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Duckworth Vapor Brief Review

This is our favorite hangout underwear for their casual comfort. A bit loose for layering and high output activities, keep it urban with this pair and you'll love them
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $40 List | $39.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Loose comfort, durable, soft fabric, respectable odor control
Cons:  Loose fit not for active use, bunches up under tight-fitting clothing
Manufacturer:   Duckworth
By Ethan Newman ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 16, 2020
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 8
  • Comfort - 35% 8
  • Breathability - 20% 6
  • Odor Control - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Drying Time - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Duckworth Vapor Brief, at first glance, feels like a modern wool boxer brief, but there's a little more going on than that. Duckworth is known for its high-quality wool and wool blend clothes, and these briefs are no exception. For those that want to know exactly where their money is going, Duckworth manufactures all their clothing in the USA, and the wool comes from Montana. This was a very comfy pair of underwear, in part due to their looser fit; more like a boxer than a brief. While not as versatile as other options with a more athletic cut and fit, these are our favorite pair for wear with casual or work clothing and on travel days, earning our Top Pick Award for just that.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Vapor Brief is like a summer barbecue: relaxed, feel-good casual, and made in the gosh darn U.S. of A. For those looking for a comfy, looser fitting boxer brief with some decent odor control, these are a good choice, especially if you want to spend your money on American-made products. We like the Duckworth briefs for casual and everyday wear more than backcountry and fitness usage, as the looser fit didn't layer well with tighter clothing.

Performance Comparison


Underneath loose clothing  the Duckworth briefs are super comfortable. Globetrotting and urban-adventuring? This pair is perfect for that.
Underneath loose clothing, the Duckworth briefs are super comfortable. Globetrotting and urban-adventuring? This pair is perfect for that.

Comfort


There are two ways to think about the comfort of the Vapor Brief: on their own, and as a layer. On their own, they are the comfiest pair of underwear we've tested so far. The fabric is silky smooth and the casual fit is nice for lounging about but just tight enough to keep everything contained. It's a much looser fit than any other boxer briefs we tested so far, nudging its way toward more of a boxer fit. For sleeping in and lazy days, it is by far our favorite. It's also our favorite to wear while traveling under a pair of chinos or other casual pants. For not getting active in the outdoors, this pair provides top shelf comfort.


The Vapor Brief fits fine under casual and work pants, but under anything tighter fit or for multiple layers, they end up bunching up. The legs especially seem to bunch up a bit due to the longer inseam and loose fit. We didn't love using them in winter when trying to layer tights and shell pants over them, or for highly aerobic activities like running. For active use, we recommend other pairs ahead of these. Of course, these will still function in these uses, but others do it better.

In general  we like wider bands like this one. They are more comfortable  less likely to roll up throughout the day  and chafe less. The thickness of this elastic band makes it seem more durable  too.
In general, we like wider bands like this one. They are more comfortable, less likely to roll up throughout the day, and chafe less. The thickness of this elastic band makes it seem more durable, too.

Breathability


The Vapor wool blend from Duckworth is their lightest blend, using a mix of 50% polyester, 38% merino wool, and 12% rayon. This combo breathed pretty well for us. We tend to favor all wool or mostly wool fabrics, but we actually liked the Vapor blend more than we thought we would. The underwear fabric never felt too hot or even too "wooly," but it didn't have the plasticky and sticky feel of some synthetic fabrics either.


The biggest barrier to the Vapor Brief scoring higher on breathability is the fact that they tend to bunch up when moving. Products that didn't bunch and remained spread tighter across our skin breathed better, as one would expect. The looser fit, however, did allow a bit more airflow from below the hem.

The Vapor Brief is the loosest fitting underwear we tried  which we enjoyed when traveling in looser  non-athletic clothing.
The Vapor Brief is the loosest fitting underwear we tried, which we enjoyed when traveling in looser, non-athletic clothing.

Odor Control


Although few things beat 100% wool for odor control, we found the 38% wool blend in the Vapor Briefs to work better than we expected. We tested odor control after our high output activity tests, as well as evaluating the smell after days of repeated use.


For casual use while traveling, you can definitely get away with wearing this pair for a few back-to-back days. This pair scored higher than any of the synthetic underwear we tested, and just under the all-woolies.

The Duckworth Vapor Brief is made from 100% USA raised Montana merino wool.
The Duckworth Vapor Brief is made from 100% USA raised Montana merino wool.

Durability


Maybe it's because they don't hug the legs so tight, but the Duckworth skivvies held up quite well to repeated machine washing and drying cycles, as well as daily use. With other, tighter-fitting models, we have often experienced that the greatest stress point is the seams below the perineum. This area flexes and stretches the most. This provides an advantage to the looser-fitting Duckworth model, which receives less stress to the fabric and seams in this area.


The wool is high quality, and the synthetic fibers seem to add flex without stretching out. The sewing is of good quality, and the waistband has been holding together nicely too. We think these will last for a while, although they might not be the absolute burliest pair we tested. We will continue wearing these until they run out and report back — we'd wager it will be a while.

You can see the flatlock seams have held together very well through 45 days of use and abuse.
You can see the flatlock seams have held together very well through 45 days of use and abuse.

Drying Time


The Vapor Brief, due to the wool content and the thicker weave, didn't dry out quite as fast as a fully synthetic pair. Wool fibers get saturated unlike their synthetic counterparts and can take a little longer to dry out. Still, they dried out in a reasonable amount of time with our towel trick, plenty fast for most travelers.


Value


Although these are on the higher end of the pricing, for the right person, they could be worth the cost. If you specifically want a looser fit and a USA-made product, they might be just what you're looking for. However, we think that unless you're looking for that exact criteria, there are products out there that do the job for a better value.

The Duckworth Vapor bunched a bit under harnesses and tighter fitting pants. Keep them inside more casual clothing  though  and they are a fantastic pair of travel underwear.
The Duckworth Vapor bunched a bit under harnesses and tighter fitting pants. Keep them inside more casual clothing, though, and they are a fantastic pair of travel underwear.

Conclusion


The Duckworth Vapor Brief is a great pair of underwear that fits a niche that most other pairs we tested didn't. While many of us see recreation and travel in similar veins, this pair shows that they shouldn't be considered synonymous. We like the looser fit for casual days and wearing under less tight pants, plus the soft fabric. We also appreciated an American-made product constructed with quality Montana wool. The fit and synthetic fibers made the Vapor Brief less versatile than they might otherwise be, but for travel and casual use, these are about as good as we've ever worn.

The Vapor brief dries slower than most of the pairs we tried  but still plenty quick for the average traveler.  Duckworth doesn't recommend drying in a machine.
The Vapor brief dries slower than most of the pairs we tried, but still plenty quick for the average traveler. Duckworth doesn't recommend drying in a machine.

Ethan Newman