Best Running Shorts Reviewed
If you ask any runner what the best type of shorts are to wear for any type of workout, you are going to be met with a myriad of different answers. Some athletes like designs that fit loose and low, while others opt for high and tight as if they are wearing nothing at all. Deciding upon what style is going to work best for not only your style of training but also your body type is going to be the key to success. No matter if you like them high and tight or low and loose, it is important that it is made from a material that will wick away sweat while still letting air through. In this guide, we have picked some of our favorite styles and designs for running shorts for everyone’s personal style of training and body shape.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 5 hrs of research
- Under Armour Raid
- Amazon Essentials
- Under Armour Fly-By
- New Balance Accelerate
- Nike Dry
- Naviskin Quick Dry
- Adidas M10
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Top Rated Running Shorts
1. Under Armour Raid
The reason that we selected these shorts for running from Under Armour as our very favorite pick is because they sport a simple design that is going to work for most athletes, and they are made from high quality and unique type of materials that are going to keep you from overheating when you really start to pick up speed.Read more
The materials used for these running shorts for men are composed of 100 percent polyester that is going to help wick away moisture while maintaining a good deal of breathability. What makes this material unique is that is has been infused with HeatGear, which means it is going to keep you cool and dry with a super lightweight layer of fabric.
The cut of this design is going to run down about just above your knee. Users love that this option comes in a wide variety of sizes that are going to fit most users, and the frame has 4-way stretch fabric so you won’t have to worry about the fabric pulling in areas where you carry a little bit extra.
If you want something that is simple and easy that is going to keep you cool and comfortable out on the trails, and you don’t want stiff fabrics collecting in places that they shouldn’t- this is going to be one of your better options.
No inseam liner
For women that are looking for a pair of tight-fitting options that run down a little bit lower on their thigh, these women's running shorts are going to be one of your best options. It has a high waist that is going to suck you in and help you engage your core at the same time, and it is made with materials that are meant to move.Read more
Users will have the option to select from one of many neutral colors that include white, black, blue, red, purple, orange and gray. When you are dealing with thin, stretchy material, there is always that fear that they are completely see-through but you won’t have to worry about that with this design. These shorts for running are lightweight and easy but no one will be able to see what you have on underneath!
The material used is made from 86 percent polyester, with the remaining 14 percent made from a blend of nylon and spandex. This means you are going to have a good deal of breathability with this pair, but the spandex is going to ensure that it hugs your body.
If you are looking for something that is really going to be able to hug all of your curves while still offering a great range of motion, this option from ODODOS is going to be an excellent choice.
3. Amazon Essentials
Easy to wash
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to these shorts for running from Amazon Essentials. It is made from lightweight and easy materials that are meant to take a breaking. You can feel good about getting this design is little gross and dirty because they wash up incredibly well without losing durability or shape.Read more
Made from 100 percent polyester, these running shorts are going to be lightweight and comfortable but they are also going to be something you can feel good about throwing into the washing machine over and over again. Users can select from colors that include blue, black, gray, and red.
The material used is a closed-hole mesh, which means it is going to help wick away moisture as you move. It has an elastic waistband with a drawstring that is located on the inside rather than the outside. Some users found this design runs a little on the large side, so to be sure that you elect for a size slightly smaller than you normally would buy.
Amazon makes sure that they listen to what users have to say about their products, and makes changes according to feedback. This means that this product has undergone a few changes based upon what users have suggested for improvements. This means that this product has been perfected by those that use them the most.
4. Under Armour Fly-By
Mesh is see-through
Under Armour is making our list yet again with this design that offers women a design that fits to be a little looser than a lot of the other designs out there on the market designed for women. It rides high up on the thigh and it made from very lightweight and easy materials that will keep you cool.Read more
One of the very first things that we noticed about this design is that many users felt that it fit exactly as they expected. The materials used aren’t as stretchy as most, but it has a well made elastic waistband and it offered in many sizes to ensure that you get the perfect fit for you.
