Ugh, nothing worse than that nasty, sweaty feeling from damp underwear after hiking all day! And it’s even worse when you’re out on the trail and your panty rubs your inner thighs raw. Or the ultimate backpacking nightmare comes true… you walk for hours with a wedgie. So that begs the question, what is the best hiking underwear for women? What underwear will leave you feeling cool and comfortable after a full day of backpacking?
Talking about underwear might seem odd, but I’ll bet sweatproof underwear for women is something dozens of women have googled. After coming home from a hiking trip all sore and smelly you are super anxious to find the best hiking underwear for women before that next trip. Odd as it may seem, once I started searching for a better solution for women’s hiking underwear I really became obsessed with finding a super healthy and comfortable solution.
This post contains affiliate links to make it easier for you to find the products I have mentioned. You don’t pay any extra and in some cases, I could earn a small commission.
How to Choose the Best Women’s Hiking Underwear
But how do you choose the best hiking underwear for you? Underwear is not a returnable item, so you can’t try them on and then return them. And with every panty that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, there go a few more dollars down the drain.
So let’s look at the factors involved in picking the best women’s underwear for hiking to prevent chafing and the perfect sweat-absorbing underwear. It doesn’t really matter if you are just out for a day hike or looking for the best women’s backpacking underwear for a long trip, these are the critical features.
✔️ Our Choice for Best Merino Wool Women’s Underwear for Hiking and for Travel
I couldn’t resist these Merino Wool Panties because they delivered absolutely everything you’d want in a hiking panty. Great at keeping you cool and dry and so silky soft it almost feels like you aren’t wearing anything.
Moisture Wicking is a term women’s hiking underwear manufacturers throw around but what does it really mean? It means the material absorbs moisture from the skin surface. The perfect moisture wicking fabric then moves that moisture away from your skin to the outer surface of the material. The moisture then evaporates from the surface.
Fabrics, like merino wool, that can hold a high ratio of moisture are considered the best moisture-wicking underwear.
Unless you’re hiking in the middle of the desert, you’re likely to encounter rain and streams on your hiking or camping trip. A hike in the rain is sure to leave you damp. Even worse is when you are hiking in hot weather and all those private parts sweat profusely. That is the yukkiest wet underwear yet!
So yes, lightweight and quick-drying are important when choosing hiking underwear if you want to stay comfortable and eliminate rubbing and chafing. We just spent 7 days hiking in the desert of West Texas and New Mexico and my merino wool and bamboo panties both gave an outstanding performance. I was ready to throw away everything else!
Bikini area sweat is real! Especially if you are backpacking for days or hiking in warm weather. Undies that have antimicrobial properties reduce body odor, keep the undies fresh longer, and can be worn for days together. Synthetics like polyester and nylon are usually treated with antimicrobial chemicals so that they stay fresh longer, while bamboo, merino wool and hemp have natural antimicrobial properties.
It’s always safest to stick to the style of underwear you wear regularly. Then you won’t be tugging and pulling on them all day when the ride is unusual. In general, there is a large selection of briefs, bikinis, boy shorts, thongs and hipsters that feel comfortable and flexible.
Many ask if thongs are a good underwear style for hiking? In some cases, yes. Thongs designed for athletic wear are very different from those for sex appeal. Hiking thongs are cut specifically so they don’t shift and rub as you move.
Many of backpacking underwear we’ve chosen also have a matching sports bra. That definitely makes it more fun when you are living in those undies on a long backpacking trip.
There are no washing machines on the road. So if you’re traveling for days, you might not have the luxury of washing your panties for a few days. When you’re hand-washing in col or warm water, you’ll really want quick-dry underwear or fast-drying underwear.
But if you want the best quick-dry travel underwear, merino it is. Synthetic dries pretty quick too. You cannot lug around a dryer on a trek. So drying your panties on a rock or string for a few hours maybe your only option.
So yes, if you’re looking for quick dry, merino is the best. Merino wool is super easy to care for. If you’ll have a few hours of leisure time, polyester or nylon is great too.
Comfortable Seams and Stitching
Some undies have seams running down the center of your bottom or in the front, while some have seams running across them. Those may be okay for regular days, but when it comes to hiking, they’re an absolute no-no and can cause unnecessary chafing. Undies with flatlock seams or no seams are the best option for hiking underwear.
If you prefer boy shorts, then a flatlock seam or seamless is critical for your inner thighs to prevent thigh chafing. There is nothing worse that that rash between your legs when you are hot and sweaty. Most hikers will skip boy shorts to avoid the risk of inner thigh chafing.
