10 Best Running Shorts with Pockets Rated


A great workout often begins with the right workout gear.  For many that means running shorts with pockets—scroll below to find the best available options!

The right workout clothes mean everything—if you feel uncomfortable during your runs, the more uncomfortable they are and the less effective they will be. The wrong attire will hinder your performance and cut your workout times short.

So (for you pocket lovers), finding the right pair of running shorts with pockets can make all the difference and will literally help you go the extra mile during your run.

A lot of  running shorts came pocketless in the past because their design slowed youdown and hindered your overall performance. However, changes in design have changed this—and regardless, some of us need pockets to keep our belongings safe during our runs.

Whether it’s a key, your wallet, or your phone and some snacks for the run, running shorts with pockets make your run easier and hands free—allowing you to place your attention solely on your workout.

Some of the options available may be bulky or unfashionable—however, we have taken the time to research and find the best running shorts with pockets, so you can just scroll and find your own personal top picks!

Last Updated: May 6, 2018
By Giselle Killebrew:

This update post brings a new addition that fits right in with the rest. Now that we are entering the summer months it’s important to have the right attire, to keeps us cool, dry, and comfortable during are runs.

Champion Men’s Long Mesh Shorts
  • Champion Men’s Long Mesh Shorts
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Large pockets
  • Price: See Here
Russell Athletic Men’s Mesh Short
  • Russell Athletic Men’s Mesh Short
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Adjustable fit
  • Price: See Here
Tesla Performance HyperDri II
  • Tesla Performance HyperDri II
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Affordable
  • Price: See Here

Best Running Shorts with Pockets


1. Champion Men’s Long Mesh Shorts with Pockets

Champion is a brand known worldwide for its immeasurable performance when it comes to athletic wear. They offer workout apparel as well as everyday wear for the fitness fanatic that would like to go from a run or gym workout, straight to running errands.
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Comfort is key when you want a great pair of running shorts. There is nothing like going for a long run only to stop midway because your shorts are unbearably uncomfortable. These shorts feature lightweight, breathable mesh that has a cool, smooth tricot lining, making them perfect for a run of any distance.

Pocket Space
Unlike many running shorts, these offer sleek side pockets that are large enough to store multiple things such as keys, gels, wallet and more.

You truly can’t beat the value in these shorts. They were created with the active consumer in mind and they were built to last. The price is in the medium range making them a fair value for the quality you get.
  • These shorts hold their shape after multiple washes
  • Lightweight breathable material
  • Sleek yet large side pockets
  • Flimsy waist string

2. Russell Athletic Men’s Mesh Short

The Russell Athletic men’s mesh shorts were created to give you, the consumer, the perfect workout shorts as they are breathable yet extremely comfortable with enough room in them so you are able to work out with ease.
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These mesh shorts feature a built in internal quickcord for a comfortable, customizable fit. This adjustable fit also comes with an internal lining to give you breathability adding to the overall comfort of the short.

Pocket Space
They also have deep side pockets for flexible storage which allows you to take what you need with you.

The price is just right when it comes to these athletic shorts. These Russell Athletic men’s mesh shorts are a good value for the high-quality material that it offers.

  • Adjustable internal quickcord
  • Multineedle waist band offers extra stretch
  • Internal lining
  • Does not offer moisture-wicking fabric

3. Reflex Activewear 90 Degree Women Shorts

Reflex Activewear designed this pair of shorts with the busy woman in mind. The brand is a brand known for creating active wear that can also be used as loungewear. These shorts feature two spacious front pockets, topped with an adjustable drawstring waist and secured cuffs.
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These shorts are extremely comfortable as they have 4% spandex. This is an excellent feature to have when you are working out as you have more flexibility and mobility when you are running or doing another workout.

Pocket Space
These feature pockets that have just enough room for you to be able to carry all your necessities while working out.

