When we think of essential running gear we tend to focus on our footwear.
But comfortable running underwear is important, too, and can make a real difference to your performance.
The best running underwear is specifically designed with athletes in mind, helping keep you cool and dry whilst fitting so perfectly that you can almost forget you’re wearing it!
Here in this guide, we are going to take a look at just what you should be looking for when choosing this all-important base layer.
We’ll also share our recommendations for the best running underwear for men and women and the reasons we love them.
Let’s get started!
Here are our favorite women’s picks:
- Most Durable – New Balance Ultra Comfort Performance Seamless Bikini
- Best for Full Coverage – Reebok Seamless Hipster Briefs
- Best Choice for a Smooth Outline – New Balance Premium Performance Thong
- Best for Odor Resistance – Balanced Tech 3 Pack Classic Seamless Hipster Brief Bikini
- Ideal for Long Distance Runs – Under Armour Pure Stretch Running Thong
And the best men’s underwear for running:
- Great for freedom of Movement – Under Armour Tech 6” Boxerjock
- Best for Odor Control – ExOfficio Give-N-Go Brief
- Ideal for Preventing Inner Thigh Chafing – Adidas Performance Long Boxer Brief Underwear
- Best Underwear for Runners Needing Support – Runhit Compression Shorts
- Best All-Round Running Underwear – Runderwear Men’s Anti-Chafing Boxers
Features to Look For in Running Underwear
Regular underwear is usually made of cotton.
Whilst that’s fine for everyday wear, it’s not cut out for intense exercise and tends to hold onto moisture.
This creates a breeding ground for bacteria and can lead to odors, irritation, and more!
Here are the factors to consider when choosing underwear for running.
Running underwear should be made from a breathable, lightweight material like polyester, nylon, or spandex.
Many pairs use a combination of these fibers, which effectively wick away moisture from your skin.
Not only does this help keep you comfortable, but it also helps prevent infections and uncomfortable conditions like jock itch.
These materials also dry very quickly – stopping odors from developing – whilst the spandex adds the elasticity you need for a contoured fit.
The best running underwear should give you subtle support without feeling so tight that your movements are restricted.
A snug fit is also essential to prevent chafing, one of the most miserable conditions for runners and especially common over longer distances.
A slightly compressive fit will stop your underwear from riding up, too, so you won’t need to keep adjusting it and can focus on your performance instead!
Running underwear should ideally be made without seams or tags.
Whilst these may not seem a big deal in regular underwear, any raised edges can rub when you’re running, whilst tags can be notoriously itchy!
Seamless underwear will lie completely flat against your skin without digging in or pinching, providing a much more comfortable fit in the area where the top of your leg meets your crotch.
The Best Running Underwear for Women
#1. New Balance Ultra Comfort Performance Seamless Bikini – Most Durable
Fabric: 93% Polyester, 7% Spandex Sizes: X-Small to X-Large, Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low
|No seams||A little snug – consider sizing up|
Available in a wide range of colors and made with a soft and stretchy fabric that encourages movement, this underwear stays comfortably in place throughout your run.
This is a style that sits low on your hips and provides plenty of coverage at the back, but the seamless design means you’ll still get a smooth silhouette.
We were impressed by how well these briefs kept their shape and color – even after being washed multiple times.
The fact that they are both machine and tumble dryer safe is a real advantage too, making them very easy to care for.
#2. Reebok Seamless Hipster Briefs – Best for Full Coverage
Fabric: Nylon/Spandex Blend Sizes: Small to X-Large, Care: Machine wash, tumble dry
|Won’t ride up||Can feel tight on larger legs|
|Mold to your body shape||Waistband prone to fraying after extended use|
|Great value for money|
If you like complete booty coverage from your running underwear, then you’ll love these comfy, hip-hugging briefs from Reebok!
They come in a pack of 5, with a huge range of color combinations to choose from – and the absence of seams and tags means they won’t dig in, rub, or itch.
Easy to care for and maintaining their shape well, they fit like a second skin, conforming to your curves and allowing total freedom of movement.
They also wick away moisture effectively, keeping you cool, eliminating odor, and helping prevent infections.
#3. New Balance Premium Performance Thong – Best Choice for a Smooth Outline
Fabric: 93% Polyester, 7% Spandex Sizes: Small to X-Large, Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low
|Super soft fabric||Cotton gusset (although this may be a pro for some)|
|Waistband won’t roll down|
Thong-style running underwear isn’t for everyone, but if you prefer minimal coverage and absolutely no chance of a visible panty line under tight running shorts, these are ideal.
Designed to prevent uncomfortable rubbing, they are tag- and seam-free, with an elasticated waistband that feels supportive yet allows you to move freely.
The fabric is stretchy and breathable, although – unlike many pairs of running underwear – these feature a cotton gusset.
Cotton has a tendency to hold onto moisture, so it won’t be ideal for everyone, although some runners prefer the comfort of cotton in this area.
#4. Balanced Tech 3 Pack Classic Seamless Hipster Brief Bikini- Best for Odor Resistance
Fabric: 92% Nylon, 8% Elastane, Sizes: X-Small to X-Large, Care: Hand wash only, quick drying
|Very breathable||Waist may be too high for some|
|Four way stretch||Sizing can be inconsistent|
|Good range of sizes|
We love these stretchy mid-rise briefs that come with quick-drying and odor-resistance technologies to keep you fresh from start to finish.
