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Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review

Most of us (males) want to wear something under our trousers, but what? Ordinary cotton underpants have several disadvantages: the waist band often conflicts with the hip-belt on the pack, and when they get wet they can take a very long time to dry. The Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs largely solve those two problems.


Overall Rating: Recommended

They are tall enough at the waist to avoid conflict with a hip-belt, and they dry very quickly. Even in high summer they don't seem too hot and sweaty, and they do last a long time.
*Addendum 10/19/10: Author notes that Highly Recommended would not be inappropriate. However, BPL does not change ratings once posted.

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by Roger Caffin |

Technical Details

Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review - 1
Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs.

I should start by explaining that the photo here is a stock photo from Ex-Officio. My arms are not that hairy. OK.

Ex-Officio make two similar models of briefs: the Briefs shown here and some Sport Briefs. The latter are shorter in the waist, but otherwise identical as far as I can see. I will focus on the Briefs because I find them much better for walking.

Incidentally, Ex-Officio actually call them "Brief," in the singular. This is the same as talking about "trouser" - I can see the logic, but I can't do it.

The company claims that the fabric "air-dries within hours" and is "extremely breathable, moisture-wicking, odor resistant finish." I can confirm the fast drying bit. I would say 'fairly breathable' as they do get just a little sweaty during a hot Sydney summer day of 35 C and 80% RH - but so does the rest of me. I can neither confirm nor deny the 'odor-resistant' bit.

Frankly, the fabric alone is not enough to justify them. But look at the photo here of a range of (Australian) underpants. On the right you can see the Ex-Officio ones compared to two other sorts. There is a big difference in the bulk of the waistbands. On the left we have some (Australian) underpants with similar flat waist bands - but look at how the elastic has curled up during use. The Ex-Officio waist band does not curl up.

Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review - 2
Comparing waistbands.

The third feature I like is the design. The Briefs are taller in the waist region than many other (Australian) underpants. But the other ones seem to fight many hipbelts, getting either pushed down (most often) or pulled up. Neither is satisfactory. The waist region of the Ex-Officio Briefs is flat enough that they seem to stay nicely in position on my waist despite the movement of the hipbelt.

Field Testing

Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review - 3
Drying socks on the pack.

These Ex-Officio Briefs have been my choice for a three-month long walk through France in 2007 and a two-month long high-altitude walk through Switzerland in 2009. They have also been used for pretty well all my other walks in Australia in that time - walks typically under seven days, but up to nine or ten days occasionally.

In Australia I usually don't bother with a spare pair, so maybe the odor-resistant bit has some truth to it. But in Europe we often wash our socks and underwear every few days - depending on opportunity. Sometimes it took a couple of days for our wool socks to dry properly, but the Ex-Officio Briefs seemed to dry within a few hours in the sun - strung across our packs.

I should add that the pair of Briefs I took to France in 2007 also went to Switzerland in 2009 and are still in current use. To say 'long-life' seems appropriate.


Manufacturer Ex-Officio
Web Site
Model Give-N-Go Briefs
Main Material Body Fabric: 94% Nylon/6% Spandex
Waist band Elastic webbing 32 mm (1.25") wide
Colours Black, white, green, blue, charcoal
Sizes S to XXL
Weight (measured) Medium: ~60 g (2.1 oz)

What’s Good

  • Comfortable
  • Quick drying
  • Long life
  • Stay up

What's Not So Good

  • Nothing really comes to mind

Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.


"Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review," by Roger Caffin. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2010-10-12 00:00:00-06.


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Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review on 10/12/2010 13:35:44 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review on 10/12/2010 13:55:37 MDT Print View

While I'm not in the market for men's underwear :-), I switched to Ex-Officio women's underpants a couple of years ago--for full-time wear, not just backpacking--and really love them!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
mens underwear on 10/12/2010 14:14:57 MDT Print View

we're reviewing mens underwear now?

just waiting for a women's bra review ... with pics ;)

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: mens underwear on 10/12/2010 14:36:09 MDT Print View

Eric, here is your bra review as requested.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review on 10/12/2010 16:15:25 MDT Print View

I must say Roger is looking in great shape in the underwear photo. A real advert for the health benefits of backpacking.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review on 10/12/2010 16:38:40 MDT Print View

May seem to be a trivial matter, sort of scarping the bottom of the barrel , however wet underpants can be a pain in the something or rather.
I switched to those Ex Officio unmentionables after a trek when I could not get my lycra stuff to dry overnight and even after 2 days ( it rained a lot) . Had to wear them damp to dry them , but of course they were damp again with sweat in the afternoon.
Now I have a happy bottom.
No photos will be supplied.

