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Reviews > Clothing > Base Layers and Undies > Ex Officio Sol Cool Boxer Briefs > Test Report by joe schaffer

ExOfficio Sol Cool Men's Boxer Briefs

Test Report by Joe Schaffer

INITIAL REPORT - April 10, 2017
FIELD REPORT - June 25, 2017
LONG TERM REPORT - August 28, 2017

NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 69
HEIGHT: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79 kg)
TYPICAL WAIST SIZE: 34 in (86 cm)
INSEAM: 29 in (74 cm)
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

     I started backpacking when I was 11. I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to better my age in nights out each year; about 30 solo. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.


briefs frontProduct: Sol Cool Boxer Briefs, Style 1241-2929

Manufacturer:  ExOfficio, LLC.
Description: (from mfr. website)
    Weight: 0 lb 3.11oz (88.17g)
    Inseam (from package): 6 in (15.24 cm)
    Stretch to fit
    Mercerized cotton with jade-infused, wicking nylon fibers
    52% cotton, 42% nylon, 6% Spandex
    Style Number: 1241-2929

Features: (from mfr. website)
    Feels like cotton and performs like high-tech fabric
    Dynamically adapts to body heat, prevents odor, and remains fresh and cool  

    Atlantic (blue)
    Blackberry (purple
    Navy (pictured)

My Specs:  (for Medium as requested) Navy
    Weight: 3 1/4 oz  (93 g)
    Waist band circumference: 31 1/2 in (80 cm)
       stretched full: about 42 in (107 cm)
    Leg cuff circumference: 19 in (48 cm)
       stretched full: about 26 in (66 cm)
    Vertical at hip: 13 3/4 in (35 cm)
       stretched: about 18 in (46 cm)
    Top to crotch in front: 11 1/2 in (29.2 cm)
       stretched: about 12 1/2 in (32 cm)
    Inseam: 5.5 in (14 cm)
       stretched: about 7 in (17.8 cm)
MSRP: $38 US

Received: April 6, 2016

Product Description:
    These blend-fiber boxers feature cotton and high-tech fabrics. The pouch sticks out as a distinctive design feature. Piddle egress is through a slip vent just above the pouch. Two 3 1/2 x 1 3/16 in (9 x 3.5 cm) tags with washing instructions are sewn into the waist band at the center of the back, where the waist band is joined. The waist band is vertically "corrugated," about 1 1/8 in (2.9 cm) wide. The leg cuff is about 3/4 in (1.9 cm) of folded material, not separate. Flat-seam construction completes all seams.

    These boxers felt so comfy out of the box I just put 'em on, wore 'em around a couple hours and walked 3 miles (5 k). No itchies or chafing. I didn't notice the tags while wearing the boxers, but these are expensive underwear. I'd expect more thought on where to put the tags. I'd rather have them on the hip; of course I'd rather have them not at all. The tag material is very soft, but they will have to go.
    I'd think I'm on the pudgy side of 34 in (86 cm), and 34 in (86 cm) is on the high side of their sizing chart for Medium. They hang loose. I assumed they'd shrink from washing, but they didn't. There is no stretch in the fit. I'm concluding that the company's stretch-to-fit sizing chart is incorrect for my body shape/size if the garment is actually supposed to stretch somewhat to fit. I've made an inquiry to customer service whether they'd like the test completed in loose fit. A Small size is on the way.
    I put 3 1/2 more miles (5.5 km) on them with an hour hike at Lake Chabot in 70 F (21 C), wearing them under cotton jeans. Both were beginning to dampen around the lumbar, but I was surprised that I had to feel for it to notice. I'm familiar with Sol Cool from testing a shirt, and the material does a surprisingly good job of wicking off wet. I find the blended material much more comfy than a high blend of synthetic. I'm eager to give the boxers a workout in the woods to see if the cotton succumbs to saturation under heavy stress.
    No imperfections in construction or material seem apparent to me. Shirts, pants, socks and skivvies get no special attention when I'm doing the laundry, so I've no need for care instructions. I will take synthetics out of the dryer before they melt. The boxers came through just fine. They're still 'new,' so there's no pilling.
June 25, 2017
Field Conditions:
     April 10, 2017: Hiking, Garin Regional Park, California; 70 F (21 C), sunny, 3 mi (5 km), 1 hr; worn under cotton jeans.
     April 12, 2017: Sidewalking, 60 F (16 C), blustery, bit of precipitation; 3 mi (5 km), 1 hour; worn under hard shell.
     April 15, 2017: Hiking, Mt. St. Helena, California; 2,000 ft (610 m) gain; 70 F (21 C), hazy, 10 1/2 mi (17 km), 5 hrs; worn under cotton jeans.

