Men’s Boxer Briefs and Trunks: The Ultimate How-To-Buy Guide

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Here is my bold prediction: you are wearing Boxer Briefs or Trunks right now. Am I correct? If so, it is because most men wear boxer briefs or trunks. And for many good reasons. They are comfortable, stylish, supportive, and, in my opinion, the sexiest type of underwear for men. Yet, an explosion in men’s underwear brands has spoiled us with diverse patterns, fabrics, models, and features. Even features that many men didn’t realize they needed – such as a contouring pouch or modal microfiber – are plentiful and diverse.

Thus, the dilemma: how do you or your significant other decide on what to buy? This guide will give you everything you need to know when purchasing men’s boxer briefs and trunks. Cuts, prices, fabric, and features are all detailed below so you can shop confidently. My goal is that you will find new comfort, embrace variety and boldness, and ultimately love your new underwear. Be prepared to become an expert on your underwear by the end of this guide. 

Comparison of men's underwear inseam lengths
3-inch, 6-inch, or 8-inch boxer briefs – I got you covered!

How to Use this Guide to Men’s Boxer Briefs and Trunks:

If it is your first time here, or you are lost in a sea of choices of men’s boxer briefs and trunks, I recommend you read my entire guide first. If you want specific aspects to change about your current underwear, please skip ahead using the Table of Contents below. Regardless, I include links in each section as examples of any point or feature I call out. This makes it easy to quickly find for what you are searching.

Table of Contents

Defining Men’s Boxer Briefs vs. Trunks: Inseam Length

Given a pair of boxer shorts, boxer briefs, and regular briefs, I am sure you could easily say which is which. However, given a pair of boxer briefs and trunks, can you define which is which accurately? Many men aren’t able to either, yet this is critical when buying underwear.

To give a proper definition, we first need to define the inseam. The inseam is simply the length from the crotch to the bottom of the leg opening. When shopping for pants, men commonly know this as the length. If you wear 32×32 pants, your waist size is 32 inches, and your inseam length is 32 inches as well. The same concept applies to men’s underwear.

Unfortunately, men’s boxer briefs and trunks have no universal definition of inseam length. For example, Tommy John defines trunks as 4.5” long, whereas most companies call these boxer briefs. Some companies even divide boxer briefs into two or three categories – short, standard, or long – and trunks into two categories: regular trunks or square-cut.

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Therefore, when shopping for trunks or boxer briefs, pay more attention to the inseam length than the style’s actual title. At, to simplify definitions across our website, we define the following types and inseams:

  • Briefs – 0” inseam (standard briefs)
  • Trunks – Between 0” and 3.5” inseam (this category includes square-cut trunks)
  • Boxer Briefs – Between 4” and 6.5” inseam (“regular” boxer briefs)
  • Long Boxer Briefs – Between 7” and 9” inseam (your knee is around 9”-10” for reference)

Watch my video to see each inseam length of men’s underwear

Quick tip: Now that we have definitions for boxer briefs and trunks, which style should you choose? Trends have accelerated towards shorter inseam lengths, with trunks quickly becoming popular. With less material, shorter styles provide greater air circulation and less material to bunch up under tight pants. However, if you aren’t sure and already wearing boxers or boxer briefs, you’ll probably be fine staying in the 4”-6” inseam range. Guys wearing tight pants or looking for a more slimline look will want to purchase trunks in the 2”-3” inseam range.

Pricing Men’s Boxer Briefs

Many specialty and luxury men’s underwear companies have arrived in the past few years to give men many more options in buying underwear. However, unlike the days of buying Hanes or Fruit of the Loom multipacks, specialty underwear companies can often charge the same price for one pair as a Hanes three or six-pack. In other words, buying a week’s worth of underwear can easily top $100!

That is why it pays to do some homework and one of the reasons exists. In general, here is how we evaluate prices:

  • $ = each pair costs less than $5. Underwear in this range is more functional than luxurious and tends to attract mainstream companies such as Hanes and Fruit of the Loom (FTL). Expect a limited selection of fabrics – primarily 100% cotton – and simple patterns and colors. Don’t expect pairs to last long; fabric and manufacturing processes are on the cheaper end to get the cost down. We’ll call this range the “underwear minimalists.” I would skip underwear in this category and focus on the next category, between $5-$15.

