by Diane Spicer
Womens hiking underwear seems shrouded in mystery, based on the amount of email I get about this topic.
Let's cross that mysterious bridge together and get real about what to wear next to your skin on your next hike: the best hiking panties.
Then you can hit the trail in comfort.
Here's the cold, hard truth about a hiking trail: it doesn't give a rip about your comfort.
Which is why women hikers have learned to dress in layers of protection against cold, heat, copious moisture, damaging ultraviolet rays from the sun, wind, abrasive surfaces, prickly vegetation, stinging insects, intrusive eyes - maybe all on the same hike!
But your hiking panties are your first layer of defense and comfort, right?
So let's take a close look at what works for female hikers.
So what's more fundamental than the fabric you pull on to cover your private areas?
Without a doubt, you can purchase cheap hiking underwear at your local big box store, and they will serve you well on a dry, warm, short, flat trail.
But once you gain an appetite for less straightforward hiking, you will need to invest some time and money in high performance undies.
Yes, that means an increase in cost from the bargain bin cheapie cotton undies you might wear to a yoga class or on a neighborhood walk.
But your time, effort and money also buys you all of the essentials for comfort and safety in women's hiking panties:
So please don't sacrifice your safety and comfort by starting off your layering system with the wrong underwear!
You are seeking three important qualities in your high performance women's hiking underwear. Let's take a look.
Look for a bit of spandex added to enhance stretch.
Seek out a "no seam" style so it won't bind or chafe you.
Anti chafing tip: use BodyGlide on delicate areas, even with the best womens hiking underwear.
Some women like thong underwear for daily life, but on the trail, think about how many steps you are going to be taking.
A boy short cut might not play well with your choice of hiking pants.
A hipster panty (not a trendy flannel shirt wearer, but a pair of hiking underwear that sits on your hips) gives you enough coverage to keep your pants, shorts or skirt in place - but doesn't bind or constrict you at the waist.
Luckily, there are just a few hiking rules to follow when selecting the best womens hiking underwear for your hiking plans.
And they come directly from that list we just looked at!
If you've heard veteran outdoors women say "cotton kills", read this for an explanation, and some best practices, to avoid trouble like hypothermia on a hiking trail.
(Hint: Cotton is not just a problem on a winter hike. Don't wear cotton anywhere on your body as a serious hiker.)
You want free movements around your joints in order to stay safe and balanced while navigating the trail.
No blood flow restrictions to your big muscles groups, either.
And why get crabby because your underwear is too tight?
This "no binding" rule becomes even more important when going off trail.
And don't think you will never have to go off trail.
And you'll need to make pit stops off trail during the day, right?
Remain flexible about the cut and style of underwear that will work best for you on the trail. You might be surprised that a bit more fabric gives you better performance!
Let's call out the attributes of great hiking underwear again:
These types of fabrics are your ally on the trail, day in and day out. So if the tag or description doesn't feature most (preferably all) of these words, move on.
You know exactly the type of fabric and fit you're looking for now.
But don't start your quest for the best women's hiking underwear by looking at price.
Rather than seeking out the highest price point and assuming that it's got to be top of the line, here's how to find high quality choices:
Once you've met all 3 quality indicators (fabric, comfort and fit), then you can start hunting for the best price.
You might be in for a bit of sticker shock.
They don't give away high performance technical hiking underwear!
But rest assured, you'll be wearing these far less than your daily choices (will last longer), and they're built to take what the trail dishes out (durable).
Look for bargains, most frequent at end of season sales.
And always look in the bargain bins at REI Co-op's outlet.
Usually buying in bulk (3 or more pairs of hiking underwear at a time) gives the best cost savings for shipping and final price.
I've been on the trail nearly fifty years (yes, I'm still at it, and loving every minute of it!) so I have a few tips for you in your quest for the best hiking underwear.
And I may be playing fast and loose with the definition of "underwear".
If you wear it under your clothing, that's underwear, right?
So let's include sports bras for hikers in our recommendations.
For the best sports bra tips for hikers, read this.
If you need some tips on finding the best plus size hiking sports bras, read this.
Title Nine is a company that is women owned and led, with women who dedicate a lot of time and effort to finding the perfect sports bra for active women.
They offer an expansive collection of styles and sizing.
Here's their page with tips on how to size up the bra you need.Bra Fitting Guide | How to Fit a Bra | Title Nine
Okay, this is solidly in the category of underwear, we can all agree.
For day hiking panties, consider the ones I rely upon.
Or look at these, which have been great on multi-day backpacking trips because they are comfortable, dry fast, and take up almost no room in a backpack.
I bring 3 pairs of these women's high cut briefs on a multi day trip:
The back up pair also serves as my clean underwear strategy for the last trail day, when I know I'm heading (reluctantly) back to civilization.
Title Nine's underwear is also a great pick for hikers:
Nothing is more irritating on the trail than underwear that binds, chafes, migrates into unwanted areas, and leaves you a soggy mess at the end of the day.
I'd be happy to answer any questions you have, just use this CONTACT link.
Congratulations on your proactive search for the best womens day hiking and backpacking underwear.
Now how are you doing on your sock quest? Hiking socks are another underestimated piece of hiking gear.
Womens Hiking Underwear
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About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She's been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for 5+ decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.
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Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.
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