Also, look for waistbands that don’t dig into your skin. A wide no-roll band or even some with no waistband are much more comfortable. And don’t forget that tag that rubs the small of your back all day. Look for tag-less or panties that have an easy-to-remove tag.
REVIEWS of the BEST HIKING UNDERWEAR for WOMEN
Best Merino Wool Women’s Underwear
Merino wool is without a doubt the most natural way to find comfort for female hikers. The moisture-wicking and fast-drying properties of wool underwear for women can’t be topped. The wool from these unusual sheep creates the strongest and softest wool fabric that is perfect to wear against your skin.
IceBreaker Merino Siren Panties
FABRIC: 83% Merino Wool, 12% nylon, 5% LYCRA
ODOR CONTROL: 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡
COLORS: Heather, Black, Grape
STYLES: Bikini, Hipkini, Thong
SIZES: XS to XL
Our Review of the IceBreaker Siren Women’s Underwear
Our top pick for hiking underwear is the IceBreaker Siren Series. Primarily made of merino wool, you get all the amazing benefits of that fabric like the best moisture-wicking, quick-drying and odor control. The core-spun fibers, (which means the wool is wrapped around nylon), provide strength and structure to these panties while you only feel the softness of the merino wool against your skin.
The tiny bit of lycra gives this great hiking underwear a bit of stretch that makes the IceBreaker undies a step above the others for retaining shape and stretching as you move.
For extra comfort, the side seams have been moved forward slightly so they don’t run against the seam in your outer layer. A little touch that brings a lot of comforts! The comfortable waistband will ride easily under your backpack.
PROS: With all the benefits of odor control and moisture-wicking of merino wool, these are really comfortable panties. The low-profile elastic waist and leg openings keep these from rubbing when you get sweaty.
CONS: You might hesitate a split second on the price. But being dry on the trail will convince you this women’s hiking underwear is worth it.
SmartWool Women’s Merino 150
FABRIC: 87% Merino Wool, 13% Nylon Core
ODOR CONTROL: 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡
COLORS: Black and Gray
STYLES: Bikini, Hipster, Thong
SIZES: XSm, Sm, Med, Lg, XLg
Our Review of SmartWool Merino 150 Women’s Underwear for Hiking
The SmartWool Merino 150 series wraps the fine fibers of merino wool around a nylon core. That means the soft wicking wool is all that is touching your skin. While the nylon core allows the fabric to flex with your movements. The fabric is SmartWool’s lightest jersey blend so these hiking panties will feel like they are barely there.
These SmartWool merino 150 underwear are designed for nonstop comfort when hiking with a soft elastic waistband that won’t chafe. The smooth flat lock stitched seams have been pulled forward. That means the seams of your shorts won’t line up with the seam of your panties so it eliminates chafing.
PROS: The smooth flatlock seams on these panties keep away chaffing and the natural fabric is odor resistant. The SmartWool merino 150 bikini is probably the most popular style because of the high comfort level.
CONS: On the high end of the pricing scale.
Woolly Clothing Women’s Merino Wool Underwear
Our Review of Wooly Merino Wool Panties
Merino underwear can be quite on the pricy side. However, Wooly Clothing has successfully designed moderately priced panties for the modern hiker. You’ll love the smooth flatlock seams and soft-wrapped waistband that will eliminate chafing. And you’ll appreciate the super soft material that quickly wicks away sweat while hiking.
PROS: More affordable merino wool option. Will keep you super dry and comfy.
CONS: Lack of styles for people who like more traditional briefs. After a couple of years of wear, these will lose their shape.
Best Bamboo Women’s Panties
As far as keeping cool and dry I’m in love with bamboo. Bamboo is naturally odor-resistant making it perfect for hot summer days of backpacking. Bamboo also holds it shape well through many wash cycles. However, you will notice that merino wool fabric is a bit softer.
Boody Body EcoWear Women’s Bamboo Viscose Underwear
FABRIC: 80% bamboo viscose, 13% nylon. 7% spandex
ODOR CONTROL: 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡
COLORS: Black, Beige, Nude, White
STYLES: Classic Bikini, G-String, Bikini Brief, Mid Brief and BoyLeg Brief
SIZES: Sm, Med, Lg, XLg
Our Review of Boody Body Bamboo Underwear
Available in 5 Styles: Classic Bikini, G-String, Bikini Brief, Mid Brief and BoyLeg Brief! Check them all out here. A big shout out to Boody for covering everyone’s individual underwear style in their designs.