Last update on 2024-02-25 at 10:18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  • $$ = each pair costs between $5 and $15. This range is the “middle class” of underwear, and you’ll find both high-end products from cheaper manufacturers and lower-end products from high-end manufacturers. If you are wearing Hanes or FTL and want something more sophisticated, this is the price range to start your new journey and experiment before getting pricier pairs. Brands like Pair of Thieves, David Archy, Separatec, Puma, and many others will charge you in this price range. Even Jockey has some great pairs of underwear in this category!
  • $$$ = each pair costs between $15 to $25. Above $15, brands aren’t selling you underwear; they are selling you a lifestyle. However, this price range is also tricky. Many companies price pairs above $15 because of branding rather than because their underwear is anything special. If you haven’t shopped in this price range before, you need to read this guide and study your options. Sometimes you are better off saving a few dollars and buying in the $10-$15/pair range, while other times, it is better to splurge and pay $25+. Good brands occupying this price level include Calvin Klein and MeUndies.
  • $$$$ = each pair costs more than $25. Above $25, you have bought into the upper class of men’s underwear. These brands are about the lifestyle, not just underwear. Engineering and design – much like high-end cars – are what you are purchasing, not something to keep your balls in place. Unless you truly are into brands, you’ll want to focus on truly special underwear rather than just the name on the waistband. Tommy John, Mack Weldon, Bn3th, and Saxx are brands in this price range.

Quick tip: Unless you know what you want, I find that $10-$15 per pair is generally the sweet spot between comfort, design, and not paying a fortune for pairs. However, if you want truly luxurious underwear built to last with bells and whistles, then $30-40 is what it takes today. A bonus tip is to buy some test pairs from higher-end companies at full price, and then once you know what you are looking for, you can wait for sales from those companies. Or you can stock up by buying in bulk, such as Mack Weldon’s Pack Builder. You’ll stock up with higher-end pairs at great prices.

Colors and Patterns of Men’s Boxer Briefs

Men have a plethora of choices when it comes to colors, patterns, and prints. It is easy to buy a three-pack of black, gray, or blue boxer briefs; this may be all you want if you are a minimalist. That is perfectly ok! I find black boxer briefs or trunks to be visually pleasing and a staple of any guy’s collection.

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Yet, today, so many more options are available that I believe it is fun to encourage various colors and patterns to shake up your underwear routine. Bright and bold colors can add fun to your day, while subtle patterns add some visual interest compared to boring solid colors.

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Full images and funky patterns are also quite popular, and you can find designs that are as bold or subdued as you like. Some manufacturers – like Shinesty, Ethika, and PSD – even now print men’s boxer briefs and trunks in full images, reminiscent of cartoon boxers from the 1990s (although perhaps classier?).

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Quick tip: Design is a personal preference, but I encourage variety, especially colors and patterns. Darker color schemes and subdued patterns are the safer choices yet still allow for plenty of variation and experimentation. While images may be fun and work for some guys, images are a bold statement, and I believe most men (and anyone who sees them in underwear) will stay away from prints. Therefore, buy colors and patterns that capture your fashion style. I think you can’t go wrong with a darker color palette with subdued patterns – conservative yet playful at the same time.

Material and Fabric of Men’s Boxer Briefs

The “boxer or briefs” question is so cliché that it makes me scream whenever I hear it. And it is quite outdated. With guys today wearing trunks and boxer briefs – or the many other styles that have popped up recently – the question doesn’t reflect today’s male underwear market. More importantly, I feel the question misses an equally vital factor to cut style in choosing a guy’s underwear: material and fabric.

When people think of underwear fabric, cotton is most likely what comes to their mind. And countless pairs still use cotton as the base or sole fabric. Yet today, cotton is just one of many fabric choices available to men. Include materials made by blending multiple fabrics, and the options may seem overwhelming. 

However, if you haven’t tried other fabrics or blends, you may miss out on experiencing true underwear nirvana. Ever since I bought my first Calvin Klein modal men’s boxer briefs, I have been addicted to lightweight materials, including my new favorite fabric, lightweight microfiber (also called mesh). Here are some popular materials that are worth experimenting with:

A note about Spandex/Elastane: Before getting into underwear materials, I want to ensure you know about Spandex or Elastane. The terms are generally interchangeable – Spandex is the brand name vs. the generic name of elastane. But this material is very important! Adding a bit to a base material, Spandex/elastane adds stretchability to your underwear, making it more comfortable throughout the day. I recommend at least 5-8% Spandex/elastane for everyday wear with modal, bamboo, or cotton. But for synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, and polyamide, you want at least 10% Spandex/elastane, if not 15-20% for maximum comfort.

