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Ex Officio vs Smartwool underwear?

CaminoLars

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Frances: August & September 2022
Hi All,

Starting the Camino Frances in early August.

I have two pairs of smartwool merino underwear. However, I see that ex officio is all the rage. Is there an advantage of ex officio briefs over smartwool underwear?
 
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See signature. Too many to list here.
So I've never used smartwool merino underwear. I have however used ex officio on like my last 10 caminos. In fact, they are my everyday underwear too. They are kinda pricey, but... they dry so fast and are so comfortable. After a year or two the elastic gives out, my one complaint... but remember... EVERYDAY underwear. I like the boxer briefs, and they double as my bathing suit on the Norte.
 

truthseeker

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés (2018)
I love ExOficio and wear them every day, not just on long trips. I still use a pair I wore on the Camino in 2018, and the elastic is still good. I never put them in the dryer, could be the reason. Heat will destroy elastic over time. Pricey, yes, but now I have a collection of 7 pairs, mostly bought on sale for a bit less.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I'm also a fan of Ex Officio. I bought my first pair at EMS for about $20 (a spluge). Much later I found and picked up a package of three at Costco for about $24.
 
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Pepper_E

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
2021 CP
Most ex officio on the market are synthetic - - they will wash and dry easily making them popular with travelers needing to hand wash.
The smartwool merino underwear is super comfortable and will resist odor much longer than anything synthetic - thus everything merino is super popular with long distance backpackers who rarely have the opportunity to wash their clothes. No bad choice, just different…
 

motero99

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2019
Camino Portugues (2022)
Haven't seen the Ex Officio at Costco for a long time. Bought a package of 3 in 2019 for the Camino and still use then as everyday underwear. I wish Costco would bring them back.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I've been an Ex-Officio fan for some 30 years. Back in the day, traveling internationally, I usually only wore and carried only three pair, no matter how long I was away. They hand wash fast and dry very fast. Rotating pairs was easy.

If you hand wash one pair each evening in your hotel, they are dry by the following morning. Ex Officio advertises traveling with only two pair - one worn and the other drying from the previous night's hand wash. But, I like to have the security of the third pair - just in case.

After retiring from my profession and finding the Camino nearly a decade ago, I quickly learned that the Ex-Officio boxer shorts continued to be the best solution for me when walking. I still use three-pair in rotation. That seems to be the ideal solution for me.

Keeping them out of a dryer after machine washing is very important to preserve the waist elastic. I hang mine on a wire hanger by the waistband to air dry after they spin dry. If you must put them in a dryer, use cold air only. Do not add heat.

If you are on Camino and have access to outdoor drying, they will usually air dry compactly in less than 45 minutes if wrung out well. In this case, I use clothespins / clothes pegs to fasten them to a line.

Merino wool is good - very good. But I cannot bring myself to wear wool underwear. T-shirts and various outerwear items made of Marino wool are fine. But, there is something off-putting about wearing ANY kind of wool - no matter how soft - next to my "tender bits."

Hope this helps.

Tom
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Hi All,

Starting the Camino Frances in early August.

I have two pairs of smartwool merino underwear. However, I see that ex officio is all the rage. Is there an advantage of ex officio briefs over smartwool underwear?
Check out REI and especially their outlet store. Lots of stuff cheaper in the outlet. Fast delivery and if it doesn't fit properly you can send them back no problem.
 
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MrDavemo

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
None yet. One in the works!
The answer, my friend, is NOT blowing in the wind... Come on, you're in public!

My answer to all important questions: merino! Not necessarily SmartWool, but definitely not all synthetic anything, and not cotton. The answer to your smelly clothes problem? Seriously, friends, it's a natural miracle product, though its relatively pricey. I regularly wear a merino shirt AND underwear for two weeks at a time and it has absolutely no smell. The merino/poly blends (like 78/22) last longer than 100% merino. Warm when it's cold, cool when it's hot, comfortable and insulating when it's wet. I have washed them and put them on immediately because they dry so fast. You'll wash a lot less clothes if you wear merino!
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
I've used Icebreaker merino and Exoficio. They are both fine, I don't have real preference. Choose whichever is more comfortable for you.
I have used the same. Although I like the material of icebreaker a little better.

I have had great experience with icebreaker merino everything. Other brands of merino wool have not been as good. Too often develop tiny holes quickly that turn into bigger holes.
 
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K_Lynn

Buen Camino!
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021
Wear whatever is more comfortable for you.
I have Icebreaker and SmartWool merino underwear. I prefer the texture of the Icebreaker, I found the SmartWool to be scritchy.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Portugal route from Lisbon in May (2015)
Via de la Plata from Seville in April-May 2017
I haven't tried smartwool, but like many other posts love ex officio. It started on my first Camino in 2015. They were recommended by my son who works at rei. On my 2017 Via De La Plata Camino, I had two pair for 7 weeks and did very well. I have about a dozen pair now that I rotate for my everyday use. So comfortable and cool. And dry in no time.
By the way, the nylon material is exactly the same as Duluth Trading Company Buck Naked underwear. I like the ex officio fit better (medium boxers) while the Duluth medium is just a little too small and the large is just a little too big. Ex officio is perfect for my skinny butt.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I wear Ex Officio for daily wear at home. Over the years foot marching in the military I learned the hard way when I sweat a lot, I chaff. Sweating as much as we sweat on the Camino dictates merino for me. I brought two pair of merino underwear (one for today, one for tomorrow, wash each night) and had no chaffing. I love smart wool but I'm sure any brand of merino is fine. Interestingly, one pair of my smart wool underwear wore out/blew out just as I arrived in Santiago and I had to buy a new pair. Must have been a one off as the other pair is fine I still wear them when working out at home (in Texas in summer). Buen Camino
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
X
On the strength of the recommendations on here I invested in a pair of Ex Officio’s finest. UK pricing suggests the target demographic are merchant bankers.

I’ve never been described as thin; but do find them rather ‘roomy’. Are they typically generously cut?
 
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Tone-Lise

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis and part of Via Podiensis (2022)
Tested out various underwear before doing my 30 day pilgrimage and landed on Icebreaker's Women's Merino, Siren Hipkini Briefs. Loved them so much that they are basically the only kind of underwear I use. Worth the money!
 

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Time of past OR future Camino
From O Porto in September.
Only smartwool for me! They prevent chafing in all the right places an dry fast.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I wear UnderArmour, Nike, Adidas or any of the other brands of synthetic, tech undershorts and t-shirts on the market. I have never noticed a difference in any of the brand's quality, durability and drying quick ability and I do not buy the expensive brands because I have lost and forgotten underwear at albergues and also some of the materials do not fare well in the heat of a dryer, and I always end up washing and drying my clothes at least once in machines on the Camino.
The only thing I do make sure the undershorts have is a gusseted crotch. I have found that is important in preventing chafing. I also make sure my shorts and pants have a gusseted crotch as well.
 

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