Proper running shorts are a game changer. They offer support, coverage, and ventilation to name just a few of their benefits. And, when you consider their relatively low price, it’s worth taking the time to choose the right pair. 

Of course, that’s easier said than done—not only do you have to consider the technical specs, but you’ll need to take size and fit into account. To make things easier, we’ve broken down our top picks for every style of running and every type of runner.

Our title for the overall best pair of running shorts in 2021 goes to the PRAISE Abaddon Short – Unisex. The high-quality fabrics, versatility, and reasonable price make them a solid choice.

The Top Running Shorts Reviewed

Best Overall Running Shorts

The unisex PRAISE Abaddon Short is our top pick for best overall running shorts. The ultralight, minimalist design is silky and allows for a full range of motion. The Shorts feature a waistband drawstring, rear zipper pocket, and reflective front and rear prints.

Made of 100% nylon, the Abaddon are quick-dry and versatile for any style of running. Plus, who can say no to a pair of shorts inscribed with the words Straight to Hell?

Price: 0.00$

Pros

  • Ultralight
  • Quick-dry
  • Edgy

Cons

  • Very short
Product Type

Best Running Shorts for Men

The On Lightweight Shorts - Men exemplify minimalist design to optimize speed, breathability, and freedom of movement. Constructed from a 4-way stretch woven fabric that’s both tear-proof and fast-drying, the Lightweight Shorts are perfect for all styles of running—from the trail to the road.

Price: 0.00$

Pros

  • Stretchy
  • Breathable
  • Tear-resistant

Cons

  • Price
Product Type

Best Running Shorts for Women

With a take less, do more philosophy, the On Lightweight Shorts - Women’s are the perfect minimalist companion to any run. These shorts mark the sweet spot between performance and protection. Made from a 4-way stretch woven fabric, you can expect complete freedom of movement and excellent breathability. The Lightweight Shorts are fast-drying and tear-proof.

Price: 0.00$

Pros

  • Protection
  • Fast-drying
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Price
Product Type

Best Budget Running Shorts

Looking for an affordable pair of running shorts this summer? 

Guys, check out the Under Armour Launch Stretch Woven Short. They feature open hand pockets and a drawstring. 

Ladies, we recommend the Under Armour UA Play Up 3.0 Shorts. The relaxed fit is comfy and the anti-odour technology keeps microbes at bay.


Both models are lightweight and stretchy, comfortable and durable. And, best of all, they won’t break the bank—money you can put towards fancy running shoes.

Price: 0.00$

Pros

  • Price
  • Comfort
  • Quality

Cons

  • Short-short
Product Type

Best Compression Shorts

You may be wondering what all the hype is about when it comes to compression running shorts. Compression shorts increase circulation. Because blood carries oxygen, compression shorts effectively reduce muscle fatigue and improve muscle recovery by oxygenating to your muscles.

The men’s 2XU Aero 2-In-1 5-Inch Shorts feature a compression liner sewn into a 5” stretch woven short. A phone pocket is located on the internal compression liner, while an additional zip pocket is found on the side.

For women, the ASICS Fujitrail Sprinter Shorts compress the glutes, quads, and hamstrings to optimize circulation in the major muscle groups. Ventilation is increased with a back panel mesh.

Price: 0.00$

Pros

  • Increases circulation
  • Full coverage
  • Wicking technology

Cons

  • More restrictive
Product Type

Best Trail Running Shorts

When it comes to the best shorts for trail running, it’s no surprise that Patagonia raises the bar to new heights. The Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts (men’s / women’s) are made from a breathable blend of polyester and spandex. A DWR coating sheds water, while a moisture-wicking, HeiQ® Fres liner fights odours.

The men’s version has an 8” inseam, while the women’s model comes with a 6” inseam. Both feature a rear zip pocket, but the men’s includes two front zip pockets, as well.

Price: 0.00$

Pros

  • Trail-ready
  • Water-repellent
  • Pockets

Cons

Limited colourway

Product Type

Best for Larger Thighs

Between the relaxed fit, 4-way stretch fabric, and drawstring waist, the ASICS 7” Road Short for men and ASICS 5.5” Road Short for women are perfect for runners with mighty thighs. 

A reflective stripe and logo improve visibility in low-light conditions, while a discreet front zip pocket boasts enough space for your essentials.

Price: 0.00$

Pros

  • Roomy
  • Stretchy
  • Coverage

Cons

  • No pockets
Product Type

Best for Skinnier Legs

For runners with lean legs, a slimmer short offers better aerodynamic properties. The Ryu Vector Short for men and the Ryu Starter Short for women both fit slim without being restrictive. Both are made of a 4-way stretch fabric with side slits to optimize movement and ventilation.

Inside, a carbon enhanced antimicrobial gusset liner provides extra support. The Vector shorts feature a discrete rear zip pocket, while the Starter shorts have two sleek front zip pockets.

Price: 0.00$

Pros

  • Slim fit
  • Antimicrobial liner
  • Sleek pocket(s)

Cons

  • Not for big thighs
Product Type

Best Running Short for Carrying a Phone

Though we love to run as light as possible, we can’t help but bring our phones along. And with good reason—our music, running apps, and even credit cards are digitally stored in that ubiquitous device.