  • Cotton: I am placing cotton first because chances are, you are wearing cotton underwear right now. Cotton is one of the heavier materials in the men’s underwear world, so while many praise cotton for its “breathability,” you will generally be able to “feel” 95-100% cotton blends when wearing them. I much prefer modal and bamboo underwear to cotton! Additionally, cotton underwear ranges in price from the cheapest to the most expensive brands. While price variation is often due to branding, fair trade or organic cotton varieties explain some of the higher-priced cotton models.

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  • Modal: Masterclass defines modal as a “semi-synthetic fabric made from beech tree pulp.” Whatever it is, I love modal underwear! Modal underwear is generally in the $$$ or $$$$ categories, but I find it well worth the price. Yet, modal has been, for years, one of my favorite materials because of how lightweight, thin, and soft it is. But despite its thinness, my Calvin Klein modals have held up exceptionally well. Many brands, such as Bn3th and David Archy, offer modal men’s boxer briefs nowadays, which is awesome!
    • Note that some brands blend modal with cotton for a cheaper option, such as Mack Weldon’s 18-Hour Jersey underwear, which is half modal and half cotton. This is better than 100% cotton and could be a good way to work up to a full modal blend, especially if you love cotton.

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 21:28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  • Bamboo: Just like modal, bamboo is one of my favorite underwear materials. It is just as light and soft as modal! Plus, it is environmentally friendly (Boody Wear has an excellent page describing the ecological benefits of bamboo). Note that some brands sell a “viscose” or “bamboo viscose” pair of underwear. While this is cheaper than pure bamboo, I usually can’t tell the difference.

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  • Synthetic Materials: On the other end of the spectrum from the cotton/modal world are the synthetic blends, which feel “slippery” compared to cotton or modal. The most common synthetic underwear materials are polyester, polyamide, and nylon. Athletes wear synthetic blends because they are lightweight yet run cooler and dry a lot quicker than modal or cotton. Therefore, a perfect match when athletes sweat a lot is beneficial for guys working in hot climates, hiking, or traveling.

Last update on 2024-02-25 at 04:17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  • Recycled Plastic: Instead of using virgin raw materials, underwear companies are now incorporating more and more recycled materials into their fabric. I fully support this to ease pressure on Earth’s resources and making an ever-so-slight impact on climate change. Check out brands that are using innovative recycled materials in their underwear in my blog post regarding innovative underwear brands.

Last update on 2024-02-24 at 18:10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-02-25 at 04:17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Quick tip: If you are looking for eco-friendly underwear, go with organic/fair trade cotton or organic bamboo, unless you want to pay for a top-of-the-line model like Saxx’s or Bn3th’s recycled polyester. If you like cotton but looking for something more luxurious or lightweight, try out modal. For workout sessions, summer hikes, long trips, or time by the beach, polyester/microfiber is the way to go. My recommendation is to get some pairs of each type of material so you can pair your underwear with your plan for the day. Also, pay attention to the amount of elastane (or Lycra or spandex) in the fabric blend, as a higher amount of elastane will provide more stretch, better fit, and overall more comfort. Aim for at least 8-10% to truly benefit from stretchiness, while premium models will have around 15% or greater.

Flys: Functional or Nonfunctional

Almost a decade ago, I bought my first Calvin Klein boxer briefs, and I splurged for modal (and thus igniting my love of modal underwear). They were so comfortable and so good looking (my partner encouraged me to buy them!), yet I was so annoyed that there was no fly. How was I supposed to pee (to wee, if you are from England)?

It turns out that many guys pee by pulling down their waistband a bit and lifting their penis over it (“going over the fence”). Flash forward to today, and primarily I use this method to pee, even if I have a fly built into my underwear. The reason being is that I own so many pairs of underwear without flys, that it is now second nature. Of course, I still use the fly in my pants for access. Thus, I admit that it is sometimes awkward at public urinals if I wear tight pants and tight underwear. Getting my penis out to pee requires both agility and strength at the same time while appearing as if I have the situation under control. 

Regardless of my awkwardness, in this category, options are pretty straightforward:

  • No-fly: Underwear without a fly is as simple as it sounds: you must bring your penis out of its home to pee.

  • Vertical fly: This is the “standard” fly that most guys recognize when seeing a fly. You shuffle your underwear to the left, shuffle your penis to the right, and there you pee.

  • Horizontal fly: Same as the vertical fly, only rotated 90 degrees. You pull the horizontal fly down while bringing your penis up to pee.

Quick tip: If you must have a fly, you will limit your underwear options as so many models nowadays do not have flys (flies?), especially on the higher end. Having said that, while it was strange at first not having a fly, I got used to it, and now it has become second nature to pee without using a fly. And for a task that takes maybe a couple of minutes total of your entire day (depends on how often you pee), I encourage you to not miss out on a fantastic pair of men’s boxer briefs or trunks only for the lack of a fly.

