Running Underwear: Check Out This Runner's 14 Favorite Undies

Looking for comfortable, anti-chafing running underwear to help you go the distance? 

Check out this runner's 14 favorite undies...

When the weather turns, running shorts with inner briefs go into hibernation...

...And out come tights and track pants, and along with them, underwear. 

You might be thinking:

  • “I don’t wear running underwear with tights.” 

At times, neither do I.

In fact, according to the 2016 Runner’s World State of the American Runner survey: 

  • 61% of runners surveyed said they go commando
  • 39% of runners surveyed said they run in underwear

While commando is great, sometimes underwear feels better, especially when:

  • NOT wearing shorts-with-inner-briefs 
  • Temperatures drop, and my booty gets goosebumps
  • Doing a long run and out in the woods for hours 
  • Wearing tights or pants with seams in the crotch area - underwear protects the skin from those 

The underwear on this list are not only ideal for running but also excellent for:

  • Active lifestyles
  • All sports (I even wear the merino wool ones under my drysuit when kayaking),
  • Travel
  • Multi-day backpacking, bikepacking or river trips
  • Daily use  

Because they’re all constructed from lightweight, moisture wicking, quick-drying materials, I wear them for EVERYTHING, every day, which sets me up for being run-ready at all times. 

For assistance in determining your own size, here are the female wear tester’s measurements:

  • Height: 5’ 3 ¾”
  • Weight: 120-125 pounds
  • Waist: 27.75 inches
  • Hips: 34 inches
  • Thigh circumference: 18.5 inches
  • Inseam: 28 inches
  • Typical pant size: 2, sometimes 0 if the brand runs large

🩲 The Running Underwear Line-Up

🩲 Best Bikini & Fit

1. Branwyn Essential Bikini (Photo/ author)

Branwyn aptly calls their underwear and merino wool bralettes (I own three, they're wonderful!) “performance innerwear.”

A runner friend recommended the brand...

  • So I took her good advice and got the merino wool Branwyn Essential Bikini, which I wear in size small. 
  • It has an excellent overall fit, snug yet stretchy, soft yet durable, fitted yet not restrictive, and retains its shape. 
  • They are 81 percent extra fine Merino wool, 12 percent nylon and seven percent Spandex. 

Not only are the underwear exceptional, so is the company. Branwyn: 

🩲 Most Affordable, “Commando” Feeling & Lightweight

2. ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go 2.0 Sport Mesh Bikini Brief (Photo/ author)
3. ExOfficio Women's Give-N-Go 2.0 Sport Mesh Hipster (Photo/ author)
4. ExOfficio Women's Give-N-Go 2.0 Bikini Brief (Photo/ author)
5. ExOfficio Women's Give-N-Go 2.0 Full Cut Brief (Photo/ author)
6. ExOfficio Modern Collection Bikini Underwear (Photo/ author)

ExOfficio ranks high on almost all “best underwear” for running/ working out/ traveling lists. 

  • It’s more affordable than most quality outdoor and adventure sport underwear on the market, for one. 
  • They can be hand-washed during trips and hung to dry for the next day, making them ideal for multi-day runs, fastpacking, and travel in general.

My favorite styles:

All of the ExOfficio underwear on this list give me that commando feeling, making me forget that I’m wearing any underwear at all. Ideal! 

🩲 Best for Easy Runs, Rest Days & Full Coverage

7. Oiselle Wazzie Wool Briefs (Photo/ author)

When I first took the Oiselle Wazzie Wool Briefs, size small, out of the package, I thought:

  • "Whoa, those are TOO BIG."

Then I tried them on, and though they come pretty darn close to my belly button:

  • I surprisingly like the full-coverage, relaxed fit. 
  • I think an extra small would have worked better for the waist/ butt area but perhaps the leg holes would have been too tight. 
  • The Wazzie Wool Briefs are, obviously, wool, so they’re excellent for cold weather. 

Furthermore, when I get home from a run, they dry super quickly.

  • I can decompress, prepare post-run food, and foam roll, without having to immediately strip off sweat-drenched drawers.
  • These work well with under track or jogger-style running pants.

Bonus: the placement of seams and stitching and wide, bird-print waistband give them a fun, feminine look. 

🩲 Best Hipster Style & Company

8. Patagonia Barely Hipster Underwear (Photo/ author)

Patagonia unequivocally leads the outdoor clothing industry in its:

  • Activism and environmental preservation and conservation...
  • Making purchasing their products feel like an intentional, humanitarian investment for the health of the Earth. 

As a long-time dedicated Patagonia lover...

  • The Patagonia Barely Hipster Underwear, which I wear in size small, is a cherished piece of apparel.
  • It feels like a high-end, expertly designed piece of (athletic) lingerie. 
  • They are moisture wicking, lightweight, quick-drying, super stretchy, comfy
  • And worth every penny, especially since those pennies go toward saving the planet, Patagonia’s mission. 

