The Best Running Shorts
Running is a natural activity that does wonders for your body and spirit. It is an activity like no other that makes physical and psychological changes throughout your body if practiced regularly. Even though one run is not enough to see immediate change, it is a fantastic way to start and before you know it you will be a regular runner. However, in order to run regularly, you need substantial motivation, and nothing should stand in your way. And by nothing, we mean your gear should help the process, and your clothes should be comfortable and improve your running.
If you have decided on running to help you cope with the stress of everyday life, and maybe meet interesting people to share this activity with, you have come to the right place. Starting a new hobby, such as running can be challenging. Finding the proper gear can be even more challenging as there are so many options on the market, so luckily for you, we have done some research and found the top ten running shorts on the market. We have not only listed the top ten but also explained why they are the best of the best and also listed some criteria about what to keep in mind when looking for the best running shorts to fit your needs and running style.
- Compression Z Mens Boxer Shorts
- Durable and reliable
- Under Armour Launch
- Versatile design
- Mission VaporActive
- Great fit
10 Best Running Shorts
Compression Z Shorts
Fit: These shorts are designed to give the user increased circulation, and therefore, faster muscle warming and greater muscle efficiency. They are the perfect solution against swallowing legs and for runners who have long training sessions. This property allows you to have an efficient training that will be injury free. They are also suitable for warmer temperatures because they will keep you nice and cold. However, they are also suitable for cold weather because they will keep the cold out.
Features: They can be machine washed and they are keeping their original shape even after months of machine washing them, unlike some of the other competitive models. Needless to say, because of its good compression properties chafing is prevented, and so is skin irritation. They are not binding your movement even if you try doing some extreme stretching exercises while wearing them, which makes them very comfortable and convenient for more activities other than running.
Compression: As far as compression goes, if you are mainly focusing on this property, this is your most safe choice on the market. Because of their excellent compression, they are helping with the muscle pain and fatigue as well which makes them perfect for regaining your physical shape. Their biggest downside is that because of the synthetic blend and high percentage of nylon in their content, they are not highly breathable which might feel uncomfortable for runners who are not used to wearing compression shorts. If you are planning on making a purchase, you might need to take larger size because they are a bit smaller comparing to other competitive compression models.
High compression qualities
Not as pleasant on the skin
Under Armour Launch Run
Fit: Because of increased comfort, the waistband is elastic, but also not too tight. Even though some runners prefer to wear underwear bellow the shorts, the mesh liners are made specifically for running without one. It will increase their ventilating properties and you will feel more comfortable. Nevertheless, it is a matter of choice, so you could choose wearing one.
Features: For those of you who need additional features in their running apparel, these shorts have a waist key pocket placed on the inside which is very convenient for keeping your keys inside. There are also mesh hand pockets if you prefer keeping your stuff where you can easily reach them. The pockets are large enough even for your phone although this is not recommended because they are not zipper closed and you might damage it.
Compression: These shorts are made to offer you decent compression while staying very breathable. There is also an internal mesh liner that is wicking moisture from your skin and it is directing it towards the outside in order for it to be easier to evaporate. These Under Armour running shorts can be machine washed and they won’t change their shape with washing. The fabric is also durable and it will last you a long time.
- Moisture wicking properties
- With many pockets
- Small pockets
- Intended to wear without underwear
Mission Women’s VaporActive
Fit: Thanks to the Cocona fabrics in these shorts, now athletes can feel more comfortable while running and enhance their performance to the maximum. The fit is perfect, and will these shorts will feel great each time you hit the trails.
Features: The biggest advantage of this pair of shorts is the odor trapping technology which is made with the help of the active particles inside the fibers which are naturally there instead of chemically inserted. The positive characteristic here is that chemically induced odor resistant features tend to wash off over time and they last only for few washes. The active particles in the Mission running shorts, however, will last you as long as you use them. That said, it is important to differentiate the moisture wicking properties that most running shorts have from that this high evaporative cooling these running shorts possess. Wicking the moisture from your skin causes you to feel dry, although some of the material layers are not dry. If you are a running enthusiast you will hardly tell the difference, unless you are sweating excessively. The Vapor Active technology removes the sweat completely from your body and it is keeping you extra dry. This brand is the only one that uses this technology and they have patented it, so don’t look for it elsewhere.
