The Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers do some things really well, and we wanted to like them more, but they seemed a bit more designed for looks than function. The fabric, construction, waistband, and fit we liked, but the placement of the seams and the piping on the sides and front were annoying. If we were going to an underwear party this would be the pair we'd grab first, but maybe not for an extended trip. For similar performance overall yet without the comfort issues, reach for our testers' favorite pair, the Outdoor Research Alpine Onset.
Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Good fit, soft fabric, breathable
Cons: Piping is annoying, lots of seams at crotch, not incredibly durable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Not that we pose all that much in our underwear, but if we had to, the Icebreaker Anatomica would be our first choice. Unfortunately, some of the design features that make them look handsome also take away from the otherwise high performing attributes of these boxer briefs. We think that if the seams were adjusted, they would be in contention in our winners circle.
There are some things Icebreaker does really well. The quality of their merino wool is excellent, and the wool they use is core spun, meaning the wool fibers are wrapped around nylon for increased durability. We like how light and stretchy the fabric felt, and the waistband is agreeably low profile. We also appreciated the extra room in the front, allowing the boxer briefs to feel supportive but not constricting.
The one thing we didn't like about the Anatomica is the seams. There are a lot of seams underneath the crotch, which when worn with many layers or when on a bike seat, were annoying. We also could feel the piping rub a bit when worn under thick work or winter pants, which could lead to chafing in time.
The fabric of the Anatomica is nice and light, as is the waistband which allows for breathability. We also appreciate the high-quality merino wool allowing for good temperature regulation to avoid swampiness.
Like all merino wool boxer briefs in this underwear review, the Icebreaker pair didn't hold onto excess odor. Especially because the Anatomica is thin and stretchy, it seemed to air out even quicker than some of the other merino pairs.
Although the Anatomica feels pretty lightweight, held up pretty well during our testing period. The sewing is tight, and there aren't any flyaways at the seams. There are a few very minor pills, but that's to be expected with merino. One tester who has owned these underpants for a year has noted that the fabric wears thin before other travel pairs he has tested, though. This is the trade-off for lightweight, quick-drying skivvies — they just won't last as long.
The Icebreaker boxer briefs were one of the faster pairs of underwear in our drying tests. In the sun they only took about an hour and fifteen minutes to completely dry out on a sunny winter day in southern Utah. Between the light fabric and minimalist waistband, they're an easy pair to wash and dry for the next use.
The Anatomica works well for daily use and warm-weather travel, since the thin merino wool fabric is one of the coolest models tested. Or, in the odd situation where you're going to be strutting about in your underwear (hot springs, maybe?)… We have a hard time recommending them for long term backcountry use with the chance of chafing due to the seam piping and placement.
At $43, the Icebreaker pair is cheaper than the other merino wool pairs of boxer briefs, but for two more bucks you could get the Smartwool Merino 150, and for six more dollars you could have the Editors' Choice Award-winning Outdoor Research Alpine Onset, both of which we like a little more.
While we generally like the Icebreaker Anatomica, a small redesign could make this a much better pair of boxer briefs. The fabric, waistband, and the fit are fantastic, but the seams seem somewhat poorly placed, and we think the piping on the sides and front could lead to chafing. They do look good, but we think there are slightly better choices out there.
— Ethan Newman