Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Team Commando or Team Runderwear?

"Disclaimer: I received a pair of Runderwear Men’s Running Boxer Briefs to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!"

Time to talk underwear! More specifically, Runderwear. Runderwear are the first underwear that I have ever run in that were designed specifically for running. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going out and running ultras wearing cotton boxers that offer no support. I am typically a wearer of athletic boxer/briefs made from a polyester/spandex blend. While this has worked for me thus far with minimal complaints, I’m always willing to try new running products to see where improvements can be made in my running habits.

Runderwear started with a common running problem: chafing. Most runners have experienced it at some point and many have accepted it as just coming with the territory. I know I have had my fair share of chafing during ultramarathons. Others, the lucky ones, often look at you perplexed when you tell them about the misery you experienced in the shower after your last 100k (if you’ve ever chafed worse than you realized then took a shower, you know what I’m talking about). Runderwear’s founders are runners whose goal was to create chafe-free, comfortable underwear for runners. Since then, an entire line of chafe-free athletic wear has followed: socks, baselayers, and triathlon suits. I’d say it is easy to see they have had success just based on the accolades their products have received with recognition by Runner’s World, Women’s & Men’s Running, Outdoor Enthusiast, and 220 Triathlon. Not to mention receiving the “Best Underwear & Socks Brand” at the 2018 Running Awards. But I am a bit of a skeptic and like to learn through experience, so I was excited at the opportunity to try a pair out for myself. 

With the primary Runderwear claim being supreme comfort and chafe-free running, I decided to really test them out in that department and take them out for a long run. I intended for my first run wearing them to be the NJ Marathon where I was shooting for a new marathon PR, but decided at the last minute that it may not be the best plan if it turned out these new underwear rubbed me the wrong way ten miles in. So I took them out for a few shorter runs and then finally for a 20 mile long training run this past weekend. Comfort? Check! Chafing? Negative! Runderwear made good on their Chafe-Free guarantee.

So how do these underwear do it and how does a company have so much confidence in their product that they actually offer a Chafe-Free guarantee? Well, here is an excerpt from the Runderwear website and then I’ll offer my thoughts on all of the key features:

Chafe-Free Guarantee

"Runderwear’s whole ethos is about creating chafe-free performance clothing. Runderwear clothing has no side seams and is label-free to prevent irritation and rubbing. Runderwear technical fabric is extremely soft, breathable and highly effective at wicking sweat away from the body, ensuring you remain chafe-free in ultimate comfort, no matter how many miles you run.

We’re so confident that your Runderwear will provide the solution to your chafing, that we offer a 28 day, no fuss guarantee. If you wear our products and they cause you to chafe, we will happily refund you, it’s as simple as that.

Remember, Runderwear will stop chafing in the area that it covers and not the surrounding areas, so make sure you select the best style for your problem area. For example, briefs will protect your nether-regions from chafing but not your thighs, whilst our Long Boxers (for Men) and Hot Pants (for Women) will protect all that they touch."

Runderwear’s tagless and seamless design are two key features in preventing chafing. Chafing is caused by continual rubbing from clothing or accessories against your skin. Take away features that are prone to rub, such as tags and seams, and you reduce the likelihood of chafing. Simple. Compared to some boxer/briefs I have worn that have a sewn on tag on the waistband, the tagless design was exponentially more comfortable. The lack of seams also did not go unnoticed. Most of my other athletic underwear has seams running along the inner thigh to the crotch in addition to the seams running from the waistband at the hip down to the bottom of the boxer/brief along the outer leg. Runderwear has none of these seams with their 360 degree seamless design. The little stitching that is used, around the elastic waistband, is a style of flatlock fine stitching which was barely noticeable and non irritating for the entirety of my 20 mile run.

Moisture is another deadly sin that can lead to chafing. How Runderwear goes about combating this one is via moisture wicking fabric. Runderwear are made from polyamide (92%) and elastane (8%), a much different composition than my normal athletic wear blend of polyester/spandex. Their blend is designed to wick sweat away from the skin to keep you dry and stop chafing before it starts. I can’t say how much better this material is at pulling moisture away as I haven’t had the opportunity to test them out during a truly hot and muggy, typical East coast August day, but I can say they performed well during my 20 mile test run on one of the warmer (high of 76° F) May days we have had. Part of the key to removing the moisture is the breathability of the fabric. The fabric blend used by Runderwear has mesh panels containing micro perforations that make it breathable and allow moisture to be removed from the body.

The last benefit I found with Runderwear is not specifically related to chafing, but rather just overall comfort. The material is soft and form fitting, providing great support to keep things from getting jostled around while running without being restrictive. Unlike other boxer/briefs I’ve worn that like to migrate a bit during long runs and need some readjustments, Runderwear stayed right where they were supposed to for all of my trial miles with them. This is in part due to the “rubberized” strip at the bottom of each leg hole. At first glance after unpackaging, I thought this was an adhesive to keep the Runderwear in place in the packaging. Then I realized the true purpose, to keep the legs of the boxer/briefs from creeping up your legs while in motion. And it works too! I didn’t have to adjust or pull my boxer/brief pant legs down from creeping up my running shorts once. Cleanliness is one more aspect of comfort where Runderwear impressed me. Much of my athletic clothing tends to get a bit of a funky smell attached to it after enough use even freshly out of the wash. With the limited amount of time that I have used Runderwear, they seem to wash well and come out looking and smelling super fresh. Granted, that is only after about five uses and washes, but I have high hopes for that trend of cleanliness to continue.

Although my relationship with Runderwear has been limited (thirtysomething miles), I can say I have enjoyed them for all of those miles and found them comfortable and chafe-free. If you are looking to try a pair for yourself, they can be found on Amazon (Runderwear) or on the Runderwear website where you can use code “BIBRAVE20” for 20% off. Valid until Friday 31 May.


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