Compression: You get decent compression with these shorts, and a nice ventilation system. They also have good ventilation which allows your skin to breathe. There is a mesh liner inside the running shorts with the same ultra-dry properties mentioned before that will always keep you cool and comfortable.
Vapor Active technology
Unique material blend
- Not suitable for cold weather
Tesla Men's Compression Shorts Base-layer Cool Dry Sports Tights
Fit: It is recommended to order one size up.
Features: Compression is strong in these shorts. Designed for all seasons and removes moisture quickly. No fly opening. Made from non-abrasive fabric that helps with elasticity and durability. Moisture sensing with Quick time Dry.
Compression: These shorts are some of the most compression high shorts that you can find.
- Quick dry
- Suited for all seasons
- No fly opening means you will be secure within shorts
- Some say these shorts are thin
- May be better suited for an underlayer
Tesla Women’s Shorts
Fit: They are elastic running shorts that are comfortable and quite stretchy. They also have an elastic waistband that is tight enough so that they don’t fall down every time you bend down, yet loose enough so that they don’t feel too tight. The waistband is also very stylish and well designed.
Features: As additional features, there is a secure pocket which is hidden on the inside of the waistband. It is large enough so that you can keep your keys, phone or credit cards. However, if your phone is a bit bigger, it might not fit inside. And for those runners that don’t like short shorts, these running shorts have the perfect length. They are long enough to prevent chafing and short enough so that you don’t feel too hot. The tightness and stretchy style also offers light compression which has many medical benefits and looks nicer when running.
Compression: These shorts offer a decent amount of compression along with their excellent fit. Because of the thickness of the material and the tight style, these models are usually a see through shorts. However, the Tesla women’s shorts are thick enough, as well as colored enough so that nothing can be seen.
- Excellent moisture wicking properties
- Freedom of movement
- Small pocket
- Limited color choices
Baleaf Men's Quick-Dry Lightweight Pace Running Shorts
Fit: A comfortable fit that seems to be true to size.
Features: Lightweight stretchy fabric that keeps you dry and comfortable. Built in liner offers some support. There is an interior pocket included for storage. The sides offer a split-leg design to increase range of motion and ventilation. An elastic waistband and reflective logo.
Compression: The inner lining offers some support.
- Highy affordable
- Comfortable fit
- Air ventilation on sides with increased range of motion
- Shorts dry quickly
- Not as compressive as other shorts
- Some find them to be a little too short
Fit: These are a slim fit with a 5" inseam.
Features: An ultra light running short, with a VENTLITE compression boxer brief that offers chafe free support. Along the sides, rests VENTLITE ventilation panels to offer more air flow. To keep you visible, there are reflective details in both the front and back. The waistband is elastic and includes an inner drawcord.
Compression: The inner liner provides some compression for runners.
- Highly comfortable
- Mesh liner is supportive and helps to keep you dry
- Ventilation at both sides to allow air flow
- Compression liner may not offer enough support
- Some experienced dye run
Pearl Izumi Split Shorts
Fit: These shorts are a relaxed fit with a 4" inseam.
Features: Transfer Dry fabric that keeps you dry and cool. A float liner made partly of mineral trade to offer odor absorption, moisture transfer, and faster dry time. Gel flask pocket for storage.
Compression: Inner liner offers compression.
- Extra movement with side splits
- Inside key pcket and zippered pocket in rear
- Transfer Dry Fabric keeps you dry
- Compressive inner liner
- Absorbs runner's odor
- Dries quickly
- Not all will like lower waiste
- Sizes vary a lot
Skins TRI Compression Shorts
Fit: Running professionals will know to appreciate the Elastic Interface technology this pair of shorts is using. These shorts are ultra-comfortable and allow the user freedom of movement without any restrictions or unpleasant feeling. They are also ultra-lightweight. They are long and tight enough, so that chafing is avoided. The Skins running shorts take this feature to the next level. The manufacturer has placed carbon-infused panels made from microfibers, between your thighs. This guarantees the effectiveness of the no chafing feature and it will improve the overall performance of the user.
