10 Best Running Shorts Reviewed & Tested

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Searching for Running shorts? Take a look at the best shorts of 2017, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them online or in a store.

You can run in a lot of different kinds of shorts, and some people give little thought to their shorts. Look no further than your local track or gym for evidence of this. But a good pair of running shorts can be an invaluable addition to any runner’s kit. If you’re at all serious about running (or being comfortable for that matter!) getting yourself outfitted for a decent pair is important.

No one is stopping you from running in baggy cargo ones, but then again perhaps they should. A nice sleek pair of running shorts can make an enormous impact on your experience. The difference is palpable.  

Top 3 Picks

The North Face Better Than Naked
  • The North Face Better Than Naked
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Stitch Free pressure points
  • Price: See Here
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Asics Everyday 5-inch
  • Asics Everyday 5-inch
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Zippered seam pocket
  • Price: See Here
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Asics Split 3-inch short
  • Asics Split 3-inch short
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Flatlock stitch
  • Price: See Here
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10 Best Running Shorts

 

1. The North Face Better Than Naked

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With such a bold name these North Face shorts set expectations pretty high. The good news is they also deliver. Made from technology called “FlashDry” they have an ultra fast drying time and never get soggy. They also have a modest length allowing a breezy amount of sag in your shorts. Top of the line for comfort.
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Materials:
These North Face Better Than Naked's are made of 100% polyester with a woven diamond ripstop. The panel is 100% polyester jacquard with FlashDry, and the Liner is 84% recycled polyester, 16% elastane-knit jersey with FlashDry™.

Breathability:
Its FlashDry technology allows you to breathe easily while keeping sweat away.

Fit:
These are the 7 inch shorts. They are not too long, or too short. They are fairly average in length.

Comfort/Quality:
Not only are they highly comfortable, but most users comment on the high durability of them as well. They come with lots of room for storage space to keep energy gels, some cash, car keys etc.
Pros

Extremely fast drying

Mesh patches for mobility and venting

Rear storage pocket

Stitch free on pressure points, increased lifespan

Lightweight 7-inch inseam

Inner drawcord

Reflective logo

Opening at back waistband 

Built-in compressive liner short with pockets

Cons

Length is a preference

May be seen as pricey

2. Asics Everyday 5-inch

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Asics Everyday comes in a variety of sizes, but the one that runners seem to like most is the 5-inch. You'll want to run "Everyday" in these comfortable and highly breathable.
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Materials:
The Asics Everyday 5-inch running shorts are made with 91% polyester, and 9% spandex.

Breathability:
Rest assured you'll breathe easily while you run since they are highly breathable and offer odor protection.

Fit:
Although size and length of running shorts can be preferential, most runners like this 5-inch running short.

Comfort/Quality:
It's extremely comfortable made with quality materials that should last you a long time. It is lightweight, and made with 4-way stretch woven dobby fabric which also provides anti-static and a wicking finish. It has a relaxed fit that does well in hot temperatures due to its thin fabric materials.
Pros

Highly Breathable with anti-odor

Very Lightweight

Scalloped split allows more airflow

Zippered seam pocket

Elastic waistband with drawcord

Extremely comfortable

Comfortable fit

Reflective components 

Cons

They can be seen as pricey

Length of shorts is a preference

3. Asics Split 3-inch

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Ready to run in the hot summers? Try the Asics split 3-inch which will be stretchy, flexible and allow you to breathe easily while you run.
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Materials:
These Asics Split 3-inch are made from 89% polyester and 11% spandex for a stretchy, flexible run.

Breathability:
They breathe really easily due to the mesh inserts down the sides. It also has quick-dry which helps keep sweat away.

Fit:
They run on the small side of running shorts and the length is only 3 inches. They are the perfect for runners who can't seem to get enough airflow.