The breathable fabric gives you just the right level of support whilst moving easily with your body shape, so you never feel constricted.
There are no tags or seams to chafe or irritate your skin, and they won’t ride up, so you can concentrate on your run and not on your underwear!
Whilst these may not be the most flattering briefs – and the very high waistband limits their versatility – they are one of the most comfortable pairs we tried.
#5. Under Armour Pure Stretch Running Thong – Ideal for Long Distance Runs
Fabric: 68% Nylon/32% Elastane Sizes: X-Small to X-Large, Care: Machine wash
|Seam-free laser-cut edges||Limited color choices|
|Super stretchy||Cotton gusset may not suit everyone|
If you like thong-style underwear, you really can’t beat the comfort provided by this tagless and seamless pair from Under Armour.
The laser-cut edges give a virtually invisible fit and won’t dig in or rub, no matter how long you run.
What’s more, they stay comfortably in place and move smoothly with you, so there’s no pinching or bunching.
The anti-odor technology will help you stay fresh as you train, and they are so lightweight that it’s easy to forget you’re wearing them!
The Best Running Underwear for Men
#1. Under Armour Tech 6” Boxerjock – Great for freedom of Movement
Fabric: 90% Polyester, 10% Elastene, Sizes: X-Small to 5X-Large, Care: Machine wash
|Sweat-wicking, quick-drying fabric||A little pricey|
|Good range of colors|
These boxers have everything you want from great running underwear, fitting snugly but comfortably and with no seams at the sides or back to chafe or dig in as you run.
The four-way stretch fabric feels soft against your skin and gives you just the right amount of support without being restrictive.
It’s also very lightweight, wicking away moisture in an instant and keeping you cool throughout your run.
Not only are these boxers great for running, but they’re also versatile enough for gym workouts, too!
#2. ExOfficio Give-N-Go Brief – Best for Odor Control
Fabric: 94% Nylon, 6% Spandex, Sizes: Small to X-Large, Care: Machine wash
|Lightweight fabric||Limited support|
|Very fast drying|
Sweating is something you have to expect when it comes to running, but what we love about these briefs is their odor-reducing technology that keeps you feeling fresh.
Meanwhile, the fabric – made from a highly breathable, moisture-wicking mesh – keeps your skin cool, dry, and well-ventilated.
The flat-lock seams enhance the overall durability of the briefs and help improve their stretch and comfort.
But because they lie flat against your skin, they won’t chafe with movement, no matter how strenuous your run.
#3. adidas Performance Long Boxer Brief Underwear – Ideal for Preventing Inner Thigh Chafing
Fabric: 91% Polyester, 9% Spandex, Sizes: Small to XX-Large, Care: Machine wash
|Great value for money||Limited color choices|
|Functional, no-gap fly||Run small|
Made with a quick-drying fabric designed to enhance athletic performance, these longer-length boxers feel soft to the touch and move smoothly when you do!
They are designed to stay comfortably in place without riding up as you train, and are particularly suited to runners who may experience the discomfort of chafing between their thighs.
There’s no tag in the waistband to cause irritation and the seams are flat, so they won’t rub.
We also found these boxers easy to care for, retaining both their shape and color after machine washing.
#4. Runhit Compression Shorts – Best Underwear for Runners Needing Support
Fabric: 88% Polyester, 12% Spandex, Sizes: Small to 4X-Large, Care: Machine wash, line dry
|Strong compression||Too long for some|
|Ultra soft||Waistband tends to fray|
Soft and supportive, these popular shorts from Runhit give you that ‘locked-in’ feel that allows you to concentrate on your run without worrying about what’s going on in your shorts!
They are available in a wide range of colors and designs – so it’s easy to find a pair to suit your style – and the flatlock stitching reduces friction, so they won’t rub.
Their compressive nature supports your muscles, helping you exercise harder and for longer, whilst also aiding with recovery.
But they’re stretchy, too, so you can move freely, without ever feeling restricted!
#5. Runderwear Men’s Anti-Chafing Boxers – Best All-Round Running Underwear
Fabric: 92% Polyamide, 8% Elastene, Sizes: Small to XX-Large, Care: Hand wash only
|Seamless and tagless||Expensive|
|Very lightweight||Silicone grips can catch hairs|
There’s a reason that Runderwear is one of the most popular brands of running underwear around – and that’s because it’s so darned comfortable!
Available in both brief and boxer styles, the 360° construction ensures your comfort from start to finish, with no chafing or irritation to slow down your performance.
We also love the micro-perforations that enhance the breathability of the fabric, helping keep you cool and dry no matter how warm the conditions.
These benefits – along with a great fit that provides support and flexibility – make these shorts our top pick for long and demanding runs!
The Best Underwear for Runners: Key Takeaways
If you’ve ever experienced the misery of underwear that chafes, feels itchy, or rides up when you run, you’ll find a pair designed for sports a real game changer!
We hope this guide has helped you identify the best running underwear to keep you cool and comfortable over any distance.