These are in the middle end price range, and are a great value for the comfort that they provide if you are looking for a chic pair of pocketed shorts that can easily transition from the gym to the store and back home. However, they might not be the best buy for those runners looking for a durable pocketed pair of shorts to withstand intense workouts and provide breathability and ventillation.
  • Extremely comfortable and stretchy

  • Deep pockets

  • Can run a little bigger than expected

  • Delicate weave fabric

4. Time to Run Men’s Pace Running Shorts

Finding a good pair of running shorts is not the easiest thing to do. However, these shorts make it simple for the everyday runner as they were specifically designed for running trails or running on a treadmill.

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As these shorts were created with the active runner in mind, they offer undeniable comfort for the smoothest workout experience possible. They also contain a breathable, wicking inner lining that allows for breathability, keeping you cool and dry even on the hottest days.

Pocket size
Some runners and athletes might find that the pocket size on these shorts is too small. However, the compact inner pocket is perfect for small items like keys, gels, and other types of fuel. These shorts, then, are a great option for intense runners who only need a small pocket.

These shorts are on the lower side when it comes to price, making them a great value for such a versatile short (especially among competing brands).

  • Internal Pocket
  • Extreme comfort
  • Freedom of movement
  • Some runners find they were too short.
  • Runs small

5. Baleaf Women’s Foldover Workout Shorts

The perfect running shorts need to have a high percentage of spandex in order to give you the flexibility and stretch you need and these offer just that. With 13% spandex, you are able to move with comfort and flexibility you need without feeling restricted.

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As stated above, comfort is a huge selling point for these running shorts. They are made of 13% spandex and 87% nylon, making for a comfortable short that allows for plenty of mobility.

Pocket Space
While the pocket size might not be big enough for larger essentials, these shorts contain small internal pockets that allow you to carry small items such as your keys, a credit card, gels, or other necessities.

The cost of these shorts is also a great selling point. They are priced at the lower end compared to other women's brands of workout shorts.
  • Small internal pocket for small items
  • 13% spandex/ 87% nylon
  • Flat seem prevent chaffing and thigh irritation
  • May be too short for some runners
  • Runs small

6. Champion Men’s Vapor 6.2 Running Shorts

The brand Champion is very well known for creating active wear that is innovative as well as practical for the everyday fitness enthusiast. These running shorts include Cool Ctrl technology, which makes them perfect for long and intense runs and other activities as this feature allows these shorts to keep you cool the entire time you work out.
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When it comes to comfort, these shorts are an excellent option because of their cooling technology. It keeps you comfortable even in hot temperatures and long, hard runs.

Pocket Space
One of the main perks of these shorts are the spacious pockets, which is a rarity among shorts that are designed specifically for the runner in mind. You will be able to store everything you need in them as the pockets are deep and provide plenty of storage.

The cost for these running shorts is excellent for the value. You get amazing shorts that you will continue to use over and over again.
  • Large size pockets
  • Targeted ventilation
  • Cool Ctrl technology


  • Does have an interior liner which some runners may not like.

7. Tesla Men’s Performance HyperDri II Shorts

The brand Tesla has created the ultimate performance shorts. These shorts offer impeccable support as well as comfort for the active runner. They have a breathable micro mesh that offers incredible mobility so you are capable of working out without feeling restricted. The fabric is also ultra soft and super lightweight.
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In order to give you the ultimate support and comfort, these shorts include multiple features. They offer HyperDri II®Series Plasma skin fabric. This soft and ultra lightweight fabric is very comfortable. It also features Micro Mesh which is breathable and keeps you cool and dry.

Pocket Space
It features deep side pockets that can fit multiple objects.

The cost for these running shorts is extremely affordable, especially if you take into consideration all the great features in this pair of shorts.

  • Great material
  • Breathable mesh
  • Internal Quickcord for adjustability
  • Runs a bit large

8. Under Armour Men’s Launch Run Woven 7

The brand Under Armour is known for creating strong, innovative active wear that can be used for different workouts such as running, hiking, and weightlifting. They have found a way to create running shorts that are breathable yet durable.
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These Launch Run Woven 7 were created with ultra-lightweight fabric to give you the comfort you need while you work out. The fabric is also breathable and durable, making it perfect for intense workout sessions.

