You guys know I’m always real when I post, so I have to tell you something. When I first began climbing, I completely scoffed at the idea of climbing underwear. I mean, come on! There are so many things we need for this sport, I thought the idea of climbing underwear was merely a marketing scheme devised by a brilliant salesperson.
Now, if you’re just dabbling here and there in climbing and rent equipment from the climbing gym, you’re not really going to need climbing underwear. But trust me, when you start making this sport a regular thing in your life, you’re not going to laugh at the idea of an evil genius capitalizing on a niche. You’re going to be buying them and you’re going to love wearing them.
Why do you need climbing underwear?
See, I knew you were going to ask that! I’d like to tell you more about why you need it, what you need to look for, and make some stellar recommendations for men and women. By the time you get to the end of this post, you’re going to be a climbing underwear expert! Trust me!
You’re very likely going to ignore the idea of climbing underwear until quite literally, your everyday underwear bites you in the bite. With all that sweating and friction, your skin will rub together at your thighs. Your climbing gear will rub around your waist. And you’ll be completely uncomfortable by the end of the day, if not sooner.
Pardon me for saying this, but no matter if you’re a man or woman, nothing sucks worse than being chaffed DOWN THERE. You’ll be slathering ointment on your inner thighs and tender bits for days afterward. DAYS! Been there, done that!
All that heat, sweat, and friction isn’t just irritating and chafing on the skin. It also leads to feeling like you’ve wet your pants, a feeling most of us don’t want to recall from our early childhood. Beyond the discomfort though, wet underwear and humidity create an environment that bacteria thrive on and that could turn into a yeast infection or even a urinary tract infection, both unpleasant alternatives.
And it’s not just hot weather either. Those of you in colder climates will not like the idea of having ice forming down there.
Climbing underwear is designed to repel moisture and help keep you comfortable. Skin stays dry and happy, and thus, so do you.
What you should be looking for when buying climbing underwear
So, now that I have your attention on exactly why you need climbing underwear, let’s talk about the options you have for them and what that means to you.
– Material: Synthetic or Wool
Your basic options when it comes to material are synthetic or wool. Cotton is never a good idea. Wearing cotton for climbing is the kiss of death. It absorbs all your sweat and stays wet which is why you become uncomfortable, chafed, and much closer to an infection down there. But synthetic and wool materials do not.
Synthetic and wool each have their own good points and bad points. For synthetic climbing underwear, they tend to be more affordable, plus they dry faster and are much stronger. Wool is a great option for colder climates because it stays warm when it gets wet while allowing for breathability. It’s also naturally antimicrobial.
Climbing underwear needs to be as tough as you are, so it can be there in the long haul. You’re not wearing it to the office or on hot dates, so it’s not like it’s going to get that kind of wear and tear, but believe me, you want to get the most wear for your money.
Nylon has a long life, with polyester not that far behind. Polyester though seems to resist piling more. Piling isn’t going to interfere with your climbs, but it would be nice if your underwear looked good, you know?
The downside of wool is that the lighter it is, the more likely it’s going to wind up with holes. However hand washing them and hanging them to dry tends to help keep them in good condition for much longer.
Fit is a matter of preference of course. There are many options for climbing underwear as far as design, style, and fit go and as long as the material is helping to keep you dry, the rest is really your call. Synthetics tend to be snug and have a more plastic feel, while merino wool has a looser fit and feels soft to the touch.
– Flatlock Seams
Seams that stick out will rub you the wrong way, even if the material is right. Flatlock seams are designed to keep from irritating you. Always make sure the climbing underwear you choose is stitched in this way or you’ll come to regret it.
When your climbing underwear is breathable, it reduces your chances of infection. Synthetics are a bit less breathable but do a great job absorbing moisture. Wool is better for having the breezy, breathable feeling.
– Odor Resistance
With sweat accumulating down there, it’s only a matter of time before you smell like the call of the wild yourself. The smell of course is caused by bacteria. With wool, the fibers are naturally antimicrobial so they prevent bacteria and hence, foul odors. But synthetics, they can’t keep them away, not unless they are treated with anti-odor repellents. These elements will keep bacteria away and keep you from stinking up a storm on the crag. The downside is that over time, these substances wear off so they become less effective, and hence, you’ll need to replace them.
– Dry time
How fast your climbing underwear dries is a big factor too. After all, when it’s wet, it increases friction and adds discomfort. In cold environment, that translates to losing body heat, another thing to consider.
Polyester and nylon both absorb very minimal amounts of water which means they dry super-fast. Wool can soak up more sweat but because of the natural wonder of this material, it provides incredible insulation and doesn’t upset your body heat, a good thing when in the cold.
Women’s Best Climbing Underwear
Where many things in climbing are unisex, I strongly recommend buying underwear for your sex. Ladies, this isn’t the time to trot out those lacy, silky, racy-cut numbers. You want something that helps you perform at your best while climbing. You don’t want to be adjusting your underwear all day.
And while you don’t want those skimpy pairs for a day on the crag, you don’t want high-waisted “granny panties” either. You have enough rubbing your waistline what with your backpack and belt loops. Mid-rise is the best cut to keep you covered comfortably without getting in the way.
Without further ado, these are the best climbing underwear choices for women.
Seamless for your best comfort, this climbing underwear is made from nylon and spandex. Coated with antimicrobial protection, it keeps bacteria and odors away. The spandex is a nice addition because it keeps your underwear in place without riding up for optimum comfort. They’re affordable too at just $13.98, click here to check them out on Amazon.