Edited by Franco on 10/12/2010 16:39:32 MDT.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review on 10/12/2010 19:49:53 MDT Print View

I didn't understand your reference to the waist band issue until I saw your photo of typical Australian briefs. Wow, the waistbands are just awful. I haven't seen anything like that here in the states in a while.

Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Underwear on 10/13/2010 01:08:46 MDT Print View

Many years ago a few of us cross-sport type took to wearing triathalon bib bicycle shorts as underwear with over shorts liners removed. We didn't have to deal with where your belt and shorts interferred. I just wish somebody would make a pair with more durable fabric. I loved my old system until they wore out!


David Brancolini

Locale: Southeastern US
Give-N-Go Boxer on 10/13/2010 06:35:41 MDT Print View

Reading your review I believe I will give the Give-N-Go Brief a try.

I am normally a 'boxer' kind of guy and own a pair of the Give-N-Go Boxer along with other brands of boxers. The Give-N-Go has been my favorite underwear of choice when walking, hiking and backpacking.

Edited by dbranco on 10/13/2010 06:36:50 MDT.

Hamish McHamish
(El_Canyon) - M

Locale: USA
_ on 10/13/2010 08:58:40 MDT Print View

Good review Roger. Undies seem mundane until you're 3 days out and getting chafed. Then every step is pain.

For those with thicker thighs looking to prevent the inner thigh chafe, Ex Officio's boxer briefs are made the same way as the give-n-gos but with a little extra coverage. They've held up great for me.

Alan Seegert
(zemmo) - MLife

Locale: AK/NM
Merino? on 10/13/2010 09:19:04 MDT Print View

I think underwear are really important. Chafing, moisture retention contributing to fungal blues, drying time, lack of odor retention, interference with a pack; all these are important.

I have been using nothing but merino wool for briefs for the last year or so, including the Annapurna Circuit, and find them the best of any underwear I've used. T-shirts are great, too.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Glorious ExOfficio undies! on 10/13/2010 11:14:30 MDT Print View

I know that seem a bit of an overstatement in commenting on underwear, but dang, these ExOfficio undies really do exactly what they claim to do. I used to use a jock as my preferred undergarment but I had these undies in the drawer for use when we travel. Decided to try them outon a hot sweaty overnight in the San Gabriels. I have never been so comfortable. They do in fact breathe and keep you drier and cooler than anything else I have worn. They are supportive. And as has been pointed out dry in few hours time. They are also very durable. I have had the same two pair I have used for a year backpacking for at least 3 years of overseas travel. They look exactly as they did the day I bought them from REI.
I would give these a highly recommended rating!

Matthew Brewer
(smalladventures) - F
Smell? on 10/13/2010 11:50:14 MDT Print View

Has anyone tried comparing the Ex-officio to wool undergarments? I've been tempted by both for normal city wear (no undies seems to work fine in the back country) but don't want to spend the money if there isn't any gain.

Pit Martin
(Pit5785455) - MLife
Ex Officio Briefs on 10/13/2010 12:07:23 MDT Print View

10 days on the Colorado Trail last August, rained nonstop for 7 days (not used to that here in Colorado), the Ex Officio briefs were great. No odor, wash and dry quickly. I now wear under the work clothes (suit & tie). Highly recommend. Pit Martin

Aaron Benson
(AaronMB) - F

Locale: Central Valley California
No briefs for me but I like the boxers. on 10/13/2010 12:41:20 MDT Print View

I'm not a brief(s) sort of guy but I do wear, enjoy, and prefer--in all situations--ExOfficios in the boxer style.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Chafe on 10/13/2010 14:18:10 MDT Print View

Interesting blog post on chafe.

Alan Seegert
(zemmo) - MLife

Locale: AK/NM
Re: Smell? on 10/13/2010 14:54:45 MDT Print View

I've done extensive smell checks, and find that all of the synthetics stink worse than wool, after many days w/o washing. Silk is pretty good, too. And the early polypropylene was the worst ever devised!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Smell? on 10/13/2010 14:59:56 MDT Print View

"And the early polypropylene was the worst ever devised!"

Let's just say that it developed a character of its own.

I still have 30-year-old polypro long johns that I wear, but only for about one day at a time.


Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Boxer briefs! on 10/13/2010 15:12:03 MDT Print View

>I'm not a brief(s) sort of guy but I do wear, enjoy, and prefer--in all situations--ExOfficios in the boxer style.

For the middle-of the roaders in the crowd, the boxer briefs solve the chafing problem and they look soooo good as far as the "package" is concerned (this, according to my wife, who is a student of such matters). ;-D


Edited by nerdboy52 on 10/14/2010 05:51:22 MDT.

Hoot Filsinger
(filsinger) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
True to fit? on 10/13/2010 19:08:50 MDT Print View

Sizing guide list large at 36-39 (waist) and XL at 40-43. Any one have a sense of these numbers being true to fit?