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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.

Recommended

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.

Specifications

Manufacturer Ex-Officio
Web Site www.exofficio.com
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)
MSRP US$18

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.


Citation

"Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review," by Roger Caffin. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/ex-officio_give-n-go_briefs_review.html, 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

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
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.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/cw_x_bra_review.html

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: Melbourne
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.
Franco
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!

Randy

David Brancolini
(dbranco)

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.

http://krudmeister.blogspot.com/2010/10/chafe.html

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.

--B.G.--

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

Stargazer

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?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: True to fit? on 10/13/2010 19:58:36 MDT Print View

I am normally a Medium, and the Medium fitted me.

Cheers

Peter Surna
(PedroArvy) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne
Women's underpants are better on 10/13/2010 22:47:25 MDT Print View

I've said it before and I'll say it again (somewhere on this site), women's underpants are lighter and dry faster - even if you are a man.

Lou Darveniza
(Darveniza) - MLife
EX-OFFICIO BRIEFS on 10/14/2010 00:24:15 MDT Print View

I have been a happy Ex-Offico briefs walker for some years.
Locally (Brisbane Australia) I have advised at least one person who was proud of going COMMANDO (i.e. no u/pants) not to because of the prevalence of ticks & often leeches with dangers therein. I remember one hilarious occasion of Grant calling in at small rural hospital North Queensland with a TICK IN HIS NAVEL after our removal efforts failed. Leeches in the eye are also an interesting scenario which we best solved via salt water then sterile saline solution (now always in our first aid kits for eye injuries so possible in thick scrub).

LOU D

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Boxer briefs! on 10/14/2010 00:56:40 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 chaffing problem and they look soooo good as far as the "package" is concerned (this, according to my wife, who is an student of such matters). ;-D

Stargazer


-----------------------------------------------------------

Ditto.

donald buckner
(toomanyarrows)

Locale: Southeast U.S.
Another fan on 10/14/2010 09:41:20 MDT Print View

I wear 34 pants, and the mediums are a good fit. I bought a couple pair 2 years ago, and since picked up enough to wear daily. I really like mine and my wife likes them too.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
lower cost option?: Ex Officio Briefs on 10/14/2010 10:05:46 MDT Print View

I've found Boxer briefs to be great for all the same advantages mentioned above.

But Champion brand has worked well for me at about half the cost.

They are light, fit well, are very breathable, the waist band stays flat and they dry quickly.

Last July in New Mexico I put them on wet after washing them (and myself) and they were dry less than an hour later. But I can't say I know that'd work as well in other climates.

Will Newton
(Newts) - MLife

Locale: Bay Area
Re: Smell? on 10/14/2010 11:56:38 MDT Print View

Must weigh in here. I spend my summers doing research in the West Bank; I take a minimal amount of clothing and whatever goes needs to be comfortable and durable. Based on those two conditions, I decided on Ex Officio boxer briefs last year.

The smell, the mindbending eau-de-vagrant small-children-leave-the-room-and-animals-give-you-censorious-looks SMELL, after just two weeks, was so offensive that I stopped wearing underwear altogether. My colleagues eventually made a joke out of it, but given that in rural Arab culture bad smells are associated with bad omens, it was shaping up to be an actual impediment to my work.

This year, took Icebreaker 150 boxer briefs. No smell. Arguably less chafey. International incident averted. Your mileage may vary, but I am an ex-ex-officio user for life.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Smell? on 10/14/2010 15:34:08 MDT Print View

Hi William

Did you wash them?

I have worn my two pairs continuously for two to three months while walking in Europe, and the smell was never really noticeable. We washed them every 2 - 3 days.

Cheers

Robert Larue
(RobertL) - F
merino beats synthetic on 10/14/2010 21:39:48 MDT Print View

I've been using the Icebreaker 150 wt boxer briefs for two years and they honestly can't be beat. They never get the synthetic "wet" feeling, dry uber fast and stay cool when it's hot out. I wore the same pair continuously for two weeks on the CT in 2009 without any problems. I've tried all sorts of synthetics but I don't know how nylon compares. Unless there's something dramatically superior with nylon compared to other synthetics, merino wool is the way to go.

Edited by RobertL on 10/14/2010 21:41:12 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: merino beats synthetic on 10/14/2010 21:45:16 MDT Print View

To respond to Matthew:

I have the Ex-Officio boxer briefs as well as some Smartwool boxer briefs. I like them both, but I have to lean towards the merino wool. I wore them for a week straight in August while hiking through Glacier NP, and they were always comfortable, dried quickly, and kept odors at bay. About every other day I would wash them in a creek, wring them out, and put them right back on. They were dry within a half hour.

However, while neither pair shows signs of wear yet, I'm anticipating the Ex-Officio to hold up better.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: True to fit? on 10/17/2010 15:24:39 MDT Print View

The XL fits me right and I wear Levi's 35 waist.

