adidas boxer briefs were specially designed to adapt very fast to the changes in temperature. The material is very soft in touch, there’s great temperature regulation so you stay cool even if it’s very hot. This underwear is also breathable enough even during warmer days. These boxers will be great for providing support and fit to athletes. The special construction prevents riding down and the bunching is also reduced. Users praised the product for quick drying of the fabric.Read more
- There’s 91 % of Polyester and 9 % of spandex
- The underwear is very elastic and doesn’t restrict your movement
- The stitching is very smooth; there’s no chafing
- The elastic waistband for more comfort
- There are two pairs per pack
Although they can be used in summer, most runners enjoyed much more in the winter autumn season.
10. Nike Pro Core 2.0
A great combination of the Dri-FIT material with the mesh ventilation, this option enhances comfortability and keeping the athlete dry during the whole workout session. They also offer a fit that is both secure and flexible, something appreciated by many athletes. The fit allows for a wide range of movements.The elastic waistband provides a snug fit to the body.Read more
- Comfortable flat waistband for improved wear
- Specialized sweat wicking material
- Compression design to improve performance and circulation
- Extended length to prevent issues with chaffing and irritation
Protip: Perfect for layering and a great choice for runners who need a little assistance with sweat management.