Features: These shorts can be used for more activities besides running and because of their high nylon content, they are suitable for water sports as well. You can even use them for swimming. Even though you can use them for biking sometimes, if you intend on this being their only use, look for another choice. The padding on these shorts is very poor since they are mainly made for running, not cycling. Even though this is a more expensive product than other compression running shorts, they are indeed worth their price since they have a high quality and they use advanced technology in the production process.
Compression: The tightness in your thighs that the running shorts provide will increase the circulation in the lower body area and help reduce lactic acid. Lactic acid is a component that your body creates which causes your muscles to function with a decreased power. It is also responsible for the muscle pain you feel after an intense training. The compression feature in this pair of running shorts indeed means that they will make a difference in your muscles. Many running models on the market are confusing the compression feature with tight-fitting clothing which contains none of the benefits.
- Excellent compression
- Good moisture management
- A bit higher price
North Face Better Than Naked Shorts
Fit: The Men's Better Than Naked Shorts come in two lengths. They come in both a 5" and a 7" inseam. The 7" inseam are a traditional length, while the 5" are a bit shorter for those who prefer less fabric.
Features: These shorts have all sorts of goods, such as stitch-free seams where it counts, stretch knit panels that offer breath-ability, pockets for cellphones, a reflective logo, lightweight inseams, and an inner drawcord for adjustment.
Compression: While these shorts do not compress like some of the others on the list, they do offer a compressive liner that should do the trick.
- Mesh patches that offer air flow
- Very fast drying
- Strich free on point of pressure
- Lightweight 5" or 7" inseam
- Logo that is reflective
- Inner lining short that is compressive
- Not as compressive as other shorts
- Might be pricey, depending on budget
The Criteria We Used To Find The Best Running Shorts
Natural fibers running shorts
Natural fiber shorts feel quite comfortable on the skin, and they also hold up in the heat pretty well. This makes them suitable for colder weather conditions when you need your body heat to stay close to your body. Natural materials also deal well with odor. Unlike synthetic materials which can cause unwanted scents when they are wet, natural materials have no such issue. They also provide the user with a good stretch. However, when it comes to running, most people avoid natural materials such as cotton. If you find cotton appealing for running shorts, at least choose an option with a synthetic blend that will prevent the chafing.
Natural materials have some downsides when it comes to exercise. They don’t hold up water too well, and once they get wet, the possibility for them chafing increases. When they are wet, they are also more subject to damage. This means that it is possible that they can break down after a lot of use.
Most running shorts are made from synthetic materials. The fabrics which are most commonly used are polyester, spandex, and nylon. Most sports clothing is made from polyester material since it has great moisture management which is crucial for such items. It also gives the user the ability to stretch the material to a great extent, and because of its elastic properties, it is a great fit. Synthetic materials are also more durable, and they don’t change their properties if they become wet. They are suitable for frequent use, and you can wash them as often as you wish. However, synthetic materials tend to have a rubbery smell the first few times that they are worn. Often, they can smell worse than natural materials when they come into contact with sweat. The right synthetic combination will wick the moisture away from your body to the upper layers of the material where it can evaporate. You should also look for a breathable material combination. Nylon, for instance, has the worse breath-ability properties which is why it is recommended that you choose shorts with a low percentage of nylon in its composition.
One of the best moisture management properties is offered by the Micro Soft technology. This contains micro polyester fibers which are extremely lightweight and are three times more soft and finer than silk.
The size is not the only thing that influences how your running shorts will fit you. The type of the material also plays a great role. For this reason, spandex is used in a combination with polyester. While polyester offers great properties for the user, spandex is a stretchy material that makes sure your shorts form to your body. This combination also feels very pleasant to the skin, although nothing compares to this like cotton.
However, cotton shorts tend to stretch and shape-shift after much use. Also, if you don’t wash them with a proper temperature, they could shrink. This makes the fit quite a challenge, and if you want something more consistent, it’s best to go with a synthetic blend.
