Gear I Can’t Live Without – Ex Officio Unmentionables
It has been a while since I have written a post, and while it might seem ridiculous, the other day I was inspired to write about my underpants. I was getting dressed to go on an extended hike off of Skyline Drive this weekend when I realized I was putting on a pair of boxer briefs I had bought more than a year ago. I have treasured this pair of underwear since their purchase – how light and comfortable they are, how durable they are and, of course, how they support my buns.
17 Countries, 6 weeks and 1 pair of underwear (OK…maybe two)
This quote is part of Ex Officio’s marketing for their lightweight travel underwear. I know it sounds disgusting, but until you have been on an extended trip, especially where facilities are limited to non-existent, you simply cannot understand just how bad it can get!
Picture your first day of vacation in a tropical locale; sitting on an airplane for 6 hours, then driving your rental car for another 2 hours to get to your hotel where you will embark on your explorations through hot and humid streets to find the best restaurant around, and shopping to boot. Maybe you will take a quick walking tour or hike into the jungle. By the time you get back to your room, your shirt is soaked through, you are wearing your hat because you have given up trying to control your hair as it freaks out from the humidity, and all you want to do is jump in the shower to rinse off before going to bed. You step into the bathroom and undress, but when it comes to your, now sagging underwear it rolls off and gets tangled in knots because they are soiled and sticking to your sweaty legs. As you try to untangle them you notice a few things you were not expecting – colors, textures and odors – and you would just as soon dump them in the garbage rather than consider wearing them ever again.
Now consider riding your bicycle for 6 hours a day, all summer long, in soggy cotton underwear, then crawling into your tent with all of your used gear for the night.
Have you experienced this when traveling with your average Fruit of the Looms? You probably experience this working in the yard, going on a hike on a hot afternoon, or one of many other activities that make you sweat profusely.
This was an issue that I felt deserved careful consideration before riding into the unknown, so to avoid major health code violations and cause permanent damage to my privates, I created a basic list of what I expect from a pair of boxer briefs. They:
- Must pack tightly
- Must breath, should not retain moisture and offensive odors
- Must be hand washable and dry quickly
- Should fit well in all conditions and not bunch up in the crotch
- Must be durable enough to last my entire trip
There are several types of travel undies available, from simple cotton briefs that are very thin for lightweight and breathability, to disposable ‘paper’ underpants. After reading advice on travel sites and talking to experienced travelers like Uncle Dick, Ex Officio’s Give-N-Go™ unmentionables were unquestionably the top choice.
When I went out to buy a couple of pairs at REI I was shocked at the price tag – $25 per pair! I hesitated, but bought a single pair to try out around town, and realized within a week that the hype is well deserved. I ran out and bought another pair just before I began my trip.
The Give-N-Go material is very thin, almost like soft nylon with a waffle weave, and can be rolled to pack into a very small space. I did not compare the weight with my normal boxer briefs, but I suppose they are a few grams less. Another benefit of the thin material is that it breathes very well, and the weave quickly wicks moisture away. They were easy to wash by hand in sinks, rivers and lakes because they simply did not retain moisture, and therefore allow odors to collect and fester. They dried very quickly so I could wash while wearing them and they would be dry before they ever became uncomfortable. Since I was not riding with padded shorts, the fact that they fit well and didn’t bunch up in the crotch allowed me to ride all day without developing hot spots. Additionally, they did not break down from the constant friction created between the seat and my legs.
If this does not seem to justify spending $25 on a pair of unmentionables, consider the fact that after a year of use, they are still like new! Seriously. They have not stretched, sagged, torn or lost any of their performance in any way. In fact, it was only a month ago that the Ex Officio logo that was ironed on began to peel off.
Even if you do not travel to exotic locations or spend time away from civilization, Ex Officio underwear is well worth the investment. Especially if you are one of those guys that will not throw a pair of skivvies away until they are held together by a thread. Wives and girlfriends take note.