You want to be able to run without the feeling that your shorts are trying to get away from you. To avoid chafing, droopy bottoms, epic wedgies, and other common problems while running, you need to find the best running shorts on the market.
With a great pair of shorts, you can concentrate on your run instead of having to pull your bottoms up or down every few steps.
What Should I Look For In a Great Pair of Running Shorts?
(Looking for a great pair of American made running shorts? Check out our friends at Soark.)
When you’re looking for a superior pair of running shorts, you need to consider many factors before making a purchase. Here are some of the things you’ll want to look at.
Quick Look: Our Top Picks
Although you can wear any type of shorts while you’re running as long as they work for you, there are three primary types most runners tend to stick with. They are compression, split shorts and v-notch.
Compression shorts are tight and form fitting, similar in style to the ones bicyclists wear. These shorts are champs at preventing chafing, so if you’ve been struggling with that issue, you might want to give this type a try.
Compression shorts come in varying degrees of length, from Daisy Dukes all the way to near knee length for those who prefer extra coverage.
V-notch shorts have an inverted v-shape on the seams of the outer leg part of the shorts.
You’ll see v-notch shorts at every non-winter race you’ll ever do. They are immensely popular.
Split shorts are really similar to v-notch shorts, but they are extremely short. So unless you’re really confident with your body and don’t mind showing a lot of legs, you’ll want to avoid this type.
The reason some runners like split shorts is because they let you have a great range of motion without any resistance. They won’t slow your motion at all.
Above all else, your shorts should feel comfortable when you put them on. If they don’t, you won’t enjoy wearing them, let alone running in them day after day.
The fabric should feel good on your body and there shouldn’t be any shifting that will cause you to have to adjust your shorts every few minutes. Running is exhausting enough without having to fight your shorts.
You should also find shorts that don’t have thick seams or irritating tags because they can rub against your body and cause chafing or itchiness.
Any shorts you select should have great sweat-wicking abilities. You’re going to get awfully sweaty on your summertime runs so you need shorts that draw that moisture away from you.
Here is why sweat-wicking technical clothing is so important to runners: It reduces your risk of chafing. Chafing can happen when wet fabric rubs against you as you run.
But if your clothes remain dry instead of soggy, you’ll lower your chances of chafing.
Plus, that heavy feeling of having thick, wet clothes clinging to your body is enough to make runners want to call it quits early in a run.
Finding shorts with the right amount of stretchiness in the waistband is crucial because you don’t want them to be so tight that you can’t breathe. You’re definitely going to have to be able to draw a deep breath without busting seams when you’re running.
But, on the flip side, you can’t have your shorts be too loose. That doesn’t make for a comfortable run either.
You’ll want to find a happy medium -- shorts that stay up even with all your bouncing but don’t feel restrictive. You want to be able to easily stride your way to the finish line.
It’s great to have pockets on running shorts because if you’re doing a long run like a marathon, you need a place to stick some fuel packets. Or if you’re running in the rain, you’ll want a place to put your folded-up rain jacket if the downpour stops.
Good running shorts must have breathability, and that’s especially important when you’re running in extreme heat or if you opt for a longer pair of shorts. You’ll want air to circulate as much as possible to cool you down.
Every little bit of reflectivity on your running clothes could be a potential lifesaver when you’re running in low-light situations. Many running shorts have reflective material on them, which is a good idea when you’re out pounding the pavement in the evening or early morning hours.
Don’t feel like you have to wear a certain style of shorts just because most runners do. If short shorts make you cringe, find a style or length that you’re more comfortable with. The best kind of run is one where you can let your mind wander -- and you can’t do that if you feel self-conscious.
You don’t have to buy into an ideal of what a true runner should look like. If you’re out there logging the miles, then guess what? You’re already a real runner!
When you look at the appearance of your shorts, you may want to be sure they aren’t see-through if you bend over to tie your shoelaces. That will help you avoid any uncomfortable incidents when you’re out running.
The Best 5 Running Shorts
1. Mava Men’s Compression Short Leggings
- The shorts aren’t see-through at all in case you’re worried about revealing too much during a run.
- The length is good for men who are looking for full coverage during their runs.
- The shorts are breathable in summer but will help you hold onto heat during the winter.
- They’ll wick away sweat and quickly dry so you don’t feel like your clothes have gained 5 pounds in moisture before your run has ended.