✅ Company founder Yvon Chouinard famously donated the entire company to fight climate change after Forbes listed him as a millionaire in 2022. This is one gargantuan step in the right direction. 

🩳 Best Boy Shorts for Track Pants & Joggers

9. Ridge Merino Women's Ridge Boy Shorts Underwear (Photo/ author)

Because running all year in all types of weather is my jam, I got a pair of Ridge Merino Women's Ridge Boy Shorts Underwear, per the recommendation of a runner friend.


  • Covering the entire butt and then some, they keep the entire booty/hip region shiver-free during long, cold runs. 
  • They are both warm and lightweight, made from 180g Merino Wool with (m)Force™ Technology + spandex
  • They're made from a fabric content of 84% Merino wool, 12% Nylon and 4% Spandex.

If you wear these with leggings:

  • The leg holes aren’t rimmed with grippers to hold them in place when pulling fitted leggings over them.
  • Sometimes I have to put my hand down my pants and flatten out the bottoms if I’m wearing them with leggings. 
  • Thus, they work best under track or jogger-style running pants.

🩳 Best Boy Shorts for Tights

10. Runderwear Running Boy Shorts (Photo/ author)

Perhaps the Runderwear Running Boy Shorts, which I wear in size small, is where Runderwear has won their acclaimed awards. 

  • I can say that these saved me from writing off the Runderwear brand forever, based on experience with two other styles (read the reviews here).

The Running Boy Shorts are:

  • Super soft, seamless, smooth, comfortable, uber stretchy
  • Have a grippy band around the leg holes to prevent riding up when pulling on tights
  • And, frankly, look and feel exactly like stretchy shorts. 

If it weren’t for the word “Runderwear” printed on the hip, I would rock these as shorts. 

  • In fact, one day I took off my capris mid-run and ran in only the Running Boy Shorts.
  • I got too hot and was on a remote trail midday during the week (i.e., no passersby). 
  • Crazy, you think? Hey, I own shorts that are shorter than these.

These are great for runners who like a boy short underneath their leggings or track pants.

Bonus: they’re perfect as stand-alone shorts for at-home yoga and workout sessions! 

🩲 Most Classic Merino Wool

11. Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Bikini (Photo/ author)

The Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Bikini, which I wear in sizes small and extra small, are a classic staple when it comes to merino underwear. 

  • They are soft, simple, and stretchy. 
  • They retain their shape in daily wear
  • But I have found that the size small gets a bit loose after wearing them in a row when camping or backpacking. 
  • The extra small is a better fit in that regard. 

Also, not to base my sizing recommendations on this...

😲But once I jumped into a sub-40-degree river in nothing but these and a sports bra, and on the way out, the underwear were so water-logged and heavy that they were falling off! 

  • Perhaps the Runderwear Boy Shorts would work better for polar plunges with quick exits from the water!

12. Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Hipster

Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Hipster (Photo/ author)

The Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Hipster, which I wear in size small, is a fuller coverage version than the Bikini with all the same wonderful components. 

All in all, Smartwool knows how to make a quality product.

  • And just like their socks and base layers, their underwear stand up to the test of time. 
  • The fabric content for both the Bikini and Hipster is 68 percent Merino Wool, 24 percent Nylon and eight percent Spandex. 

🩲 Softest, Stretchiest & Barely-There Feeling

13. Tracksmith Brighton Briefs

13. Tracksmith Brighton Briefs (Photo/ author)

When I think Tracksmith, I think posh, high-end, exquisitely designed running apparel.

The Tracksmith Brighton Briefs, which I wear in size small, exemplifies these qualities. 

  • They take buttery soft to the next level.
  • They are so lightweight with the perfect amount of stretch that I often forget I’m wearing any underwear at all. 

That’s the goal, right? 

  • These perform magically, with style points for the cute little red hare on the hip and sporty red and white waistband.

When it comes to romantic gifts from my husband, I’ll take some strong and sexy Tracksmith briefs over a lacey Victoria Secret number any day! 

🩸Best Period Underwear

14. Thinx air Bikini period underwear (Photo/ author)

In 2021, I invested in period underwear to eliminate the use of pads, which are heinous.

The Thinx air Bikini period underwear, which I wear in size small, are my go-tos for running.

  • They offer a light absorbency...
  • Which means that they are not as thick as some of the other options and work well for movement. 
  • Depending on the cycle day and length of run, I can wear these with a tampon or without. 
  • The longest run I’ve done in these is a half marathon. 

Recently Thinx settled a lawsuit concerning PFAS in the underwear:

🩲 Final thoughts on running underwear

Runner friends...

Ditch those cotton multi-packs from the local department store and treat yourself to some quality running underwear. 

You’ll be happy you did! 

🩲 Do you wear running underwear?

Tell us about it in the comments.

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Brynn Cunningham
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Trail runner, ultrarunner, white water boater, cyclist (mostly MTB), swimmer, triathlete, cross country and backcountry skier...


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