With materials that perform no matter the circumstance and a fit that is comfortable whether you're moving fast or lounging around, the Outdoor Research Alpine Onset Boxer Brief became our favorite pair of underwear. We gave it our Editors' Choice Award because it's the pair we keep reaching for every time we get out of the shower. With soft merino wool that minimizes odor, a large fly opening, and quality construction, we feel that the Alpine Onset is where it's at when it comes to men's underwear.
Outdoor Research Alpine Onset Boxer Brief Review
Cons: Expensive, not as supportive as some
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Alpine Onset stands out not because it excels above in any one category, but because it is a solid all-rounder. We like that it fits like "normal" underwear, but performed like the sportier pairs we tried out. Like the best underwear, we didn't think about it at all when wearing it. If you need one pair to do it all, look no further.
Above all, a pair of underwear must be comfortable. Nobody wants to feel like they're wearing a mix of burlap and chainmail around their nether regions. Fortunately, the Alpine Onset is the precise opposite of that. The merino wool Outdoor Research chose is quite soft and stretchy enough to not impede movement, but tight enough that the legs don't roll up when layered on top of. The legs were also long enough to avoid chafing but not too long. The waistband is beefy, keeping the boxer briefs from riding up or sagging, but not so burly that it feels like another belt. The flat-lock seams are also low-profile to not be a bother, either on the front or sides. We also liked that there was no seam in the middle between the legs, which is one place where a seam is often very noticeable. Instead, there is a single piece of smooth merino running from one inner thigh to the other.
One thing we particularly like on the Outdoor Research pair is the fly. It's particularly well positioned and adequately sized for answering the call of nature. Even if we were wearing two layers over the boxer briefs, we were still able to do business when necessary, which can be otherwise difficult when swaddled in winter layers.
The Alpine Onset is our favorite pair not just for general use, but also for lounging in. Unlike some of the other pairs we tested, it didn't feel like we were putting on racing tights. It felt like we were putting on a normal pair of boxer briefs. However, they stayed comfortable during airport layovers and when hiking in warm or cold weather, and layered well under other clothing.
We are glad that Outdoor Research decided on merino wool. It's our favorite material for base layers, and underwear is no exception. The Alpine Onset boxer briefs breathe well due to the lightweight merino wool fabric. Outdoor Research doesn't list the fabric weight, but it felt similar to the other pairs made out of 150g weight wool, like the Smartwool 150 Merino Boxer Brief and the Icebreaker Anatomica.
The wool works well to regulate temperature, dissipating extra heat to avoid anything from getting too sweaty, and keeping things warm in colder temps. We wore this pair day hiking, ice climbing, and cycling, as well as general and travel use, and at no point did it feel too hot or swampy.
Again, we feel that merino wool is the superior choice for odor control, and our testing proved this. All the underwear made from merino performed better in this regard, including the Smartwool and Icebreaker pairs, as well as the Stoic Merino Performance Boxer Brief. The antimicrobial properties of merino wool are still unbeatable, even as newer treatments get applied to synthetic fabrics. With the wool skivvies, we were able to wear them multiple days in a row in the backcountry without feeling like we could weaponize the stench.
After our aerobic odor test of each pair of underwear, it was obvious that the wool pairs had been worn, but the smell wasn't terrible, and it dissipated the longer they had to air out. The synthetic and semi-synthetic pairs didn't fare as well.
While the Outdoor Research boxer briefs aren't cheap, we do think that they'll last a while if you take care of them. After two months of regular use and machine washing and drying the fabric and seams showed only a few signs of wear. There weren't a ton of flyaways on the ends of the seams and no wrinkling at the waistband. We did see the printed-on label and "OR" logo begin to flake off, but that's only cosmetic, and doesn't affect function at all.
If taken care of the Alpine Onset should last a good long time. Unfortunately, due to the nature of merino, they don't always fare as well as synthetics in the long run, but that is probably years down the line. And due to superior odor control, you won't have to wash this pair as often as synthetics, which increasing their longevity.
In the sun, the Alpine Onset boxer briefs took only a bit over an hour to fully dry, perhaps due to the thin wool. The waistband is also thinner than most of the other pairs, allowing it to dry out faster. Even drying indoors, they dried out fast enough to wash at night and have a clean, dry pair of underwear in the morning.
The OR Alpine Onset is best used for…everything. They're supportive and soft enough to go for a run in on a hot day, but also comfortable enough to wear under thick pants, or even on a lazy day of lounging. If you need to pick one pair to do it all, even for days in a row, the Alpine Onset has your buns covered.
They say you get what you pay for, and in this case, it's true. The Alpine Onset boxer briefs (not to be confused with the matching pair of long underwear) is tied with the Stoic Merino Performance Boxer Briefs for the most expensive in the review. Nearly fifty bucks is a lot for a single pair of underwear, but then again, all the merino wool pairs are all in the $40-$50 range, so if you're already paying for the good stuff, you may as well get the best out there. Still, it's a lot of money for a single pair of underwear.
The Alpine Onset Boxer Brief is where it's at when it comes to a quality pair of skivvies. Between the plush merino wool fabric, the easy to use fly, quality construction, and comfortable fit, we believe that they're worthy of our Editors' Choice Award. If you need one pair of men's travel underwear to perform, whether you're going hard on the trail or picking up WiFi in an airport lounge, the Alpine Onset is an excellent option.
— Ethan Newman