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The Best Running Shorts

last updated Aug 14, 2019

Running is a natural activity that does wonders for your body and spirit. It is an activity that can make physical and psychological changes throughout your body if practiced regularly. In order to run regularly, you need substantial motivation, and nothing should stand in your way. The most important aspect of running that will ensure you are comfortable and continue to run without any obstacles, is your clothing. Start with a great pair of running shorts. Finding the right pair of running shorts can be challenging as there are so many options on the market, so we have done some research and found the top ten running shorts available to you today.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 10 hrs of research

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Compression Z Shorts
98/100 our score
Materials
98
Fit
97
Features
99
Size
98
Compression Z Shorts
Why is it better?

High compression qualities

Durable

Prevent chafing

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Compression Z Shorts
Test Winner: Compression Z Shorts
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Researched Sources
12
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
13k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
10
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
18
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Sami Kritz
By Sami Kritz:

Hit the ground running with one of these top-rated pairs of running shorts. In this update, we have organized the criteria sections, other factors to consider, and each product review. We have also added the sizes of each short in the descriptions as well. With our new interactive format, you can vote on which criterion is most important to you and then re-order the list accordingly!

Sorting Options
Materials Fit Features Size By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98
Materials
98 %
Fit
97 %
Features
99 %
Size
98 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Amazon Link
$19.84
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.3
Materials
96 %
Fit
97 %
Features
96 %
Size
96 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Amazon Link
$21.00
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
Materials
95 %
Fit
96 %
Features
95 %
Size
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.3
Materials
93 %
Fit
94 %
Size
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Amazon Link
$12.98
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Materials
92 %
Fit
91 %
Size
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Amazon Link
$48.00
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.3
Materials
90 %
Fit
91 %
Features
90 %
Size
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Amazon Link
$15.98
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Materials
89 %
Fit
88 %
Features
88 %
Size
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Amazon Link
$13.99
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.8
Materials
84 %
Fit
85 %
Features
85 %
Size
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Amazon Link
$12.62
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.7
Fit
82 %
Features
83 %
Size
83 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Amazon Link
$16.99
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79
Materials
78 %
Fit
79 %
Features
79 %
Size
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Amazon Link
$12.56

Top 10 Picks

1. Compression Z Shorts

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98
Men’s Compression Shorts
Amazon Link
Materials
98
Fit
97
Features
99
Size
98
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$19.84
Pros:

High compression qualities

Durable

Prevent chafing

Cons:

Not as pleasant on the skin

If you want excellent compression out of your shorts and tons of comfort, then consider the Compression Z Shorts. However, good compression materials usually provide you with a feeling of itchiness because they are usually made with a nylon component, such as these. Nevertheless, this specific pair of shorts is using a small percentage of anti-itching material that will significantly lower the feeling.

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Materials
These Compression Z shorts for running are made from a synthetic combination of spandex and nylon materials. As mentioned before, spandex is a highly stretchy material which is why the compression they are providing is incomparable.

Fit
These running 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.

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 running shorts. If you are planning on making a purchase, you might need to take a larger size because they are a bit smaller comparing to other competitive compression models.

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.

Size
These running shorts are available in size Small up to 2XL.

2. Mission Women’s VaporActive

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.3
Mission Women's VaporActive Momentum Running Shorts
Amazon Link
Materials
96
Fit
97
Features
96
Size
96
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$21.00
Pros:

Vapor Active technology

Unique material blend

Cons:

Not suitable for cold weather

These Mission running shorts for women are using the Vapor Active technology which is responsible for keeping your legs cooler for a longer time as well as keeping you nice and dry. These shorts do this by attracting the moisture into the deeper layers of the material and efficiently removing the sweat.

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Materials
The fabric content is a combination of Cocona, polyester, and spandex. The Cocona fabric is used for the production of one of the most demanding markets on the planet. It is used for the production of sports apparel and helps in creating microclimate conditions that maintain your ideal temperature of the body. Because of this, it is used in the manufacturing process of professional sports apparel.

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 running shorts will feel great each time you hit the trails.

You get decent compression with these running 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.

Features
The biggest advantage of this pair of running 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.

Size
These running shorts are available in size XS to Large.

3. Under Armour Launch Run

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
Under Armour Men's Launch 7'' Solid Shorts
Amazon Link
Materials
95
Fit
96
Features
95
Size
95
best offer for today
more shops
Pros:

Moisture-wicking properties

Comfortable

With many pockets

Cons:

Intended to wear without underwear

These Under Armour running shorts are the safe choice for runners who prefer to stick to the already familiar features and brands. Under Armour is a company which produces sports apparel for decades and these running shorts are among the top of their choices.

