Athleta said its new performance underwear line took two years to develop. I reviewed all three styles to see if the extra research and development was worth it.
If you run, lift weights, backpack, or do anything remotely sweaty while needing underwear, you know that having a layer that stays there, but is also barely there, is critical for performance — and lack of annoyance.
We all know the issues of nonathletic underwear: bunching, wedgies, embarrassing sweat stains, stink, chafing, even infections from wetness that can’t escape or dry quickly enough.
I must confess, I’m one of these very people who try to get by in any under-layer because it was the last thing left in my drawer, because I forgot to pack a change for post-work exercise, or because I’m too cheap to invest in performance wear for my rear end.
Athleta Underwear for the Win
That said, after testing Athleta’s new performance underwear line, I’m a convert. Even at $16 a pop, count me in for adding one of these in every color (but maybe not every style) to my wardrobe. Putting these on is certainly worth the extra few brain fires required just so I don’t spend half my run wondering if any of the above-mentioned undie issues will ensue mid-stride.
So let’s get to this TMI topic. One caveat: I’m a fan of Athleta apparel in general. Yes, I know this is a large Gap-owned apparel corporation. Hey, I like to support the little guys and gals as much as you do. But when you find a long-sleeve running shirt that actually fits the length of your arms, you will go back for more and more. And that’s what I’ve done with Athleta over the years. Rarely have I been disappointed.
So I was excited to try the sporty brand’s latest release: underwear. Athleta’s new intimates line is designed for performance. The line comes with three models: Performa, Incognita, and Natura. I got to know all three intimately and found mostly positives. That said, I only tried one cut for each style, so keep that in mind too.
Athleta Incognita Review
I was drawn to the Incognita immediately. Like many women who live in tight-fitting leggings for play, and sometimes even for work, I have an absolute disdain for panty lines. I mean, it’s so bad that I turn the other way when I see this lumpy display on the street. So the thinnest, sheerest, most barely there underwear options are usually the ones I gravitate toward.
To put the Incognita bikini to test, I tried medium-rise, medium-seat underwear where I needed the no-show factor the most: running tights. I don’t do traditional running shorts with the underwear built right in. I run year-round in tights at different lengths and materials, so I always need something super modest underneath. However, Athleta markets the Incognita as best for less sweaty workouts like yoga.
You know you’ve found a good piece of gear when you put it on and never think about it until you’re off to the shower. And that’s exactly what these lightweight briefs did. No sliding, no uncomfortable wetness, no weird seams for chafing at pressure points, no nothing. Just how I like it.
Running is one of the sweatiest activities out there for the lower half. So if they held up for these sessions, I can see the Incognita working for anything under the high bar I set. In fact, they’re the kind of underwear that you put on for work and stay in for the workout. No changing necessary.
The Incognita comes in three styles: a front-dipping bikini, high-waisted brief, and a thong. There are eight total colors, from mocha to milkshake, for loading up on the bikini. But the brief comes in only four colors, and the thong in three.
Athleta Performa Review
The second style, the Performa, I put to test on a recent backpacking trip. Altheta suggests using this style of underwear for medium- and high-impact workouts at the gym or outdoors. I went with the latter, due to my leggings-and-lines issues. Because the Performa brief had very faint seamlines, I felt comfortable wearing the full-seated bikini with a pair of ultralight Helly Hansen hiking pants.
I quickly found the Performa lived up to its name. The mesh material did exactly what it was touted to do: let my butt breathe. Even with the “stay-put” breathable fabric in a more full-coverage style, I completely forgot I had underwear on.
This was especially helpful given that a 40-pound pack was resting directly on my hips, at the lip of these briefs. In this specific case, the Performa’s bonded seam was the bomb.
The performance part of the Performa was its ability to lock out stink — and dry quickly if we’d been caught in a downpour. I could also see rinsing these briefs out in a lake or sink for reuse given how quickly they soaked up the sun.
With the Performa, there are just two style options: a thong (three colors) and a bikini (four colors), all $16.
Athleta Natura Review
Touted as “everyday” underwear, the Natura was my last test. Again, even in a full-seated bikini brief, which I don’t wear very often, this style was super comfortable. The Natura’s organic cotton felt appropriately “natural” against the skin. I thought I’d feel the seams, but I didn’t. And for a nice feminine touch, the brief’s organic cotton was molded in a pretty lace pattern — not itchy at all.
But the Natura underwear is the most visible of the three styles. It showed a seamline, albeit one that was barely discernible in heavier fabrics like jeans. I wouldn’t wear this style with anything tighter fitting, but I would certainly try a Natura thong for pure comfort all day long.
True to its billing, the Natura’s stretch factor was primary in this style. It provided an easy kind of stretch that held you in while not cutting off circulation or creating unnecessary fat folds. Ladies, you know what I mean.
But be warned: This bikini sits well below the natural waist. So reconsider if you don’t like low riders. As you may know, a thong style hits higher in the front and the back, so in the Natura, this could be the best way to go.
All in all, the Natura stretched well from office to open space. I wouldn’t hesitate to stock up on these everyday undies in all the modern colors: black, desert rose, and auberge.
So that’s my take on the complete Athleta underwear line. But the decision is yours to make. Check for select stores now carrying the performance line and head in to try some of these for yourself. I’ll be curious to hear your feedback on Athleta’s latest endeavor.