Comfort/Quality:
Most runners find these quite comfortable, and soft and liked the materials they were made with. The only downfall seems to be that the pocket may be a bit on the small size.
Pros

Very Lightweight

Quick drying

Back right hip pocket

Highly Breathable

Reflective components

Stretchy for comfort

Flatlock stitch construction enhances comfort

Cons

Pocket is shallow

Sizes may run small

4. Pearl Izumi Infinity Split

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A low rise running short that is well ventilated, allows you to move more freely with its side split, and has an inner compression that provides stability.
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Materials:
The outer of these Pearl Izumi Infinity Split's are made with 100% polyester, while the mesh is 92% polyester 8% elastane, and the lining is 50% polyester 50% Minerale polyester technology.

Breathability:
Don't sweat it! These will help keep the sweat away while you run, and their split side will allow ventilation to easily pass through.
Fit:
You'll get a relaxed style fit that measures 4” inseam.

Comfort/Quality:
The Pearl Izumi Infinity Split provides a highly comfortable run and is made with quality materials that are quite durable and last a long time.
Pros

Side split provides enhanced movement

Internal key pocket & a zippered compartment in the back

Lightweight & Highly breathable

Transfer Dry fabric keeps sweat away

Inner compression provides stability

Absorbs odor and dries quickly

Affordable

Cons

Sizes may vary (too small or too large)

Some may not like how it sits lower on the waist

5. Patagonia Strider

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Stride on over to your next race in these highly breathable and comfortable and they will be sure to keep sweat away while you run.
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Materials:
Patagonia Strider's are made from 100% polyester, and 50% of it is from recycled materials.

Breathability:
Its polyester mesh material allows for them to breathe easily while you run. It has 100% microdenier polyester crepe that keeps sweat away as well.

Fit:
Some prefer a short that is a bit smaller than this Patagonia strider, but overall most customers don't feel it is too short or too long.

Comfort/Quality:
It's highly comfortable and made with quality and even some recycled materials. Most runners appreciate that it doesn't cause chaffing.
Pros

Fast Drying

Highly Breathable

Reflective logo

Durable water repellent treatment

Drop-in pocket on back hip

Chafe-free comfort

Elastic waist with drawcord

Cons

Drawcord is on the short side

Some prefer the 5 inch over the 7inch

Can be seen as expensive

6. Nike Aeroswift

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Nike's #1 rated running short by customers is this Aeroswift 5 inch that is highly breathable and comfortable. It's great for long distance runs in hot weather and has a bit of stretch to it with its spandex material.
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Materials:
The fabric of the body is made with Dri-FIT 100% polyester. The front lining is made with Dri-FIT 84% recycled polyester and 16% spandex. Finally, the mesh lining consists of Dri-FIT 89% polyester and 11% spandex.

Breathability:
The Nike Aeroswift 5" running shorts are highly breathable. They have a fast-drying fabric that won't stick to you from sweat and a mesh waistband for added breathability in hotter weather.

Fit:
It does appear that the sizes run small and a bit on the tighter size so make sure you look at the measurements to ensure getting an accurate size.

Comfort/Quality:
These are an extremely comfortable pair of running shorts that are made with quality materials. The Dri-Fit material will keep them from sticking to you, thus preventing chafing and other uncomfortableness.
Pros

Flat, bonded hem allows for great comfort

Very lightweight 

Waistband with internal drawcord design

Made with two layers of laser perforated elastic to increase airflow

Nike Flex fabric allows for stretchy flexibility

Dri-FIT Technology keeps sweat away

Reflective components allows others to see you easily

Cons

Sizes run small and tight

May be seen as expensive

7. Brooks Running Racey

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Race to the finish in your Brooks Racey 3.5 inch running shorts that are highly breathable with a bit of stretchiness.
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Materials:
The fabric is made with 84% polyester and 16% Spandex, while the liner is made of 90% polyester and 10% Spandex.

Breathability:
The Brooks running Racey is a highly breathable running short. It keeps sweat away while you run. Its lightweight and stretchy material offer you good ventilation while you run.

Fit:
Perfect for running on a hot summer day. These 3.5 inches and fit quite comfortably.