Everything about the design of Boody Body Ecowear screams comfort. You can start with the unique manufacturing process that eliminates pesky, rubbing side seams. And the wide no-roll waistband is super comfortable. And most important they will keep you fresh and dry on the hottest hikes.
If you are looking for something comfy, feminine, and practical this great hiking underwear is an excellent choice. Boody’s is committed to providing ethically made undergarments made from sustainably sourced bamboo.
Most of all I love how well this bamboo women’s underwear holds up over time. These have held their shape through more laundries than any other panties on this list.
PROS: Wide variety of attractive, feminine styles that work for everyday as well as long hikes! No rubbing and chafing. High moisture-wicking and drying ratios.
CONS: Although a little pricier than the average undie, they’re not crazy high.
Women’s Bamboo Warm Sun Panties
FABRIC: 95% Bamboo Viscose Fiber and 5% Spandex
ODOR CONTROL: 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡
COLORS: Black, gray, purple, skin, rouge, white
SIZES: US Sizes 4 through 10
Our Review of Warm Sun’s Bamboo Underwear for Women
You’ll love the wide waistband in Warm Sun’s Women’s Bamboo Panties that will reduce chaffing and rolling on a long hike. They are super soft to the touch and incredibly lightweight. It’s hard to believe that they work so well at wicking moisture away from your skin. The little bit of spandex woven into the bamboo helps the fabric hold shape and stretch with your movements.
PROS: Very affordable. Extremely lightweight and soft material. High moisture-wicking and drying ratios. Large selection of sizes.
CONS: Only available in briefs, this is a lighter weight fabric than the Boody which stretches after washing so order a size smaller.
Best Hemp Hiking Panties for Women
I’m new to hemp fabrics in underwear so still a bit undecided on the future of these panties in my hiking wardrobe. However, my initial tests are very promising. They stayed super dry and comfy on a really hot day. So I did a lot of extra research into hemp fabrics in general before adding to this list. I think you’ll appreciate the natural qualities of hemp.
WAMA Women’s Hemp Underwear
FABRIC: 53% hemp, 44% organic cotton, 3% spandex
ODOR CONTROL: 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡
COLORS: Black, Green, Beige, Nude
STYLES: Hipster, Bikini, Thong, Boy Shorts and Hi-Waisted
SIZES: US Women’s XS to 3XL
The comfort in the WAMA Ladies Hemp Underwear starts with the soft flexible waistband with a flatlock seam to avoid rubbing as you hike. You’ll appreciate the moderate 2 way stretch in the fabric which moves with you while still holding their shape wear after wear.
We thought the fabric in these panties felt similar to cotton, but love the breathability that the hemp weave brings to the fabric. You will stay dry and cool with these.
PROS: The design of the waistband is likely the most comfortable of any of the panties we reviewed. It’s soft and stretch and won’t rub during the heat of the day.
CONS: You will need to wash these a couple of times to get a softer feel, right out of the package Hemp Panties feel very stiff.
Best Synthetic Blend Women’s Hiking Underwear
After all those great natural fiber choices, why would anyone look at synthetic fabric? Well, there are 2 very good reasons for selecting synthetic underwear. The first is that underwear made of synthetic blends is less expensive. The second is that they have almost zero special care requirements. If you are a gal who dumps all your laundry in one load and never has time to separate your delicates then these panties are going to survive.
ExOfficio Give-N-Go 2.0 for Women
FABRIC: 89% nylon, 11% elastane
ODOR CONTROL: 🧡🧡🧡🧡
COLORS: Assorted colors available
STYLES: Brief, Hipster and Bikini
SIZES: US Women’s XS to XL
Our Review of ExOfficio’s Give-N-Go Underwear for Women
ExOfficio’s Give-N-Go Underwear has long been a favorite among hiking women. However, the release of the 2.0 version really took the quality and appeal of this synthetic underwear up a notch. They start with a breathable mesh fabric to allow airflow that will keep you cool on the sweatiest days. The blend of nylon and elastane gives the fabric a lot of stretch for extra comfort. And the fabric is treated with an antimicrobial to keep away odor.
PROS: We love the super lightweight fabric, it will feel like you are wearing nothing at all. These panties feature a comfortable wide waistband and flatlock seams to eliminate rubbing and chafing during an active day.
CONS: Seriously our first choice for great hiking underwear if you want to get away from natural fabrics. You may find the texture of the fabric a little unusual due to the open weave that allows the fabric to breathe, but most wearers love these after giving it a try.
