Marmot Performance Boxer Brief Review
Cons: "Jewel Harness" lacks comfort and is ineffective, poor odor control
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Marmot briefs are synthetic underwear with a horizontal fly. The fit is nice, not too tight or baggy, and the polyester fabric felt soft. Inside the boxers, however, is the "Jewel Harness," an extra piece of fabric that we found both perplexing and uncomfortable. We also found the horizontal fly annoying, especially in "urgent" situations. Our lead tester felt that what could have been a nice pair of synthetic boxers was held back by questionable design.
As far as comfort goes, there are a few things we like about the Performance Boxer Brief. The waistband felt sturdy yet low profile, and fit nicely under multiple layers. We also like the soft fabric, as some synthetics can feel sort of "catchy." The hem at the bottom of the legs wasn't tight but did prevent rolling up.
However, we need to talk about the fly situation. There are two main design features that at first glance seem potentially innovative, but after using them we feel they are ineffective and uncomfortable. Firstly, the horizontal "Flip Out" fly could be a small step to equality in this world where the right-handed rule. Marmot lists this feature on their website as a feature for "easy access". However, in our tester's decades of experience wearing underwear that has flys that always open the same way, the muscle memory is hard to overcome and becomes problematic during urgent situations. Trying to open our boxers is not what we wanted to deal with when we really had to pee.
Secondly, and just behind the fly is the "Jewel Harness," which is supposed to prevent chafing during high output activities. After trying it out, we still aren't completely sure how to use the Jewel Harness. Without getting into detail, we didn't feel fully contained by this design, and sometimes felt the seams rub against skin in this sensitive area. Completely ignoring the harness is the most comfortable way we've found to use the boxer briefs, in which case there's an extra piece of fabric in the front of the underwear.
As with any synthetic fabric, one has to have the right construction. Polyester fibers don't absorb water at all, so with the right weave, they can be exceptionally breathable and wicking, otherwise they can feel plasticky and hot. Fortunately, we found the Marmot skivvies decently breathable, although slightly less so right in the crotch where there's an additional piece of fabric from the "Jewel Harness." The waistband is thin enough that we didn't feel sweaty underneath it.
Synthetic fabrics come with a trade-off. They're generally less expensive and more forgiving with washing techniques, but they can't really compete with the natural odor-fighting capabilities of wool. The Performance Boxer Briefs are no exception. The Polygiene treatment potentially helps, but with repeated wearing, they do get about as funky as any of the synthetic underwear we tested.
As per usual, Marmot's factories make good quality softgoods. After repeated machine washing/drying cycles and extended wearing, we didn't see a ton of wear over the initial six week testing period. The waistband held up, and there wasn't a ton of pilling on the fabric. We did find a run a seam along the waistband after six weeks of use, though. These will likely hold up as good as any of the other synthetic underwear pairs we tested.
This is where polyester shines. It's the most hydrophobic synthetic material clothing is typically made of, and the fiber itself absorbs no water, so these dried out quite quickly. They dried out on our lead tester's body after swimming, and dried quickly on the line as well.
Although these are one of the less expensive options we've tested, we do think there are better options out there. These skivvies try to be somewhere in between high output specific underwear and daily use, but the design leaves them somewhere in the middle and falls short on both in our opinion. For the price, and due to the features, we think there are better pairs of underwear for either purpose.
In trying to fill two niches at once, the design of the Marmot Performance Boxer Brief leaves both the high output users and the daily wear users high and dry. We liked the overall construction and materials, but the fly seemed ineffective, perplexing, and overly complicated. We think a redesign of the crotch and fly would greatly benefit this underwear.
— Ethan Newman