Gear Review: Two Great Pairs of Underoos for Active Women, Featuring Patagonia and Ibex Wool

Wearing the Patagonia Women's Active Boy Short
on a winter hike. They're there, I promise!
I think I speak for both genders when I say, having quality and properly-fitting underwear is an absolute must, whether you're an outdoor adventurer or not. I'll-fitting unmentionables can make everyday activities uncomfortable, but if you're hiking, skiing, biking, or doing something else active, I'd argue the right underwear is essential, even priceless.  I've had plenty a pair of underwear that worked well for everyday use, but didn't work at all for outdoor activities. Thankfully, I've found two pairs that are perfect for just about everything.

To make this incredibly short list, the underoos had to score well in several criteria - fit, breathability, overall comfort (no super tight waistbands), and durability. It doesn't hurt if they're cute, too. And just to illustrate how great the two I chose to feature are, there were three other pairs (these, these and these) that didn't make the cut. They either fit poorly, were uncomfortable, or just not right. Here are the two that did make the cut:

Patagonia Women's Active Boy Short
I really, really like these shorts, as evidenced by the fact that I currently have four pairs in my Drawer of Unmentionables. I've worn them to bed on ultra high-humidity nights camping, on hikes, backpacking trips, skiing, even ice climbing. They're super soft and stretchy and the seams hit in just the right places. They're breathable and fast-drying, which makes them ideal for serious outdoor activity. The legs are just long enough not to ride up while I'm running around and I've worn them comfortably under jeans. They also last forever. I bought my first pair two years ago and still have them, though they've stretched slightly. They fit true to size; I'm a medium and am a medium for just about everything else. The best part? They're 100% recyclable through Patagonia's Common Threads Recycling Program.

Ibex Balance Boy Short
Despite what products from Ibex have shown me, I still half expect anything wool I put on to be itchy and uncomfortable - two descriptors I'd never want attached to my underwear. On the contrary, the Balance Boy Short is smooth, soft and as comfortable as could be. They looked small out of the box, but stretched to fit perfectly. I tested them out under my snow pants up at Killington and on a winter hike in the Poconos, among other places, and found they kept me warmer than I'd have expected from a pair of underwear. It will be interesting to see if they're too warm for the summer, though they do breathe well. I love the idea of a seamless pair of boy shorts too; seams can cause issues, especially if they're improperly designed in.

The legs did ride up a bit when I skied, but that seems to come with any boy-cut underwear that isn't completely skin tight. As with the Patagonia Women's Active Boy Short, I've worn them comfortably under jeans, but wouldn't wear them under tights. The Balance Boy Shorts fit true to size, but make sure you don't put them in the dryer; wool will shrink like crazy. As with all products Ibex, you can see exactly where the fibers came from and where the products are made on I'd love to see them in additional colors, but love the bright blue.

Eventually, I'd love to test the EMS Women's Seamless Boy Short when more sizes are available. Ladies, any other unmentionables you think deserve to have a place on this list? Leave a comment!


Meghan J. Ward said…
Some of my favourite ladies underwear for the active lifestyle comes from lululemon! The technikinis are my fav: 
Katie L said…
Thanks for the tip, Meghan! I tested the Groovy Girlshort, and like them for everyday wear, but they're pretty skimpy as far as coverage goes. The name's a bit deceiving. That's why they didn't make the list. But I'll look at the Technikinis!