Even so, the right running shorts can make our phones as inconspicuous as possible. For women, the very hip Patagonia Strider Shorts are a lightweight option featuring a discreet, center-rear pocket large enough for a phone.

For men, the minimalist ASICS Road 2N1 5 Inch Short boasts a sizable rear phone pocket.

Price: 0.00$

Pros

  • Phone pocket
  • Lightweight
  • Minimalist

Cons

  • Short length
Product Type

Best Long Distance Running Shorts

Long-distance running requires all manner of features to keep you cool and comfortable. For men, nothing beats the Salomon XA Twinskin Short. These shorts include a seamless crotch and quick-dry material to prevent chafing. The Twinskin also keeps things securely in place.


Women should check out the Craft Pro Hypervent Split Short. Designed with scorching summer days in mind, these shorts have a wide waistband to prevent friction rashes, in addition to a split side seams for ventilation. The AdvancedSkin ActiveDry fabrics wick sweat and are soft to the touch.

Price: 0.00$

Pros

  • Anti-chafing
  • Breathable
  • Wicking

Cons

  • Not ideal in cold weather
Product Type

Other Favourites

Product Name

The Salomon S/Lab Sense 6 Inch shorts are a sleek and technical pair of men’s running shorts. If you’ve ever wondered what it’d feel like to wear a cool breeze around your waist, this is about as close as you can get. Make no mistake, these lightweight boys aren’t cheap. But, if you’re looking to add a touch of luxury to your runs, consider them a worthwhile investment.

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Product Name

Ladies looking for a short-length, relaxed-fit pair of running shorts will love the PRAISE Valencia Short. A 4-way stretch nylon shell is durable and quick-drying, while the 5” liner provides extra coverage and compression.

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Product Name

Another budget option for women is the Salomon Agile Short. These 4” shorts feature Salomon’s AdvancedSkin ActiveDry technology to keep you cool and dry. The shell features UPF 50+ sun protection.

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What to Look for When Buying Running Shorts

Size & Length

Regarding length, there are three common categories for running shorts. Yes, you guessed it—short, medium, and long. Each of these is classified by the length of their inseam (distance between the crotch and the bottom of the garment).

Liners

A liner is a fantastic compromise between restrictive undies and straight-up commando. These 2-in-1 running shorts eliminate the need to spend money on an additional pair of synthetic underwear. They’re designed to wick sweat, reduce chafing, and add necessary support and compression where it’s most needed.

Liners can be as long as briefs (sometimes extending beyond the short itself), or as discreet as tighty-whities.

Fabrics

The best running short fabrics are lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying. Synthetics like nylon and polyester are the most commonly used materials. These are often combined with spandex to increase range of motion. 

Natural fibers like bamboo and merino wool are also great alternatives. Though more expensive, they’re exquisitely soft against your skin and contain antibacterial properties. Oh, and on the topic of natural fibers, steer clear of cotton!

Pockets

When it comes to pockets, running shorts vary widely. Some shorts are decked out with storage, while others ditch pockets altogether in favour of a lightweight and streamlined design.

Before deciding whether you need pockets, consider what you bring on a normal run. Keys? Wallet? Phone? If you carry many things, storage is a must. If you only occasionally carry items, a fanny pack offers more flexibility.

If you’re still unsure, get something with a single zipper pocket. This provides a minimum of space without affecting weight or comfort, while the zip closure adds peace of mind.

running Shots

FAQs for running shorts

Do running shorts make a difference?

Running shorts offer many advantages over gym shorts or other types of bottoms. For one, they’re usually made of lightweight fabrics. Secondly, good running shorts wick sweat to keep you cool and dry.

Is it better to run in shorts or leggings?

It depends on both personal preference and the climate. Shorts weigh less, offer better airflow, and permit a broader range of motion

 

On the other hand, leggings are better insulators when running in cold weather and offer protection against some of the elements (think tall grass and ticks!). Another advantage is their compression property. Compression increases circulation to better oxygenate your muscles; this has been proven to reduce muscle fatigue and hasten recovery.

An alternative to both shorts and leggings are running capris, a ¾-length compression garment.

What to wear under running shorts?

Synthetic underwear can be worn by both men and women beneath running shorts. Stress on the word synthetic; you definitely do not want to run in cotton underwear. Cotton loves to store water, dissipate heat, and encourage chafing. No thanks.

Alternatively, 2-in-1 running shorts offer a built-in liner to replace the need for underwear entirely. The advantage is that it’s a single system; however, you’ll need to wash them more often than when using a two-piece system.

Final Thoughts

There you have it—the lowdown on this year’s best running shorts. Now you can spend less time scrolling and more time actually running—you’re welcome.

If you’re still unsure, you can’t go wrong with our overall fave: the PRAISE Abaddon Short – Unisex. Not only are they lightweight and stylish, but they offer versatility across a wide range of running styles.

Next, find a running hat to match or take your running game to the next level with a smartwatch!