Women’s Hiking Underwear Basics

Some hikers skip this layer altogether, some stick with shorts that have the built-in liner, and some consider their long underwear to be underwear enough in the winter. This most intimate garment is completely up to you and your comfort, and for the record it’s not considered weird to go commando while hiking. Should you choose to don some skivvies prior to setting out though, don’t just grab your usual drawers out of the drawer because there are some things to consider first:


As with any base layer, moisture-wicking is key, and you want something breathable and quick drying. Some great choices are:

  • Merino wool: I know wool underwear sounds itchy but Merino wool is incredibly soft and usually blended with something stretchy like spandex to give it flex
  • Synthetics: polyester, rayon, nylon
  • Just…not cotton


  • Not too tight; will cause rubbing and chafing and be annoying and feel constricting
  • Not too loose; will bunch up and ride up and have you pulling at your wedgie in photos
  • Just right; you won’t realize they’re even there


  • Boy shorts are nice because they don’t do much moving around, they provide full coverage, and they have the benefit of adding a little more warmth on colder hikes. Women who struggle with upper thigh chafing often enjoy these.
  • Briefs are still the most popular choice and are available in countless colors from countless manufacturers.
  • Thongs are still a big hit as well, especially among the leggings-and-summit-photo-from-behind crew, as the last thing you want to do is ruin a great Insta shot with pantylines. Also such little fabric equals speedy drying time.


  • Tagless undies save you from being distracted by uncomfortable scratching
  • Flat, wider waistbands won’t cut in or roll down and help keep them in place while you bend and reach and climb around, and won’t interfere with your backpack and cause irritation
  • Flat seams mean less chafing

The rest is common sense: no itchy lace, no cotton, nothing uncomfortable. Hiking is hard work, and being out in nature is incredibly beautiful and relaxing; the last thing you want to be thinking about is underwear. So as long as you find a fit you like, and it’s breathable and moisture-wicking, you’re good to go.


  • REI Women’s Active Brief
  • Ex-officio Give-n-go Sport Mesh Bikini Brief
  • Ridge Merino Boy Shorts
  • Marmot Performance Hipster
  • Smartwool 150 Bikini Briefs