Even though pockets are not the first thing to look for in running shorts, there can be quite useful for some runners. Not everyone’s trail is close to their home. Some runners have to drive in order to get to their favorite running trails. For this reason, a pocket for the keys is an essential part of their training. Holding the keys in your hand could cause you discomfort and your hands might sweat more. If you have already decided to purchase shorts with pockets, you should consider the placement on that pocket. Although there are shorts with side pockets that are closed by zippers, they can cause a discomfort if you put a heavy and hard object inside. The ones with a waist pocket on the other side are much more comfortable.
This style of running shorts is very similar to the cycling shorts. The main difference between these shorts and the cycling ones is the padding which is lacking in the running shorts since there is no need for padding. Compression running shorts tightly follow the contour of your body shape and they come in different lengths. Since they are long to the middle of the thighs and they are very tight, some people choose to wear them under other, wider shorts. Women’s compression running shorts on the other side are a bit shorter than the men’s. They are called compression shorts because they are tight enough to compress, therefore support the muscles on your legs. This is also suitable because there is no possibility of chafing like in other running shorts styles. Some people assume that because of their tightness, they are uncomfortable. However, this is the main reason they feel so great when you are wearing them. The stretchy material is extremely flexible and it allows you the freedom of movement in every direction. If you don’t mind the fashion choice, try them on and you will never want to wear another pair again.
Other Important Factors To Consider
Types of Running Shorts
There are different styles of running shorts and they all have a different purpose. Of course, manufacturers have developed versions of it, but they are all based on these basic shorts styles.
V-notch running shorts
V-notch running shorts and split shorts are very similar to the common runner’s shorts. However, their design and manufacturing is very different one from another. Even though there are only some slight differences, it creates a big difference in the freedom of movement. The v-notch has an upside down “v” that is notched on the side of the outer leg. The v-notch is made by simply sewing the seam. In split shorts, however, the v-notch is made differently. There is a front and a back panel and both of them are overlapping. The v-notch is the result of the front panel overlapping the back one. V-notch runner shorts are usually less expensive than split shorts for this particular reason. However, if you are not a professional runner that minds every little detail of your running wardrobe, you won’t notice the difference between these two styles.
Split running shorts
Split shorts are the first choice for runners who prefer a shorter length of running shorts. However, some runners feel comfortable in more loose shorts such as these, but they mind the length. It is a type of a personal preference which style of running shorts you choose. The split shorts also allow the user maximum freedom of movement and if you spread your leg upfront you won’t feel tightness or restriction from the shorts. This makes them extremely comfortable. With them being looser than other types of shorts, they have a natural stride that falls down and the split parts are preventing it from chafing. Usually, these types of shorts contain liners. However, there are options without liners for those of you who prefer such shorts.
The choices in men’s shorts are designed for a man’s body shape. Men’s thighs are usually bigger than women’s which is included in their design. Also, the inseam is cut to be longer than in women’s running shorts in order to be more comfortable. The liner is, of course, a lot different. Men’s running shorts has a liner that is more supportive in the groin area in order to prevent chafing.
Women’s legs are usually shorter than men’s and their thighs are longer than men’s. For this reason, women’s shorts are made according to the women’s body. They are also wider in the hips and tighter in the waist from men. Of course, everybody is different and there are exceptions. Women’s running shorts’ liners also have a different design with less space in the groin area for greater comfort and prevention of chafing.
Even though the unisex shorts don’t offer the user as much comfort as the specific gender ones, they have their own advantages. They are less expensive and they are built more simply. If you prefer wearing shorts without liners, this would be your most convenient choice. The liner is the feature that offers specific gender support and without it, you might as well use unisex shorts. It won’t make a big difference.
