SueMe Tree Trunks Review

30th Mar 2018

Sue Me Underwear

*SueMe have very kindly given us a whole batch of their Tree Trunks underwear to give away.  Please do check out our Latest News page here for more information.

SueMe came to our attention some time ago when we were discussing (like you do!), underwear for active sports during a night in a bothy in Scotland.  Dan mentioned that he had been wearing SueMe products for a while and I made a mental note to check them out when I got home.

It only took a few minutes browsing their website and I was intrigued.  SueMe has a clear focus on strong environmental credentials and a commitment to sustainability.  They also concentrate on quality managed both by the use of top quality materials and local (European) manufacture.  I also really liked how they give a clear picture of who they are as a brand and, last but definitely not least, their products looked great.

I spoke to the SueMe team a few times over the following weeks and before we knew it a plan was hatched.  They were happy to supply a batch of male and female samples of their iconic Tree Trunks for some of our team to use.  Here are the results of some very active and sweaty testing....

SueMe

The environmental ethos of SueMe shines through in all aspects of their business.  The Tree Trunk underwear were delivered in a recycled box and, in turn, each pair of Tree Trunks came in a neat recyclable cardboard packet.  Then, when you open the packet there is a great little surprise - tucked in with each set of underwear is a packet of seeds and a little explanation card from brand founder Jules asking users to plant the seeds and enjoy using the briefs. A brilliant idea.

However, just as notable is the construction of Tree Trunks.  The ‘tree’ part of the name is especially relevant as they are made from 95% beech tree pulp.  This creates a carbon neutral fibre that has a 95% recovery rate in material production with a low land and water consumption.  

So, wearing a pair of Tree Trunks is a good option for the earth, but how do they perform?

Features

Considering you are pulling something that is basically a piece of wood out of the packet, Tree Trunks feel incredibly soft - infact as soft as any similar underwear I’ve used.  They actually feel very cotton like which is strange as there obviously is no cotton in them.  

There are then several other features worthy of mention. Tree Trunks feature 210 gram knit fabric incorporating 5% Lycra as SueMe believe this offers the best balance of fit, shape and durability.  Beyond that, they have a double crotch for comfort and are made with a double crutch for comfort, 5% Lycra for stretchy comfort and support and a knitted waistband designed to keep them positioned exactly where you want them during active pursuits.  

SueMe have also thought carefully about the stitching which is positioned to minimise chafing and they use a mixture of overlock and flat stitching to improve comfort.  Finally, the natural fibres are very effective at wicking moisture and, like Merino, the fabric is naturally anti microbial.

The Test

We’ve had 10 pairs of TreeTrunks on test and dished them out to regular Peak Mountaineering instructors for feedback.  This included 5 males and 5 females and all we asked was that they used them for a while and then they completed a short Q&A to allow us to collate the results.  We (Paul and Caroline) have also been using them regularly and so our own reflections are also included alongside.

Well, straight away I must say that this is a rather one sided review because there was absolutely no negative feedback from any user!  So, now that is out of the way, here is a bit more detail on the results.

We asked what the testers had used SueMe’s for and it turned into quite an epic list.  Top options were everyday use, hillwalking and rock climbing/bouldering.  Beyond that we had winter climbing, skiing, kayaking, mountain and road biking, SUPing, paraglider flying, running and even skateboarding - the testers are an active bunch! 

The first bit of feedback was about SueMe’s environmental credentials.  It is easy and common nowadays for companies to claim they support environmental initiatives or protect the environment, but it is less common for protecting the environment to be their main focus.  Testers were really impressed with the ethos and clear vision the company has.  Of course, producing fabrics from natural products is fantastic in so many ways and, as well as the obvious direct benefits, also shows other companies what is possible.  Testers also noted the recyclable cardboard packaging and the seeds are obviously a great little extra that, as well as its feel good factor, again presses home the sustainability message.

Beyond that, the feedback largely focussed on the Tree Trunks build quality and performance.  The ones we were sent have the SueMe logo repeated across the fabric and, in my opinion at least, are very cool looking.  There are some plain designs available too.  At this point it is also worth saying that everything about them feels well made and the fabric has a very comfortable silky feel - they feel just like you want underwear to feel.

And so we are down to performance.  Well SueMe called in the big guns as they were designed by the same man who designed gold medal winning Olympian Iain Thorpe’s swimming costume - suddenly the well shaped design and snug fit shouldn’t be such a surprise!  The Tree Trunks hug your body well and offer just the right amount of support.  Everyone commented on how you could put them on and forget they were on.  The waistband is also broad and sits comfortably under a trouser waistband even with a rucksack or harness on. 

It is always hard to assess how the breathability stacks against others in the market because we are now rather spoilt by the many great options available.  Manufacturers generally offer some superb wicking materials and, while it would be difficult to say the Tree Trunks performed better than another fabric, it is easy to say they certainly performed just as well.  My gold standard in this department is Patagonia Capilene and I spent a few days out with Capilene upper body base layers and the Tree Trunks briefs on and they certainly did just as good a job even on high output activity days.  Other testers were equally impressed.  

SueMe also say, as mentioned above, that the natural fibres have an antimicrobial quality similar to Merino.  Again this is hard to prove one way or the other unless you were wearing them day after day.  I did once do a challenge wearing Polygiene treated base layers for a full week without washing them, but I’m afraid I didn’t subject the SueMe’s to such a long term testing.  I can certainly say they performed well in the smell department and others said the same.  Let’s just leave that one at that!

The final point that an underwear buyer would want to consider is long term performance.  We have had these on test now for a few months and, although I wouldn’t claim that this can count as a long term test, I am confident that you will get plenty of life out of a pair of Tree Trunks.  Even better, SueMe have done their long term homework too - they tested a pair of Tree Trunks for 3 years and found they kept their shape and colour and remained as soft as when new.  Three years lifespan (and counting) for a pair of active underwear is pretty good in my opinion. 

Summary

So, there is everything to love about SueMe Tree Trunks and there really is nothing at all to dislike.  They are a great quality, high performance and superbly fitting garment that are perfect for a wide range of active outdoor pursuits.  Stack this up with their proven environmental credentials and they are an absolute winner. Even better, SueMe’s are, at a RRP of £20 per pair, great value in comparison to many others on the market.  

Posted by Paul