How a US Army Veteran Reinvented Underwear While Serving in Iraq

Has underwear design just taken it’s first huge leap since 1947?

How a US Army Veteran Reinvented Underwear While Serving in Iraq

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What is this?

Let’s do a quick word association game. First up:


What does this word conjure up? If you’re like most people, it connotes calm, order, cleanliness. For the spiritually minded, it might call forth Buddhism, monks, and strictly-enforced tradition.

Let’s try another:


Are you thinking of hand-rolled tobacco? Or messenger-style bags? What about kangaroos?

Now, if you’re the design gurus over at Sheath Underwear, the words Zen and Pouch mean just one thing: a crisp, dry Johnson and a pair of comfortably ensconced, perfectly supported man plums.

If you’re curious what Zen, pouches, and underwear have to do with one another, read on.

The Zen Pouch: Is It Really A Better Way?

You know the refrain: the plucky American inventor encounters some inconvenience in modern life and shouts, “There’s got to be a better way!”

That was what some obscure inventor shouted when elastic-banded briefs were introduced following WWII in 1947.

But do we really need an improvement on the classic, functional men’s boxer brief?

Here’s the thing: as all guys know (and as we’ve addressed many a time here at Primer) downstairs moisture management is a huge challenge.

One approach is the deployment of wicking powders. Another is to avoid non-breathing, jungle-steam-trapping underwear designs and fabrics. Both measures we firmly endorse.

But at the end of a long day of crotch-cooking office work or a hard gym session – or in founder Robert Patton's situation, long grueling days in the Iraqi desert – it’s impossible to prevent that dreaded funk because, well, everything’s in continual, heat-amplifying contact down there.

sheath founder in iraq

Enter: Sheath Underwear’s big idea: what if you were to physically isolate Frankie and the boys from the legs and broader crotchal area?

Think about it: with traditional options smashing your junk against your leg, there’s a of skin-on-skin surface area to generate heat and trap moisture.

By separating everything, it’s like getting your pelvic bonanza a three room penthouse with plenty of cross ventilation. Kinda Zen, if you think about it.

If you own a pair of compression shorts for sports or working out, you’re halfway to owning a pair of Sheath Underwear. They have the same supportive, confidence-bestowing fit with the added utility of the pouch for moisture management.

Born in the Desert

The concept was invented by US Army Veteran and Sheath Founder/CEO, Robert Patton during a tour of duty in Iraq in 2007.

The intense heat, heavy combat garments, and demands of the job meant constant swampiness and chafing down south.

He tells us that while serving his two tours, “I was under extremely hot conditions and all I wanted was a pair of underwear with a pouch or pocket to separate my balls to keep them from sticking to my legs. The groin of the male generates more heat than any other part of the body. Similar to the skull and the armpits. I had a hat and sleeves but my balls were out of control.”

And being unable to find any underwear on the market that addressed this, he got to work having a rough prototype tailored:

sheath prototype

Patton's first attempt, created in Iraq

Fast forward 10 years and Sheath has racked up rave reviews, and sponsorships with MMA fighters, Olympic athletes, chefs, and other guys in high-stress, high-physicality jobs.

While the Zen Pouch is the core design feature of Sheath Underwear, we can testify to the fact that it’s also a fully premium product, with a fabric-lined waistband, quality stitching, and a 95% Cotton, 5% Colored Elastane fabric blend that’s both soft and durable.

Like a lot of guys, Patton also found that chafing was a serious issue with conventional underwear. If you’ve ever experienced rubbing or redness from your conventional boxer-briefs during high-intensity workouts you know it’s important to have flat stitching and premium fabrics to prevent discomfort.

Most exciting to me personally is the newly introduced Dual Pouch model, which adds still another compartment to separate the twig from the berries.

Finally, someone has figured out a way to prevent the General and two colonels from collapsing together and collecting funk. It’s about time.

Not As Crazy As You Think

If you’re on the fence, consider this: Sheath offers a 100% money back guarantee on the first pair.

Primer testers found Sheath boxer briefs with the Zen Pouch to be comfortable and well-designed. It's a little odd to place the crown jewels in their own area at first, but you quickly forget and appreciate the mechanical benefits at the end of a long day.

Primer Readers Save 25%

With 25% off for Primer readers with code “Primer”, it’s time to consider what some well-engineered compartmentalization can do for your downtown mixup.

What do you think of the Sheath design? Let us know in the comments below!

Stillman Brown

Stillman Brown is a writer and TV producer who has created prime time content for National Geographic, Discovery, Travel Channel and many others. His interests span science & the natural world, personal growth, and food. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.