ARLINGTON — A few years ago I attended a seminar about keeping yourself safe overseas. It was taught by a genuine Bearded Tactical Guy (genus Hombre Sapiens Tacticus Barbus Americanus). I have no doubt he delivered a terrific amount of great information but I only had two major takeaways. First, the next time you are really, really, really hungry up in Nepal — like lost for a week or two in the Himalayas hungry — control yourself and don’t eat undercooked water buffalo when you finally stagger out of the hills. It can make you really, really, really sick. Really, that’s really a lot of reallys but don’t do it. Eat your water buffalo well done. Wait until you’re back at Longhorns to get the rare steak. The second thing was that there is underwear with pockets. In an aside, the instructor mentioned that you could carry some last ditch money, emergency numbers or such items in the pocket of your underpants. I mean, I’m a guy who loves pockets but I’d never even thought of having pockets on my skivvies. So, remember this, scouts: never eat undercooked water buffalo and there’s underwear with the ability to store more stuff than just your stuff.
Of course the first thing I did upon returning home from the seminar was Google, “Underwear with pockets,” and, lo and behold, there were quite a few examples. Most of them were geared towards a certain population more likely to be smuggling certain types of contraband into the “World Series of 80s Hair Metal” show than barrel chested freedom fighters holding onto a last stash of local currency and the coordinates of the extraction point. Then again, I suppose you can put whatever you wish in the pockets of your underpants.
I ordered one pair from a company called “Smuggling Duds.” I got mine from Amazon a couple years ago, but I no longer see them for sale there. They do, however, have their own website http://www.smugglingduds.com with quite a few more models and color choices than were available when I bought mine. After trying out that first pair I ordered 6 or 7 other pairs in different colors which should tell you that they’re pretty good undershorts all in all. Mine have held up well over the last couple years. I don’t normally use the pocket in day-to-day wear, but I have put it to use while traveling in more remote regions. It isn’t a large pocket, mind you. If you are intent on smuggling endangered pangolins in your pants or sneaking a pint of Wild Turkey and quantities of prohibited substances into the Poison-White Snake-Cinderella Reunion Tour then there are other brands better suited to this purpose. The one button pocket on Smuggling Duds is just the right size to hold a few bills wrapped around a credit card and a laminated list of emergency contact numbers. As for the underwear themselves, I got the boxer-brief type. They are standard stretchy cotton that has held up well and doesn’t bind or ride up. They do exactly what underwear are supposed to do and they have a pocket. Which is pretty awesome. Keeping some emergency money and contact numbers completely hidden is good practice when traveling in remote or hazardous areas and a few pair of Smuggling Duds underwear (FYI, they have women’s styles as well) would be an excellent choice for both day to day and travel use. Looking over the Smuggling Duds website I see some new designs I plan on giving some time… under my pants.
A year or so ago my wife started buying clothes from Duluth Trading Company (www.duluthtrading.com). You may have seen their entertaining TV commercials featuring a gravely voiced narrator and simple cartoons of a hefty man, angry beavers, and other denizens of the northern woods. One of their most frequently advertised products is their Buck Naked™ underwear and, since my wife was placing an order, I decided to try a pair out. They come in several standard styles: boxers, briefs, and boxer-briefs (as well as women’s styles) and are made of a performance type diamond knit material that is 97% nylon and 3% spandex. They are advertised as, “No pinch, no sweat, no stink,” with the tagline, “feels like wearing nothing at all.” Given that I have been a lifelong cotton undies guy I almost didn’t order these undershorts and that would have been a big mistake. The fabric feels lightweight yet sturdy and, at first, sort of rough (well, textured). Putting them on, however, feels like, well, almost like wearing nothing at all. The advertising doesn’t lie. They are soft and smooth against the skin that matters the most and, while I wouldn’t advise sniffing your underwear after a long day of hiking (unless that’s your thing) they really don’t pinch, or stink, and do a great job wicking sweat away. A great detail to these undershorts is that the manufacturer’s tag is printed onto the fabric rather than being sewn in so you never get a scratchy tag. They quickly became some of my favorite underwear of all time and I got a week’s worth of them in different colors. I mention different colors, incidentally, as this is an important and oftentimes overlooked detail of good travel practice. Almost all my traveling clothes are khaki, olive drab, or black and this is generally not a problem. I can, quite easily, distinguish my black trekking pants from my black hard-shell from a black t-shirt. Trying to figure out which identical black underwear you have already worn is a different story. You might just have to test out that “no stink” advertising.
I have tried the Duluth boxers and the boxer-briefs out and while my Smuggle Duds still find their way between my pants, and me I love reaching for a pair of the Duluth skivvies. My only complaint? I wish they had a pocket! FP