Pocket Space
These shorts feature deep pockets, so you can store all the things you need in your pocket while you work out.

These shorts are on the higher price point. However, they are well worth the money because of their breathability and ventilation, and the durability of the fabric.
  • Breathable fabric
  • Lightweight
  • Some runners may not like the internal mesh.

9. ASICS Men’s 7” Running Shorts

These ASICS running shorts are comfortable while giving you the performance you need in a pair of running shorts. As a runner, you want comfort while running for extended periods of time, which is what great fabric can do for you. These running shorts were created with a breathable fabric that allows you to have a more enjoyable run.
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These shorts were created with lightweight, breathable fabric with enhanced moisture control. Thanks to this feature, your long runs will be cool, dry and more comfortable.

Pocket Space
In the back area, there are pockets that allow you to store your items while you run.

These shorts are in the medium to high end of the price scale, but they are very much worth it.
  • Quick dry fabric
  • Zippered back pockets
  • Can run small

10. X31 Sports Men Zipper Pocket Running Shorts

The brand X31 has created running shorts that are not only comfortable, but they are also versatile to wear. You can wear them on your run, at the gym, during a hike or you can wear them casually. The versatility of these shorts allows you to wear them multiple times without missing a beat.
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These shorts were created with lightweight fabric that has 4 way stretch to make your workouts more comfortable, as well as giving you greater movability and motion control.

Pocket Space
They have specifically placed pockets that were created by frustrated athletes that wanted a safe place to put their keys in but couldn’t find the perfect place. Therefore, the pockets are deep and with a zipper.

These shorts are in the medium price range. Therefore, they are priced according to their value.
  • Light-weight fabric
  • Zipper pockets
  • Ventilated Mesh
  • May run large


11. La Sportiva Men's Rush

These excellent shorts are for long distance running and you get four pockets discreetly designed into the waistband and one secure pocket designed into the back of the shorts.

The shorts have a good lightness and anti-odor/antimicrobial characteristics, a four-inch inseam, built in reflective clothing tech, the inner brief construction is laser cut, chafe-free due to Life-Uniti-Fabric, four nice sized pockets for stowing away items and a larger secure rear pocket with zipper security.

Very good for long challenging trail runs and made to professional athletic standards.
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Comfort from soft blended synthetics fibers, wearable in all weathers, layer over a pair of compression tights/shorts, ideal for cool or hot weather.

Great for long trail runs, competition racing and fine for most challenging environments.

You get chafe-free comfort and comfortable inner briefs which have been laser cut, the FIT factor in these shorts means a secure fit with lots of space for flexibility and natural ventilation.

Pocket Space

Four pockets cleverly designed into the waist and a nice secure zip pocket at the rear of the shorts.


The price is ok and reflects a good investment in a pair of durable, comfortable high performing shorts with a lot of pocket capacity.


Four discrete waistband pockets

One good size rear zip pocket

Good for trail running

Most weather environments


Durable and comfortable

4' inch inseam

Anti-odor characteristics


Not for runners who prefer pocket free aerodynamics

12. Brooks Mens Sherpa 7" 2-in-1 Shorts

Brooks Mens Sherpa running shorts hit the mark for built in pocket space, a central pocket built into the rear of the shorts with a secure zip system and two good fore purpose side pockets with ample carry space.

These comfortable high performing shorts are good for long runs, all day wear and layering over compression tights.

High performing moisture wicking will ensure you remain dry, comfortable, chafe-free and focused during long runs.

You want shorts with comfort and functional performance and a good amount of pocket space, read on, these could be the shorts you are looking for.
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Take comfort from durable soft combined high performing fabrics in the form of an inner brief with a Spandex liner for flexibility at 14% and durable soft polyester at 86%, the overall shorts construction is polyester at 90% and stretch spandex at 10%, if this is not comfortable then nothing is. 

The style of the shorts is cut so they blend over the contours of your body, you get FIT but you get a flow of ventilation to work against overheating, the moisture wick-ability is high performing so more comfort combined with the minimal risk of chafe/irritation.

