The 10 Best Men's Long Underwear
10. Hanes X-Temp
9. FitExtreme MaxHeat
8. Ekouaer Base
7. Duofold Mid-Weight
6. CYZ Collection Long
5. Carhartt Base Force
4. Tesla Blank
3. Smartwool NTS
1. Minus33 Merino
Protecting The Jewels
We men place a great deal of importance on an area of the body that, at the end of the day, isn’t even technically necessary for our immediate survival. We spend far less time concerned with the health and well-being of our hearts, for example, even as heart disease remains the leading cause of death in our culture. The doctors all tell us to eat less red meat, exercise more, and increase our intake of green leafy vegetables, yet we don’t seem too inclined to listen. I’m willing to bet that if the behaviors that are bad for our hearts were to cause sudden shrinkage and other malfunctions to our genitalia, the meat industry would collapse within a week.
There are a few things that can cause adverse effects in this region, however, and we’re pretty good about avoiding them. We have sturdy jock straps to hold hard plastic cups in a protective position while playing dangerous sports. The market also offers all manner of powders and creams intended to keep the area dry and the skin down there healthy.
From the standpoint of evolutionary psychology, this increased attention on our reproductive organs is actually pretty sensible. If you’re doing something today that’s going to make your heart fail in 20 years, but that doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the family jewels, then you still have plenty of time to reproduce. Many sociologists posit that this orientation — towards procreation as the ultimate driving force of existence — underlies every decision we make, from the clothes we wear to our artistic ambitions.
Those clothes, however, might cause an unintended consequence in our search for a mate, and it turns out to be one of the more gradual killers of our reproductive potential. Like the issues with poor diet and lack of exercise, though, the effects take so long to accumulate that we scarcely provide against it. We’re talking here about temperature.
The very reason that the male body keeps its testes in a sack is to regulate their temperature. When it’s very warm, those testes can hang loose, catching more air and staying safely cool. When it’s too cold, those testes can retract up into the body where they can stay nice and cozy. Too much time in an environment that’s too hot or too cold can have a significantly adverse effect on motility and other reproductive factors.
To combat this effect in cold weather, the best thing that you can do is to add layers that will help keep your core temperature higher while also regulating the heat around your most important region. Briefs can help insulate the testicular area in particular, but they often leave the upper thighs exposed, which lowers the temperature of the region too greatly. Boxers provide too much airflow, which will quickly freeze the area over, and boxer-briefs have a tendency to ride up the leg, creating the same problem as regular briefs, but with the addition of significant discomfort.
The answer to all these issues is the long underwear. While no longer used by the legions of men who once swore by them, long underwear keeps your reproductive area warm while also insulating your thighs and beyond, all without any bunching. What’s more, the warmth in your lower thighs, calves, and ankles will help keep blood flowing to your feet, so they can stay warm in even the most frigid environments.
How To Choose The Right Long Underwear
The most important thing to consider when choosing from among the long underwear sets on our list is comfort. This is largely a personal preference, but long underwear can usually be divided into two categories that will cut your options roughly in half from the start.
Some long underwear better resembles the long johns of yore, with a loosely hanging, thickly knit material. You can often identify these pairs on sight, as they tend to have more visible texture, as well as a small amount of bunching around the ankles of the model.
Other long underwear sets are more like modern compression pants. In addition to causing little to no bunching, these set often increase circulation in the legs through compression, which can help keep you warm. Some find the snug fit of these styles too constricting, however.
If you plan on engaging in demanding physical activity in very cold weather — a good Thanksgiving football game, for example — compression-style underwear might be your best bet. For lounging around the house without putting on real pants, the looser kind is ideal.
A Brief History Of Underwear
While you might feel like a rebel any time you decide to go commando (one of the many euphemisms for intentionally neglecting to wear underpants), you’re actually reaching back to the not-so-distant past for your inspiration. That’s because the use of underwear has waxed and waned with civilizations throughout history, and underwear in its modern form hasn’t been very popular for more than a century or so.
If you’re of the biblical persuasion, then you probably believe that the first human underwear was the fig leaf. Radio carbon dating tells us that the age of the oldest discovered material used as a primitive loincloth is a little over 7,000 years, however. Unless that cloth was made of dinosaur hide, there may be a problem with the biblical timeline. Those early loincloths cropped up in several cultures around the world, and evolved through countless iterations over millennia, including everything from the bustle and the codpiece to the union suit.
The spinning jenny and cotton gin inventions of the 18th century were probably the biggest turning points in underwear history, as more styles and sizes could be produced in less time. Modern men’s underwear, including tighter briefs, evolved through the 20th century — often undergoing wartime innovations — to give us the wide variety we see in use today.