10 Best Running Shorts Reviewed & Tested
As runners, we probably spend more time thinking about what shoes to wear than what shorts to wear. But shorts can make or break a run even when we don’t realize it. Cargo shorts with heavy pockets could weight us down and ruin a personal best time. Baggy nylon gym shorts collect every drop of sweat and make us feel gross at the end of the run.
Shoes might be the main focus for runners, but shorts can have a major impact on efficiency and enjoyment. The perfect pair of running shorts should feel like a second skin so you don’t have to worry about heat, moisture, or chaffing as you push yourself harder and faster.
We hope that our top 10 will keep you well ventilated while you run, and keep the sweat away so you don’t have to worry about those concerns.
- MJ Soffe
- Simple and breathable
- Asics Woven 7-inch
- Zippered seam pocket
- Asics Split 3-inch short
- Flatlock stitch
10 Best Running Shorts
1. MJ Soffe Men's Running Shorts
These Soffe Ranger men's shorts 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 shorts are 100% nylon, short, and loose-fitting, runners will be able to stay cool and dry from beginning to end.
Fit is rated "as expected" so you should be able to find the right size by ordering your usual. The legs of the shorts are only 2.5 inches and fit loose so you won't feel compressed. The V-notch at each leg seam allows maximum flexibility.
Priced at $10 to $25 on Amazon, these seem to be a go-to short for many runners. They are built to last and runners buy multiple pairs for endless days of running.
- Quick-drying and breathable
- Inside key pocket
- 2.25" inseam
- 100% nylon
- Mesh brief liner
- Total weight of only 2.5 ounces
- Short length is a personal preference
2. Asics Woven 7" Running Shorts
The Asics Woven 7-inch running shorts 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 run.
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.
- Highly Breathable with anti-odor
- Zippered back pocket
- Elastic waistband with drawcord
- Extremely comfortable
- Comfortable fit
- Reflective components
- Some issues with durability
3. Asics Split 3-inch Running Shorts
These Asics Split 3-inch are made from 89% polyester and 11% spandex for a stretchy, flexible run.
They breathe easily due to the mesh inserts down the sides. They also have quick-dry which helps keep sweat away.
They run on the small side of running shorts and the length is only 3 inches. They are the perfect shorts for runners who can't seem to get enough airflow.
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.
- Very Lightweight
- Quick drying
- Back right hip pocket
- Highly Breathable
- Reflective components
- Stretchy for comfort
- Flatlock stitch construction enhances comfort
- Pocket is shallow
- Sizes may run small
4. Pearl Izumi Infinity Split Running Shorts
The outer of these Pearl Izumi Infinity Split's are made with 100% polyester, while the mesh is 92% polyester and 8% elastane. The lining is 50% polyester and 50% Minerale polyester technology.
Don't sweat it! These will help keep the sweat away while you run while their split side will allow air to easily pass through.
You'll get a relaxed style fit that measures 4” inseam.
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.
- Side split provides enhanced movement
- Internal key pocket & zippered compartment in the back
- Lightweight & highly breathable
- Transfer Dry fabric keeps sweat away
- Inner compression provides stability
- Absorbs odor and dries quickly
- Sizes may vary (too small or too large)
- Some may not like how it sits lower on the waist
5. Under Armour Women's Fly-By Running Shorts
UA's Fly-By shorts 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.
The UA Fly-By shorts 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. The shorts 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.
With the right combination of materials and shaping, the shorts fit comfortably. Reviews state the Fly-By shorts are awesome for avid runners. A couple people warned of using low heat when drying, as high heat may melt the fabric.
- Highly Breathable
- Reflective logo
- Multiple pockets
- Elastic waist
- Shaped hems
- Next-to-skin feel
- Lightweight woven fabric
- Moisture-wick fabric
- Anti-odor technology
- Built-in liner
- 3-inch seam
- Material may melt in dryer - consider using low heat
- Some durability issues - be gentle on fabric
6. Under Armour Launch Men's Running Shorts
The Under Armour Launch is made from 100% polyester.