What makes this design just a little bit different is that while it is made from 100 percent polyester, it has a series of mesh side panels that are designed to help keep you cool when you start to get a little sweaty. Plus, this super lightweight polyester is made to help wick away sweat so that your legs only get sweaty (and it will help prevent any chaffing).
If you are looking for something that doesn’t fit as tightly so that you can feel free and have a full range of motion while also working to wick away sweat, this design from Under Armour is going to be one of your better option in our option.
5. New Balance Accelerate
Odds are, you already have a piece of New Balance gear already in your training arsenal. What users really like about this option is that it gives them the full range of motion that they need, while the lightweight materials will help to wick away moisture. Plus, it has a few extra features that some users will really appreciate.Read more
What we noticed right off of the bat about this design is that it has a built-in liner that is going to add a lot of support only where you will need it most. With a 5 inch inseam, it is important to note that this design is going to ride up on your leg a little bit higher and some of the other designs that we have seen so far.
Users can select from a lot of fun colors that include black, yellow, purple, blue, gray, and red. It is constructed from 100 percent polyester that is going to be lightweight and easy to wash, and it will also help to wick away moisture as well.
For those that are looking for a little bit more support in certain areas while still being loose and free in the legs and waist, this design from New Balance is going to be a great addition to your next training session is cool and comfortable.
Perhaps you are on the fence on whether you want something that it tight and form fitted, or sits a little looser on your hips. This design from Baleaf may look like your standard skin-tight options, but subtle changes in the fabric that is used make it just a tad looser than other designs that we have already seen.Read more
What makes this design just a little bit different than some of the other options that we have seen is that there is a little bit of cotton (around 36 percent) woven into the fabric. While cotton typically isn’t a material you would use in workout gear, the smaller percentage found in this design is going to help create a more comfortable easy fit that isn’t going to feel as tight and constricting are your basic polyester and spandex blends.
User will be able to select from a lot of fun color choices that include red, blue, black, white, gray, and purple. The waist comes up past the belly button to help create a smooth line and to help you keep your core engaged as you train.
This design is going to be a great option for those that feel that polyester and spandex designs just don’t feel comfortable. The little addition of cotton is going to give you a more comfortable fit, but just keep in mind that it isn’t going to wick away moisture quite as well as those that skip the cotton.
7. Nike Dry
If wouldn’t be a party if we didn’t see Nike make the list at least once! As always with a Nike product, you can expect a simple design that is made from high-quality materials, as well as a few extra functional features that will keep you at the top of your game.Read more
These shorts for running are constructed from 100 percent polyester that has been infused with Dri-FIT technology that is going to help wick away moisture as it develops. This material is incredibly light and comfortable, and it also has mesh vents along the side that will promote airflow to keep you from overheating.
One thing that users really liked about this option is that it has nice, big pockets that are cut at an angle that makes it easier to access. Each pair is offered in a rich, classic color such as black, red, royal blue, and charcoal and the classic Nike swoosh is located on the bottom of the left leg.
If you want something loose and easy that isn’t going to hinder your range of motion that comes from a highly trusted brand, you won’t be disappointed with this sharp option from Nike. This option is light and comfortable, and the materials will wash up quite nicely.
8. Naviskin Quick Dry
Not very durable
What we liked most about this design from Naviskin is that it uses a blend of materials that it meant to move with you, but it also fits loose for a more comfortable and easy fit. Plus, it comes equipped with a few extra helpful features that we really haven’t seen in many of the other brands out there on the market.Read more
Colors options are just a tad more limited when it comes to this design. Users can select from basic, black, blue, and gray. Each design has a small logo on the bottom right as well as a strip on the back pocket that has a reflective element so that you can always be spotted in the dark.
Instead of being composed of 100 percent polyester, this option is made from 95 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex. While it still maintains that loose fit you would expect from menswear, the small bit of spandex is going to promote a full range of motion, even if excessive late night snacking this winter means they fit a little tighter than normal!
