Running Commando? My Runderwear Review of My Quest to Find the Perfect Running Panties
If you’re embarrassed by panty talk, move on to the next blog post. We’re talking about ladies underthingies and working out.
Our underpants cannot just be any old pair lying around on the floor. They have to fit snug, close to the body – but not too close! They have to be INVISIBLE, but comfortable. They have to not shift or get sucked into the vortex. They have to be attractive-looking because we like to feel pretty in our underpinnings, or feel a tad stylish while wandering around the house in a tank top and underwear. It’s complicated.
Add to this conundrum the fact that when running or working out hard, we ladies get Sweat Down There. Some running shorts are brilliant because they have built-in underwear made of a lightweight mesh that allows your hot spots to "breathe." And after 10 miles of sweat, there are some places where you want a little air and you can't just resort to cutting strategic holes in crotches of your underthings.
But then there are all the running shorts without built-in underwear.
As a service to women everywhere suffering silently from this uncomfortable nether region plague, I decided I would scientifically test various sweat pool prevention panty products and offer my unbiased findings. And by "scientifically," I mean that I applied all of the products listed below to my own butt. As long as it fit, didn’t ride up the crack too much, or cut off circulation under my running skirt, it got put on my body.
Image: Dawn via Flickr
First, here is what didn't work.
Anything Made with Cotton
Sure, cotton is lightweight and breathable, which are both good qualities when it comes to your lady parts. However, underwear made from all cotton is recommended for lighter types of exercise such as yoga or strength training where you're not moving a ton. With something akin to running or biking, the cotton will absorb your sweat, get soaking wet, and sag.
Victoria Secret's Boy Shorts
By the way, do you know what Vicky’s secret is? It's that she has no cellulite or stretch marks from having babies.
I took these out for a spin, determined to not be intimidated by her standard. As expected, these boy shorts will NOT stay put when running. I’ve also had problems with the top bands rolling down. This undies style offers fuller coverage so it may help keep your bum warm during winter workouts. However, you may not find them comfortable with the extra material down there which isn't good for moisture management.
The only Victoria's Secret underwear that’s ever really worked for running were these low rise, thin-banned little ones that they used to make in their active wear line. Once they started marketing to preteens all of that stuff went out the window, and now they mostly sell underpants with words on the butt. These are fine for just wearing around the house, but I'm afraid to do that for fear of having my head hacked off. (In every horror movie, there is always one white chick that decides to go check out the creepy noise in the basement wearing nothing but her cute little panties, which ultimately leads to having her head chopped off with a rusty lawnmower blade.)
So as far as these undergarments go, I personally think 'boy short'-cut panties suck for exercise. I think that extra little leg part is cute, but it really rides up when you move a lot and provides a convincing argument to go commando.
If breathability is a top concern when it comes to your special area, then wearing nothing seems like the perfect option, right? The issue with this is that if your workout bottoms don't contain a wicking panel in the crotch, you'll end up with the same problems you would if you were wearing nonbreathable undies. So check your shorts or pants before going commando. As for me, I'm too afraid I would have some weird freak accident like peeing a little while trying to break an 8:45 mile. That would be my luck. But it all comes down to personal preference.
Moving Comfort Workout Bikini Briefs
I wore these briefly (get it? briefly?) but then found out that skinny long-distance guys wear them too and that must be why there is extra material in the crotch. I saw online where a male long distance runner loves to wear Moving Comfort underwear for women because he doesn't experience chafing at all. He can't tell that the underpants are there due to the light feel. Thongs and bikinis are great for him, he says.
I won't call out this particular male panty runner by using his real name because here in the virtual cosmos of peculiarity, what you write will show up #1 in a Google search for him. Oh, and as he is a music director at a big Southern Baptist church, so in writing about him, you risk a tsunami of locusts.
