The challenge: Pack only two pairs of Tilley “fast drying, sweat defying” underwear on my week-long road trip from Colorado to California. The reasoning: The undies are made with 100% polyester CoolMax Extreme Mesh fabric, so I could wash them by hand in hotel sinks (or my mom’s bathroom), and they’d dry by morning. My goal: Take this test so that readers would know if they could do the same when packing light really matters (i.e. when you’re on an extended backpacking trip or you only want to pack a carry-on bag for your next plane flight, not when you’re driving a mini-van that could actually transport two dozen pair of underwear).

tilleywomenI’m not one to typically buy underwear for its quick-dry qualities, but I sure found the Tilley CoolMax Extreme Women’s Briefs ($22) fit the bill here. On our trip, I was able to wash my underwear by hand at night, wring it thoroughly, towel it dry twice (per instructions), hang to dry in a well-ventilated place, and it was dry by morning. I almost made it through the entire nine days of our trip on one pair of black and one pair of white Tilley briefs … if only I hadn’t forgotten to do my hand-washing one night. Since both were dirty the next day (hey, it’s not part of my nightly routine; mea culpa), I had to pull out my back-up pair of Hanes.

I am very impressed with how comfortable and light the underwear are. The weather was cool in California over Christmas, so I couldn’t fully test its moisture-wicking capability on our hikes in Joshua Tree National Park (I just didn’t sweat that much), but I sure intend to wear the underwear this summer when I’m hiking in the mountains here at home.

tilleyboxersMy husband was given a pair of Tilley CoolMax Travel Boxers ($22) to test on our trip as well. He could not speak more highly of how comfortable they are. To wit: He said he was more comfortable driving our 10-hour day in his Tilley CoolMax boxers than driving for just 4 hours in his Gap cotton ones. He says they are the most comfortable underwear he owns.

Testing Tilley Underwear in Jamaica

I wanted to test the quick-dry theory on our trip to Jamaica last week, so I packed my Tilley briefs again. I figured that doing the overnight-dry routine in arid Palm Springs would be quite different than in the humid tropics. Indeed, the quick-dry feature just didn’t work well in our hotel room in Jamaica. It might be that my husband and I abhor air-conditioning, and I dislike ceiling fans, so we actually slept in a room with no air circulating (really, it was better than it sounds), and whenever we were in the room, we had the sliding doors open, so the humid breeze blew in. All of these factors added up to my underwear not drying overnight, unfortunately.

But, to be fair, neither pair of my Hanes underwear dried overnight either (yes, at one point, I had four pairs of wet underwear hanging in various places in my hotel room … the housekeeping staff must have thought I was nuts). In fact, all of my clothing ended up slightly damp by the time this trip was over, as is typical when I travel to tropical locales; it was downright musty when I unpacked it all in Colorado, and had to rewash everything.

Testing Tilley in Colorado

I wanted my Tilley underwear experience to end on a high note, so just last night, I hand-washed a clean pair and hung them to dry on the doorknob of my bedroom. I went to bed at 11 p.m., and by  7 a.m., they were perfectly dry.

So, what did I learn from this experience?

  1. I’ll do just about anything in the name of research for this blog.
  2. I highly recommend Tilley underwear for frequent travelers, with the caveat that it may not wick and dry as well in humid climates as it does in arid ones.
  3. I know what I’m getting my husband for his birthday.

Tilley manufacturers all sorts of other travel clothing, including its awesome lifetime-guaranteed hats. I wore a pair of  “Unholey”quick-drying travel socks ($16) on my two most recent trips; similarly, they dried no problem overnight in desert California, and took longer to dry in Jamaica. They are super comfortable, mid-calf socks with ribbed arch support and a “moisture escape panel for breathability.” They really resist odor, too. The Tilley CoolMax Extreme Women’s Briefs have matching black or white Extreme Tanks ($26), made from the same moisture-wicking fabric. These, too, are very comfy, and great for layering for active outdoor pursuits in cold weather.

Yes, Tilley costs more than the underwear you might find at your local Gap, Jockey or Hanes outlet. But because Tilley underwear is built to last with material that will keep its shape much longer than traditional cotton underwear, I look forward to wearing my Tilley travel undergarments for years to come.

To purchase — and browse more Tilley offerings — visit the Tilley Endurables website.

Related post: Travel underwear by ExOfficio.

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