Boxers vs Boxer Briefs vs Trunks: What’s the Difference?

“What pants should I wear?” "What's the difference between boxers, boxer briefs, and trunks?" These are questions we are asked all the time. By email, on social media, even from our mates down the pub (when we could go to the pub).

It’s the issue that seems to be keeping men awake a night!

Often, a few well-put questions can sort it out in a jiffy. Although occasionally... ahem… we have to be a bit personal: just as your tailor might want to know if ‘sir hangs to the left or the right’ so we need to know certain details too. Sometimes we can tell at a glance - well… the Pantsman can - he’s that good!!!

However, not everyone wants to divulge their most intimate secrets and nor can everyone have a private audience with the Pantsman. He’s a busy man. But the key question remains: boxers vs boxer briefs vs trunks - what’s the best  type of underwear for me?

So we asked the Pantsman to share his thoughts on Below the Belt.

Boxers vs Boxer Briefs vs Trunks

First, those questions: do you want your privates snugly encased and held in place? Or do you prefer some freedom of movement and a bit of air to keep them cool? And what about your body shape? How developed are your thighs and glutes? And how’s the six pack going?

The aim, of course, is for your underpants to be as comfortable as possible. They sit closest to your body and they are there all day. And there is nothing worse than pants that don’t fit - forever having to rearrange yourself, always squirming and pulling. It is, of course, about personal preference but there are some factors you should always bear in mind.

Boxers vs Boxers Briefs

The battle of the classics. Old vs new. But just because the boxer brief is the new kid on the block it doesn’t necessarily make them better. The main difference is fit. Body hugging vs body skimming.

Boxer shorts, to give their official title, are just that, a pair of shorts to be worn under your trousers. Inspired by the shorts boxers wear in the ring (obvious really), they can be made of either woven or knitted cotton fabric, the latter offer a bit of stretch, which means they can be a bit more forgiving if you are a big bloke.

The benefit here is that as they are looser fitting, boxers allow your moving parts some movement and bring a bit of air to keep them cool. It is for this reason that, allegedly, men who wear boxers have a higher sperm count!

The downside is that they can be too baggy: they are not great under skinny-fit jeans and trousers and are likely to bunch up if you have well-developed thighs. And not everyone likes their bits flapping around like a fish on a river bank. Although there are different types of boxer shorts to choose from.

Boxer briefs, meanwhile, are more fitted and hold everything in place. Made from knitted cotton or modal (a natural fibre that is silky to the touch), and normally blended with a small amount of elastane, they sit close to the skin. The pouch with an extra layer of cloth at the crotch cradles your privates, offering support and protection - which adds to the comfort factor. And because they are fitted, boxers provide more definition at the rear.

However, it does mean everything is enclosed and the longer leg can be constricting if you have bigger thighs - again the cloth can ride up.

In conclusion: Boxers vs Boxer Briefs

It is all about how comfortable you feel.

Boxers are the classic. The style mags would say they are for guys who don’t have to try too hard, and we agree, but we also add that they are for the man who is thinner in the hip and leg.

And you cannot go wrong with boxer briefs. When boxer briefs are worn properly, they offer a snug fit, give definition where it is needed and are shorthand for style and confidence. Good for taller guys and the more heavily built body types, but suitable for most shapes.

Boxer Briefs vs Trunks

If the boxer brief has become the standard of the pant world, with its high waistband and definition-giving cut, then the trunk is the choice for the discerning dresser.

Of course, there are practical aspects to the boxer brief: the high waist means you are less likely to show off your cheeks when you bend over; and if you are bigger behind, there is enough cloth to keep it covered - but for some there is too much cloth and for others they are a bit too much of a statement.

Men's trunks are made from less fabric, so a more compact version of the boxer brief, and that really is the difference between trunks and boxer briefs. Made of the same cloth - either cotton or modal with a bit of stretch added for comfort - they offer a great fit without the longer leg and the high waist.

Cut so that the leg-hole sits at the top of the thigh - much better if you have well-developed or chunky thighs, and with a lower rise, which is good if you have a flat stomach to show off (or a belly to sit over the top), trunks also favour the well-endowed, keeping it all in place rather than letting it flop around like a python in a sack.

In conclusion: boxer briefs vs trunks

Trunks offer all the comfort and fit of boxer briefs without the hullabaloo. The lower waistband means that it is only when you undo your trousers that anyone knows what you are wearing… and you are probably on a home run from there on in. You know you have style, you just don’t want to shout about it.

Trunks vs Boxers

To list the difference between boxers and trunks is to celebrate what makes them special. Boxers have a relatively loose fit - body-skimming rather than body hugging - which means your privates are free to move and that you have some air circulating for breathability; trunks on the other hand are fitted, almost like a second skin, keeping everything in place and adding some definition.

Boxers sit below the hips and the leg reaches to just above the middle of the thigh; trunks also sit below the hips but the leg stops short at the tope of the thigh, which is a benefit if you have larger, chunky thighs or shorter legs. Trunks are especially good if you are wearing skinny fit, low rise trousers; with boxers there is a tendency for the leg to bunch, which is both unsightly and uncomfortable, whereas boxers work well under suit trousers and other tailored, looser styles.

In conclusion: boxers vs trunks

This really is about personal preference. Do you want that freedom of movement? Or do you prefer a closer, snug fit? And always consider your own body type.

Boxers can be more forgiving but if you have bigger thighs then they might become uncomfortable. Trunks are good for showing off the your well developed thighs and eight pack… But they work just as well, even if you have neither!

Boxers vs boxer briefs vs trunks: Which is best for you?

There is, of course, no definitive answer as to which underwear style is right for you. So much of it depends on comfort and personal preference. Indeed, we would even suggest that you might have different pants for different events and occasions. But here’s a handy checklist to keep in mind as you search for the style of underwear best for you. 

And don’t forget, here at Pants and Socks we offer all the best men’s underwear style and all the best men’s underwear brands.

Why choose boxers?

Boxers are for the guy who likes to hang free and feel the breeze. The underwear classic. Not recommended for those with larger thighs and shorter legs. Best not worn under skinny fit trousers. Need help choosing a pair? You can find your best men's boxers here, or browse all boxers below.

Why choose boxer briefs?

Boxer briefs are the go to style for many men. Designed for comfort, they keep everything in place and add definition. The higher waistband not only shows off the brand but also reduces the chance of the pants riding down to show off your crack - not often a nice sight. 

Again, not ideal for the guy with big thighs as the leg can bunch, which is both uncomfortable and unsightly. We have all the best brands for boxer briefs, and all in one place.

Why choose trunks?

Trunks are compact and understated. Designed for comfort, holding everything in place, and adding definition where you want it, they are great for guys who have bigger thighs as the leg is less likely to bunch. May look disproportionately small on well-built men but good to show off a flat stomach. Need help choosing a pair? You can find your best men's trunk underwear here, or browse all trunks below.