10 Best Running Shorts – 2021 Buyers Guide
Finding the best running shorts for your desired training regimen doesn't need to be difficult though. What's more is that our top pick for the best running shorts aren't going to cost you a lot of money.
Peruse our top picks, test a few out, and let us know which option you feel is worth every penny.
TL;DR - Our pick for the best running shorts.
Quick-drying and breathable
Inside key pocket
Mesh brief liner
Total weight of only 2.5 ounces
10 Best Running Shorts
1. MJ Soffe Running Shorts
Quick-drying and breathable
Inside key pocket
Mesh brief liner
Total weight of only 2.5 ounces
Length is a personal preference
MJ Soffe's Ranger V-notch for men is highly received and rated. They sport a 100% nylon brief liner with an inside key pocket and a 2.25-inch inseam. These will give you lots of room to move.Read more
These Soffe Rangers are made of 100% nylon with a weight of merely 2.5 ounces. The fabric is lightweight and will let you move as much as needed while running. Color options include 20 choices in both bold and subtle colors. Considering these are 100% nylon and loose-fitting, the breathability will keep you cool and dry from beginning to end.
The fit is rated "as expected" so you should be able to find the right size by ordering your usual. The legs are only 2.5 inches and fit loose so you won't feel compressed. The V-notch at each leg seam allows maximum flexibility.
These seem to be the go-to option for many athletes. They are built to last and most individuals end up buying multiple pairs for endless days of good clean workouts.
2. Asics Woven 7
Highly Breathable with anti-odor
Zippered back pocket
Elastic waistband with drawcord
Some issues with durability
For the gentleman who prefers a longer inseam, the Asics woven 7-inch may be the perfect option for you. These will keep you cool and dry with the porous material. Other features include: zippered back pocket, reflective details, elastic waistband, and anti-odor brief liner.Read more
These are made from 100% polyester. The breathability is in the name! Woven fabric is lightweight and quick-drying, so you'll stay cool, dry, and comfortable no matter how long you workout.
A few reviews claimed they ran a little small, so you may want to order up a size if planning on buying online. As for the 7-inch inseam, men seem to like the coverage.
Reviews rave of the comfort of the shorts. They stretch and move with you as you run. The fabric is very lightweight and some reviews commented on the shorts feeling nearly disposable. The price is very affordable.
3. Asics Split 3-inch
Back right hip pocket
Stretchy for comfort
Flatlock stitch construction enhances comfort
Pocket is shallow
Sizes may run small
Ready to hit it in the hot summers? Try the Asics split 3-inch in men's and women's styles. These are stretchy, flexible, and allow you to move easily while you are in motion.Read more
These Asics Split 3-inch are made from 89% polyester and 11% spandex for a stretchy, flexible feel.
They breathe easily due to the mesh inserts down the sides. They also have quick-dry which helps keep sweat away. They size on the small side of with the length only measuring 3 inches. These are the perfect option for individuals who can't seem to get enough airflow.
Cost and Value
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. They can be pricey for what you get, but Asics is a very reputable brand.
4. TSLA Active
Thin tight materials offer good compression
Moisture wicking properties
Many colors to choose from
Easy access pocket on waistband
Some sizing issues reported
Too short for some runners
If you want running shorts that are easy to wear and that can be worn as an underlaying in cool weather or your primary short layer in warm weather then the TSLA Active shorts are a perfect choice for you to consider.Read more
Solid Color shorts are made of: Polyester 87%, Spandex 13% The Melange Color shorts are made of: Polyester 80%, Spandex 20% The Space Dye color shorts are made of: Polyester 90%, Spandex 10%
With a tight fit that offers great compression and support the TSLA Active running shorts are made to be breathable. They also offer good moisture wicking properties that keep you cool and comfortable while out for a run.
Style and Design
These running shorts are available in a range of colors so you should have no trouble finding one that fits your personal style. These shorts also feature a convenient pocket for easy storage where you need it most.
Comfort is Key
No running shorts are worth much if they are not comfortable. Fortunately, the TSLA Active running shorts are made to be very comfortable and are perfect for runners of all skill and activity levels.
