The Sender boxer brief is Patagonia's latest attempt at a decent pair of synthetic underwear. It's definitely an improvement from the days of Capilene, and it is our favorite synthetic underwear we've tested. They are best used in hot weather, where you'll find the most benefit from the thin fabric and fast-drying capabilities. However, it still has the same issues that thin synthetic fabrics have: durability and odor. We think this is a step in the right direction for synthetic underwear, but there is still room to improve.
Patagonia Sender Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Breathable for synthetic, soft mesh
Cons: Fabric runs easily, nylon holds some smell
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sender boxer brief is Patagonia's newest underwear for men, combining a light nylon mesh weave partnered with HeiQ Fresh odor control to combat synthetic fabric's biggest downfall. Along with a flyless design and flatlock seams, the Sender is designed to be a low profile, yet supportive pair of underwear. In general, we liked it, but there is room for improvement.
The Sender boxer briefs are a very comfortable pair of underwear. The waistband is thin enough not to be noticeable but thick enough not to roll. The mesh fabric feels light and airy, but substantial enough to keep everything in place. The legs didn't roll except when we wore them with a fairly tight pair of pants, which is forgivable. The Sender doesn't have a fly which, although we prefer to have one, the lack of extra fabric makes the boxer briefs a little lighter and less constricting.
For a synthetic boxer brief, the mesh design of the Sender keeps things breathing pretty well. The mesh is actually light enough to see through. Unlike some synthetics, the textured mesh prevents these boxer briefs from feeling sticky or swampy. However, they still aren't quite as breathable as a lightly woven natural fiber like wool.
According to Patagonia, the Sender boxer brief is imbued with HeiQ Fresh durable odor control, which is a non-silver based "biopolymer" to reduce stink on synthetic and cellulosic fibers. It's also supposedly sustainable and biodegradable, which is a nice touch. All things considered, it works a bit better than the other synthetic odor control coatings we've encountered. However, it's hard to get away from the eventual stink of synthetic fabrics, and after wearing these for a few days in a row, the Sender boxer briefs start to smell like other synthetic underwear. It does do better after washing than other synthetics, but not as well as the woolies we tested.
Unfortunately, because the mesh is woven so lightly, we didn't find these to be as durable we'd like. After a month of regular use, there were a few runs in the fabric, and some mild pilling, mostly on the backside. However, the seams held up, as did the waistband, which still is snappy and hasn't wrinkled at all.
The light mesh and hydrophobic properties of nylon kept the drying time down on the Sender boxer briefs. It was the quickest to dry out of all the pairs we tested, using the towel rolling trick and then line-drying all the underwear.
The Sender boxer briefs aren't cheap, but they are a bit less than most of the wool pairs we tested. They are the most expensive synthetic pair, however. If you're willing to spend the money to get a really nice pair for traveling, we think a wool option would be better, and if you're looking for a bargain synthetic, there are pairs ten bucks cheaper that work almost as well.
The Patagonia Sender boxer brief is a step up from the days of Capilene underwear, but it's still stuck somewhere in the middle of travel underwear competition. We liked the fabric, but it wasn't very durable. We thought that the odor control worked better than other synthetics, but not as well as the natural odor control from wool fibers. The price is lower than some, but not really a bargain. Overall, we liked them for some things, especially hot weather, where we might be swimming, but we'd like to see some improvement before we'd pick these over some other options.
— Ethan Newman