Note that the number - 35- on US pant sizes have little relation to any actual measurement.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re Recommended rating on 10/17/2010 16:26:55 MDT Print View

Hi all

Ron (MLD) has asked me why didn't I give them a 'Highly Recommended' rating. It's a very good question. Can one give a pair of underpants a 'Highly Recommended' rating? Um ...

Maybe I should have given them Highly Recommended instead? Does anyone have experiences which would mitigate against that?

Cheers

Dennis Phelan
(dennisphelan) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ex-Officio Brief Review on 10/18/2010 00:53:00 MDT Print View

The Ex-Officio is a great brand and does everything they claim. I prefer the boxer style, One downside is that for home use; they tell you not to put them in the clothes dryer. Not a big deal, just a pain to sort and hang up.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review" on 10/18/2010 01:38:42 MDT Print View

I believe I donated my Ex-Officio Give-N-Go briefs to the local Goodwill, the waistband was awful on me. They chafed me like mad, rubbed me raw in the inner thigh region by days end. I wear a pair of Smartwool Boxer briefs when I wear pants on trips, these are the most comfortable I've found so far. They're swimming hole approved. Typically, I hike in New Balance split running shorts with wicking liners and have no issues.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Smartwool on 10/18/2010 06:00:09 MDT Print View

Apparently the Smartwool underwear wears out quickly:


http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=8213

. . . unless they've changed the design/ formulation.

Any thoughts?

My quest: the search for the perfect underdrawers.

Stargazer

John Roan
(JRoan) - MLife

Locale: Vegas
Re: Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs Review on 10/19/2010 13:58:20 MDT Print View

Ex-Officio boxer briefs are the best I've tried...don't leave home without them!

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North; UK
best briefs... on 10/19/2010 16:15:31 MDT Print View

Highly recommended - yes, for me.

I have tried/worn/discarded/lent to friends (who aren't friends) a vast selection of shreddies in the past...

Paramo Cambia - so so...Mont Bell Silk - great but fragile (maybe it is me), North Face coolmax - dire, Helly Hansen - worse, North Face Seamless - OK, Odlo mesh - great if hard to find and durability an issue, Marks & Spencer microskins - excellent and cheap (eat your heart out Colonial Cousins :-)...

Ex-Officio - 5-6 years of wearing these now (not continually I hasten to add); great balance of 'don't know they are there' - 'easy to have a pee out off' - 'wash n wear' - all good - durable - they are great.

I even wear them to work most days; outside my suit ;-)

Will Newton
(Newts) - MLife

Locale: Bay Area
Re: Re Recommended rating on 10/19/2010 16:21:06 MDT Print View

Roger, washed them every three days. It may be a matter of body chemistry... :)

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
EX-O waistband on 10/19/2010 16:22:55 MDT Print View

> the waistband was awful on me.

I think the waistband is the weak link on the exo boxer briefs. They rise too high and seem a bit uncomfortable after a long day.

Thus, I fold the waistband down onto the brief. Problems solved, at least for me.

BTW, based on the discussions I ordered a $45.00 (gulp) pair of the Smartwool boxer briefs for experimental purposes. ;-)

I'll let ya'll know how things are hangin' after I wear them for a weekender this weekend.

Briefly yours,

Stargazer

Edited by nerdboy52 on 10/19/2010 16:27:20 MDT.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
+1 Highly Rec on 10/27/2010 18:48:09 MDT Print View

I'm a boxers kind of guy but have to say I love wearing the ex-oficio boxer-briefs. I've since bought a pair of their boxers (accidental, thought it was boxer briefs) and another boxer-brief. I prefer the box-briefs to the regular boxers.

I don't have any smell issues with mine and generally wash them every other day or so. They feel great, protect against chafing (which actually has never been too much of problem) and are probably the coolest underwear next to cotton out here in the desert.

I'll also say the ladies seem to highly approve of them as well; they love seeing the glutes.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Smartwool boxer briefs on 10/29/2010 11:42:07 MDT Print View

Just wanted to report on the Smartwool boxer briefs.

Oh, yeah. Sooo comfortable and equal to the EXO's on the stink issue. My only concern: their long-term sustainability. My EXO's are rock solid after many uses over many days. The Smartools seem fragile, but I won't be able to evaluate them fairly on that score until I've worn them a bit.

Briefly yours,

Stargazer

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Smartwool boxer briefs on 10/29/2010 15:30:38 MDT Print View

Hi Thomas

> The Smartwools seem fragile,
My experience with wool too.
Report back please!

cheers

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Smartwool boxer briefs on 10/29/2010 15:53:06 MDT Print View

I haven't worn the Smartwool boxer briefs, but have used them from Icebreaker & Minus33 quite a lot. In fact, I've found the things so comfortable I wear them daily as often as possible! I reckon each pair has a couple months of wear on them, & they all seem to be in like-new condition. Quite happy with comfort & durability! Of course, as I think about it, my boxer briefs aren't directly subjected to much brush bustin'...

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Smartwool boxer briefs on 10/29/2010 16:08:42 MDT Print View

Thomas, I hope your Smartwool boxer briefs last longer than mine did. In less than a year they became crotchless. Here's a link to a thread in another forum discussing the issue.