    The Sol Cool Boxer Briefs were great on the short hikes. The Mt. St. Helena hike probably offers more useful findings so far. I found the briefs very comfortable. The back of my pants got wet after an hour and stayed that way the rest of the hike and the two hour drive home, but I was comfortable throughout the hike and the travel. I didn't feel gummy and didn't change until I got home to shower. I might have expected to get an apex rash on a long warm day of hiking, but didn't. The vent proved to be in the right spot and the right design for a day requiring ample hydration. My cotton tee was sloppy under the day pack and my feet were tired and my legs beginning to ache after a game effort to keep up with the youngsters, but no issues at all in the briefs area. I'm intent upon finding the point at which they begin to stink, but after a total of 16 1/2 mi (27 km) hiking since the last wash, I've yet to draw flies or complaints.

Totals (medium size): 22 1/2 (36 km); hours worn: 18; washes: 2

My Specs: (out of the box)
    Weight: 2 7/8 oz  (84 g)
    Waist band circumference: 29 in (74 cm)
    Leg cuff circumference: 17 1/2 in (44.5 cm)
    Vertical at hip: 13 1/4 in (33.7 cm)
    Top to crotch in front: 12 1/8 in (30.8 cm)
    Inseam: 4.5 in (11.4 cm)

Field Conditions:
    1. May 2-4, 2017: Pt. Reyes, California. Backpacking 13 mi (21 km) 7 hrs; wearing time 58 hours; temps 45-75 F (7-24 C).
    2. May 7, 9, 12, 16, 17, 19, 20, 27, 29, 30, 2017: City and park walking 29 mi (47 km), 14 hrs wearing time; 60-80 F (15-27 C).
    3. May 22-26, 2017: Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite Wilderness, California. 15 mi (24 km) backpack, 4,660-6,480 ft (1,420-1,975 m); 75-40 F (24-4 C); warm and mostly dry hiking; 105 hours wearing time.
    4. Jun 5-8, 2017: Loon Lake, El Dorado National Forest, California. 10 mi (16 km) backpack and two mi (3 km) day hike; 75-36 F (24-2 C), some calm, some gusting winds. 6,400 ft (1,950 m); dry three days and sprinkly the fourth developing into rain on the last leg out.
    5. Jun 13-16, 2017: Bergson Lake, Carson Iceberg Wilderness, California. 10 mi (16 km) backpack/3 mi (5 km) road hike w/o pack. 80-45 F (27-7 C). 40 lb (18 kg) leave weight.
    6. Jun 20-23, 2017: Shasta National Forest, California. 8 mi (13 km) backpack about evenly distributed on trail, XC and road. 90-70 F (32-21 C) hiking temps. 5,720-6,840 ft (1,745-2,085 m) with a stretch of steep terrain--about a 1,000 ft (300 m) up in 2,000 ft (600 m). 35 lb (16 kg) leave weight.
    7. July 4-9, 2017:  Emigrant Wilderness, California. 11 mi (18 km) backpacking, including 2 mi (3 km) XC into steep granite. 80-60 F (27-16 C) hiking temps. 7,200-8,600 ft (2,200-2,600 m). Leave weight 38 lb (17 kg), return 31 lb (14 kg).
    8. July 11-16, 2017: Yosemite Wilderness, California. 18 mi (29 km) backpacking, including 9 mi (14 km) XC. 70-95 F (21-35) hiking temps. 5,000-7,600 ft (1,525-2,300 m). Leave weight 39 lb (17 kg), return 31 lb (14 kg).

     The small size fits me better. I'm not sure how much stretch is supposed to be in the stretch fit, but I'd say this size fits me well without much.

    1. PT. REYES: Most of the hiking hours were very warm and dry. One night was drippy damp from ocean humidity and that followed the longest hiking day. Still I remained comfortable enough I didn't need to change. As warm as the hiking was I didn't really need undershorts, but I think I was more comfortable. The fabric does a splendid job of wicking away moisture. The shorts don't feel nasty when wet and they dry quickly. I never took them off until I got home to shower. I did a double take on the sniff test as the result quite surprised me. The stink reduction claim passes muster so far. I think probably the most important thing I can say is that I spent very little time thinking about them. Often in hot conditions while backpacking things are not so comfortable as to raise no notice.