FIT is beyond doubt with an elasticated waistband backed up with an adjustable draw-cord system, these means the secure FIT is doubly assured.

Pocket Space

Two purposes designed side pockets with good carry capacity and a back central pocket with a secure zip system to ensure that whatever goes into this pocket cannot fall out.


The price demonstrates an investment into a pair of long-lasting durable high performing shorts, well worth buying.


Durability and comfort

Good wick factor

Two nice sized side pockets

A secure rear pocket

Elasticated & draw-string waistband

Minimal risk of chafe/irritation


Some runners want more than 3 pockets?

When you are a runner, it is very important to take the time to find a pair of running shorts that match your workout. Some shorts may be designed for long runs or quick short ones. Meanwhile, others may be more versatile and be good for the cross-training at the gym or going for hikes and trail runs. Finding the right fitness apparel is important as not all fitness gear is created the same. Refer to our list of the best shorts with pockets to help you choose the shorts that will meet your workout needs.

Everyone has different criteria when it comes to what they are looking for in running shorts with pockets. It’s just a matter of finding the right pair of running shorts for you.

The Criteria We Used To Find The Best Running Shorts With Pockets

Having the proper attire is essential to getting in your workout. Whether it’s covering some serious miles out on the trails, knocking out a quick and sweaty circuit session at your home or the gym, or just for running those Saturday errands, the right shorts are especially important in helping you to just get it done as efficiently, effectively, and comfortably as possible. And specifically, the right shorts with the right pockets can make all the difference. Your workout clothes should be made to fit you and your sport. We know that you need to be able to trust that your money is going to be well spent on pocketed shorts that are durable and comfortable. Below is a list of criteria from which we have based our Best Shorts With Pockets review.


Imagine: it is mid-July and you are in the middle of marathon training for your first marathon of the season in a few months. With a full-time job and three kids and a spouse, you have more obligations and duties packed into your schedule than you care to count. So you’re up before the sun to squeeze in as much as you can before the rest of your house wakes up, but it’s already HOT. And just half a mile in, you’re sweating. And starting to feel thirsty. And thinking about the massive amount of things you have on your to-do list for the day ahead. Just about the last thing you want to be worried about is the pair of shorts you’re wearing chafing your thighs or being too loose or too tight, and just generally uncomfortable. You have enough to worry and think about as it is! We make sure our list of reviewed and recommended shorts are comfortable, for whatever your needs. A good pocketed athletic short should be roomy enough for flexibility and agility during your workouts, tight enough that they fit and you don’t feel like you are swimming in them, and made out of a material that is moisture-wicking, breathable, and won’t chafe when you start to sweat. Specifically, the pockets should not be so big that they add an awkward amount of bulk around your thighs. If you do plan to wear them outside in the elements, they should be ventilating and breathable to help keep you cool. Those shorts that come with a built-in underwear liner should not be to tight or cut into your skin uncomfortably, and they should still move effortlessly with the natural gate of your walk or run stride.


When it comes to value, we know you want to be sure the cash you are shelling out for your workout attire and gear is well spent. Running shorts range from very cheap to overly pricey, depending on the style, brand, and features. Typically, pocketed shorts are a great way to go when thinking about purchasing new shorts because they typically are no more expensive than shorts without pockets, but have the added convenience of being able to store your valuables and essentials while working out. When we gauge the value of pocketed running shorts on the market right now, we look for a number of factors.  First is performance – how are they performing for a variety of sports and functions in comparison to their price? The best shorts will be versatile and good for a number of activities. They’ll have enough pocket room for essentials, but still not overly bulky that they inhibit athletic performance and/or efficiency. They’ll be durable and withstand extreme conditions, especially heat, moisture, and sweat without losing their shape. They’ll perform well under varying conditions and last over time while remaining reasonably priced among other competing brands of shorts on the market and not breaking the bank.