Comfort/Quality:
They are extremely comfortable, lightweight running shorts that allow great movement while you run.
Pros

Very Lightweight & stretchy

2 pockets for storage

Keeps sweat away

Front petal hem splits for easy movement

Highly Breathable

Cons

May be seen as expensive

8. North Face Voracious

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A highly comfortable, well-ventilated 7-inch running short that has compression for added support.
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Materials:
The main fabric consists of 85% polyester and 15% elastane, while the panels are 100% polyester.

Breathability:
North Face Voracious is a highly breathable running short. It has mesh inserts on inner and outer legs that provide great breathability.

Fit:
It seems to fit just like it should with no complaints of size issues running too big or too small.

Comfort/Quality:
Voracious will provide you with great comfort and quality materials with this running short. You'll be able to move easily while you run.
Pros

Mesh inserts on inner and outer legs provide great breathability

Back zip pocket for storage

Reflective components allow others to see you easily

Inner boxer briefs adds support

Compression lessens the impact of vibration while you run

Cons

May be seen as expensive

9. Skins A400

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If you struggle with sore muscles post-run or race giving a high quality pair of compression shorts a try may be the answer. They help your body increase blood flow to muscles, aiding performance and minimizing repercussions after.
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Materials:
These are made of 76% Nylon and 24% Spandex.

Breathability:
They don't offer a lot of breathability as they are designed to compress against the skin and help prevent injury. They do offer moisture wick management to help keep sweat away though.

Fit:
They are inconclusive reports about sizing (too small or too large). Just make sure you check the measurements before you purchase.

Comfort/Quality:
With only the mention of the waistband rolling downward, which could be due to purchasing the wrong size, they are quite comfortable. There were a few reports of the durability of them not seeming to last as long as other running shorts.
Pros

Design is slimming

400 key fitting points allow for maximum compression

Improves oxygen delivery to muscles

Lightweight, quick drying

Provides 50+ UV protection

Memory MX Fabric has a superior high-stretch yarn

Good in hot and cold temperatures

Flat A-seams reduce chafing

Keeps sweat away with moisture wick

Reflective logos

Cons

Waistband tends to sag downward

Fabric is not as durable as some would like

Sizing may vary

10. Saucony Run Lux III

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Another great offering from Saucony, the Run Lux II is a prime option for all the gentleman out there. These are a short that will check all of your boxes. They are: lightweight; smartly cut, sweating wicking, fasting drying, reflective, comfortable and supportive. What more can you ask for?
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Materials:
The Saucony Run Lux III is made from 100% Polyester materials.

Breathability:
It offers a high amount of breathability with its mesh ventilation panels.

Fit:
Some users have stated that the sizing runs small so you'll just want to make sure you look at the measurements before making your purchase.

Comfort/Quality:
There were no complaints of comfort in using these running shorts. Most found them quite durable as well.
Pros

Stylish and functional

Made from Recycled polyester

Reflective trim

Mesh ventilation panels

Back zippered storage pocket

Brief liner adds support

Cons

Not too many color choices

Sizes may run small

Could use additional storage

There are some pretty obvious anatomical differences between men and women, and because of this we recommend buying gender specific shorts whenever possible. Unisex can of course be an option, but in many cases this will end up with a passable fit that is okay but doesn’t make anyone particularly happy.

The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation Of the Best Running Shorts

fast-runner

Comfort

There’s nothing worse than trying to achieve your goals and running in an uncomfortable pair of shorts. We’ve gone through this top 10 list to discover just how comfortable they are.

Breathability

Hoping that our top 10 well keep you well ventilated while you run, and keep the sweat away so you don’t have to worry about those concerns.

Fit

Do you like them to be short, long, medium? It’s definitely a personal preference. We’ve gone through and found out the size of each of these shorts for you.

Quality

Let’s make sure that are made with quality materials. Are they soft, will they cause chafing?  Are they made to last a long time?

Support

Men typically need additional support while they run. We will let you know which ones provide a good amount of support so that you can choose wisely.