5. Under Armour Fly-By
The material may melt in the dryer - consider using low heat
Some durability issues - be gentle on fabric
These Under Armour Fly-By's have it all: strategic mesh, second-skin feel, multiple pockets, and reflective details.Read more
UA's Fly-By's are made of 100% polyester material that wicks away moisture. Side panels are made of breathable mesh that moves excess heat away from the body. The materials are equipped with anti-odor technology that prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes.
The polyester material allows air and heat to move away from the skin. The mesh side panels increase air movement. These details keep runners cool and dry and odor-free. They have a next-to-skin feel without compressing the legs too much. The lightweight woven fabric moves easily with each step. The waistband is wide and enveloped in fabric to stay in place without constricting. The shaped hem gives better coverage without being bulky or puffy. They contain a built-in brief as well. The inseam measures 3 inches for women who like a shorter running short for more freedom of movement.
Cost and Value
With the right combination of materials and shaping, the will fit comfortably. Reviews state the Fly-By shorts are awesome for avid runners and an added benefit is how affordable they are. A couple people warned of using low heat when drying, as high heat may melt the fabric.
6. Under Armour Launch
Designed for comfort
Compact and out of the way pocket for convenience
Form-fitting to the wearer
Sizing is small and tight
Fitted wear may be uncomfortable
The UnderArmor Launch is perfect for movement, no matter what the distance. These are so lightweight and heat-efficient that you will barely notice them.Read more
The Under Armour Launch is made from 100% polyester. They are designed with lightweight materials to prevent heat from building up during runs. The Launch also contains a mesh line to allow for more air flow.
The UA Launch has been said to run a bit small. If ordering online it may be wise to size up. Otherwise, the form-fitting design is definitely what is best for runners - less material to weigh you down and hold you back.
Cost and Value
These are very comfortable. The form fit means runners can go farther and harder without suffering from problems, like chaffing. Many exercisers recommend investing in a pair of these over cheaper options that wear out more easily. Under Armour Launch will be just as comfortable every time you put them on.
7. Gore R7 2 in 1 Running Shorts
Extra mesh inserts for more air
Extra support and compression
Extra dry feel
Perfect for longer runs
Front Pockets don't zip
Looking for a little extra with your run? Gore R7 2 in 1 Running Shorts are all the extra comfort of great hybrid designed running shorts plus under layer compression. These were created for the runners that can’t seem to stop. They offer protection, support, and a dry, comfortable run no matter your limits, or lack of. Without compromising comfort, the R7 2in1 is a sturdy effective pair of running shorts that we just couldn't leave off of our Top 10.Read more
With a mixture of all synthetic material, the gore R7 mesh material is light and airy. The 2 layer design offers support to the upper leg muscles and the top layer gives a free flow feel with the look of a basic running short design. The elastic waistband fits nice and holds in the abdomen for a bit more control. The R7 2in1 Shorts were designed for runners who go for distance. The material is soft and wicking, allowing also for a dry run and no chafing.
As we mentioned, Gore did not compromise comfort with this 2in1 design. The underneath has a swimsuit like feel that breathes and allows for supportive movement. They are layered with a top mesh that gives the shorts a more runner short vibe. This outer mesh dry-wicking fabric is so light and breathable, it feels almost nonexistent. Flattening the elastic waistband and adding a draw chord gives the waist a secure customized feel. There is a small pocket on the back and two pockets in the front, giving a ton of room for personal items and energy yummies for those boosts you'll need when your logging those miles. The R7 2in1 short have a longer design to them for those that are not into the shorter, more commonly designed running short.
They do not create heat build up and work great for even the hottest of days.
Don’t skip over these based on price, they are the creme de la creme when compared to a lot of designs. They offer mobility and support at a reasonable length - no booty shorts here. They have tons of muscle assisting material and not constricting compression, while still keeping the muscles cool and dry. There isn't much else you could say they need; they even have a satisfactory amount of pockets for all the running swag you will want to carry on those hours of running.
8. Brooks Chaser
Lightweight & stretchy
2 pockets for storage
Keeps sweat away
Treated pocket to wick away moisture from phone/keys
Waistband can be snug for some people
Race to the finish in these Brooks Women's Chaser 7-inch. These are highly breathable with the perfect amount of Spandex stretch!Read more
The fabric is made with 84% polyester and 16% Spandex. One out of the two pockets has a sweat-resistant treatment for your phone, keys, or card. The Brooks Chaser is made of breathable polyester plus a little spandex for comfort.
