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Reviews > Clothing > Base Layers and Undies > ExOfficio Give-N-Go Briefs > Owner Review by Roger Caffin
|60 kg (133 lb)
|166 cm (65")
|r dot [surname] at acm dot org
I started bushwalking (the Australian term) at 14, then took up rock climbing at University with the girl who became my wife and is my walking partner. Later on we took up ski touring and canyoning. Winter and summer, we prefer long hard trips by ourselves: about a week in Australia, up to three months in Europe/UK. We prefer fast and light in unfrequented trackless country. On average we are out for at least three months a year. Over the last four years we have reduced our pack weights from 18 - 20 kg (40 - 45 lb) each to about 12 kg (26 lb), including food, for week-long trips. I designed and made much of our lightweight gear myself.
I am also the maintainer of the Australian aus.bushwalking FAQ web site www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/.
I have slightly paraphrased the claims listed on the company web site: they are in quotes here
(ExOfficio does call them 'brief' without the 's'.)
Just how should I describe these? The safest thing might be if I just say that they are lightweight briefs for men. The pictures do the rest.
In fact, the Give-N-Go briefs comes in two styles and I have included both here because there is little difference between them. The 'Brief' has a slightly higher side of about 100 mm (4") while the side on the 'Sport Brief' is 75 mm (3") high. As far as I can see that is the only real difference, except that while both styles are available in black, charcoal and white, only the Brief is available in green and blue. The ExOfficio web site does not include any actual descriptions of either style apart from the product details given above.
They come in a little soft plastic pack with a hanger and a 2-press-stud closure. ExOfficio suggests reusing the plastic bag to hold something like a passport - it might be suitable for that. The heading on the included card says "17 countries. 6 weeks. And one pair of underwear" but does not give the product name. Down at the bottom there is a sort of logo which says "Protected by the aegis microbe shield", but I could not find any more information about this. (The link on the ExOfficio website did not work.) There are some instructions about washing etc on the bottom of the card.
Normally I wear Australian-brand briefs made of cotton knit; these ExOfficio ones are synthetic. I had resisted buying any purely synthetic underwear because of concern about the fabric being sweaty, and I had mentioned this concern (in the abstract) in the FAQ I maintain. However, the Australian representative of ExOfficio gave me a pair of each style to try out, hoping to persuade me that their models were not sweaty.
Well, I have worn them now for several months, interleaved with wearing my Australian cotton ones. That includes several weeks in the mountains walking. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were not sweaty at all. In fact, the fabric is quite light and breathable, and possibly a fraction less warm than the cotton knit.
I initially favoured the slightly lower-cut Sport Brief style (second photo), but I eventually switched to favouring the larger Brief style (lead photo): it seemed just slightly looser all around. Yes, that is for the same nominal size of Medium. I think the higher side on the Brief compared to the Sport Brief gives the fabric slightly more room to stretch as required. I hasten to add that the difference is small - I noticed it because I was looking carefully for any difference.
However, it is something else which has pleased me most about the design of these ExOfficio briefs: the waist band. My Australian-brand underwear has two different sorts of elastic. One version comes in a tube some 15 to 20 mm (0.6 - 0.8") high and made of the basic fabric, as shown in the left hand panel here. There are two Australian brand pairs on top of one of the ExOfficio Briefs. The other sort consists of a sewn-on band, as shown in the right hand panel. The latter is similar in style to the ExOfficio brand. The fabric tube version is fine but very slightly bulky when I have a pack on and the hip belt done up. Nothing particularly noticeable, mind you. But clearly visible in the right hand panel is the tendency the Australian elastic band versions have to roll up, and I find that quite annoying. Somewhat to my surprise, the elastic waist bands on these ExOfficio briefs do not show the slightest sign of rolling up. They stay very nicely flat - and comfortable.
The washing instructions are as follows:
'After washing them, simply wring them out, lay them flat on a dry towel, roll it up like a burrito and stomp on it. Then hang the underwear in a well-ventilated location. Unless you are in an area of high humidity or cold temperatures, they should be dry in about 2-4 hours.' (Does one normally stomp on a burrito? I wouldn't know.)
The implications of the short drying time are interesting, especially for use on very long trips. On our really long overseas walks my wife and I are walking for months on end, and we normally wash our underwear every couple of days. We dry it by hanging it on our packs, as shown here in the Pyrenees. In the past my cotton knit stuff usually took a full sunny day to dry. My experience so far (at home) is that these ExOfficio briefs do dry in a couple of hours, as promised. This is good, and might let me wash them more often.
These briefs have been worn and washed and worn and washed, and show little or no sign of wear in the several months I have been trying them out. I am extrapolating here on very limited evidence, but I suspect the synthetic fabric may last longer than the cotton knit in the Australian-brand ones.
This is the only real sticking point. The MSRP for one ExOfficio brief is US$18. The price of a department store pack of three of the Australian-brand ones (made in China of course) is less than that. Mind you, if the ExOfficio ones last as long as I believe they will, the price will not be a major factor in my 'cost of living'.
Not bad. I might buy some more.
|Flat waist band