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Materials
These running shorts are made entirely out of polyester material which feels very pleasant to the skin and is very lightweight. This is why they are recommended to be used in higher weather temperatures since they are mostly focusing on keeping you cool. The fabric is also very breathable and it feels quite different from the tight shorts materials on the market. Because of their breathability properties, there is no possibility of moisture inside which is the main reason for chafing.

Fit
Because of increased comfort, the waistband is elastic, but also not too tight. Even though some runners prefer to wear underwear below the running 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.

These running 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. 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.

Features
For those of you who need additional features in their running apparel, these running 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.

Size
These running shorts are available in size Small to XXL.

4. Tesla Women’s Shorts

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.3
TSLA Workout Running 4 Way Stretch Athletic Non See-Through Yoga Shorts with Pockets
Amazon Link
Materials
93
Fit
94
Size
93
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$12.98
Pros:

Stretchy

Excellent moisture wicking properties

Freedom of movement

Cons:

Limited color choices

These Tesla running shorts for women are offering a 100% full refund if you are not satisfied with the product. The price is another benefit they have. There are many running shorts with the same features out there that are a lot more expensive, so if you like the model and they fit your budget, don’t hesitate to purchase them. They are durable and lightweight. The Tesla running shorts can also be used for other activities other than running, such as yoga or biking which proves to their comfort and unrestricted movement.

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Materials
The material is a combination of polyester and spandex which means that it allows you the freedom of movement in every direction, but it also feels great on the skin. The polyester material inside has great moisture management by using moisture-wicking technology. It absorbs the sweat from your body and keeps your lower body dry and cool.

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.

These running 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 see-through. However, the Tesla women’s shorts are thick enough, as well as colored enough so that nothing can be seen.

Features
As additional features, there is a secure pocket that 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.

Size
These running shorts are available in size XS to XXL.

5. Saucony Throttle

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Saucony Men's Throttle Shorts
Amazon Link
Materials
92
Fit
91
Size
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$48.00
Pros:

Highly comfortable

Mesh liner is supportive and helps to keep you dry

Durable

Cons:

Compression liner may not offer enough support

Saucony has been providing runners shorts for years, and this company has seemed to stand the test of time in terms of quality. The Saucony Throttle Shorts are no different. They are built for comfort and ventilation.

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Materials
The Throttle short is made from 100% polyester.

Fit
These are a slim fit with a 5" inseam. The inner liner provides some compression for runners.

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.

Size
These running shorts are available in size Small to XXL.

6. Tesla Men's Compression

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.3
TSLA Men's Compression Shorts Baselayer Cool Dry Sports Tights
Amazon Link
Materials
90
Fit
91
Features
90
Size
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$15.98
Pros:

Quick dry 

Suited for all seasons

Compressive

Cons:

Some say these shorts are thin

Designed for all seasons, the Tesla Men's Compression shorts will keep you dry, cool, or release heat when needed. Not to mention, these running shorts are high compression for runners that need full support. These can be used on their own, or many, opt to use them as a base layer of support beneath other shorts.

Read more

Materials
Made up of 87% polyester and 13% spandex.

Fit
It is recommended to order one size up. These running shorts are some of the most compression high shorts that you can find.

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.

Size
These running shorts are available in size XS to XXL.

7. Baleaf Men's Quick-Dry

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Baleaf Men's Quick-Dry Lightweight Pace Running Shorts
Amazon Link
Materials
89
Fit
88
Features
88
Size
87
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$13.99
Pros:

Highly affordable

Comfortable fit

Air ventilation on sides with increased range of motion

Cons:

Not as compressive as other shorts

The Baleaf Quick-Dry Lightweight Pace shorts are all that they say. Firstly, they are affordable, comfortable, and give support while keeping a runner dry.

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Materials
These running shorts are made from 95% polyester and 5% spandex.

Fit
A comfortable fit that seems to be true to size.

Features
Lightweight stretchy fabric that keeps you dry and comfortable. The built-in liner offers some support. There is an interior pocket included for storage. The sides offer a split-leg design to increase the range of motion and ventilation. An elastic waistband and reflective logo.

Size
These running shorts are available in size Small to XXXL.

