The 12 Best Running Shorts for Every Pace and Preference, Tested by Runners

The 12 Best Running Shorts for Every Pace and Preference, Tested by Runners

1

Best running shorts overall

New Balance RC Short 5″

RC Short 5

1

Best running shorts overall

New Balance RC Short 5″

Credit: Courtesy of retailer
Pros
  • Reasonably priced
  • Secure and comfortable brief liner
  • Free shipping
  • Lightweight and quick-drying
Cons
  • Liner can feel a little snug initially

This pair of no-frills shorts has a liner that adds to its comfort and security, and lightweight fabric—woven with 100 percent polyester—that pulls sweat away from your body, keeping you dry. We love the handy waist pocket for house or car keys, which is hidden and surprisingly secure (no jangling).

For $65, we found that the New Balance quality tops competing shorts at the same price point with durable construction, materials that feel good to the touch, and a well-fitting design. Purchasing these on Amazon means free shipping, fast delivery, and free returns, if you want to buy a few sizes or colors and decide on your favorites later (which we highly recommend).

Read more: Best Workout Shirts

Length 5″
Fabric 100% Polyester
Size range XS – XXL
Lined Yes
Pockets Two drop-in pockets in briefs

2

Best Fit Running Shorts

lululemon Pace Breaker Lined Short 5″

Pace Breaker Lined Short 5

2

Best Fit Running Shorts

lululemon Pace Breaker Lined Short 5″

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Ultra soft fabric
  • Available in a wide variety of colors
  • Adjustable drawstring waist

We first tried these shorts from Lululemon for the comfort and luxury material you can expect from the brand, but stayed for the support and high performance. They fit incredibly well, hugging you in the places you need a little extra security, and giving room to breathe in others.

These are one of my top 3 go-to running shorts, both because of the great look and the perfect length. Plus, the built-in liner is actually comfortable and fits better than just about anything else we’ve worn. The cherry on top is super soft fabric, a hidden drawstring, and a zippered storage pocket.

Read more: Best Compression Socks

Inseam 5″ (Also available in 7″)
Material Recycled polyester, Lycra®, elastane
Size range XS – XXL
Lined Yes
Pockets Side zippered pocket and liner pockets

3

Best Lightweight Running Short

Ten Thousand Distance Short

Distance Short

3

Best Lightweight Running Short

Ten Thousand Distance Short

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Incredibly comfortable waistband
  • Hidden pockets
  • Mesh brief liner

These ultra-lightweight ‘featherweight’ shorts have a minimalist waistband that is extra comfortable and side slits that allow for full range of motion and breathability. They also have a mesh brief liner, which provides a good base layer for support.

Despite being super light, they still have rugged build. We’re a big fan of the cut—and that we can still stow some of my gear with the internal pockets. We like to call the hidden pockets ‘no-bounce’ pockets, because they’re one of the few that keep your belongings from jumping around as you run.

Read more: Best Workout Headphones

Inseam 5″ (Also available in 3″)
Material Polyester/Spandex Blend
Size range XS – XXL
Lined Yes
Pockets Two drop-in, one zippered

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4

Best Running Short with Pockets

Lululemon Fast and Free Lined Short 6″

Fast and Free Lined Short 6

4

Best Running Short with Pockets

Lululemon Fast and Free Lined Short 6″

Pros
  • Has a ton of pockets
  • Additional t-shirt/towel holder
  • Lightweight

These shorts have been first in our rotation for well over two years. As soon as laundry day comes around, this is the first article of clothing out of the dryer and back onto our body. They’re just that good.

The liner is functional yet disguised, so you can’t see that they’re lined once they’re on. In the liner, you’ll find two side pockets that can can larger items like a phone and wallet, plus one smaller pockets on the rear and front inside the waistband. In a tool belt-like fashion, you’ll also find two elastic bands on the outer waistband to loop your shirt or towel onto when things start to warm up.

Inseam 6″
Material 86% Recycled polyester, 14% elastane
Size range XS – 3XL
Lined Yes
Pocket One zippered pocket

5

Best Vintage-Inspired Running Shorts

Tracksmith Van Cortlandt Shorts

Van Cortlandt Shorts

5

Best Vintage-Inspired Running Shorts

Tracksmith Van Cortlandt Shorts

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Antimicrobial fabric
  • Lightweight liner
  • Great style
  • Several classic colors available

These four-inch inseam shorts hit right at the sweetspot, though they might feel a bit short for those with long legs. The Van Cortland is a running short with a proven track record. They’re comfortable, lightweight, and incredibly durable (they’re made with a strong antimicrobial fabric).

And when it comes to style, no other running short is as timeless. It embodies a vintage silhouette that matches its classic energy, which feels and looks great for running or casual wear. With a 4″ inseam, they’re slightly shorter than your average running short, but we found them just right for hitting the pavement distraction-free.

