Early one morning over coffee with a friend and fellow rider, the conversation took an unexpected turn. “Have you ever considered the topic of underwear?” he asked. Until then, we had not. He went on to explain, “There are not many riding-specific choices available for men, at least in America, and its frustrating because we have to keep everything firmly…up.”
Naturally, we love a challenge, and so we set out in search of
skivvies, manties, drawers, unmentionables, solutions that would meet the aforementioned requirement for men’s comfort in the saddle. While the matter of protecting one’s delicates can be addressed simply by cruising a few online message boards*, there is in fact a dearth of brands seizing the opportunity. Therefore, we thought it best to turn to the pros themselves and find out what they wear—ahem—under there.
What we learned was a combination of practical preferences, an amusing dinner party story, a startling disclosure from a cowboy, and the word “yarbles.”
*We included some of the best recs below for guys and gals.
“Boyd is not into fashion labels, but he prefers Tommy Hilfiger underwear because they don’t rub. He is pretty particular about the brand because they are comfortable, and he can buy them at Walmart.”
— Silva Martin, speaking for the Olympic eventer for whom she does laundry.
“We routinely ride 12 to 18 miles on our coyote hunts. We usually ride about 3 hours – much of it at a hand gallop. I routinely switch to a second horse on the more tiring days. We do this two or three times a week from the first of November to the end of March – with 4 or 5 hunts per week on special occasions like Hunt Week and Joint Meet weekends. That’s a lot of wear and tear on my hide.
“Under Armour to the rescue! God Bless those folks. They make all varieties and have thick ones and thin ones. Cooling ones. Warming ones, etc. So, I keep an assortment of them and use them every time I ride. That has solved my problem.”
— Epp Wilson, Master of Foxhounds, Belle Meade Hunt
“Nestles muscles for improved blood flow resulting in improved athletic ability & faster recovery time. Prevents riding up. No wedgies. Improved moisture wicking + Anti-odor fabric to keep you even cooler and drier. Compression waist band keeps everything in place. Horizontal fly for quick access when nature calls. Contour pouch eliminates ball smashing, encouraging goal smashing.”
— Tom Patterson, founder of Tommy John
“My mentor and dear friend, Mr. Ben Hardaway, III, MFH Midland Foxhounds, was stag hunting in France many years ago. This was their Hunt Week, with a big Hunt Ball at the end of the week.
“At the Hunt Ball he and his wife, Sarah, were enjoying sharing stories with the dukes and duchesses at their table. Hardaway was the most wonderful story teller. Very entertaining. The ladies kept asking him how he rode so many days in a row – at his advanced age. ‘Bicycle pants,’ he said. They were still curious. So he described them – with the padded seat, etc. built right into them. They seemed fascinated. They must not have heard of them before. The more they talked, the more details the ladies wanted. By this point of the evening, everyone had been well greased with French wine. Finally he stood up, ‘Ladies, I am wearing them right now.’ With that he dropped trow right there at the table – so they could see his bicycle pants. Everyone just hooted! Everyone that is except for Sarah. She got up from the table exasperated with her husband – and left the party…”
— An encore from Epp Wilson, who is known as much for his fervent narratives as he is for his intense riding.
For the Ladies…
“About a year ago I got totally seamless underwear from Victoria’s Secret. It’s made of a somewhat shiny material, and unlike all the rest of the “seamless” underwear, it literally is one piece of fabric and the only seam is one four inch seam on the back. No seams along the bands, sides or anything. It’s the most perfect riding underwear I’ve ever found.”
–CobJockey, Working Hunter
“OK, don’t make fun of me, but the solution we found was boy underwear! When I was a working student, last summer, in FL…obviously heat and chafing became an issue!
We asked the trainers and they told us they were both riding in Hanes Men’s ComfortSoft Briefs!!! I felt really weird buying and trying them for the first time, but let me tell you…they are AWESOME!!! And as an added bonus, they cost like $2 a pair, not 50!”
–echodecker, Working Hunter
“Silky soft and smooth—who doesn’t want that feeling close to their body? Our Second Skin is a micro modal fabric made from natural beechwood fibers. Designed for every day, Second Skin was made to move with you, so you’ll feel like you’re in the lap of luxury.”
-Tom Patterson, founder of Tommy John
And Now a Few Words from the Interweb
“I just go with regular briefs. With proper equitation, the yarbles will be out of the way.”
— Far_North_Equestrian, working hunter
“Boxer briefs are the best! The thing is, I have found that if your landing gear is in the up position, the pommel is a great place to keep everything nice and still. I am not saying that I have not had the odd “ouch” moment, but generally speaking the pommel can be your friend. Too bad it is called that. Guys hear that word and think the little guy is in for a rough ride. No amount of padded underwear is going to prevent the occasional spanking.”
— snoopy, working hunter
“I have no experience as I’m female, but was recently in the room when an underwear conversation came up. And the unanimous decision from the other two guys there was the Under Armour boxer briefs were the end all be all for underwear. Expensive, but worth it and last forever.”
— CarolinaGirl, Advanced