The addition of mesh vents as well as a zippered back pocket to place your phone makes this design really stand out from the rest. If you are looking for something that is going to be able to keep up with your top speeds, this design is an excellent choice.
9. Adidas M10
Many fun colors
If your ideal scenario is to go out for a job with no pants on at all, this option is close as you are going to get! It is made from a woven material that is incredibly lightweight and air, and it sits lower on your waist and higher on your thigh to give you a really great range of motion.Read more
One of the best features of this design is that it comes in a ton of fun and right colors. User can select from basic neutral tones such as black, gray, and blue, but they can also opt for fun colors such as aqua blue, pink, maroon, orange, white, and purple. Plus, it has that classic three stripe design running down the side of the leg.
The materials used for this design is 100 percent plain weave polyester which is going to give it an incredibly lightweight feel that may make you forgot that you are even wearing anything at all. There is a wide variety of sizes to select from, and about 3 out of every 4 users felt that this design fit them exactly as they expected.
For those that want something that is going to fit a little more loosely to give you a full range of motion so that you can hit some high speeds, this option from Adidas is going to be one of your better options.
If you are want something that has a loose style so that you every lump isn’t on display for the whole world, but you also love the feel of a tight fitting design, this option from ARSUXEO is the best of both worlds. It has a tight-fitting spandex layer on the bottom that is topped off by a looser mesh fabric that will also help to keep you cool.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it comes in some unique color options. User can opt for a neon yellow base with a gray mesh overlay, or a black, gray, or royal blue overlay with a black base. It is important to note that this design is made to fit higher on your thighs. If you are a little shy about showing off your killer thighs, you may want to skip this option.
The materials used for this option are composed of a blend of 92 percent polyester and 8 percent spandex. This means that you are going to get the full range of motion that you need, and the polyester is going to feel light and comfortable on your legs while also helping to wick away moisture to prevent chafing.
If you are looking for something that has a tight fit that holds everything together but doesn’t actually look like it fits tightly, this design from ARSUXEO is going to be your ticket at performing at your very best.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
To ensure that it is going to be something that will let your legs breathe, it was important to consider the material that was used.
Different types of fabrics are going to respond differently when exposed to different types of stress. While you want to select something that is actually going to feel comfortable to wear, you want to select a material that will be able to react positively to the stress that it is under. We have broken down the top materials that we looked for in these products and the reason that we selected them.
Polyester: When it comes to any type of workout gear, polyester is one of the best materials that you can use. Polyester is going to give you a soft and lightweight feel, and it is also going to wick away moisture. While porous fabrics such as cotton work to absorb sweat, polyester cannot absorb anything in its fibers, and will actually wick moisture away. This is ideal when it comes to gear you wear on your legs because it’s going to help reduce the risk of chafing. The downside to polyester, however, is that it isn’t going to be very flexible or stretchy, which is why we liked options that used a blend of materials.
Spandex: This is the material to look out for if you want something that is going to hug your curves, but also give you a good deal of movement and flexibility. It isn’t going to be as breathable as polyester, so we made sure that the percentage included in the blend was somewhere between 5-10 percent. This is going to give you just enough flexibility to achieve a full range of motion, but low enough that it isn’t going to feel like a sausage casing!
The key to finding the right gear that you are going to want to wear to enhance your workouts is whether or not it is comfortable.
We wanted to select gear that could not only keep you high and dry, but that was also going to be something that felt great as well. There were a few key things that we considered when searching for products that were going to feel as comfortable as possible.
Sizing: Ensuring that you get the proper size is one of the biggest things to consider. We liked companies that offered detailed sizing charts so you can get a general idea of what size you are going to need. With this type of gear, you can’t always go with the size that you normally would wear because we found that sizing from company to company varied quite a bit. One trend that we did note, however, is that often they would run just a little bit on the small size. If you want to ensure that you get something that fits you right, always consult a sizing chart and when in doubt- go one size up.