    2. CITY/PARK: One wouldn't expect to find issues in well-fitting undies on such short hikes and I didn't.

    3. STANISLAUS/YOSEMITE: I wore the garment continuously from when I left home until I returned. I could have laundered it, but in the interest of testing the veracity of the anti-odor claim I did not. This speaks highly of the garment's comfort. I hiked as long as 4 hours in heat, and of course I got wet. The rather amazing thing to me is that I did not get uncomfortable, nor did my camp mate seem to maintain any greater distance. I'd get to camp, and by the time my chores were done I was dry enough not to think about changing. I had no chafing or discomfort. I wore the garment under a very light pair of hiking shorts until nightfall, whereupon I switched to long pants.

    In the truest spirit of sparing no sacrifice in the quest to provide useful test information, I hadn't laundered the garment since the 5/16 hike; and continued unwashed through the 5/30 hike. They still don't stink, though it being end of the month I will toss them in the wash. That accounts for 114 hours of wearing and 37 mi (60  km) of walking since the last wash. They never fit tight enough to stretch, and at this point they hang a little looser.

    4. LOON LAKE: I kept the shorts on continuously from leaving home Monday morning until returning Thursday evening; and probably the most important thing I can note is that I never noticed them. I don't know how a cotton-heavy garment can be damp and not cold. The longest leg was five mi (8 k). It was hot to start and I was toting 45 lb (20 kg). There were a (pitifully few) snow drifts to negotiate and a half-dozen stream crossings. We camped on the lake shore and it was breezy and cooling off quite a bit when I took my pack off. I changed into long pants, but didn't even think about trading out the undies. Possibly from force of habit I find myself not needing the piddle port and not liking it when I tried it. I got the impression the position is not user friendly and quickly reverted to my old ways of going over the top. The garment does stretch somewhat, such that it feels loose as opposed to any kind of compression fit.

    5. BERGSON LAKE: Once again I installed the garment before leaving home and resided in it until returning to the car, for a total of 77 hours and 13 mi (21 km) of mostly backpacking and some hiking. Temps were high and the trail delightfully roller-coaster. I got really wet, but just didn't seem to care. I could have changed, but never did. The longest day was two hours of three-mi (5 km) trail and then an hour-ten for three mi (5 km) on the road. Bad intel from the forest service had us parking at the gate, but citizen vehicles at the trailhead showed the gate was open (I thought they'd forgotten to lock it after some tree cutting work), so I bolted for the car to be able to drive back up and fetch my hiking mate to save her a bit of the road walk. I was sopping wet and changed into dry clothes for the drive home. My shirt felt sticky and icky, but the briefs were still good enough I considered being a super tester and wearing them home.

    6. SHASTA NF: Hiking days were short, but hot and at times difficult. I sweated up the briefs, but they remained comfortable enough that I never changed out of them. The high heat helped them wick moisture during and very quickly after hiking so that I never felt gummy or grimy even when a puff of breeze might cause notice they were wet. I started out the trip freshly laundered and finished with no detectable odor. Chalk up 8 mi (13 km) and 69 hours of happy wearing.

    7. EMIGRANT: The signature part of this trip was XC 1,000 ft (300 m) up in an air mile (1.6 km) into the cliffs above Piute Meadow after hiking 3 mi (5 km) of trail. Overall hiking temps were warm but not hot and never cold. We had a dozen wet crossings, though none to get shorts wet. I never took the briefs off, finding them comfortable enough again to dry on me while making camp.

    8. YOSEMITE: If it can be too hot to have fun backpacking, this trip tried to creep into the threshold. The first afternoon/evening I was on a 2 mi (3 km) hike on a seldom-used and evidently never maintained trail. An hour in I lost the trail on a hillside choked in head-high live brush. I finally fought my out and eventually got to my intended destination, soaking wet, smothered in pollen, leaves, twigs and cobwebs; and almost grumpy when I got there. The next day was a tough one for me with heat, gain and XC half the way through multiple-burn areas and regenerating trees and brush. So to the aforementioned I could add exhausted when I got to Flora Lake. I walked in up to my chin, though I did take off my backpack first. Then I took off my clothes, wrung 'em out and laid 'em in the sun on hot granite. The briefs dried in about the same time as my 70/30 poly-cotton shirt, guessing a little more than half an hour. I stayed there in heat to 95 F (35 C) in the sun for several days and then left for a 4-mi (6 km) XC hike to my last camp that took 3 1/2 hours in temps probably 70-80 F (21-27 C), leaving early enough in the day to avoid the worst of the heat. I got to Kibbie Creek and sat in a puddle deep enough to get my neck wet. I wrung the briefs and let them on a hot rock for maybe 15 minutes and then put them on, still damp but not in any way uncomfortable. My shirt is much less cotton, but I prefer to let it dry completely.