8. Champion Men's Long Mesh

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.8
Champion Men's Long Mesh Short with Pockets
Amazon Link
Materials
84
Fit
85
Features
85
Size
85
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$12.62
Pros:

Comes in a variety of colors

Great breathability

Comfortable

Cons:

Sizes may be bigger than normal

Champion makes some great products and their running shorts are no exception. These running shorts have great breathability as they are mesh and come in a variety of color options to keep you comfortable but also stylish. Defiantly a pair of running shorts to check out.

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Materials
The main body is 100% polyester and since it is mesh allows for complete breathability. This running short also comes with two side pockets for storage.

Fit
These running shorts have an adjustable waistband that provides max comfort.

Features
Transfer Dry fabric that keeps you dry and cool. A floating liner made partly of mineral trade to offer odor absorption, moisture transfer, and faster dry time.

Size
These running shorts are available in size Small to 4XL.

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.7
Naviskin Men's 5
Amazon Link
Fit
82
Features
83
Size
83
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$16.99
Pros:

Wicks away sweat

Great breathability

Back zippered pocket

Cons:

Could come in more colors

These running shorts from Naviskin are a popular pair of running shorts for their ability to quickly dry and wick away sweat to keep you comfortable for your next run. These running shorts are also a great price and worth picking up a couple of pairs.

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Materials
The combination of 95% polyester and 5% spandex makes these running shorts highly breathable and will allow for your sweat to wick away, which ensures you are comfortable the whole run.

Fit
Running professionals will know to appreciate the Elastic Interface technology this pair of shorts is using. These running shorts are ultra-comfortable and allow the user freedom of movement without any restrictions or unpleasant feelings. They are also ultra-lightweight.

Features
The features that really stand these running shorts out is the breathability and also the zippered pocket on the back. The zippered pocket allows for you to keep your phone or other things you would like to bring with you on your next run but know they are safe as they are secure. They also have a visibility strip on them if running at night.

Size
These running shorts are available in size Small to XXL.

10. Champion Men's Core

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79
Champion Men's Core Training Short
Amazon Link
Materials
78
Fit
79
Features
79
Size
80
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$12.56
Pros:

Great Price

Variety of colors

Quick dry

Cons:

Sizes run small

These running shorts from Champion are another great addition to this list. These running shorts are not only affordable but also are a great pair of running shorts packed with features to ensure you are comfortable on your next run. Defiantly a pair to check out and if considering them, pick up a couple of pairs for the price.

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Materials
These running shorts are made of polyester and provide a breathable running short to keep you dry and comfortable. This material also provides moisture control to ensure you are cool, dry and running comfortably.

Fit
These running shorts are 10" long and have an elastic drawstring to ensure they fit comfortably and do not interfere with your running.

Features
These shorts have all sorts of goods, such as side seam for breathability and venting. These running shorts also come in a variety of colors to keep you comfortable and stylish.

Size
These running shorts are available in size Small to 2XL.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Materials

Natural fiber running 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 that 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.

Fit

The size is not the only thing that influences how your running shorts will fit you. The type of 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 running 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 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.

Features

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 running shorts with pockets, you should consider the placement in that pocket. Although there are shorts with side pockets that are closed by zippers, they can cause discomfort if you put a heavy and hard object inside. The ones with a waist pocket on the other side are much more comfortable.

Size

Running shorts used to come only in the 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 running 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 running shorts alternative.

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expert tips icon
Liner or No Liner?

Running shorts usually come with a liner which is built into the shorts. This liner is there to provide ventilation and prevent sweating. If you wear underwear you are likely preventing these 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 as this fabric which absorbs a great quantity of moisture and this is likely to cause discomfort while running. The liners in running shorts are made from microfibers that remove the excess moisture from your body and keep 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.

Reflective

Whether you are a morning, afternoon, or nighttime runner, having a reflective strip on your shorts is useful. Obviously, at night or in the early morning, it will help oncoming cars to spot you. In the afternoon, it is useful for the same reasons, although you will already be visible it may just catch a drivers attention and stop them from making a dangerous swerve towards you. These reflective strips aren't always on the sides or obnoxiously noticeable. Sometimes they are as simple as the logo being outfitted in a reflective color.

Other Factors to Consider

Compression

This style of running shorts is very similar to 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 is 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 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 comfort. In order for your shorts to fit you should have 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 greater comfort.

Sources

  1. Ryan Sabin, 10 Best Running Shorts Reviewed And Tested, Informatiional Running Website
  2. Brittany Smith, The 10 Best Running Shorts, Informatiional Running Website
  3. Jason Chen, Best Men's Running Shorts, Informatiional Running Website