Materials: Blended materials are going to be your best friend in this instance. Sure, cotton is going to comfortable when you start but it isn’t going to be all that comfortable on mile 2 when things start to get a little sweaty. A good blend of polyester with spandex is going to give you a great range of motion while also keeping things high and dry.
Certain cuts of material are going to be better for different body types and athletes, so we wanted to select a wide variety of cuts and fits to find the perfect option for you.
Runners come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you are tight and lean or rocking a few extra curves, the key is to find a cut that works best for you.
Lower thigh: This type of cut is going to come down to your mid-thigh, and can sometimes end right above the knee. If you find that your thighs rub together with each stride, this can be a recipe for chafing. Opting for something that is cut a bit lower is going to help mitigate that problem so that you are just as comfortable on mile 3 as you were during your warm up. Some users do not like a lower cut thigh because they feel that it limits their range of motion a bit, and it can feel tight and constructing
High cut thigh: A high cut thigh typically has an inseam of about 3 inches. This means that there is going to be zero fabric between you and your legs whatsoever. If you long to run unencumbered with no pants on, a high thigh is as close as you are going to get without getting arrested for public indecency! The downside to a higher thigh is that if your thighs tend to rub together, you may experience some chafing. This all depends on your body type, so be sure to consider how you are built before making a final decision.
Smart features built right into the material can be a real game changer.
When looking for designs for our list, there we were always drawn to smart designs that gave users just a few extra features that you wouldn’t find in other basic brands. We have compiled a list of some of our favorite extra features that can really help you get the most out of your workout, as well as designs that will keep you safer on the road as well.
Reflective fabric: Sometimes you can’t break away from your desk to clear your mind with a good jog until long after the sun goes down. On those cases, you need to make sure that you equip yourself with gear that will allow you to be seen by other drivers. The unfortunate truth is that many joggers opt not to go the extra mile to purchase safety vests or lights that serve no other purpose but to keep you seen, so we absolutely loved when companies would include a few strips of reflective fabric right into their gear. This means that the clothes that you are wearing are going to help keep you safe as a passive feature that most don’t even realize is even there.
Pockets: We love pockets! Sure, when you are on the trails you typically don’t need all that much, but they can sure be handy when you need them. Most users typically store their car keys, cell phone, or even a small bottle of water in their pockets. When it comes to the super tight designs that you often see on women’s designs, pockets are typically left off completely. That’s why we wanted to ensure that there was at least one pocket big enough for a cell phone or house key.
Mesh vents: If you are running on a hot day, spandex and polyester aren’t going to be the most breathable materials on the planet. While they are ideal for enhancing performance, they can often get a little hot. That’s why we loved it when companies would add a mesh vent along the sides to let hot air escape to prevent overheating.
Sure, you want something that can enhance your performance, but you are also going to want to select something that looks good.
No matter what your personal style, we make sure to select styles that you were going to love.
For those minimalists out there, there was no shortage of the basic black design. Black is going to go with just about anything so you can pop on your most colorful sneakers and socks without worrying about your clothes clashing. Black is also ideal because it isn’t going to show dirt or sweat as much as lighter colors, and you certainly won’t have to worry about them being transparent enough that the weird quiet guy at the gym will be able to see your underwear.
If you like to be a little bit more colorful (which is also a great choice if you are working out at night and want to be seen) we made sure to include a lot of colorful and trendy color choices that will make you happy while pounding the pavement. There are a few things to keep in mind if you are opting for something that is light and bright, however. The first thing to keep in mind is that lighter colors may be see-through so you might want to skip the dark, patterned underwear. Plus, they are going to show sweat and stains a lot more than their darker counterparts.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Did you know that spandex was actually invented for the sole purpose for workout gear! It was invented back in 1959 by a pair of DuPont chemists to create tighter fitting clothing that would move with you as you were being active.
The very basic science behind chafing is that it occurs when there is any type of friction on your skin. The solution to chafing? Spandex.
When Usain Bolt beat the world record to become the planet's fastest man, he was wearing a pair of tight-fitting shorts with about a 3-inch inseam.