REI Co-op Active Women’s Underwear
FABRIC: 86% polyester/14% spandex mesh
ODOR CONTROL: 🧡🧡🧡🧡
COLORS: Black, Beige, Tan, Blue
STYLES: Brief, Hipster, Thong and Bikini
SIZES: XS to XL
Our Review of REI Co-ops Active Woman’s Underwear
REI Co-ops Active Women’s Underwear is made from a stretchy polyester mesh. As a result, they are extremely lightweight and designed to breathe which means they will keep you dry when you are hiking. The antimicrobial treatment reduces any odors from sweaty days.
PROS: We love the lightweight seams, especially since there are no side seams to reduce chafing when hiking. As you can imagine, seams rubbing seams as you often have between your pants and your undies can create a lot of friction. This design eliminates that double seam rub that we all hate.
CONS: With heavy wear, these might not feel like they have enough structure for many hikers who want something that withstands pretty much any harsh climate because they are intended to be lightweight panties.
Best Cotton Blend Wicking Women’s Panties
To be clear, cotton underwear is not our top choice in hiking underwear. No matter how it is woven, it is going to dry slower than any fabric. However I know many of you have allergies and sensitivities that require cotton against your privates. So if cotton is your go to, then these are great choices specifically woven to keep the active women as dry as possible.
Hanes Women’s Constant Comfort X-Temp Panty
FABRIC: 60% Cotton and 40% Polyester
ODOR CONTROL: 🧡🧡🧡
COLORS: Assorted multi-package
STYLES: Brief, Hipster, Bikini and Hi-Cut
SIZES: US Women’s 5-9
Our Review of Hanes Constant Comfort Panties
So what makes these different than regular cotton panties? Well, Hanes calls it their X-Temp Technology which is a hydro-functional polymer designed to wick moisture away. I know that sounds a bit highfalutin technology, but what I get from it is they’ve done something with how they weave the fabrics to improve the moisture-wicking, hence keeping you cooler and drier.
What you will like about the Hanes Constant Comfort X-Temp Panty is the wide smooth waistband that will not roll when you are in motion. The fabric in these cotton underwear is soft and comfy.
PROS: These are so cheap compared to other quick-drying panty options, generally just a couple of bucks a pair. If money is no concern, pop up top for the bamboo or merino wool options. But sometimes when you are traveling having some inexpensive undies is exactly what you need.
CONS: They come in multi-packs that don’t allow you to select the colors.
What Materials are Best for Women’s Hiking Underwear
The best hiking and athletic underwear are generally made of bamboo or merino wool. However, there are a lot of fabric blends that provide comfort when you are hot and sweaty. Let’s take a closer look at each type of fabric so you can decide what’s best for your undies.
Is Merino Wool Good for Underwear?
Once considered a fabric only fit for kings, today’s hikers sing the praises of Merino Wool Underwear. It’s the perfect fabric for hiking underwear and sports bras because it will keep you cool and dry longer than any other fabric. Naturally odor resistant, merino wool can be worn for days on a backpacking trip.
The wool of the merino sheep is extremely strong, long and fine. When spun it becomes one of the softest finest threads and weaves into a premium fiber you would never ever expect from wool. Merino wool is not your mama’s wool, all itchy and scratchy. Women’s merino wool underwear is super soft!
Merino wool has a high moisture absorption ratio so it pulls water away from your skin making it the best women’s underwear for hiking. And then it breathes, allowing moisture to escape to the surface and dry quickly.
You can wash your merino wool underwear for women with your regular wash in cool water, but it is better to line dry them to maintain the life of the material. The good news is they dry quickly. So when traveling or backpacking, you can easily hand wash before bed and find dry fresh panties in the morning.
Merino wool also is perfect for base layer long underwear for winter hiking for all the same reasons! The only downside to merino wool is the price. Quality women’s merino wool hiking underwear will generally run $30-$40 per pair.
Is Bamboo Underwear Good for Hiking
When bamboo fibers are blended with stretchy fibers like spandex, you get a fabric that is perfect for hiking underwear.
You may have never considered Bamboo as a source of fabric, let alone underwear. But seriously, it is a pretty amazing choice for the best backpacking underwear. First, it’s super soft, almost silk-like. The yarn that is spun from bamboo has smooth round edges which means when you run your finger over the fabric, it just rolls over.
You’ll love that bamboo is naturally odor resistant because it stops odor-producing bacteria from growing and spreading in the fabric. As a result, your underwear will smell cleaner and fresher.
Most people with skin allergies, find bamboo the perfect fabric. Caution though, all bamboo fabric is not made the same. Some of the older processes for altering bamboo stalks to fabric used caustic chemicals. Make sure you select a bamboo panty that is using a non-toxic solution in the soaking step.