Even though you might not be able to purchase the most expensive pair of shorts on the market, if you are going to invest any money at all, you should be able to expect a pair of shorts that are of decent quality. One of the main criteria we base our list of pocketed shorts off of is their quality: in sum, how well they are made, overall. First of all, they need to be able to withstand multiple sweat sessions and subsequently, multiple washes, overtime without losing their shape, fit, or elasticity. They should also be breathable and adequately wick moisture – even if you are wearing them week after week in mid-summer during the hottest parts of the day. The pockets themselves should be made to last, with decent hemming and thick enough so that they do not rip or tear easily. Ultimately, a good pair of pocketed running shorts should be a high-enough quality product that they perform exactly as YOU need them to perform, and continue to do so for multiple training seasons in a row.


Part of having and owning a functional piece of workout attire is the fit because it can truly make or break how successful (or unsuccessful) a workout can be. If your favorite pair of pocketed running shorts don’t fit your body size and type well, then they cannot even really perform like they need to or should, despite how well they are made or how comfortable they feel. The most important factor to consider when basing a pair of shorts off of their fit is how true to size they are (especially if ordering clothes and equipment online is your M.O.). The measurements listed for hip width, thigh width, and length should be accurate. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a pair of shorts that are either too tight or too loose. It is also important to consider how the pockets will affect the short’s fit ranking them. Specifically, sewn-in pockets tend to leave somewhat of a bulky feeling, especially if the pockets are located on the outsides of the thighs. While the short’s outer layer of material might be wide enough around for your legs, then, the addition of a pocket on the inner lining of that outside material might end up feeling constricting, and not the best fit for you. However, going the next size up might mean sacrificing a good fit around the waist, or other parts of the shorts. A good pair of pocketed shorts will take into consideration the need for additional room for the pockets when the company is assigning sizes. If the shorts have an elastic band or waist, it should be comfortable and not too restricting but adjustable, and properly hold the shorts up. They should also be an appropriate length for whatever activity you need them for, as well as appropriate for your specific qualifications (i.e. if you’re a woman who needs a decent pair of pocketed running shorts, a 9-inch inseam on a pair of loose shorts probably won’t be your best bet.) Know yourself and your needs before considering what type of pocketed short is best for you, your body size and your body shape.

Other Important Factors to Consider


Why a pocketed short in the first place? What would you need the pocket for?

You might consider yourself a “minimalist” when it comes to workout gear and attire. That is, you might not like any bells and whistles included in your exercise garb at all, and as long as you have got socks, shoes, and are decently covered, you are good to go! There are some athletes who insist on never wearing shorts with pockets, and find alternatives for storing keys, phones, and other items. However, if you want an easy way to carry your essentials, a pocket might be the best bet for you. Especially if you don’t like the feel of wearing an armband or belt, but just can’t run without a solid playlist pumping through your headphones, you might want to consider a pocketed short. Consider what you plan to use the pocket for, or what you need to carry in it. If you just need a place to store small items, then a pocketed short might be the way to go. But keep in mind that if you plan to wear the short during an intense running, biking, or hiking session, you might want to buy a pair of shorts that have a zippered pocket usually located in the back, to ensure your valuables stay put. Some athletes, especially runners, find that shorts with bigger pockets – while conveniently can carry pretty much everything they need – sacrifice the right fit for function. The bigger pockets become too baggy and floppy and interfere with the efficiency of their stride. If that is the case, opt for a short with smaller, more compact pockets. If “bigger is always better” in your book, then go for shorts that feature deeper pockets and conveniently tuck away all your electronics and necessities!

What will you be doing while you wear these particular shorts?

Asking yourself this question gets at the functionality that you need from your shorts. You might only plan to wear them while running errands, cleaning the house, and playing leisurely with your kids. However, you might also be wearing them during your longest run and hardest hike. Consider what you plan to put your shorts through, physically, and what you will need out of them, before making a purchase. If you plan to log a lot of miles out along on the trails, you might prefer a shorter pair of shorts with more compact pockets. If you are hitting the weights in the gym, you might prefer more pocket space and a pair of shorts a bit more modest in length.