With longevity for wear that can keep up for days, quick-drying capabilities, odor repelling, and the ability to wick moisture away, these are a solid choice for climbing ladies. Plus, they’re relatively stylish.
At just $29.99 for 6 pairs in a variety of cool color combinations, Balanced Tech seems to get what women want, even those rugged enough for climbing. These babies are seamless and made with a combination of nylon and elastane. It dries quickly and provides plenty of breathability. Check out the current price on Amazon.
With no tags or seams to annoy you, you can climb freely and enjoy the benefit of no panty lines too. And with four-way stretch, they move easily with you, leaving you feeling like you’re wearing nothing at all.
Soft and stretchy, these nylon and spandex briefs for women come in a cool hipster style. You get 6 of them in a blended selection of colors, all for just $23.99. They’re breathable, plus they don’t have side seams so you can climb without chafing. The leg edges feature a sewn binding. These were designed by women, making them a smart choice for women climbers.
At $19.95 a pair, Boody’s bring you a unique feature. They’re made from rayon derived from bamboo (80%) while nylon (13%) and spandex (7%) make up the remainder. For the eco-friendly gal, these are form fitting so there’s no unpleasant rubbing. There are no annoying seams and the composition of the material is truly authentic in that it thermo-regulates your temperature. It allows for breathability, draws moisture away, and is hypoallergenic, all the things you want in your climbing underwear. Check it out here.
Made with nylon and spandex, Wealurre provides seamless invisible comfort. With a 96% viscose lining, you get incredible breathability and comfort. Stretchable to move with you, these are ideal for intense climbs. The low-rise bikini style looks good too while providing comfort. You get 6 pairs for $21.99 and they come in a choice of colors every woman wants, and even some patterns too. They hold up great so you can keep going and going without holding back.
Men’s Best Climbing Underwear
Now for the fellas! The best choice for men when it comes to climbing underwear is to get a close fit. If it’s too loose, it will rub, and we know what that means…loads of discomfort and chafing. A close fit helps the material wick away moisture better. Inner thigh chafing is also a force to be reckoned with. Choose your climbing underwear so it is long enough to cover that area. Knee-length underwear is recommended because of this. It stays put and keeps you protected.
Here are the best climbing underwear choices for men.
Apex has created these merino wool boxer briefs to give you comfort and provide natural antimicrobial protection. Breathable and soft with a great fit, these have a seamless design that won’t annoy you by the end of the day. At $23.96, they’re not cheap but the benefits you get are worth it.
The fly was redesigned from previous versions to give you better support and stability too, so you’ve truly got the best of everything. And yes, it wicks away moisture like a dream come true. You can put them in the washing machine, but to keep them lasting as long as possible, handwashing is always preferred. Check them out here.
If you’d prefer something a little less long, the Under Armour Boxerjock might be your favorite. They’re made from 90% polyester with the rest (10%) elastane to give you a breathable, moveable performance in all directions. With a unique moisture transport system, these wick away all that sweat and dry fast to keep your at max comfort. Depending on the size you choose, they can range from $10 to $39.95 a pair (see the current price here). With a mesh fly panel, you get more stability and support. It gives you that perfect fit without squeezing and constricting. The length is 6 inches long too so they do provide some thigh coverage, but depending on your body type, you may find longer climbing underwear a better protector from chafing.
We covered the women’s version, and now here’s the men’s! Made from 94% nylon and 6% lycra-spandex, these are durable and lightweight for climbing guys. The materials allow it to dry quickly and they’re treated with antimicrobials so the growth of odor-causing bacteria is prevented. With a diamond weave, it keeps you supported and stable. They come in cool color options plus they are long enough to prevent chafing of your inner thighs. Depending on the size you choose and if you opt to buy a 2-pack, these can cost anywhere from $13.59 – $74.35.
Don’t be jealous of the ladies’ bamboo climbing underwear offering above. There’s one for men too. Quicksilk makes it from 95% eco-friendly and sustainable bamboo with 5% spandex to move with you. There are no seams and they prevent chafing. A 4-pack in vibrant colors is just $15.99. The only downside is these are a bit shorter so if you’re prone to chafing on your inner thighs, you’ll want to choose one of the longer options. If not, these are super-soft and ultra-affordable!
Designed for performance, these climbing underwear are in a comfortable boxer brief style made from polyamide and spandex, totally high-tech fabric. It gives you breathability and moisture wicking capabilities that dry it out fast. The longer legs keep you from chafing while the flat-locked seams keep things smooth and irritation free all over. The front pouch features a unique 3D design with a fly, allowing for easy relief when you have to go. You get 3 in a pack for $28.99 and have a choice of basic colors.
houghts on climbing underwear
We’re all the same in climbing in that we want, no, NEED to be comfortable. That’s why climbing underwear was created. But it should be said that we’re all different in how we need things to fit to our bodies. I’ve selected these climbing underwear options because they offer something for everyone.
They also have the features of being easy to clean and are durable, resist odors, allow for breathability, and dry fast. How should you choose them? A good jumping off point is to think about when you wore regular underwear and felt discomfort. Think about the areas that were most irritated and choose the underwear from this list that best covers you on those bases. If money is a factor, I’ve provided some spectacular options that won’t break the bank. You’re fully covered here, pardon the pun, with any of these that suit you. Take your pick and choose your favorite colors. Then enjoy your next climb in full comfort!