Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Anti-Chaffing Clothing and Treatments

Last fall, for the first time in my backpacking career, I faced a very unfun experience while backpacking - chaffing. As I explained to my hiking partners who found the situation entirely more comical than I did, I felt like I had been bit in the crotch by a Rottweiler.

At the time, I was wearing Merino Wool underwear by Minus 33 which in the past helped control odor and stood up better to long-term use. I can't say I know what caused the difference as my cleaning habits and temperature control remained the same, but nonetheless I elected to search for a better solution as wearing wool on an area of my body that is fairly vital didn't seem to make a ton of sense. Chaffing is caused by abrasion and made worse through hot and moist environments. So good hygiene and ventilating gear choices both play a significant role to offer the best chance of success.

After a lot of research, I decided to use a combination of synthetic shorts, and synthetic briefs, coupled with periods where I wore only the shorts by themselves while on the move.

For the shorts, I elected to go with the Mountain Hardware Refueler $44 ( They are extremely light, pack small, dry quick, are long enough to not look terribly dorky, have a very nice feel to them, and get the job done. They also come with an interior support system (net liner) which helps on those days when I elect to avoid wearing anything else to get the best ventilation possible. I had tried other options and several different offerings from Patagonia almost made the cut, but I dubbed the Refueler as the best for my needs. It comes with only one little "key" pocket in the back, which is helpful, but I do wish it had other pockets. I'm not quite sure why as I have a pack on my back full of stuff, but I guess I just like compartmentalizing things. And no, please don't recommend a pair of Umbro's or running shorts as they offend the trees just as much as they offend the general public.

Researching underwear was a lot tougher because it was a next-to-skin layer that needed to be more performance-based. I've known about nano technologies and silver treatments for awhile which are being used in Europe and tested with the U.S. military. These high-tech attributes help with stink control and longevity. Unfortunately, they are hard to find and are very costly. In the end, I decided to go with the ExOfficio Boxer Briefs $25 ( This shouldn't be confused with many other similar named products from ExOfficio and is worth noting that I think ExOfficio may very well be discontinuing this product. I found the tighter these briefs the better. There are other simlar products from Under Armour and others, but I found the ExOfficio to offer the best all round performance.
If necessary, other anti-chaffing tools include treatments with Hydropel (, BodyGlide (, or my new favorite because it comes in such a small and useful package, BandAid Friction Block Stick (


Robert said...

I received an email concerning the boxer brief stating that they have no plans of discontinuing them.

Jared said...

They aren't discontinued, I've been using exofficio for years. They are great for in between the leg chaffage, but not in other areas just slightly higher, some form of anti chaff is still needed.

The Odyssee said...

I had the same awful chaffing with Merino boxers. i changed to X-bionics and no problems since.

Enjoyed reading your posts.

Jolly Green Giant said...

For a compression short, I'd have to agree that the X-bionics are top end. I was actually looking to buy a full length pant for winter running, but just could get myself to drop the cash for it.

The Odyssee said...

Spending a few bucks on X-bionics is certainly less painful than chaffing in the private regions.
I also found that wearing the Merino boxers inside out didn't cause me a problem. Might be worth you trying it and see if it works.

jsstylos said...

Thanks for the tip on the Refuelers. I picked up a pair and love them, super light while still being modestly long and comfortable. They work great commando also. Now if only I could find a pair of long pants or convertibles that I liked as much.