How big are the items you will need to carry in your pockets?

Especially if you plan to wear your pocketed shorts during high-intensity training sessions, you need to think about the size of the items you’ll be stowing in your pockets. Too big, and they will likely fall out. Not only is this just annoying, but you run the risk of breaking your electronics, and losing expensive and/or valuable items.

How do you like the overall look?

Sometimes, even when a pair of shorts is all that we need them to be (and more) as far as functionality and performance are concerned, we still just can’t get ourselves to like the way they look. You might be concerned about buying a pair of stylish shorts that are flattering for your specific body type, or you might be partial to a pair of shorts that comes in a variety of colors.

How do you like the overall feel?

When purchasing a new pair of workout shorts (or any type of workout clothing), do not forget to ask yourself what kinds of material you like or prefer, as well as what best suits your lifestyle. For instance, cotton might be a cheaper material and comfortable for lighter, everyday activities but probably will not stand up to more intense exercises and years of washing and drying cycles. Consider what kind of material will best serve your specific athletic performance needs. You should also consider whether or not the shorts have a built-in interior liner and if you like or dislike this added feature. Some find built-in liners convenient and form-fitting, while others find it restricting. The same goes for adjustable drawstrings and elastic waistbands. Both features can simply be boiled down to personal preference, but still important to take into consideration when purchasing workout shorts.

Do you need ventilation?

If you plan to wear your shorts in extremely hot temperatures or live where it tends to get decently warm, then you will likely want to opt for a pair of pocketed shorts that are ventilated and come equipped with some kind of cooling control technology. Since pocketed shorts add a layer of fabric for the pockets, it’s especially important to find some that are ventilated if you want to keep cool and comfortable.

Are you male or female?

This may seem like an obvious one, but because the above-reviewed list of shorts is not exclusive to one gender, you will want to base your purchase off what will best suit you if you’re a male or female. For these reasons, it is important to consider the length of the inseam (for comfort, style, and modesty) and appropriate looseness and flexibility as you move around.

When will you be wearing the shorts?

This consideration is specific to the time of day you will be wearing the shorts. If you are up before the sun or prefer your workouts to be outside after dark, you should consider purchasing a pair that comes equipped with reflective trim to stay safe. If you opt to be outside in the sun, then naturally you’ll want a lighter pair of shorts to stay cool. And if you will be facing extreme temperatures or weather conditions, invest in a pair that is highly durable.

Are there stores close by that sell these shorts?

Online shopping is fabulous and convenient, often saving you both time and money. And amazon.com’s Prime shipping is a real game-changer, as it offers fast two-day shipping free of charge! However, you might really just be in the mood to get out with your best friends and treat yourself to a little in-person retail therapy (or, more practically speaking, you might just need to ensure that the pair of pocketed shorts you choose to invest in actually fits you so it’s wise to go try them on before you buy). Whatever the case, consider if you live near enough to sporting goods stores, sporting or running apparel stores, or major department store chains that will carry some of these items on their shelves. Do your research beforehand and know which stores close to you actually sell the model (or models) of shorts you are interested in.


How much will the average pocket short cost?

In our list of pocketed shorts, prices are within a $40 range, starting at the lower end of $10 and going up to around $50. You can certainly find more expensive pocketed shorts on the market, but anything much over $50 will start to plateau in value. That is, the difference between a $50 pair of pocketed shorts and a $100 pair of pocketed shorts are not so different (aka the $100 pair is not so much “better”) that it is worth an additional $50.

How do I know what size will fit me?

For the most part, the sizing guides provided for each pair of shorts on our list is accurate. Exceptions include the ASICS Men’s 7″ Running Shorts,  the Baleaf Women’s Foldover Workout Shorts, and the Time to Run Men’s Pace Running Shorts which have been reported to run a bit small, while the Tesla Men’s Performance HyperDri II Shorts and the X31 Sports Men Zipper Pocket Running Shorts have been reported to run a bit large. The best advice for choosing a size when shopping online is to buy the size you wear in other similar styles of athletic shorts and pants.

