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Wool boxer-brief comparison?
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Brendan West

Locale: Northeast Pennsylvania
Wool boxer-brief comparison? on 03/29/2010 21:01:15 MDT Print View

Looking for merino boxers, I can find four choices: Smartwool Microweight Boxer Briefs, Ibex Zephyr Wool Boxer Shorts, M.E.C. Merino Wool Micro Light Boxers and, of course, Backpacking Light Beartooth Merino Shorts.

The technical details for each vary widely. E.g.,

• Smartwool has almost no information about their boxers vis-à-vis weight, inseam, wool thickness.

• Ibex* is a little better, listing inseams (6.5–7 inches, depending on product size) and wool thickness (18.5 microns), but it does not list weight.

• M.E.C.* says its shorts are 80g in size medium, but does not list an inseam or wool thickness.

• The Beartooth shorts seem to have vanished from in the recent shipping-facility transition.

Does anyone own any of these boxers and can provide information on the above figures?

*The scale tips slightly toward Ibex and M.E.C. as their boxers are made in the United States and Canada, respectively. Smartwool's are made overseas. (I have nothing against imported products, but given a choice between identical products, I'd choose the one made "locally" first.)

Edited by bderw on 03/29/2010 21:17:43 MDT.

Philip Mitchell
(pmops5) - F

Locale: Florida
merino on 03/29/2010 21:14:36 MDT Print View

Don't forget Icebreaker. I have a pair of the 150 Bodyfits that weight 2.85 oz for a medium

Brendan West

Locale: Northeast Pennsylvania
Re: merino on 03/29/2010 21:19:51 MDT Print View

Thanks! I had not heard of Icebreakers before. I'll have to check them out.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: merino on 03/29/2010 21:25:15 MDT Print View

I love my Icebreakers. But they are made in China, FWIW.

Edited by idester on 03/29/2010 21:25:46 MDT.

Ryan Corder
(demo) - MLife

Locale: Arkansan in Seattle
Re: Wool boxer-brief comparison? on 03/30/2010 00:24:12 MDT Print View

I have several of the Icebreaker and am looking to replace them. Their fabric is very nice, but their waste bands are incredibly stiff and haven't given any even after a year of everyweek use.

Robert Devereux
(robdev) - F

Locale: Pittsburgh, PA
Re: Wool boxer-brief on 03/30/2010 06:57:35 MDT Print View

The Ibex Zephyr has the weight listed on the Tech Specs tab: 230 g/m2. I find them too heavy for non-winter use.

It's out of stock now, but Ibex also makes the Balance Seamless Boxer Briefs. They are my underwear of choice. They are very light (probably 150 g/m2) and very comfortable. I noticed that some people size up in them because they are rather tight, but it works well for me (closer to a second skin feeling rather than clothing).

My experience with Icebreaker has been similar to Ryan's. The waist band is uncomfortable.

Another place to consider is I have their long johns, but not their boxer briefs. They don't list a weight on the Web site, but I'd estimate the long johns are 150 g/m2. They are from sheep raised in the US, and completely manufactured here. When I ordered, I first requested a free sample of the fabric, and that came with a 10% off coupon.

Say Raow
Re: Wool boxer-brief comparison? on 03/30/2010 07:16:07 MDT Print View

I have both the Ibex Balance runner shorts and the BPL Beartooth shorts.

While their both tighter and a little heavier than a general boxer-brief, I find them more comfortable.

If I didn't have a size too small in the Beartooth shorts, they'd be my number one choice, as the Ibex shorts aren't 100% wool. That being said, I'm not convinced the BPL beartooth shorts would last as long as they are thinner too.

I have handled the MEC briefs, but I have never used them or even tried them on. I went another direction because of the seams, which are different than both the shorts I have.

I was just looking at the Ibex website and I can't find their running shorts, looks like they've been discontinued.
However, I am so pleased with the quality of Ibex clothing that I'm sure the Zephyr boxers would be a great choice.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Wool boxer-brief comparison?" on 03/30/2010 07:16:15 MDT Print View


I own the Smartwool Microweight boxer brief shorts, they fit semi snug and are unbelievably comfortable. I don't have the specs on them, never thought to. But they have comfortable flat seams, comfort waist band, and are quite durable for a Smartwool product. I've worn them on almost every backpacking trip and on day hikes over the last 2 yrs. I wouldn't hesitate to use them year round and are perfect for summer use. Good luck making your selection.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Re: "Wool boxer-brief comparison?" on 03/30/2010 07:22:05 MDT Print View

Minus 33 also sells them, usually cheaper than others. They are of good quality too.

If you haven't used merino underwear before, definitely try it out on a short hike before going out for an extended duration. I was all for wool underwear until I got my first bad chaffing. Since then, I either wear shorts with a liner or Ex-Officio Give-and-Go Boxer Brief (not to be confused with their other "briefs" or "boxers").

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
MEC on 03/30/2010 16:04:58 MDT Print View

I own several pairs of the MEC ones. Don't have any numbers for you unfortunately. I think the micron sizing of the wool might be slightly larger than some other brands - I find their long-johns made of the same stuff to be slightly itchy, but no problems with the boxers.
I've had them for about two years of regular use, including cycling 1200k in them without issue. They've held up perfectly and are quite comfy.

Brendan West

Locale: Northeast Pennsylvania
Thank you on 03/30/2010 23:31:15 MDT Print View

Thank you all for writing in with your experiences. I'm now more certain on how to compare the myriad merino boxer-briefs out there.

I e-mailed Ibex to inquire about the Balance boxer-briefs. They said they're in quality control right now, and should be available before the end of spring, if anyone was curious.

I'll let you know what I decide.

Ed Tyanich
(runsmtns) - F - M
Wool Boxers on 03/31/2010 09:10:46 MDT Print View

I love my Ice Breakers, but love the Smartwool's even more. The Smartwool seem slightly lighter weight wool.

The Ibex I've tried didn't fit me very well.

Mark Hume
(seattlesetters) - F

Locale: Pugetropolis
Take a look at I/O Bio ... on 03/31/2010 14:24:42 MDT Print View

I wear a few of I/O Bio's Contact garments. Love 'em....light, comfy and durable. I like them better than comparable Icebreaker, Ibex or Smartwool products.

You may want to consider the I/O Bio Merino Contact Boxer Brief. Really good stuff.

Tim Haynes

Locale: Mid Atlantic
wool boxer-brief comparison on 03/31/2010 15:11:48 MDT Print View

I wear the Icebreaker Relaxed-fit boxer briefs almost exclusively. I know I've posted reviews on here before, and they are leaps and bounds the best drawers in the drawer. I have only compared them directly to the Ibex, and I much prefer the Icebreaker for everyday wear as well as for long days of hiking. Haven't tried any of the other brands -- there has been no need.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
smartwool on 03/31/2010 15:15:54 MDT Print View

I agree with Eugene, smartwool are mega comfy, and the fit is semi-snug. Pretty decent balance. I never find the legs bunching up/riding up, like I do with slimmer fitting boxer-briefs. Never tried the icebreakers, but only because I read so many reviews about how terrible the stiff waistband is. I heard they use to be great, but around 2008 or so they made the change to their current uncomfortable waistband.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Wool boxer-brief comparison? on 04/01/2010 17:19:49 MDT Print View

I like my Minus 33 & Icebreaker boxer briefs, probably prefer the fit of the Minus 33s a little more, I guess... but if you're between sizes, go up.