You’ll feel nice and dry due to the natural absorbing properties of bamboo. This fabric creates amazing moisture-wicking underwear. The fabric also dries quickly so you will feel comfortable. Compare that to fabric like cotton that also absorbs easily, but doesn’t dry quickly and you feel the wet fabric against your skin all day.
Bamboo fabric can be machine washed and dried at cooler temps. (Although I often forget my bamboo is in the laundry and haven’t noticed any shrinkage.) That’s because fabrics that have small amounts of synthetics, like polyester, blended with bamboo seem to have fewer shrinking problems.
Hemp in Hiking Underwear
Hemp has been emerging in the marketplace as an all-natural source of fabrics. The high tensile strength of the hemp fibers results in a very durable fabric. Ecologically hemp production has a positive impact on the environment. It doesn’t require much water, grows fast, returns oxygen to the environment at a higher rate than trees and can be easily grown without herbicides.
Does hemp fabric work well for underwear? Sure we all care about the environment, but when it comes to our best hiking panties we need the fabric to do a whole lot more. First, hemp naturally has a high anti-bacterial property that will keep away the stink and makes it attractive for hiking clothes.
It will wick away moisture and dry fairly quickly. Because hemp is usually blended with cotton to add softness it may not wick as well as 100% merino wool. We all know that cotton likes to hold moisture, but as long as the blend is close to 1/2 hemp you will experience a very comfortable breathable fabric that works well for hiking.
The downside to hemp fabric is that it feels a little stiff when new. It will take several washings to soften the fabric. Just as in any natural fabric you should wash in cold water and air dry.
Anti-Microbial Synthetic Fabrics
Synthetic fabrics are usually very reasonably priced compared to natural fabrics. Synthetic underwear is also are amazingly durable, putting up with almost anything we can do to try to destroy them like leaving them in a hot dryer or snagging them in our backpack.
Nylon and polyester are perfect for women’s hiking shorts because they are so durable. They will hold their shape and endure. I don’t know about you, but I definitely need the lowest maintenance clothing possible!
On the downside, synthetic fabrics are not naturally good at wicking away sweat and lack antimicrobial properties. That means untreated they will be damp and stinky pretty fast. However major brands overcome this concern by designing the best women’s hiking underwear with venting so it breaths and treating the fabric to make it antimicrobial.
The sportswear that is anti-microbial treated generally is either surface treated or has tiny bits of silver (or other metals) woven into the fabric. The silver releases ions that keep bacteria and fungi from growing.
So if cost and durability are your top concerns when selecting women’s hiking underwear, then synthetic fabrics will be at the top of your list. We’ve selected several top-rated panties to share with you.
Cotton Blends Might be Back in The Game
Cotton is generally a no, no for hiking underwear because cotton absorbs water and it likes to hold on to that water. So it fails to dry quickly. That makes cotton the source of nasty chafing when hiking. No one wants to hike all day in wet panties.
However, for some people with allergies, cotton is always their go-to natural fabric. Luckily there are several cotton blends that are advertised as quick-drying and cooling. Surprisingly I found an amazing choice in the Hanes Women’s Constant Comfort X-Temp Panty
These panties are also the lowest cost solution. However, that said, my first choice for women’s hiking underwear will always be either merino wool or bamboo.
What are the 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡 Ratings in our Reviews?
The heart ratings for each item are based on several factors. First is our own personal experience. We’ve been hiking and camping for years and are definitely opinionated about what we like and don’t like. And we don’t like things that are of poor quality or don’t do the job as described. You’ll never see those items in our reviews. That means you’ll never see items with less than 3 🧡s.
We also ask our family and friends who love the outdoors for their recommendations. To Brad’s embarrassment, I’ve been known to stop fellow travelers and ask their opinion about a product I see them using, hopefully not coming off as too creepy (lol). And I’m obsessed with reading all the reviews on the products we share just to make sure I didn’t miss something.
So… The Best Hiking Underwear for Women are Pretty Amazing
As you can see, natural fabrics offer a lot more than just being sweatproof underwear when it comes to keeping you dry, comfortable and odor-free when hiking. What a gift on a hot sweaty hike! Without a doubt, merino wool or bamboo are amazing choices for the best hiking underwear for women. Even so, it’s nice to have an affordable option for the best women’s hiking underwear in the new technology synthetics and cotton blends. Sending wishes for a happy and dry hike!
Check out our other guides to Hiking Essentials for Women:
This post was originally written Feb 9, 2020. It was most recently updated so you have the most current information.