The shorts 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.
The shorts are very comfortable. The form fit means runners can go farther and harder without suffering from problems, like chaffing. Many runners recommend investing in a pair of these over cheaper shorts that wear out more easily. Under Armour Launch will be just as comfortable every time you put them on.
- Designed for comfort
- Very lightweight
- Compact and out of the way pocket for convenience
- Form fitting to the wearer
- Sizes run small and tight
- Runners not used to the fitted wear may find it uncomfortable
7. Brooks Women's Chaser Running Shorts
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 running shorts are made of breathable polyester plus a little spandex for comfort.
Perfect for running on a hot summer day. These 7-inch inseam running shorts fit quite comfortably and provide coverage.
They are extremely comfortable, lightweight running shorts that allow great movement while you run.
- Lightweight & stretchy
- 2 pockets for storage
- Keeps sweat away
- Highly Breathable
- Treated pocket to wick away moisture from phone/keys
- 7-inch inseam
- Slimming waistband
- Waistband can be snug for some people
8. Under Armour Women's HeatGear Authentic Long Running Shorts
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 are compression shorts, 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 for women. The wide waistband stays in place without constricting.
The HeatGear compression shorts have four-way stretch that moves comfortably with you. The wide waist band holds the shorts in place without feeling like you're being squeezed out of your shorts. Users claimed these shorts to be high-quality shorts that prevent chafing and fit comfortably.
- 7-inch inseam
- 4-way stretch
- Seamless front
- Unltra-tight, second-skin fit
- Materials wicks moisture and prevents odor
- Wide waistband
- Polyester/elastane blend
- Some users had issues with inner seams in back of shorts
9. Skins A400 Running Shorts
These are made of 76% Nylon and 24% Spandex.
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.
There are inconclusive reports about sizing (too small or too large). Just make sure you check the measurements before you purchase.
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.
- 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
- Waistband tends to sag downward
- Fabric is not as durable as some would like
- Sizing may vary
10. Saucony Throttle Running Shorts
The Saucony Throttle are made of 100% polyester.
Both the internal compression lining and specialized panels on the outside of the shorts are constructed with VENTLITE mesh for optimal air flow while running.
Using a tight 5.5 inch inseam and a slim design, the Saucony Throttle were crafted to to fit almost seamlessly to the needs of a runner.
The mesh lining of the Saucony Throttle keeps you cool, dry, and improves overall support. Some have had issues with the mesh, claiming that it is too loose to really qualify as “compression lining”, but still say that the benefits outweigh this drawback. The Saucony Throttle have noteworthy endurance, not wearing out even after repeated use and washing, making these shorts well worth the higher than average cost.
- Mesh ventilation both inside and out maximizes air flow
- Mesh liner also supportive and reduces moisture
- Extremely comfortable
- Long standing durability
- Compression lining may be less than optimal
- Some had issues with the dye in the yellow shorts running
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
Comfort & Fit
Comfort is key when it comes to running and having the right pair of shorts will make your run a lot more pleasant. 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 of your shorts is a personal preference. Do you like them to be short, long, medium? We’ve gone through and found out the size of each of these shorts for you, and now it’s just up to you, to pick the perfect pair!
Another important factor we looked at when picking the right pair of shorts, is breathability. Shorts that wick moisture is definitely preferable as sweat-soaked shorts are not only uncomfortable but can also lead to unpleasant chafing.
Are you looking for a certain style? Do you like shorts that are snugger or do you prefer a looser fit? It all depends on your style preference. 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 a 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 run to achieve your goals.
The V-Notch short 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 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 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 are typically cut to fit the female’s waist, hips, and thighs better than males. This will provide a more comfortable run.
Unisex Shorts 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.
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 as to eliminate the use of a jockstrap.
Some runners prefer more pockets for storage than other runners. There are many different types of running shorts 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.
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. How do I choose which length is best for me?
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. How are a pair of split leg shorts different from a pair of v-notch shorts?
A. 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?
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.