Boxer Briefs with a Pouch

As long as we are on the subject of penises, your penis and balls need a home. But not a home that they share with the rest of your groin area, their own separate space. That is what pouches provide – a guest house or converted basement for your penis separate from the main house.

For me, pouches make a big difference in comfort. Most of my underwear has some sort of pouch, yet I feel it right away when I wear pouchless boxer briefs. Everything seems more squished, and overall it all feels tighter. And honestly, I am not even that big!

Yet, according to Hanes, 71% of all men have never tried underwear with a pouch! Fortunately, except for the lowest-tier of underwear, most pairs and companies offer some sort of pouch option, sometimes even multiple options. If you aren’t sure while shopping online, a quick way to determine if there is a pouch is to check for a seam that either runs vertically over where your penis would sit down to the crotch or at least halfway up from the crotch to your penis “midpoint” per se. This seam is needed to provide stability to the “roof of the guest house.” 

On the other hand, not all pouches are made the same. A simple pouch just adds more airspace in the area of your penis to give yourself more room. However, today’s underwear engineers have developed all sorts of pouch construction (the guest house metaphor really does work!) to provide additional comfort. Saxx provides the Ballpark Pouch; Bn3th has the MyPakage Pouch; Shinesty has the Ball Hammock; even Hanes – yes, that Hanes – has the Comfort Flex Fit Pouch. While these terms are exciting and the boxer briefs comfortable, engineering isn’t cheap and something to keep in mind.

Quick tip: For me, having a pouch is non-negotiable. I must have a pouch in any new pair I buy. I strongly encourage you to pay a little bit extra and get a pouch. On the other hand, is it worth paying top dollar for a mathematically-designed pouch? If you sweat profusely, are well-endowed, work in hotter climates, or work out vigorously, then you definitely want to try an upgraded pouch. Check out my Cheat Sheet to Penis Pouches to learn how to pick the right penis and ball pouch for you, and also read my in-depth reviews of Separatec’s Dual Pouch and Saxx’s Ballpark Pouch.

Branded Waistband

When I was growing up, it was popular in school to sag your pants (fellow millennials know what I am talking about!), so your underwear waistband (and usually more) always showed to the public. Nowadays, guys are into tighter clothing, so often, your pants entirely cover your underwear.

Nonetheless, personal preference may dictate whether you want your underwear to be a sales ad for a particular brand. Some brands are well known for their waistbands, such as Calvin Klein, American Eagle, and Ethika. Other well-known brands don’t even put their name on their waistband, such as Mack Weldon. For the most part, this is purely an aesthetic choice rather than a choice of comfort.

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Waistbands can impact comfort; however, it may be hard to determine this when shopping online. Primarily it is due to the fabric on the interior of the waistband, although most companies won’t show this material online. Brands may also advertise their waistband’s unique features, such as no-roll (the waistband won’t fold over) or luxurious fabric (it feels soft). These added features may help provide additional comfort, especially if you have skin sensitivity or are at the upper end of your size bracket (for example, if you have a 34” waist and are buying medium size).

Quick tip: Branded waistbands are purely a personal design choice, and unless you are showing your boxer briefs or trunks off a lot, no need to waste time studying waistbands when deciding which pairs to purchase. On the other hand, mid-range and high-end brands will provide more comfortable waistbands than lower-end pairs, and if you are sensitive to waistband comfort, you may want to focus more on higher-end brands. I do not pay much attention to waistbands as I believe more essential factors contribute to choosing a great pair of men’s boxer briefs or trunks.

Multipacks of Men’s Boxer Briefs

Multipacks – two or more pairs bundled together for purchase together – can provide significant value to you if purchased correctly. First, I am not talking about the three or six-packs in Target and Walmart (seven-packs if you include that extra pair included for free!). I am talking about mid-range and higher-end brands providing two or three-packs for a slightly lower price per pair than buying each pair individually. Thus, multipacks are a fantastic way to save on buying men’s boxer briefs or trunks you already love. However, you must do a tad bit of homework to ensure you are saving.

That first piece of homework is ensuring you are indeed saving money. For example, Mack Weldon sells their 18-Hour Jersey Trunks for $22/pair or a three-pack for $66. Simple math shows that each pair in the three-pack is still $22. Thus, you are not saving money by purchasing the multipack, but in exchange, you are giving up some freedom by not picking out the colors and patterns you genuinely want. In this case, just purchasing the single trunks for $22/each and getting the colors and patterns you love is the winning play.