Anyway these briefs, being a bit baggy in certain spots to accommodate man parts, are kind of like typical granny panties. When I wore them, I was always terrified I would have an accident and a handsome firefighter with big scissors would have to cut my clothes off in order to save my life and he’d be all, “Yuck” and I’d be all, “I swear… I really don’t wear these granny workout panties all the time.” But he wouldn't be able to hear me because I’d be dying and everything. Later he’d tell all his equally handsome firefighter friends how he had no choice but to let me die because I had on granny panties and hadn’t brushed my hair or put on any make-up, and he doesn’t get paid with a full benefits package to deal with that.
This style prevents wedgies and panty lines, but it turns out that it's not the best choice, health-wise. Since it's tight-fitting, staying close to your body and sliding back and forth as you exercise, it's perfectly designed to move fecal bacteria to your hoohaw, which can lead to UTIs or bacterial infections. I know some women swear by their comfort, but I personally don’t enjoy flossing my butt.
Seriously, I have no desire to sport floss in this region. If your booty is made for it, knock yourself out, but it ain’t happening here. So for running, I'd say thong be gone. Really, why would I willingly let my booty hang out? If baby got back – junk in the trunk – it just wouldn’t be right to have it go unconstrained.
Now here's what may work.
The 'Pure Stretch' Cheeky Brief by Under Armour
This is a sportier style with a built-in moisture-wicking crotch. These panties are specifically made to move moisture away from your sensitive parts while sweating -- especially on longer workouts -- because they feature anti-microbial material that inhibits the growth of bacteria and ensuing smelliness.
The only negative I see in this panty has to do with the "cheeky cut"... as in, it doesn't cover a muscular, perky booty. Especially when these panties transform from beginning to end of run from 'cheeky', 'very cheeky', and 'ultra cheek-a-riffic'.
If you don't have a flat, supermodel rear-end (basically if you're normal), these panties won't make you feel or look skinny. But that's okay because we all know supermodels don’t eat giant hamburgers that are too big for their delicate mouths, and whoever said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” never ate a hot-buttered biscuit smothered in Grade A fancy clover honey either.
Abiding by the law of Truth in Advertising, the 'cheeky' looks like brief/hipster/'boy short'-type underwear on the picture on the box, but when worn, it allows your jiggly bits to hang out the bottom of them. In a sense, they sort of resemble an uber-sexy torture device for those on the go. Or thongs, with about 3 inches of extra fabric in the back. Perfect for getting wedged up your @ss.
Other than the preposterous claim on the box that "one size fits all athletes," the brand says these undies will be able to "banish VPL" - "Visible Panty Lines." I was skeptical at first because the fabric seemed stiff, but after washing and wearing, they are fine. I especially like the fact that they are seamless and I get no lines when wearing capris to pick up my son at preschool or pick up Tito's Handmade Vodka from the liquor store.
So far, these "runderwears" are the best sports/athletics undies I have tried to binge drink or run over 10 miles in. The cheeky bottom doesn't ride up anymore after the first few miles of a long run. I usually wear a small in Under Armour undies, and these weren't too small or too big. So I guess I'm saying, don't be scared if when you first open the package it seems like it won't be what you want. I encourage you to try it and maybe you won't be disappointed for $12 a pop, which is a bit pricey. Maybe someday Under Armour will change its mind and sell these in 2 packs or something (hint hint).
CONs -- If you have "curves" then they may not be as comfortable because they are "one size fits all athletes."
PROs -- If you want something that doesn't give you underwear lines or sagging then these are a must have! Also, they dont "smell" like sweat after you take them off.
Oh, and one other benefit to the cheeky style of hipster underwear is that the stretch of the fabric yields plenty of clearance to pee like a guy standing up. Trust me, it only takes a little practice, and it's a nice option when the quads are shot. Although I'm still jealous that I can't "scribble" a pee line in the sand like the guys in an ultra race.
So now I turn it over to the comments. Where do you gals go for your go-to running panties? I need rockstar ultramarathon undies, and I won’t stop the hunt until they are found.
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