Other Important Factors To Consider When Selecting The Best Running Shorts

marathon-run

 Style Preference

Are you looking for a certain style? Do you like shorts that are more snug or do you prefer a looser fit? It all depends on your style preference. The 3 main styles are Compression, V-Notch, and Split. They come in different sizes for your preference as well.

Compression

These fit tight and snug. They are warmer and can provide a good amount of muscle support. Of all the styles these are the best to resist chafing. The stretchy material allows you to move more easily.

Compression shorts vary in length between men’s and women’s styles. Women’s are typically on the shorter side, while men’s are somewhere between mid-thigh to knee-length. The tightness is a personal preference that some runners prefer, especially when trying to nurse an injury.

V-Notch

Apparently, these are the most popular style of running shorts. They were clever with the name as it’s due to the upside down v-shaped cutout on the outer leg seams. The advantages of the V cutout are that it allows the runner to have a greater flexibility and movement than if the seams were sewn together. They are loose fitted, with women’s styles running a bit shorter in length, but men’s styles also running a bit on the shorter side to allow for better movement while you run.

Split 

These are quite similar to the V-Notch shorts in that they do have a upside down v-shaped cutout, but where it is placed is different. The Split shorts are loose fitting, and the cutout is at the bottom. This style is seen more for performance and tends to offer the best range of movement, and flexibility while you run to achieve your goals.

Gender differences

lady-in-shorty-shorts

There are some unisex shorts, but most runners prefer gender specific ones. They aren’t determined by gender due to color, but more by the cut.

Men’s Running Shorts

These are obviously made and designed specifically for men.  Typically, you’ll find a longer inseam and it has a built-in liner that supports groin area. This is to help prevent uncomfortable runs that could cause chafing.

Women’s Running Shorts

If you are looking for women’s running shorts they are tailored to fit a woman’s body. In fact, typically the cut will fit the female’s waist, hips and thighs more accurately than a males. This will provide a more comfortable run.

Unisex Shorts

 What about shorts that are cut and designed for both men and women? They are not tailored to fit specific support or fit of each individual body, therefore it’s said they won’t provide the same type of comfort and protection as specified gender shorts.

Liner

Runners, toss your underwear to the side because you don’t need it. Built-in liners assist in keeping sweat away and in return will keep you well ventilated, comfortable and reduce chafing. Of course, for men liners are made so to eliminate the use of a jockstrap.

Pockets

Some runners prefer more pockets for storage than other runners. There are many different types of running shorts that offer pockets. Some have a pockets sewn into the front waistband, while others have back pockets or open waistband pockets. It just all depends on how much or little storage you are looking for.

FAQ

dudes-running

Photo Credit: Flickr – istolethetv

Q.  Do you wear underwear with the shorts?

A. There’s typically not a need to wear underwear with running shorts since they usually provide a liner. So, No you are not meant to wear underwear when you run.

Q. There are so many lengths. How do I choose?

A. They range in length from as short as 1″ and going to 7 inches. It really just comes down to what you prefer in length while you run.

Q. What is the difference between split leg and v-notch?

A. They are quite similar, but the seam of the last 1/2 inch of the v-notch is upside down, whereas the split leg is not sewn the entire length of the leg. It has an overlapping front panel over the back and the split can vary in length.

Q. What type of fabric are they typically made of?

A. Most are made from synthetic or natural fibers. This includes synthetic fibers such as:  polyester, spandex blend or a nylon blend, and a natural fiber such as cotton.

Q. Is it necessary to have running shorts that provide visibility?

A. It’s definitely a great idea to have a pair that will work great in low lit areas and provide some reflectivity, or if you like to run late at night. This way others will see you more easily, but again it’s a preference. 

Here are some sources we used while conducting our Research:

Sources

  1. Perry Dau, How to Choose a Pair of Running Shorts, Marathon training articles,
  2. The CLYMB, How to Buy Running Shorts, Outdoor website,
  3. Pauleon Tan, Photo Credit,
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