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ExOfficio produces some very sturdy and specialized travel clothing, one such popular item being the travel underwear.
Yes, you read that right. There is, in fact, a market for travel underwear, especially for those that want to travel light and have the best quality underwear in their backpacks. However, it seems that many travelers are turned off by these items because the female versions can run anywhere from $16 to $20 each, and that’s not cheap. The real issue at hand is deciding whether or not this price is worth it.
>> Check out our full travel underwear guide.
Why the Price?
You see these aren’t just any panties; these panties have been produced using a super quick-drying material and treated with Aegis Microbe Shield, which means they dry faster and stay un-smelly longer.
It also means you should be able to travel with less underwear. If you’re one of those people that is looking for any way to make your backpack lighter (like cutting the ends off your toothbrushes), then these might be for you. They might even be for those that just want to keep it simple, like myself.
How Many Do You Need?
How light and simple you can travel with these underwear is another question, though. The original tag line for these underwear (I believe) said something like:
“17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of underwear.”
I never really understood this tag line since I could never get my head around what you are supposed to do when you’re actually washing them. Or, were you not supposed to wash them at all? No, one pair just didn’t seem like enough, no matter how quick-drying they are, which is why I was happy to see the addition of this line to the website:
“Okay, maybe two.”
Well, that’s better… but is that really all you need?
Several years ago I couldn’t let myself wonder any longer. I was curious, so when I found some online at sale prices, I bought four (two really didn’t sound like enough). Two and a half years later, they were still kickin’.
In short: yes, they’re worth it. In depth: they have some faults, but not enough to concern the traveler that is after function over style.
- Durability. After 2.5 years, of casual use, they are still in great condition.
- Texture. The meshy texture helps you build up a lather when hand-washing clothes in hostel sinks.
- Comfort. The bikini briefs give full coverage and are great for exercise, walking, hiking, and other activities where wedgies are a problem.
- Style. They lack style, and may even resemble granny panties. Looking to hook-up on the road? Hmm… maybe think again. (They have updated the look to be a little cuter these days.)
- Thickness. The string bikini versions have very thick trim. You can often see the lines under your clothes, which is annoying.
- Drying. Sometimes, they dried quickly while others they seemed to take a bit longer. This obviously depends on climate and air flow where they are hung. Would I say that you could definitely wash them in the evening and expect them to be dry by morning? No, don’t expect it.
- Liners. The material isn’t the best for sticking panty liners and pads to. Sometimes they stay put, and others they get a little off-guard. Anyone else have experience?
On the original posting of this video back on Brooke vs. the World, I got a response from Erica at ExOfficio. Of particular interest was her note of upcoming improvements in the area of style:
You’ll be happy to know that this spring, we did a bit of revamping to the women’s underwear, which included making the waistband elastic less thick. Hopefully, that will eliminate all the problems of lines on your skin from the string bikini’s band.
Also, this Summer — exclusively starting at REI* — we’re launching a new line of women’s underwear, made from the same fabric, but with a sexier twist.
I haven’t personally tried the new versions out, but I would be interested in hearing your own reviews of these “sexier” undergarments.
UPDATED: The sexier version are the Give-n-Go Lacey underwear. Read more about them here.
Well, if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably thinking about making a purchase. You can always try out a pair and then buy more if you think they will work with your travel style. Optimally, I would shoot for a minimum of 3 pairs, but 4 is better as it gives you more time to wash in between wears.
Be sure to read our Ultimate Travel Underwear Guide to get more info on Exofficio and other travel underwear brands.
Great post! I am in the process of purchasing clothes/gear for a 2 year backpacking trip to start in the fall and had read about this underwear but wasn’t sure if it was worth getting. Pretty sure you’ve convinced me!
Hey Brooke! I’ve been back and forth on getting these and your review def helps (i heard they were really uncomfy and i worry about “woman issues” happening from not using cotton)… I really don’t think i’d mind bringing a cpl more pairs of cotton underwear, to save money and not worry about buying the right size/returning online, etc.. but my main question/concern was what about sweating and humidity?? I’ll be in SE Asia for 3 months in jan and i heard it’s going to be SO hot. Obv the travel panties will help with that BUT if i choose cotton instead, will i be dying of sweat and way uncomfy during the hot days?
This is also my first backpacking trip- my first trip abroad anywhere. What do you recommend?
Hi Gina! What about getting a trial pair and see how you like them. Take them to work out and see how they fare in hotter conditions? They are wicking and quick drying so they should help keep you drier in humid conditions. The X-O are super durable and will last you through washing, hand washing, etc. repeatedly. If you’re nervous, why not do a couple X-O and the rest cotton. Every body is different, but I’ve gotten rave reviews from the women who won the free pair in my giveaway a while back. The give-n-go lacy are definitely more comfortable than the original. I definitely recommend getting 1 pair and trying it out for a couple wears, and working out, and then ordering really quick more if you love them. But, brining 2 pairs of cotton will never hurt — you can ditch them if you decide on the road 🙂
So I’ve been backpacking around South America with 2 pairs of exofficio undies for the last 8 months and I could not recommend them enough. I got the black “boy shorts” style. (I think that’s what they’re called). They actually look cute ish and are very comfortable, especially doing anything active where sweaty underwear can be really uncomfortabel.
I found the trick to making sure they dry quickly is after washing them in the sink or shower I make sure I rub them in my towel to begin the drying process and I have never woken up to find them still wet. In the sun you might wait 30 mins max.
They really are my favourite thing I packed. Some friends have travelled a bit in between the last 8 months and they always ask me what I’m glad I packed and what I wish I had left behind etc. I always tell them to get a couple pairs of exofficios. Although I feel completely confident I could continue to travel with just the two pairs, I do travel with a couple extra cotton undies just to change things up a bit. It’s nice to wear something different sometimes, but really and truly I know I could go with just the two pairs. They are that good. So if you’re still ummming and ahhing about whether to spend the money on them, just do it! You will not be disappointed if you’re backpacking etc and need to pack light.
Ps. Meant to also mention I have had the same trouble with panty liners not sticking to the fabric well. They don’t stick as well as I would like but that’s honestly the only minor complaint I have. And it’s so minor, it doesn’t bother me and I use panty liners daily.
I have two pair of the briefs and two of the newer, lacy, sexier ones, and I LOVE them! I use them for travel, but also working out at home and hiking. They are the best backpacking underwears ever.
If you are looking for something even cuter, Patagonia’s Active Hipster briefs come in colors, including super cute stripes. I don’t love them functionally as much as Ex Officio, but they are super cute. So, you could take one pair of Ex Officio briefs for comfort/hiking, one pair of the lacy ones for looking cuter, and one pair of the Patagonias to change it up 🙂
Another thing I like about the Ex Officio full briefs is that they double as a full coverage bikini bottom. I take a bathing suit when traveling, but when wilderness backpacking (trekking, for the Europeans) I don’t like to carry extra clothes – just one pair of undies to wear on the trail, another for in camp while the other pair is drying.
Ripeka Piripi says
Just wanted to add my 2 cents. I bought 3 pairs in 2012, travelled Europe for 9 months and they were great. Finally threw them out in mid 2018, as they were a bit shapeless and I noticed they weren’t as good with the odour control anymore. So expensive to purchase at the outset, but I have never had the length of service that I have had out of these 3 pairs of underwear. Am about to buy some more.