Read more: Best Sunscreens

Inseam 4″
Material Polyester/Spandex Blend
Size range XS – XL
Lined Yes
Pockets Two drop-in, one zippered

6

Most Comfortable Running Shorts

Brooks Sherpa 5″ Short

On Sale

Sherpa 5

6

Most Comfortable Running Shorts

Brooks Sherpa 5″ Short

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Short, but not too short
  • Zippered back pocket
  • Material looks and feels luxe
Cons
  • Some buyers report the pockets aren’t deep enough

Despite the name of these shorts, they aren’t made from that furry ‘sherpa’ material you might be thinking of. In fact, they’re one of the most lightweight, quick-drying shorts we’ve tried. But the star of the show with these shorts is the waistband—it’s thick, secure but not too tight, buttery soft, and nearly undetectable when running.

The back zip pocket is a little snug for phone, wallet, and keys together, but works well to keep your valuables secure and out of mind. These shorts also have built-in briefs, which are also incredibly lightweight and wick away moisture well to prevent chafing.

Read more: Best Running Hats

Inseam 5″ (Also available in 7″)
Material Not listed
Size range XS – XXL
Lined Yes
Pockets One back zippered pocket and two side zippered pockets

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7

Best Running Shorts for Bigger Guys

Baleaf 7” Athletic Running Shorts

On Sale

7'' Athletic Running Shorts

7

Best Running Shorts for Bigger Guys

Baleaf 7” Athletic Running Shorts

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Zippered back pocket
  • Built-in mesh briefs
  • Great price
Cons
  • Might feel too long for some

These super affordable shorts are one of our favorite affordable picks, and they also come in a great range of larger sizes. The built-in mesh briefs aren’t too tight, and have a breathable feel for extra ventilation. We love the zippered pocket at the back waistband, which is roomier than most short pockets we’ve tried.

At 7″ inches, they’re more conservative in length than many other options on this list, which we found ideal especially for bigger guys.

Read more: Best Compression Shorts

Inseam 7″
Material Polyester, spandex
Size range S – 3XL
Lined Yes
Pockets One back zippered pocket and two side pockets

8

Most Durable Running Shorts

Janji AFO Middle Short

AFO Middle Short

8

Most Durable Running Shorts

Janji AFO Middle Short

Pros
  • Built-in brief liner
  • Short, but not too short
  • Zipper rear pocket
  • Awesome variety of colors and patterns
Cons
  • Prints might feel too flashy for some
  • One has one pocket

These shorts from Janji come in a few brightly colored, unique patterns, which is what originally caught our eye. After trying them out firsthand, the performance-conscious features has kept them in our regular rotation. They’re made with extra light AFO stretch woven fabric which feels almost pajama-like, but pack in the support needed to feel performance-ready with a built-in brief liner. We get that 5-inch shorts can feel short for some, but believe it or not, there’s room for your stuff with a zipper pocket in the rear and an internal drop down brief pocket.

We’ve owned the same pair of Pace Breaker shorts for over three years now, and they’ve saved us a lot of money in that time because we haven’t had to buy many running shorts since. The fabric actually resists sweat and odor, as we’ve put these through the toughest sprinting workouts. And when throws in the wash after, we’ve been pleased to see the color and fabric stays strong every time.

Read more: Best Compression Boots

Inseam 5″ (Also available in 3″ and 7″)
Material Polyester, spandex, elastane
Size range S – XL
Lined Yes
Pockets Back zippered pocket

9

Best Running Shorts with Compression

Nike Flex Stride 5″ Running Shorts

Flex Stride 5

9

Best Running Shorts with Compression

Nike Flex Stride 5″ Running Shorts

Credit: Courtesy of retailer
Pros
  • Built-in compression briefs
  • Made partially from recycled materials
  • Available in a few great colors
Cons
  • Brief liner peaks out from under the shorts (a pro. for some)

These no-frills runners from Nike are what you need in a pair of shorts—moisture-wicking fabric, an adjustable waistband, subtle pockets, reflective logos for night running, classic 5″ length, and built-in compression. The compression is our favorite design detail, making them an ideal choice to throw in your gym or work bag without having to remember a separate base layer. The compression liner itself offers just enough squeeze to feel secure and contained, but isn’t as tight or restrictive as some dedicated compression garments.

We love these shorts for everything from a 12-mile long run to walking the dog. The soft liner is mega comfortable, and the drawstring helps to get the fit perfect.

Read more: Best Lightweight Running Shoes

Length 5″ (Also available in 7″)
Fabric Polyester, spandex, nylon
Size range S – 2XL
Liner Yes
Pockets Two drop-in side pockets

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10

Best Running Shorts to Splurge on

Satisfy Rippy™ 3″ Trail Shorts

Rippy™ 3

10

Best Running Shorts to Splurge on

Satisfy Rippy™ 3″ Trail Shorts

Pros
  • Stylish, unique aesthetic
  • Lined with a compression layer
  • Luxe fabric and design
Cons
  • Costs more than 3x the average men’s running short

Just like their tops, we’ve found Satisfy Running’s shorts to be one of our favorites for runs. In our experience, the shorts are breathable and thin, but they’re still sturdy enough to stay in place and not sag when throwing your phone or keys in the pockets. We love their style and staying power. They aren’t too tight and they’ve held up nicely through many washes.

