Matt Therault is a pretty large dude with a pretty large problem: He can’t find a pair of underwear that fits.
Since he is a larger guy — or a self-described “barrel man” — there’s a fair amount of friction to contend with. In particular, chafing, the 32-year-old Indianapolis native says, is his “mortal enemy.”
Nonetheless, he’s determined to find that perfect pair of undies.
He currently documents his search with weekly reviews of boxer briefs on Medium, where he evaluates them in a number of categories, including their ability to control moisture, odor and “ASTC,” or “approximate steps to chafe.” To better understand his quest for underwear that will appropriately swaddle his nether regions (without chafing them, of course), I recently spoke with Therault about his ASTC methodology, dick flaps and his ambitious goal to become the largest reviewer of boxer briefs on the planet.
What’s the inspiration for all of this?
I’m a technology solutions engineer in my day job, so I analyze stuff and determine which is the best version. I like doing this for work and would love to write about it, but the field for reviewing electronics and technology is super-saturated. So I thought, What besides technology am I really into? My underwear.
Have you always really been into your underwear? And specifically boxer briefs?
No, it had to do with when I got larger. I weighed 155 pounds when I was 18. But when I got a job where I was sitting all the time, I started gaining weight and now I’m nearly 300 pounds. By adding weight, you add chafe. So this came out of the need to stop chafing. Thus, the journey to seek out the best underpants began.
Do you wear boxer briefs exclusively?
Yes, boxer briefs seem to be what I naturally settle for — mainly to avoid chafe. Boxers don’t do it for me. Tighty-whities definitely don’t do it because there’s no fabric to handle the moisture. But I still review boxers and tighty-whities. I’ve even reviewed a G-string for men. I haven’t posted it yet because I’m not sure how my wife is going to react.
What’s the price range for boxer briefs?
It all depends. I’ve tried $5 to $6 pairs and some that go up to $42 or $43 from a company called Swav. They claim they use space-age fabrics that do everything under the sun. They’re actually not that great, but it’s why they’re so expensive.
What are the key areas you’re looking at when you’re evaluating a set of boxer briefs?
The things I look for are whether they roll down, or whether they’re going to fall off my ass or if they’ll stay put. Also, whether I’m going to chafe in them. And finally, whether they’re going to smell bad. As a bigger guy, I sweat a lot and have to worry about odor.
I noticed “build quality” is a section in most of your reviews. Why?
If you spend up to $20 on your underwear, you want them to last a while. “Build quality” is looking at whether they cut the fabric correctly, whether the stitching is already framed and whether they use two- or three-layered stitching. All of that will tell you if the build quality is good.
How did you come up with “ASTC,” or Approximate Steps to Chafe?
It’s totally made up, obviously, but it’s the easiest way for me to explain how many steps I’ll walk before I start chafing.
So you take each of the boxer briefs you review for a walk?
Yes. They usually come in packs of three, and I’ll go through all three and make notes while doing so.
What are you looking for in addition to the steps before chafing?Whether they roll down while I’m walking and whether each of the leggings go up on each of the sides. Ideally, boxer briefs will stay put.
Tell me about the moisture category.
If the underwear holds a ton of moisture, you’ll take a dump and pull them back up and feel like you have a wet diaper on. If that’s the case, it’s pretty uncomfortable and you’re not going to have a good day.
What’s ideal when it comes to moisture?
Ideally, the underwear pulls it away and then dries. Very few pairs can actually achieve this, though. It happens mostly in performance boxer briefs and some comfort boxer briefs, but not many. Usually the best ones have high-tech fabrics made by companies like Lenzing, which controls the modal industry. The best type of weave you can have for dealing with moisture is the mesh fabrics.
How do you judge the “odor” category?
I work in an office, and I don’t want to be the stinky guy who’s sitting next to everybody else and walking by them. So I evaluate how they smell when mobile and while sitting down. And also, once I pull them off, how far away can they be from my nose before I start to smell odor. It really depends upon the fabric. Usually modals are good.
Tell me about the discomfort diagram.
It’s something I put together with a Google drawing to illustrate how my legs feel at the end of the day and what areas hurt, if any. Some have definite chafe. Others are itchy. Others have a waistband that starts to pull or cut into my sides. It’s just a helpful illustration to see what I’m talking about.
Is the penis pouch an essential component of boxer briefs?
But it’s something you note?
Yes, because it makes for a different feel when you’re wearing them. But it’s not an essential component of wearing a boxer brief.
Is it preferable, though, to have a penis pouch?
Yes, because the fabric tends to stick closer to your body when they give you a pouch, as opposed to something just pushing against you.
Where do you come down on dick flaps? Are they essential?
No. David Archys have a flap that folds up instead of to the side. And there are other ones that have no flap. It all depends. It’s not a huge deal for me. I care more about whether something stinks or if I’m chafing than whether I got to pull my underwear down to take a piss.
In your expert opinion, what’s the best boxer brief on the market right now?
It holds where it should. It pulls away moisture and dries super-fast. There’s little to no odor. It rolls down a little, which isn’t great, but it’s something I can deal with. So it hits three of the four major things I care about, which is why they’re my number one for boxer briefs.
What’s the runner-up?
Mack Weldon. That’s always the backup pair I throw in my bag for a “sure thing.”
What do you need to reach your goal to be the largest reviewer of boxer briefs in the world? Do you have competition?
Uh, no. Nobody solely focuses on it. There are some guys that do that in addition to other stuff. But I’m the only one I can find that’s solely focusing on boxer briefs.