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I've recently learned that linen underwear is great against fungal infections that can be contracted in hot sweaty conditions.

But elsewhere I had read that the best fabrics against sweaty or tropical conditions were synthetic fabrics that provide wicking thus preventing excess moisture build up.

I just arrived in Taiwan where it's 34°C/93°F and plan to hitchhike around Asia for a year, as I've done before.

Previously my biggest problem had been chafing. I've managed to find some synthetic short and trousers, so it should be better this year. But I'm also concerned about fungal infection. I get tinea pedis frequently when wearing shoes and I've had tinea cruris before and think that could be a showstopper for long distance walking in hot/tropical climates.

But so far I still only have cotton underwear. Is synthetic preferable? I think I read somewhere that polyester is the worst in regard to jock itch!

Or what about going with linen when not actively hiking and something else while out on the road?

  • I find that cotton is the worst regarding chaffing. Linen seems like a surprising choice to me, but I only ever had shirts and pants may of linen. I found the fabric comfortable in hot weather, but stiff and a bit rough to consider underwears made of that. – njzk2 Aug 5 '16 at 13:43
  • @njzk2: Maybe the linen they make underwear from is finer? I haven't found any yet since I discovered multiple recommendations when Googling before I posted the question here. – hippietrail Aug 6 '16 at 3:05
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    Keep in mind how long they would take to dry once washed. When I travelled through SE Asia it was so humid our clothes werent drying, it would take forever. In our backpacks there was cotton, linen, synthetics high-tech and not... no winners... :( – Erik vanDoren Aug 12 '16 at 15:04
  • @ErikvanDoren: My strategy is to carry lots of spares and by the time I'm about to run out an opportunity to use a washer/dryer usually pops up. – hippietrail Aug 12 '16 at 15:17
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    @hippietrail, I guess you could use a bunch of dirty skivvies as theft deterrent ;) – Erik vanDoren Aug 12 '16 at 15:24
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I have tailored on and off for many years and am somewhat familiar with the differences in various fabrics.

Not all I read on the internet am I inclined to believe about various fabrics, but I would say that linen is a good choice for underwear garments. However, linen does tend to wrinkle easy so I would recommend a linen blend. When traveling, I would suggest washing them daily, even if that means with hand soap and left over night to dry.

For the gym, Maurice Voce, the co-founder and chief marketing officer of skin care line skin Authority, says that the newest synthetic blends are the way to go to prevent chaffing. "You definitely need to wear underwear that provides the proper level of support and utilizes a moisture-wicking fabric," he says. "Never wear boxers, cotton or go commando while working out." - What Men Should Know About Underwear.

Another website has this to say about linen:

Linen - One of the best suited fabrics for summer, a sturdy and resilient fabric, that although stiff does not cling to the body, linen absorbs perspiration and does dries quickly, again wrinkles easy so go for a blend. - How to Choose the Best Fabrics for Travel.

All said and done, I would not hesitate to recommend the use of a linen-blend underwear for very hot weather.

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