August 28, 2017
Field Conditions:
    9. July 22-26, 2017: Waldo Lake, Willamette National Forest, Oregon. 2 mi (3 km) backpacking XC, 20 mi (32 km) hiking trail. Around 80 F (27 C) in bright sun. 5,400 ft (1,645  m).
    10. July 26-29, 2017: Yolla Bolly Wilderness, California. 10 mi (16 km) backpacking trail.
Around 85 F (30 C) in bright sun. 5,600-6,900 ft (1,700-2,100  m).
    11. August 3-11, 2017: Emigrant Wilderness, California. 35 mi (56 km) backpacking--27 mi (43 km) trail and 8 mi (13 km) XC. 75-90 F (24-32 C) hiking temp at 7,200-8,900 ft (2,195-2,713 m). Leave weight 41 lb (18.6 kg), return 31 lb (14 kg).
    12. Aug 18-20, 2017: Blow Lake, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon. 3 mi (5 km) backpacking 55 lb (25 kg) and 3.5 mi (5.5 km) hiking trail. 50-80 F (10-27 C). 5,050 ft (1,540 m).
    13. Aug 22-25, 2017: Waldo Lake, Willamette National Forest, Oregon. 1.5 mi (3 km) backpacking 55 lb (25 kg) and 8 mi hiking (13 km) XC in dry, open forest. 34-80 F (1-27 C).

    9. WALDO: The key part of the test here was the 20 mi (32 km) day hike around the lake carrying about 10 lb (5 kg). It's almost all trail with short bits of up and down. Trail is dirt, gravel, rubble and rock through mostly dense forest. About an hour of the hike went through an open stretch caused by a fierce burn 20 years ago across the north end of the lake. The walk takes me 10 hours, so though I start early, I spend a lot of hours in the heat of day. Bugs are an issue, requiring a pace to keep swarming to a less intolerable annoyance. I got no apex rash at all, suggesting the briefs actually do prevent chafing. At the end of the hike I walked out into the lake for a refresher; the briefs were dry on a line in an hour or so.

    10. YOLLA BOLLY: Admittedly low on gas from the previous outing, this trip was a welcome series of sorties never more than 2 hours in a day. It was awfully hot with plenty of elevation gain. I got sweaty, of course, but once again can say I didn't spend any time at all thinking about my undies. The parts in their trust remained in good shape with no chafing.

    11. EMIGRANT: Hiking probably averaged 85 F (30 C) in the sun and steamy humid as heat clouds developed in the first three afternoons, with light rain for an hour on the first day. Hot and heavy every day I got disgustingly wet, but the briefs dried quickly while setting camp. I hand-rinsed them in plain water twice during the trip, being unable to rise to the test ethic of pushing them until they stink. Set out on hot granite they dried in the time it took to finish rinsing shirt and socks. I got cold in a thunder cell at the end of one hike, but not in the area covered by the briefs, wet as they were.

    12. BLOW: Easy, short hiking didn't get the briefs very wet and I never changed out of them for the three-day outing.

    13: WALDO: More easy and short hiking produced the same result over four days. I felt comfortable the whole time without ever changing, and no one around me complained. I even left them on for the 8-hour drive home.

Totals (mostly the smalls, used exclusively since receiving them): 1,124 hours (about like wearing to work every day for six months) wearing; 43 nights out; 215 mi (346 km) backpacking and hiking; 12 machine washes, 6 hand rinses.

RESULTS: Complete satisfaction. They feel thick, which is terrific when temps are down, yet they don't feel hot in higher temps. They get wet, of course, when I'm working hard, but they dry quickly and so far have never felt grimy. Even saturated the briefs have not caused apex rash and in fact I might say they seem to prevent it. I've given up trying to wear them until they draw flies--so far they just don't develop odor. They do stretch, and even the small size for me gets to seeming larger than I would ordinarily prefer. (I like my undies to stay up when I pull off my pants, and they don't.) There is no sign of pilling, though I've most always had a layer over them. The port does not work well for me and since that area is the slowest to dry given the double layers, I'd be just as happy without it.
Quick shots:
    a) comfortable
    b) well made
    c) light
    d) big
Thank you ExOfficio and for the opportunity to test these briefs. This report concludes my test.

Read more gear reviews by joe schaffer

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