Hiking is already a sweaty activity already, and hiking without underwear seems pretty gross at first. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably at least a little curious. So, is there actually some utility to going commando on the trail?
Hiking commando is a comfortable choice for many experienced hikers. Hiking without underwear helps with airflow and can prevent chafing. Compression shorts and running shorts are popular attire. Products like body glide and baby powder also prevent chafing.
Why Some Go Commando
Surprisingly, a lot of experienced hikers do leave the underwear behind. Proponents of this attire, or lack thereof, say the main benefits are airflow and less chafing. This may seem a bit counter-intuitive, as skin on skin rubbing is often the main cause chafing for some in the first place.
But it does make sense. Chafing on the trail is caused by a combination of heat, moisture (sweating) and friction. By not wearing underwear, you help eliminate heat (which also causes sweating) and depending on the person, friction. If you have a larger body type or lots of muscle, your thighs can rub against each other, in which case, it might be a good idea to wear underwear after all.
Here’s what a few experienced hikers had to say:
It all depends on your anatomy, oiliness of your skin etc. I have large adductor muscles, which causes chafing issues when I have tried going commando.
I hiked the majority of the AT in running shorts with a liner. You sweat a lot on the AT. The liner allowed more ventilation in the groin area.
I went commando for my thru hike as did many I met, but I’ve also been commando for the last decade or more.
Another benefit of not wearing underwear, especially on thru-hikes, is that it’s more simple. You don’t need to worry about changing your dirty underwear or carrying extra pairs in your pack. It’s one less thing to take care of and will save space and weight.
So there is certainly some merit to hiking without underwear. However, there’s a right way and wrong way of doing it.
How to Hike Commando
Alright, if you’re hiking commando, you’re going to need to do it right. There’s a few tips to make your experience much more pleasant.
The first thing you should know how going commando are the risks. The first risk is you might get more chafing (we’ll explain how to fix that) and ticks.
Depends on where you live, ticks my be a real concern for you. I thankfully can’t speak from personal experience, but getting ticks on your dirty bits probably is one of the worst places to get them.
If you’re wearing pants, there are solutions like tucking in your pant legs. Many hikers though tend to swear shorts. What I would recommend then is to practice good habits, such as wearing bug spray and checking yourself regularly and thoroughly. Carrying a tick remover like the Ticked Off Tick Remover will help. Other versions like Tick Key I think would be harder to use in tight spaces, which is why I like Ticked Off.
Chafing is one of the more common concerns when you’re not wearing underwear. There are lots of ways this can be prevented.
The most popular remedy for chafing is Body Glide. Body Glide is a balm that you apply to your “chafe zone” to prevent chafing. It’s that easy!
Here’s what some hikers had to say:
Commando and Body Glide were awesome for me. Body Glide was awesome. I applied it everywhere that there was any kind of friction below the belt.
And it even works for the ladies:
Lady here. I went commando the entire hike. Body glide works like a charm. My husband also went commando and used body glide with zero issues.
And as a bonus, Body Blide is vegan-friendly and keeps your pours clog-free. You can pick up your own pair on Amazon.
Another popular product is baby powder. Baby powder also feels refreshing so it has a nice psychological benefit too. Some people like certain brands like Gold Bond and others. If you have sensitive skin, make sure you read the reviews first.
Regular washing will help as well. You can carry some soap with you and give your sweaty spots a little wash with a washcloth.
And probably the last tip I have is to keep your bush. Hair is nature’s lubricant and you’ll be much better off by not shaving.
What to Wear
When you decided to ditch the underwear, certain shorts are going to work better. Many hikers prefer lightweight shorts that breathe, which makes things like running shorts and bathing suits a good choice.
Running shorts, in particular, are designed to be worn without underwear. They have a built-in liner that makes them much more comfortable. Check out the BALEAF shorts on Amazon and see the reviews.
Another way to prevent chafing is wearing compression shorts. Many hikers had success with wearing these:
Might I recommend compression shorts? I didn’t start wearing them until Massachusetts and they were a game-changer. I had wore running shorts commando to that point.
Even now, when I go running I wear compression shorts underneath my short shorts. I cannot remember the last time I was chaffed!
But you might not need to ditch the underwear at all. ExOfficio boxer briefs are pretty much everything you’d want in a pair of underwear. They are breathable, odor-resistant, quick-drying, snug, and stretchable. You can wash them in the sink with soap and water and let them hang out to dry.