The Skinny on Skivvies


Performance Underwear for Guys and Gals

It’s time to mention the unmentionables and reveal the truth about your most intimate layers!

At the age of six I was devastated to learn that wearing my Wonder Woman Underoos did not actually endow me with special superhero powers, despite my earnest efforts to invoke the magic by pairing them with a cape. Ironically they were made from cotton, which sport science has since proved, in fact inhibits athletic performance. Nothing against the touch, the feel, the fabric of our lives, but when it comes to a full day of ski touring, ice climbing or running, what you put next to your equatorial region matters!

Gearheads frequently pay through the nose for the best technical outerwear, but when it comes to the drawers in their drawers, underwear frequently gets the shaft, so to speak. Skivvies are the most underestimated and overlooked item in your gear closet. Perhaps it’s a matter of out-of-sight, out-of-mind, but I’m here to tell you that investing in a few pairs of high-performance undies will bring a smile to your cheeks.

Think you have to give up your stylish wear down there in exchange for functionality? No way! A few brand innovators are engineering bloomers to be technical AND spicy.

I/0 Bio Don’t get your panties in a bunch… just a few will suffice. ExOfficio ( challenges that one pair of their briefs, possibly two, are adequate for a 17-country, six-week backpacking trip. They are moisture wicking, quick drying, and treated with Aegis Microbe Shield™ to control odor-causing bacteria. Also check out, ExOfficio’s new Give-N-Go® Lacy Collection for ladies that’s as comfortable as it is flattering.


PatagoiniaPatagonia’s lightweight, moisture-wicking Capilene® 2 is a 100% polyester (54% recycled) fabric that’s treated with Gladiodor® odor control and made with an open-knit weave for breathability. Its core is water resistant and blended with Lycra, so compared to cotton, the warmth it provides at an equal thickness is much greater. Patagonia also blends recycled materials with polyester fibers for many of their clothes. So you can wear garments that feel good with the perfunctory benefit of contributing to the greater good.

I/0 Bio I/O BIO has your @$$ covered with their advanced yarn technology. Made from 100% Merino wool, they spin their own custom-crafted yarns to give their fabrics consistent quality and durability. The flat seams, wide waistband and a non-chaffing inseam make them quite appealing. Heads up fellas, your ladies may make an appearance in your boxers, but what you really have to worry about is being tempted to borrow her sublimely soft butt-huggers.


Isis Isis puts the fun in functional funderwear; I mean underwear. They created a line of chafe-free, seamless underthings for girls made with spandex so they stretch and move with your body and won’t, um, creep. Isis uses Evaporator Technology™, which keeps moisture away and helps the fabric dry quickly.


IBEXIbex wants to get in your pants. Their britches are made from 17.5-micron Merino wool that’s blended with spandex and stitched together on a special Italian knitting machine. Since wool can hold up to 30% of its own weight in moisture and still feel dry to the touch, you can count on a dry and happy bottom.


SmartwoolAptly-named Smartwool uses only Zque certified 100% Merino wool from New Zealand. All of the wool they use is completely traceable to its source. These itch-free smarty-pants work naturally with your body’s heating and cooling system and keep you warmer in cold weather and cooler in warm weather. You may actually feel smarter for wearing them.

Alas, I still have no magical superhero powers, even with my Wonder Woman cape…which my friends keep insisting I ditch. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I hope one day an outdoor sports brand manufactures a line of superhero underoos that are made from the latest textile technologies. Imagine the boost of power Wonder Woman would have if she wore the right fibers under her suit!



About Author

Melissa McGibbon is the Senior Editor of Outdoor Sports Guide Magazine. She is an award-winning journalist and is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and the Adventure Travel Trade Association. Her work also appears in Outside Magazine, Lonely Planet, SKI Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, Elevation Outdoors, Scuba Diving Magazine, and Matador Network. She is usually in pursuit of adventure, travel, or some daring combination of the two. IG @missmliss //

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