The Rippy Trail Shorts have drop-in two pockets, which we wish they were zippered for a bit of extra security. However, they are deep enough that we’ve never experienced an item bouncing out. But if you’re worried, know that inside the short waistband is a mini carabiner to attach a house key to, as well as a snug fitting phone pocket.

The price is steep for running shorts, no doubt. But these are just as stylish as they are functional, making them a great splurge for those in the market.

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Inseam 3″
Material Tech-Silk
Size range XS – XL
Lined Yes
Pockets Two side pockets in briefs, two side pockets in shorts

11

Most Versatile Running Shorts

Vuori Clothing Banks Short 5″

Banks Short 5

11

Most Versatile Running Shorts

Vuori Clothing Banks Short 5″

Pros
  • Ideal length
  • Unbelievably soft
  • Plenty of roomy but secure pockets
  • Great for swimming, too

There aren’t enough good things we can say about the Banks short, which comes in 7″ and 5″ lengths, of which the shorter is our favorite. It’s a solid choice for laid-back runners and gym-goers, or really anyone who makes comfort their number one priority. They look great, and we’ve worn them in casual settings just as often as it active ones.

They don’t have a built-in liner and they’re made of water-resistant material, so we’ve even used them as a bathing suit a few times. We’ve been wearing these shorts for well over a year, and after multiple washes, the fabric is still buttery-soft and hasn’t thinned out.

Read more: Best Body Wipes

Inseam 5″ (Also available in 7″)
Material Polyester, elastane
Size range XS – XXL
Lined No
Pockets Front and rear zippered pockets

12

Best Mid-Length Running Short

Rhone Mako 9″ Unlined Short

On Sale

Mako 9

12

Best Mid-Length Running Short

Rhone Mako 9″ Unlined Short

Now 36% Off

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Quick-drying
  • Great mid-length for those who want something in between
  • Media pocket holds phone secure and snug

These shorts have serious performance. The 4-way stretch fabric is breathable and lightweight, and features like a back zipper pocket, two front pockets, and a media pocket make these a top tier pick.

The Mako might seem pricey for an Amazon pick, but Rhone’s quality doesn’t disappoint.

Read more: Best Joggers

Inseam 9″
Material Polyester, elastane
Size range S – XXL
Lined Available with or without liner
Pockets Two drop-in side pockets with one rear zippered pocket

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13

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What Kind of Shorts are Best for Running?

First and foremost, let’s give a round of applause for the mind that came up with the idea of combining regular running shorts with built-in compression or mesh liners. These liners provide that much-needed support and coverage, ensuring you can sprint, jog, or leap over obstacles without fear of bouncing around. You won’t need to fuss around with separate compression shorts; it’s all bundled up in one neat package.

In the hierarchy of 2-in-1 shorts lies shorts that feature pockets within the liner. These pockets are convenient and ideal for your valuables. You can stash your keys, energy gels, or even your smartphone in there, and they’ll stay put no matter how fast you’re zooming. Pockets in the liners also help minimize the dreaded bouncing that can come with stashing belongings in your shorts on a run.

If we were building our ideal pair of running shorts from scratch, the next thing we’d look at is the waistband. In a perfect world, it should feature a drawstring so you can adjust it to the perfect fit, as well as additional small hidden pockets on the inside. And when it comes to length, we think 5-6 inches is the sweet spot for a flattering fit on most guys.

14

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How to Prevent Chafing in Running Shorts

Ah, chafing—the runner’s arch-nemesis. When you’re out there breaking a sweatn racking up the miles, there’s nothing worse than that feeling. The good news is the type of shorts you’re wearing can help (or hinder) your chance of chafing.

If you’re not on the 2-in-1 train yet, it’s time to hop aboard. These shorts come with a compressive or mesh liner built right in, meaning you can bid adieu to the hassle of layering up with separate compression shorts. That liner hugs your legs, guarding against the chance of chafing.

Quick-drying materials are also a must; moisture-wicking shorts are made with synthetic fabrics like polyester, Gore-Tex, nylon, and spandex to handle wetness better than traditional materials. These fabrics have tiny spaces in knit or mesh that allow moisture to move through, evaporating quickly before it can turn your running shorts into a soggy, chafing nightmare.

“Synthetic materials are better at moisture-wicking as they not only pull sweat moisture away from the skin, but they also dry quickly and don’t hold onto moisture,” explains. Dr. Marisa Garshick, board-certified dermatologist of MDCS Dermatology.

15

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Why You Can Trust Us

At Men’s Health, we take great pride in providing our readers with reliable and trustworthy product recommendations. We believe that our readers deserve the best, which is why we always make sure to conduct thorough research and testing before making any recommendations. Our writers and editors thoughtfully select experts for collaboration on product recommendations, and are also experts in their own right, using their informed opinions to select products and ensuring that our content is of the highest quality.

Our product recommendations are purely editorial, and while we may receive free products to test and review, we only recommend the products we are most impressed by. We never let retailers or public relations contacts dictate our content or product coverage. Which is why you can trust us to provide you with reliable and unbiased product recommendations.

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16

Read More About the Best Men’s Running Gear

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