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  • Writer's pictureThe Underwear Review

What’s the Difference Between Boxer Briefs and Trunks?

Key differences between the two with side-by-side examples.

Difference between boxer briefs and trunks.

There’s no shortage of variety out there for men when it comes to underwear.

For a clothing garment that was once very bland and limited in choice, it has certainly enjoyed an impressive evolution in terms of design, style, fit, fabric, and more in recent years.

One such example is the boxer brief, which has become the standard go-to choice for everyday wear.

And while boxer briefs currently remain the most popular underwear choice among men, a variation of boxer briefs known as trunks is continuing to grow in popularity.

But you may be wondering, what exactly is the difference between boxer briefs and trunks?

The main difference between boxer briefs and trunks is that trunks have a shorter leg length that results in a more square-like cut.

Boxer briefs, on the other hand, are a hybrid of boxers and briefs that borrow their longer leg length from boxers and their snug fit from briefs.

Here, we'll go over some of the more notable design characteristics of trunks and provide side-by-side visual comparisons with the classic boxer brief design.

Trunks Have a Shorter Leg Than Boxer Briefs

Compared to the design of boxer briefs, trunks have a noticeably shorter leg length.

Where boxer briefs have several inches of fabric extending down the leg (and longer designs sometimes covering the entire thigh), trunks typically extend no further than an inch or two down the thigh.

Side-by-side comparison: trunks have shorter leg length than boxer briefs.
Trunk underwear (right) has noticeably shorter leg length than boxer briefs (left).

When compared side by side in the picture above, you can see how there's a several inch difference in length between the standard length boxer brief (left) and the standard length trunk (right).

The most noticeable benefit of this design is that you wont have to worry about the legs bunching or rolling up as they often do with boxers or boxer briefs.

By eliminating that extra fabric on the legs, you’ll notice that your underwear requires much less adjustment.

Trunks Have a Square Cut Design

The shorter leg length of trunks compared to boxer briefs is what gives trunks their signature square cut design.

Shortening the length of fabric that's used in the leg creates a more symmetrical appearance at the top and bottom of the underwear, resulting in their square-like design.

Side-by-side comparison: trunks have square-like appearance.
Trunks (right) have a square-like appearance, whereas boxer briefs (left) are more rectangular.

While trunks have a shorter leg length than boxer briefs, they remain slightly longer than the standard cut of briefs.

In many ways, trunks are probably more similar to briefs than to boxer briefs, as they have a snug fit around the hips and glutes and free up the thigh from any fabric.

However, trunks have a more notably modern look compared to the classic brief design.

In particular, trunks often have a more pronounced pouch for your anatomy, which tends to offer a more comfortable version of support.

Trunks Have a Low-Rise Fit

Unlike boxer briefs, which are commonly designed to sit at or slightly above the hips at your natural waistline, trunks typically have a low-rise fit that sits just below the waist.

You’ll notice that this more modern cut of trunks tends to fit better under tailored and skinnier fits than most boxer briefs do.

The slimmer cut also offers more mobility and breathability under your garments.

Side-by-side comparison: trunks sit lower on the hips than boxer briefs.
Boxer briefs (left) sit above the hips at your natural waistline, whereas trunks (right) have a low-rise fit.

When hearing the name trunks, you may associate it more with swimwear than with underwear.

This is no mistake, as the underwear design of the trunks originated with the swimwear version of trunks.

Its slimmer cut and less clinging fabric is what makes the trunk design great for both swimwear and underwear, offering more freedom in a stylish modern look.

Here's What to Look for When Purchasing Trunks and Boxer Briefs

Whether you're looking for a new pair of trunks or boxer briefs, there are a few characteristics you’ll want to keep an eye out for when browsing.

As we covered above, trunks will have a comparatively shorter leg length than boxer briefs, a signature square-like cut, and a low-rise fit.

Of course, different underwear brands will go about this in different ways.

But the brands that give extra focus to essential characteristics like fabric type, seam detailing, and waistband fit tend to be brands that you’ll come back to time and again.

Example of high-quality trunk underwear.
The Calvin Klein Black Micro Trunks sport a modern low-rise cut.

There’s nothing quite as important as the waistband when it comes to making or breaking a pair of underwear.

Look for trunks that emphasize a comfortable and secure waistband that stays put without pinching.

The same is true when it comes to finding a great pair of boxer briefs.

Look for boxer briefs with premium fabrics that prioritize softness, breathability, and moisture-wicking.

Example of high-quality boxer briefs.
The Pair of Thieves SuperFit Boxer Briefs utilize breathable mesh fabric.

These qualities will ensure a comfortable and distraction-free fit that works great for all-day wear.

Also, don’t forget about finding a roomy fit in the front that compliments the male anatomy.

Look for mention of a contour pouch that provides comfortable support.

If you're looking for the most comfortable options, check out our picks for the Most Comfortable Trunks and the Most Comfortable Boxer Briefs.

And if you're curious about adding other underwear styles to your rotation, discover all of the different underwear types that are available to men.


Most Comfortable Series

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