Perfect for a hot summer day, this 7-inch inseam fit is quite comfortable and provides coverage.
Cost and Value
They are extremely comfortable, lightweight running shorts that allow great movement while you run. They are, however, a bit on the pricier side.
9. Under Armour HeatGear Authentic Long
Ultra-tight, second-skin fit
Materials will wick moisture and prevent odor
The inner seams in the back of the shorts can be awkward
The Under Armour HeatGear Authentic has a 7-inch inseam and uses compression. It features a wide waistband with hidden pocket, anti-odor treatment, and a seamless front for superior comfort.Read more
The fabric consists of 87% polyester and 13% elastane. The HeatGear shorts are structured with four-way stretch to move with you on every step. The material blend wicks sweat and dries fast. The treated fabric also prevents odor and odor-causing microbes. UA polyester/elastane fabric moves air and heat away from the skin, dries quick, and prevents odor.
These use compression, so they are ultra-tight with a second-skin fit. The compression increases muscle power and decreases any possible recovery time. The 7-inch inseam gives lots of coverage. The wide waistband stays in place without constricting.
Cost and Value
The HeatGear compression model has a four-way stretch that moves comfortably wide waistband to hold them in place without feeling like you're being squeezed. They have a high-quality feel and durability and they are designed to prevent chafing and fit comfortably.
10. Brooks Go-To 5” Running Shorts
Great relaxed fit top layer
One small pocket
Doesn't dry as fast
The Brooks Go-To 5” Running Shorts are designed to keep you dry and comfortable with a “barely there” feel. They are lightweight and have a small space to store your gels for longer runs or smaller personal items. They are great for short or long runs and don't bunch up.Read more
The Go-To is 100% polyester inside and out. The elastic waistband has a cinchable design and can be custom fitted with the draw of a string. Due to the DriLayer Fabric, it also stays in place and wicks the sweat away. Keeping the skin dry and fresh, this material also keeps the shorts from sticking to the skin during training. The built-in briefs are made with a snug fit that keeps everything feeling secure.
Brooks made these with smart notched leg openings for a more natural feeling run. They aid in getting more air to the muscles, giving a nice cooling effect when you run. The Go-To 5” comes with a small upper right hip zipper pocket for easy access to personal items or energy packs for those endurance runs. They have a relaxed style fit with built-in briefs for a more secure feel.
These are a decent price for a very comfortable pair of running shorts. They have no bunch, no-nonsense simple design that keeps you dry and comfortable. When it comes to running in general, Brooks usually has well made active wear for all areas of training and these prove that.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
It is important to consider the materials that are being used in your running shorts. The materials that are used will go a long way in determining if it is a warm weather or cold weather pair and can also influence how you are going to wear it. So, make sure you take them time to look at the material list and consider what blends best meet your needs.
Different materials will have different perks and flaws. You want to make sure that the materials your choice is made from fit your needs and have functions that you'll find useful. Most of the options we've included on this list are made of materials that will benefit athletes, with features like excellent moisture-wicking and breathability.
When you run, you tend to work up a sweat, that is how most people gauge whether or not they are getting a good work out. But wet skin is more easily injured and wet skin can also make you feel cold and uncomfortable during your run. Running shorts that have good breathability and air flow are the best choice for runners who really work up a sweat!
Another important factor we looked at when picking the right pair, is breathability. Those that wick moisture is definitely preferable as sweat-soaked shorts are not only uncomfortable but can also lead to unpleasant chafing. Side slits, mesh construction, and moisture-wicking liners are just some of the features that can also help with this.
You can really express yourself and bring a creative flare to your running gear set when it comes to the style you choose for your running shorts. For colors and styling features you can find something that it just right for your wants and needs and that will make it easier for you to feel comfortable and look your best while you are out and about on a run.
The 3 main styles are Compression, Split, and V-Notch. They come in different sizes for your preference as well.
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 depending on whether it’s for men or women. Women’s shorts are usually shorter than men’s, whereas men’s shorts fall somewhere between mid-thigh to knee length. The tightness is a personal preference that some runners prefer, especially when trying to nurse an injury.
These are quite similar to the V-Notch shorts in that they do have an upside down cutout in the shape of a V, 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 workout to achieve your goals.