Length of the running
Running shorts used to come only in a long form. However, they evolved in shorter and shorter designs because of the practicality this style offers. Nowadays, there are various shorts lengths starting from one inch up to 7 inches. Even though there are a few pointers that could help you choose the most suitable length of running shorts for you, this is a thing of preference. Some runners find shorter shorts more comfortable than others but they are too self-conscious when wearing them which is why they are deciding for the longer alternatives. Also, if your thighs are a bit bigger and they tend to rub together, it is recommended that you choose a longer pair of shorts in order to avoid the chafing. This should either solve your problem or at least minimize it. Another useful tip is the speed of your running and the length of your running training. If you are planning on going on a short but fast run, it is advised that you choose a shorter shorts alternative.
For the sake of making your search for the best running shorts just a bit easier, we’ve included a list of some of the most common questions our readers have asked about running shorts in general.
Q: What are compression running shorts?
A: Compression gear, in general, was originally created in response to swelling disorders such as lymphedema. The idea here for runners is that compression shorts put positive pressure on the legs, which some studies show can help with endurance and performance.
Q: Where are running shorts measured from?
A: Running shorts are typically measured by the inseam, which runs from the crotch area to the end of the leg. Occasionally, specialty items from certain brands will be measured differently, but these should generally always be clearly notated when this is the case.
Q: Why do running shorts have built-in underwear?
A: There are many runners who are not aware of this or refuse to act on this fact. Running shorts that have built-in underwear are to be used without underwear. The liner inside already provides the support that you need and by wearing an extra pair of underwear you are risking chafing. Furthermore, liners are created from a fabric that has great moisture management properties. This means that by wearing an unsuitable type of underwear you are simply not using these properties. Also, the underwear liner is built to prevent bacterial infections and keep you dry and comfortable.
Q: Why are many running shorts so short?
A: Running shorts are so short in order to prevent chafing. However, this wasn’t always the case. People used to wear longer running shorts, but over time, manufacturers have realized that in order to increase the comfort, they will have to shorten them up a bit. The shorter length also provides the runner a greater freedom of movement and it keeps him cooler by allowing maximum ventilation.
Q: How should running shorts fit?
A: Although there is no straight answer to this question, there are some pointers that will help you choose your best fit when it comes to running shorts. The best thing to look for is the comfort. In order for your shorts to fit you should have a freedom of movement and enough airflow so that you don’t feel restricted by them. In addition, there are certain areas you should pay attention to. The waist of your shorts should reach your narrowest part of your waist. And the hip area dimensions should match your widest part of your hips, measured horizontally. After measuring these two sizes, simply match them with the sizes of your favorite pair. If you are doubting between a tighter and a wider pair, it is better that you get the tight ones since they provide a greater comfort.
Q: Should you wear underwear under your running shorts?
A: Running shorts usually come with a liner which is built in the shorts. This liner is built in order to ventilate you and prevent sweating. If you wear underwear you are preventing its ventilating properties from working properly. However, there are some runners who prefer running with underwear. If you are part of this group, you could also choose to use shorts without a liner. If you are wearing underwear, make sure it is not made of cotton like most underwear is, because cotton is the one fabric which absorbs a great quantity of moisture and this could be an issue when running. The liners in running shorts are made from microfibers that have a purpose of removing the excess moisture from your body and keeping you dry and comfortable. That said, there are different types of liners you could choose from and they are usually used in different weather conditions. And for those runners who are worried that running shorts might not be supportive enough for men, don’t worry. The liner offers enough support if you are only planning on running. Meaning if you are not planning on combining the running with some other activity such as weight lifting for instance.
Although there are many things to be taken into consideration when choosing running shorts, your style is also one of them. First of all, you should feel pleasant in them and feel like they represent your character in order to make the purchase. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be completely satisfied with the product. When choosing your best running shorts it is important that you investigate the offer on the market as well as the styles that are available. However, it is crucial that you make an informed decision of what running shorts should offer.
Now that you have had an in-depth look at the best running short on the market and what makes a great pair of running shorts, you should now have a better idea of which style of running shorts will best fit your needs and running style. As always when dealing with clothing, you want to ensure that it fits comfortably, and the best way to do that before you purchase is to go in a store and try on the pair you are interested in to ensure you are getting the perfect pair. So get outdoors and run with ease while wearing your new pair of running shorts.