Are the shorts on this list moisture-wicking?

It depends. The shorts on the list that will wick moisture best and remain breathable and comfortable are the shorts specific to running – specifically, the Time to Run Men’s Pace Running Short, the Champion Men’s Vapor 6.2 Running Shorts, the Under Armour Men’s Launch Run Woven 7 shorts, and the ASICS Men’s 7″ Running Shorts. The X31 Sports Men Zipper Pocket Running Shorts will provide some moisture-wicking technology, but they are also made of a light mesh, which is known to hold water. For the most part, if you’re concerned with buying a short that has quick drying capabilities, avoid those made from cotton and with a mesh exterior. Instead, stick to shorts made out of a blend of polyester, nylon, and spandex.

Will the shorts chafe?

Again, it depends. Chafing will occur when excessive moisture is mixed with shorts that are not the right fit or made from a material that is prone to chafe. To avoid chafing, stay away from shorts that are fitted so that they rub the skin when you move and are made from heavier material. Opt instead for shorts made out of polyester and/or nylon blends that are breathable and allow moisture to evaporate. Another way to avoid chafing is to not wear underwear with a pair of shorts that already comes with a built-in liner.

How long will a good pair of shorts last?

If you are putting a decent amount of wear and tear on your shorts from multiple sweaty training sessions, then it is likely you will see your shorts fading faster after multiple uses and multiple washes. However, the shorts on this list were picked because they hold up for multiple training cycles. Take good care of your shorts, and always be sure to follow closely each model’s washing and drying and general care directions. This will help ensure that you will be able to wear them for at least five to ten years, depending on how often you wear them and how intense your workouts are.

Which is better, cotton shorts or synthetic fabric shorts?

There was a time when the only option was cotton with some exceptions for other fabrics such as silk, wool or etc. Cotton is comfortable and can be lightweight and durable, it is possible to dye cotton in a nice range of colors. it’s flexible in that as a material it can be lightly or densely woven and a pair of cotton shorts can carry a good number of added pockets. In fact, cotton is and always will be a very good material for clothing when it is used in the right context. There are a lot of positives for cotton but are there any negatives?

Depending on the woven density of the cotton it can be problematic when it gets wet, the weight can increase a lot, the dry out time can be slow, very wet cotton loses breathability, wick-ability is not high and if the wet is caused by sweat this can allow bacteria and odor to take hold. Stretch factor to allow flexibility in material, cotton has some give in it but not along the lines of stretch spandex.

Wet cotton can cause friction against the skin when the contact is prolonged along with constant movement which in turn can lead to irritation and rashes and in extreme situations, blistering, and infection. Having said the negatives, I am personally a fan of cotton and when used in the right context it’s very good, a degree of care and prevention needs to be taken when it is wet and heavy.

Cotton blended with the right combination of synthetic materials. This is a very interesting option, to retain the comfort, durability and performance characteristics of cotton through blending it with synthetic fabrics which will enhance breathability, wick-ability. This is done for socks, shorts, shirts and even jackets and the comfort and performance results are very good, this combination of natural and synthetic materials means a higher price tag in return for the cost of the manufacturing process, materials, durability, comfort, and performance. Very little if any negative feedback comes back regarding quality and performance.

100% synthetic materials? With the right blend of fabrics, creativity can produce a good pair of shorts, durable, light, stretch factor, good breathability and good performing moisture wicking because synthetic materials do not, as a rule, absorb and hold moisture.

There are people that will embrace modern clothing tech and there are people who will say they simply do not like non-natural synthetic materials, either side of the argument can put forward an impressive list of pros and cons.

Your question was which is better, cotton shorts or synthetic material shorts, my suggestion is to give strong consideration to the middle ground which is a blend of cotton and the right combination of synthetic materials.

Here are some sources we used while conducting research:


  1. RunnerClick, Best Running Shorts, Review web page,
  2. Perry Dau, How to Choose a Pair of Running Shorts, Marathon Training Article,

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