The V-Notch is the most popular choice. 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-shaped cutout are that it allows the runner to have a greater flexibility and movement than if the seams had been stitched together. They are loose fitting, 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.
There are some unisex options, but some individuals may prefer gender-specific ones. Unisex options are cut and designed for a more general fit but you can anticipate a more specific fit when buying "Men's" and "Women's" sizes. Men's sizes will typically feature longer inseams and a wider cut through the legs where women's sizes are more likely to have a more narrow fit with tapered legs. If you feel one size will fit you better than another, don't be afraid to shop across the whole range of sizing.
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 as to eliminate the use of a jockstrap.
Some runners prefer more pockets for storage. There are many different types of gear that offer pockets. Some have a pocket 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.
Every runner wants to find gear that fits well and that feels good. Without comfortable gear you won’t run as much or for as long so comfort is absolutely critical. Consider things like materials, design, features, fit, and usability when you are trying to determine how comfortable a pair of running shorts can be.
In our top ten, we prioritized comfortability as we here at RunnerClick are aware of how a pair of uncomfortable pair of shorts can ruin a good run. The length is a personal preference. Do you like them to be short, long, medium? We’ve gone through and found out the size of each for you, and now it’s just up to you, to pick the perfect pair!
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Pocket storage is hands down the most important thing I consider when looking at purchasing a new pair of running shorts. As a female runner who often runs in the early predawn hours, it is important for me to carry self-defense items including mace and my cell phone. So often I find a pair of shorts that I think are adorable, and then find that their back pocket doesn’t fit the size of the current iPhone. I won’t sacrifice my safety on runs, so those pockets are gold to me!
You can add some fun and flare to your gear by choosing running shorts that are brightly colored. This can be a fun way to personalize your look but did you know the colors you choose can also help you stay safe? If you are someone who does a lot of running in the early morning or at night when light levels are low you can boost your visibility to others by wearing bright vibrant colors. Choosing running shorts in colors like pink, yellow, orange, white, and green can help you be seen easier by drivers and pedestrians. So consider choosing something other than black or navy blue for your running shorts if you do a lot of outdoor running!
You can use running shorts in more than one way. The most common use for these shorts is to simply wear them as they are. Wearing them when you go out for a run is what they are made for but did you know you can also make use of running shorts in colder weather? You can use them to add a layer of clothing for when you head out into the colder temperatures. Layering is important but it can be a challenge when you are running because you do not want to have bulky cumbersome layers that make it hard to move. That is where running shorts can be handy. Compression type shorts can be worn under your regular pants. Looser shorts can be worn over legging and compression pants. So, consider layering things up when the colder temperatures roll around and keep yourself warm and protected!
Other Factors to Consider
There is no underestimating value. There is a wide range of options on the market that come in a variety of forms, designs, and styles. They also come in a wide range of prices. Sometimes, investing more in a pair is a good idea if you are an active athlete that will wear them hard. Often, these options will provide durability and versatility with fabrics that will be less irritating to your skin and body. That being said, you do not always have to spend more to get a quality pair. But if you have a very strict budget to adhere to, buying a lesser brand or quality in order to keep costs down may provide initial benefit upfront, but in the long term, you will most likely find yourself investing in multiple pairs.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Do you wear underwear with these?
There’s typically not a need to wear underwear with running since they usually provide a liner. So, No you are not meant to wear underwear when you run.
q: How do I choose which length is best for me?
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. Some people like the breathability and flexibility a shorter inseam gives them, while others prefer more coverage and warmth from a longer length.
q: How are a pair of split leg different from a pair of v-notch?
They are quite similar. The only difference is the that the v-notch seam stops a 1/2 inch from the bottom and features an upside down v shape, whereas the split leg is not sewn together at all, the entire length of the leg. Instead, a split leg has an overlapping front panel.
q: What type of fabric are they typically made of?
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 a pair that provides visibility?
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 workout late at night. This way others will see you more easily, but again it’s a preference.
q: Can these be worn in cooler weather?
While shorts on their own may be a little too chilly when cooler weather arrives you can still use your running shorts. Many runners use them as an added layer and wear them along with their winter running pants. The added warmth and protection can be just what you need to stay warm without adding a lot of bulk that could slow you down!