On the other hand, multipacks may mean big savings. Tani USA sells its SilkCut Classic Boxer Briefs for $45/pair. Yet if you purchase a three-pack, the total cost is only $110, or around $37/pair. This is an 18% savings over purchasing a single pair. Of course, note that you are still spending $37/pair, which is very high for men’s underwear. You’ll want to make sure you like Tani underwear before spending $110 for three boxer briefs.

Assuming you are saving money by purchasing the multipack, however, compare the money you save to the limited design choices multipacks provide. If you aren’t happy with the colors the multipacks come in, is it worth saving the money compared to purchasing the single pairs in the designs you want? On the other hand, if you like the choices for multipacks, it is a great way to stock up for a lower price.

Additionally, if you are trying out a new brand or style, especially at higher-end pricing, it may be best to purchase one or two pairs first to ensure you like it before committing to multipacks. While the multipack may offer a lower price per pair, you still have to pay more money to purchase three pairs at once instead of just one pair. If you end up not liking it, that is money – and underwear – wasted.

Quick tip: Only consider multipacks once you know you like (preferably love!) the brand and style. Assuming yes, calculate the price per pair when purchasing a multipack compared to buying single pairs and weigh this with the multipack’s design options. Sometimes this trade-off is a fantastic deal; other times, there is no deal at all. Lastly, if your favorite brand is having a sale and giving a good deal on multipacks, consider going on a multipack shopping spree to stock up for excellent prices. Great men’s boxer briefs do not have an expiration date, so it is ok to have new pairs on reserve in your closet for future use.

Design Country

Unlike boxer shorts, men’s boxer briefs and trunks are globally well-known, even if labeled differently (more on that in a moment). And with online shopping at an all-time high, there is no shortage of international brands and styles for experimenting. With the global marketplace at your fingertips, don’t limit yourself to just pairs from your home country.

When shopping internationally, the biggest hurdle is going to be high shipping costs. If they offer free shipping, you may have to pay $100, $150, or even more to qualify for free shipping. High free shipping minimums require significant investment if you are not familiar with the brand, so it is ok to be wary. However, if you are intrigued by a brand, sign up for their marketing emails and wait for a sale. I scored a great deal from Intimissimi (an Italian brand) by waiting for their holiday sale, including free shipping to the United States. It lowered my barrier to entry and allowed me to experiment with their offerings. 

Terminology is another difference between American and global brands. Global brands love to call trunks “boxers.” “Boxers” may be confusing at first, as in the United States, we tend to think of “boxers” as boxer shorts. However, in Europe, boxer shorts tend to be not offered at all, or if offered, termed “loose boxers.” Thus, when shopping on European websites and looking for boxer briefs or trunks, generally, you want to be shopping for “boxers.” 

International brands also tend to lean to shorter lengths in general. Expect 3” or less in inseam length for most brands, with some “boxers” being just a tad away from briefs. Some websites – especially in Latin America – will note these as “square-cut” boxers. The name comes from the square appearance when worn (although to me, it looks more like a horizontal rectangle compared to a vertical rectangle of boxer briefs). American-style men’s boxer briefs will be more limited in styles, and longer boxer briefs with greater than 6” inseams are almost non-existent. 

Materials will generally be the same as in the United States, as fabrics tend to be international commodities. However, sizes will be different based on the country of origin. Ensure you read each company’s size chart before purchasing (you may need to convert centimeters into inches as well). You may also read the reviews the company posts to see if anyone mentions sizing issues. If the site is not in English, Google Translate will help translate the entire site for you.

Quick tip: Exploring international brands is a fantastic way to add diversity, spice, and even more comfort to your underwear collection. Shipping fees and different sizes will be the biggest hurdles to purchasing abroad. However, patience for sales will help with shipping fees, and performing a little bit of research into sizing before purchasing will alleviate these worries.

Are you ready to buy men’s boxer briefs?

Finding a fabulous pair of men’s boxer briefs or trunks feels terrific. And it doesn’t have to be hard. By breaking down the essential factors in comfort and style of boxer briefs and trunks in this guide, I hope you will feel more confident searching online (or in-store) for pairs that are right for you. I also hope you will be encouraged to experiment and add variety and spice to your underwear collection. To recap, here are the criteria I covered in this guide:

I would love to hear from you! What are your most important criteria in choosing new men’s boxer briefs and trunks? Are there any crucial factors I missed? Let me know your feedback in the comments below.

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Eric is the creator and writer of He loves boxer briefs and trunks, exploring the new world of briefs, the soft feeling of modal and the lightness of mesh microfiber, and of course writing and researching the world of men's underwear.

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