Smartwool – Women’s PhD Run Shorts

smartwool-phd-shorts1Woolly shorts. Well, I never. Smartwool’s blurb says: “Merino where it matters most… close to skin for optimal thermal regulation… seamless construction… peerless comfort”. I paraphrase, but you get the idea.

The facts: these are short shorts with an elasticated waist, a draw-string to make sure they don’t end up round your ankles (this can happen, people), a tiny pocket, and secret pants.

Yes, you read that right. There are secret pants.

But first, some vital statistics:

  • Outer short: 100% recycled polyester
  • Liner: 79% Merino wool, 18% nylon, 3% elastane
  • Seamless waistband with internal draw-string
  • Secure back zip pocket with semi-auto locking zipper pull (I don’t know what this means, even after close examination)
  • 360deg reflectivity (it has reflective motifs front, back and sides)
  • They are quite short


First things first: these shorts are a bit disconcerting. They take a bit of practise. Why? Well, because of the secret pants. You see, the outer shorts that are traditional shorts are made of material so light it’s like wearing spider webs. The secret pants are so soft and gentle, you barely notice them. The seamless elasticated waist is very, very comfortable. So the overall effect is that you feel like you’re running in a thong.

It’s alarming. I still find myself looking down for a flash of blue (my shorts are bright blue) or reaching down to make sure they’re still there.

smartwool-phd-shorts2That said, these shorts are excellent. All of those things I just said up there are also plus points. There’s a nice breeze in warm weather, but it’s not too draughty in cold weather (secret pants, see?).

The little pocket is probably a little too small to be truly useful. I carry my phone on an armband, so I don’t need to put it in the pocket; but if I did, that’s the only thing I could put in there. Otherwise, I can fit keys in there, a few coins, a couple of notes if necessary. Not much else though. Most of the time that’s fine. So the pocket gets a win. Having examined it closely, though, I still have no idea what the ‘semi-auto locking zipper pull’ is supposed to do.

Aesthetically, I have mixed feelings. The blue is nice, but a little bright. However, my opinion is probably influenced by the fact that my running shoes are bright, shocking pink. So when I go out running, I look like a clown. Small children point and stare.

Colour choices are: arctic blue, purple dahlia and black.

Here’s my biggest problem with these shorts, though. They make my bum look massive. Positively steatopygic. I think there’s a little too much material gathered under the waistband, so it puffs out. Normally, I’m fine with looking like a dog’s dinner when I’m out running, but at least I do so with a moderately sized rump.

I don’t dislike that element enough to not wear them though. Overall, these shorts rock. Top notch. They’re Smartwool, so they’re pricey – $75 – but in this case, I think they’re worth it.

If they were slightly cheaper and less butt-expanding, they’d be perfect.

4-hammers Price: $75US
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