Is this popular high-end men's underwear worth the hype?
Mack Weldon claims to have reinvented men's underwear—are those pricey boxer briefs any good?
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When I find something that works, I tend to stick with it. I’ve always been kind of a husky guy, and my exercise of choice (when I'm exercising) is long-distance running. About six years ago, I finally committed to getting myself into shape and I quickly realized that my everyday loose-fit cotton boxers just didn’t cut it. When you’re just living life, boxers are great and comfortable. Into your second mile? They become a thong. At that time, after trying a bunch of different kinds of underwear, I finally settled on a predecessor of the Reebok Performance Boxer Briefs. They were plain black with a grey waistband and made from a very thin, stretchy synthetic material. And they lasted for years.
I gradually dropped my running habit over the years, but my underwear drawer hasn’t changed. Recently, I started my exercise routine back up again, and let me tell you—it didn’t take long into my first jog with old, worn-down boxer briefs to realize I was sorely in need of newer underwear. Fortunately for me, Instagram had the answer: Mack Weldon.
What is Mack Weldon?
Mack Weldon is a new upscale brand of men’s basics. The company has a focus on responsible, thoughtful design, calling out its “ethical manufacturing” and how they “[obsess] over every stitch and seam.”
The website has an image of the boxer briefs with four design innovation callouts. My current boxer briefs have nowhere near that number of features worth notating.
These features include: a “no-roll” waistband, “mesh zones” for cooling, soft fabric, and stay-put legs. The company also offers underwear with integrated silver fibers—just like NASA uses!—to help reduce odors. Of course, whenever it comes to brands making claims, I have an instinctive reflex to test out those claims to see how true they are. So I ordered a few pairs and worked with our in-house scientist to determine how one might test a pair of boxer briefs.
How we tested Mack Weldon underwear
We determined that our testing would have two phases: usage tests and wash tests. For the first, I’d take some of the underwear and just wear them around like normal over the course of several weeks. And, also like normal, I’d be recording metrics regarding their overall fit, comfort, aesthetics, and durability. (Doesn't everyone take notes on their underwear?)
For wash tests, the technicians in our laundry testing lab would subject them to repeated washing and drying cycles (10 in total) to get some idea about how well they'd hold up over time.
Are Mack Weldon underwear any good?
In two words: They’re fine.
OK, I’ll elaborate. Over the course of about a month of wearing the Mack Weldon Silver boxer briefs, I thought they were very comfortable for typical wear. They're soft, have a good fit, and tend to stay put. The company’s customer service also seems to be pretty good. I initially had some minor issues with fit and decided to take them up on their follow-up email of trying out a larger size (it fit better).
They also look pretty nice, though our sample size for that data point is incredibly small (me). I spoke to others around the office who also wear Mack Weldons and got fairly high praise across the board.
The one sticking point for me: They aren’t as good at my normal Reebok pair when it comes to exercising. After about a mile, those “stay-put legs” weren’t staying put. Also, the fabric just seemed higher friction than my normal pairs—those silver fibers started to feel like steel wool after a while. Maybe it’s my body type, or my gait, but I really did not enjoy jogging in these boxer briefs.
When it came to our wash testing, we found the results weren't terrible, but also weren't especially promising. Again, for these tests we ran them through 10 wash and dry cycles.
Most noticeably, the color brightness faded after all that washing. We also saw some minor puckering as well as the beginning stages of pilling. I noticed similar issues on the pairs I wore, and washed at home, as well. While the effects of wear and tear were minor, given Mack Weldon's focus on quality and design, it was a bit strange to see them already showing signs of wear after such a short time. They still seem relatively well-made, but we'd advise you take their site's posturing with a grain of salt. Again: They're fine.
Is Mack Weldon underwear worth it?
Mack Weldon’s boxer briefs run between $24 and $34. They seem relatively high quality and stylish, as far as that matters. But that’s still pretty expensive for a single pair of underwear. They also didn’t hold up quite as well to repeated washing as we might have hoped—10 washes isn’t a lot, and the fading alone is a disappointment.
The Reebok boxer briefs I prefer cost under $10 per pair, hold up about as well over time, and are significantly more comfortable for running, if that's what you're into.
Should you try Mack Weldon underwear?
All that said, I’m just one guy with access to a lab full of washing machines—your mileage may vary. If you’re curious, there’s no harm in trying out a pair—the company offers a Try On Guarantee, where you can exchange your first pair or get a refund if you don’t like them, no return necessary. Personally, I’m not unhappy with the pairs I bought, I’m just not sold on buying more in the future. They’re comfortable in most situations and look better than my regular briefs, but once you move away from cotton everything else seems a little bulky.
Given the excellent guarantee, I think it's worth giving them a try. It’s good to have diversity in any wardrobe, underwear included.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.