Other Factors to Consider
Every athlete has a set of very specific needs that vary from person to person. Selecting the right design for your needs isn't just going to boil down to performance, but it is also going to have to do with your body type.
Those that are lean and small often gravitate towards more minimalistic designs that have about a 3-inch inseam and very little spandex. If you have a little more meat on those bones, you will want to select a design that is going to have a longer inseam to reduce friction on your thighs.
One of the most important pieces of advice that we can give you is to make sure that you select the right size! Proper sizing is going to be the key to reduce chafing, as well as preventing them from riding up with every stride.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Do I need to wear underwear?
If you ask any seasoned veteran if they wear underwear when they run- they are probably going to look at you funny. Then, they are going to tell you that they normally skip the underwear. The key to a successful run is a positive attitude and minimal chafing. To prevent chafing, you need to limit the points where materials interact with your skin. This means that if you opt for your tried and true cotton underpants, not only are you going to be hot and sweaty down under, but you are also increasing the risk of chafing.
The good news here is that most of these designs come with a built-in liner so that there is more than just a modest layer of polyester/spandex between your nether bits and the rest of the world. These liners are designed to work just like underwear but because they are built into the materials they will stay firmly in place with each stride.
We know that skipping out on underwear isn’t for everyone. There are designs out there that skip the liner so that you can opt for whatever makes you the most comfortable. We suggest, however, to limit excess sweating that you skip the cotton underpants and opt for something that is a little less porous.
q: Can I wear them for other types of workouts?
Of course! While you might need some very specific pants for some workouts- like cycling or climbing- these options are going to work for just about anywhere where you want to have a full range of motions as well as keep cool and dry.
We feel these designs are going to work really well for basically any workout at the gym, whether it be running on the treadmill, elliptical, stair climber, or row machine. Plus, they can also be a great addition to lifting weights. When you are engaging in a lift such as a squat or deadlift, ensuring that you have a full range of motion is going to be a big part of maintaining proper form to prevent injury.
q: What styles are going to work best to prevent chafing?
Chafing isn’t something that is going to cause your training to come to a crashing halt like a twisted ankle- but it can sure be annoying. Just as you would opt for socks and shoes to prevent blisters, you want to opt for bottoms that are going to prevent chafing.
So, what styles are going to put to bed that annoying issue? The first line of defense lies in the length. If you get a lot of chafing in between your thighs, you will want to select a design that has a longer thigh. By electing for this design, you are essentially placing a slick piece of fabric between your thighs that will reduce potentially sweaty friction. The key to stopping chafing is by eliminating all sources of friction.
Another way to stop chaffing is to ditch the underwear. We talked about it before, but it is worth mentioning again. If you absolutely refuse to go commando, products such as lubricant or talcum powder are great tools that are going to help eliminate friction and absorb sweat.
q: How do I keep them from riding up?
We have all been there. You are in the middle of a really good training session, but you feel you have to stop every half mile to make some very key adjustments to your bottoms that keep rolling up. Why does this happen and what can you do to possibly avoid it? The answer to this question is quite simple- it has to do with sizing.
To avoid the dreaded ride-up, you have to make sure that you select the right size. Many runners feel that this ride up is due to some extra body fat on their thighs and that the only way to eliminate ride up is to lose that weight- but they are so wrong. The dreaded ride-up simply means that you selected a size that is too small. The perfect fit isn’t going to make you feel like you are inside of a sausage casing. To ensure that you have the proper fit, they should feel a little tight without cutting off circulation. Even if they are just a little bit on the loose side, you are going to be in better shape on those longer runs than if they are too tight.
q: What do the inseam measurements mean?
You may have noticed that means of these designs offer a few different sizes of inseams that measure to be 3, 5, and 7 inches. These classifications simple measure the distance from the crotch to the very tip of the thigh. If you are looking for something the rides up high on your thigh, 3 inches is going to be the way to go. For those that want a good deal of fabric between their legs to prevent chafing, your best bet is to select a design that has a 5 or 7-inch inseam.
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