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REI’s Midweight RTS Brief

6/16/02 Underwear Options

My one big travel rule is: Experience the place where you are as fully as possible. Anything that gets in the way of this is a distraction. I try to anticipate what may become problematic, while I have opportunities to make adjustments. Looking after my physical comfort beforehand allows me to be fully present in the moment, able to notice and experience more when it really matters.

Which brings me to the topic of underwear. There are various travelers’ strategies I have run across in my research:

  1. The Purist: just doesn’t wear any. Pros: simplicity. Cons: pants don’t stay as clean; possible exposure if wearing skirts.

  2. The Disposal: takes many old pairs, throws them away when they become unbearable. Pros: less laundry. Cons: takes up more packing space initially; not practical for longer journeys; old, worn out undies not optimally comfortable.

  3. The Minimalist: Takes only two pairs, one to wash, one to wear. Pros: light and compact. Cons: need to do laundry every night; may have to wear damp undies.

While none of these approaches is optimal all the time, there is hope. A new generation of underwear has arrived, using all the latest technological breakthroughs...I call it “underware.”

What makes underware different from the panties, boxers and briefs that have come before? It starts with hi-tech microfibers, which wick away perspiration so you feel cooler and dryer. These fabrics are easy to wash and air dry quickly. Some are anti-microbial as well, to control odor. The designs are simple, with wide comfortable waistbands and roomy leg bands for greater mobility and less chance of “ride-up” or chafing.

The only drawback to underware is the price: they cost 2-4x what you may normally spend. But when I consider what I am already spending to travel in the first place, the cost seems worth it.

REI looks like a bargain with REI’s Midweight RTS Brief (reg. $13, currently on sale for $8.93), which I bought this weekend and already is earning high marks for comfort. This week I will also be testing REI’s Featherweight Brief (also reg. $13, $8.93 on sale), which I suspect will take less time to dry and be cooler in hot climates.

I am also interested in trying out Ex Officio’s Full Cut Brief ($18) and Tilley Endurables High-Cut Brief ($15) which the company claims “Sexy they may not be but only two pair will take you around the world!”

If you have experience with any of these (or related) products please let me know what you like...I will be writing an update once I've had the chance to try them all out.

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REI’s Featherweight

Ex Officio’s Full Cut


Tilley Endurables
High-Cut Brie



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