Let’s face it: A long-haul flight is exactly what it says. A long way to haul yourself to another city in a confined space with plenty of time to get uncomfortable unless you’re lucky enough to be passed out in a lie-flat seat and wearing pajamas. And since most of us don’t have that luxury very often, I want to present to you my short list of favorite underwear brands to wear on those long days of travel where a little comfort goes a long way.
Without getting to deep on the subject, it can be kind of an annoying fact of anatomy that our stuff is all on the outside. It can get smushed, squashed, torqued (god forbid!) and generally squeezed into uncomfortable positions simply by sitting down. And the whole mess can become even less desirable if you’re not wearing the right skivvies. I know some guys prefer boxers, some love their briefs, and others fancy fashion territories like trunks, bikinis and “sports apparel.” So while the options I present to you may not be what comes to your mind first when picking out a fresh pair to wear, I encourage you to have an open mind. If you haven’t a problem crossing timezones, I think you can manage crossing a bit of new territory in undergarment options.
Now, was that all polite enough? Good. On with the trunks show.
The Feels-Like-Nothing-There Option: Obvoiusly
The first contender on my list hails from Australia and was the first major company in the field to put a major emphasis on ergonomic design to the point that you pretty much feel naked when you’re wearing their stuff. Obviously Apparel broke ground with their Modal line of briefs, boxer briefs and trunks when they first debuted in 2007. The design brief (see what I did there?) probably went something like this: “make them fit like a glove.” And the good news is, they do. I can honestly say I’ve never worn underwear from another manufacturer that felt so much like wearing nothing at all. I’ve bought several pairs, in colors ranging from their more sedate basics to the fun seasonal shades and patterns, because there’s no denying how comfortable they are to wear. The modal fabric breathes exceptionally well and is super lightweight, which means less packing space in your luggage while still providing more “packing space” for your boys.
There are other designers out there who have tried to duplicate this type of design (*cough* Andrew Christian *cough*), but my prerogative is to recommend the original since I’ve road tested them thoroughly and I’ve found that both the fit and durability of Obviously is generally superior to those who have tried to imitate them. You can order Obviously products directly or from several other online stores & retail locations.
The Ultimate Road Warrior Option: Frigo No.1
The next offering on the list is what I refer to as my “James Bond Tactical Trunks” since they are so high tech and feature-laden that you’d swear they were designed by Q, but they’re actually from Sweden. Frigo Revolutionwear is so full of bells and whistles, that it should come as no surprise that these shorts are not cheap. In fact, at $100 a pair they’re probably the most expensive pairs of boxers you will ever buy. But unlike some high-end fashion designer’s underwear, that high price returns far more than just a name running along the waistband.
I was lucky enough to try a pair for free through Klout a little over a year ago, which has given me the chance to road test these bad boys on several flights and heavy work days. Now, right off the bat I’m going to say that I don’t really recommend these as everyday wear. Frigo’s trunks utilize a variety of different fabrics and sewing techniques in order to provide you with a customizable, comfort-focused fit that’s designed specifically for long and/or physically active wear. The most obvious highlight of this is their adjustable internal suspension system that allows you to find the perfect fit for your bait and tackle. They’re basically the man’s version of an 18-hour bra.
I doubt you’d really appreciate all the features on an average day at the office, but you certainly notice a difference in how comfortable you feel at the end of many hours of traveling across the country (or the globe) or high activity. All those fancy wicking fabrics, mesh inserts and strategically placed “breathing holes” do work. So if you’re a road warrior who finds themselves on more than a fair share of 8+ hour flights, I’d argue that the $100 investment for one pair is a solid one. My only disappointment is that Frigo is offered solely in either a 9” or 6” inseam boxer brief style, but rumor has it they’re working on a next-gen version and I’m hopeful that might include a shorter trunk or brief design.
The All-Around Great Guy Option: Billy
Finally, we come to a relatively new product line from the well-established Australian swimwear and menswear company, Aussiebum. Their new(ish) Billy line of low-rise cotton briefs are simple in design, but remarkably comfortable and durable. And while they may look like a 70s throwback, you can rest assured that there’s just the right amount of room up front to make these one of the best pairs to put on under your favorite jeans when you take to the skies or hit the road. Though not quite as anatomically-focused as our previous two contenders, the Billy briefs may very well be the most balanced. These can easily cross over into everyday wear and are also priced quite affordably. Oh, and they look great on!
I ordered my first pair mainly because this video game geek was instantly smitten with one of the patterns they offer, a fun 80s Space Invaders-like design. But don’t worry if silly skivvies aren’t your thing because Billy comes in many solid colors as well. It wasn’t long before I was sending in a second order for both myself & The Elf. And then a third order. He too reports that they are some of his favorite to wear. And while they take awhile to reach your front door (unless you live in one of the cities where Aussiebum happens to have a retail partner), I have to say these are totally worth the 10-day wait. Even if you don’t travel, it’s worth adding Billy to your drawer.
Honorable Mentions: 2(x)ist, CK & C-IN2
One of my best friends considers himself a serious connoisseur of today’s subject matter, and said I’d be remiss to not mention a few other brands that, while not in my top 3 for travel, are still comfortable and get the job done better than a pair of Hanes or Jockey could: 2(x)ist, C-IN2 and the Bold line of underwear from Calvin Klein are all good choices for everyday comfort and can be found at a vast array of retailers. I’m in total agreement that they all do a great job in regards to fit and function, they’re just not the absolute winners in my book. So if you can’t get your hands on any of the above mentioned top favorites, these three brands are all solid performers that will not disappoint. Plus, you can often find them on sale!