- They’ll give you some shelter from the sun because they offer UVA and UVB protection.
- They offer some safety in low-light runs because they have reflective lines and logo.
- These shorts come with a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you aren’t satisfied with them.
- These can be worn as outer shorts or underneath other shorts because of their form-fitting nature.
- The waistband won’t slip while you’re running.
- These shorts don’t have any pockets if you’re looking for some storage space while you’re running.
- If you run on a treadmill at a gym, your gym might have a dress policy against such form-fitting compression shorts being worn by themselves.
2. MJ Soffe Men’s Running Shorts
These shorts are made from 100 percent nylon tricot. The inseam is 2.25 inches so these aren’t a long pair of shorts.
- These shorts have a covered elastic waistband, which makes them comfortable to wear.
- It has an inside key pocket, so you can lock-up your car or house without having to carry a belt to hold your key.
- There are almost 20 different colors to choose from, ranging from black to bright colors that will make sure you’re seen by motorists.
- These shorts have a liner that fits closely but not tightly.
- These shorts are so affordable you may be able to order several pairs.
- They are durable and will hold up well in the wash.
- The material is soft and feels comfortable against the skin.
- The air will circulate well in these shorts.
- Since they have a liner, underwear is optional, in case you like running commando-style.
- Some male runners might be uncomfortable with how short these shorts are -- the length is aimed at serious runners who are more concerned with performance than fashion.
- There’s no drawstring on these shorts so you have to make sure you order the correct size.
These shorts are made out of 100 percent polyester and they come with a 3.5-inch inseam.
- These shorts won’t wrinkle, so you never have to worry about that.
- They are lightweight enough that you won’t be able to tell they’re on.
- They dry quickly after they get wet.
- These shorts have a key pocket, which is nice when you’re on the go.
- You’ll get your choice of 10 colors so you’ll always have a pair of shorts that can match your shirts.
- They have a drawstring so you’ll be able to cinch them as tightly as you want to make sure they don’t go anywhere while you’re running.
- These shorts are a happy medium in length -- they are perfect for women who hate short shorts but don’t want shorts that end right above their knee either.
- They have an inner liner.
- These won’t ride up while you’re running.
- They only go to size extra large, so bigger runners will have to look elsewhere for shorts.
- Some of the lighter colors are a bit transparent, so you may want to stick with darker colors if you’re uncomfortable with that.
- These have a small reflective logo that adds a little visibility to the shorts.
- They have a back pocket that will fit a small cell phone so you’ll be able to call in case of any emergencies during your runs.
- Although the legs on these shorts go to mid-thigh, they are breathable so you’ll still feel air circulate.
- They are sweat-wicking so you’ll stay dry and comfortable.
- They have a wide elastic waistband that stays put when you run.
- These shorts are very affordable.
- They have flat seams to cut down on any chafing that puffier seams would cause.
- These only go up to size extra large.
- There are only four color choices. Besides white, there aren’t any colors that will make you highly visible on your run.
- If you bend over, these will be see-through.
These shorts are made of 100 percent polyester, and if you like running with longer shorts, you might like these because they are just about knee length.
- The fabric is soft and lightweight, ensuring a comfortable run.
- Because it uses waffle fabric with two-way air circulation, the shorts get great breathability.
- It has a cord in the waistband so you can adjust it to the perfect fit.
- You’ll be protected from the sun with these -- they provide UPF 50 plus.
- Both sides have deep pockets so you’ll be able to keep energy gels on hand in case you need them.
- You’ll get a wide selection of colors -- there are 18 to choose from.
- These will work great for larger runners because they come in sizes up to 3X.
- These shorts are super affordable.
- They will hold up well in the washing machine and dryer.
- The elastic in the waistband is really strong, which can be a problem if you’re looking for a little more stretching in the waist.
- They wrinkle pretty easily.
And the Winner Is …
The best running shorts of this bunch is the Mava Men’s compression shorts.
They’re a good length for full coverage shorts and they compress well. But even while they’re holding everything in place, they don’t feel hot because of their breathability. And if you’re running in the winter, these shorts will help you retain heat.
The material wicks away sweat, keeping you dry and comfortable. They have a tad bit of reflective material, which is good news for early morning or evening runners.
Plus, they’ll help protect your body from the sun -- something all runners should be concerned about.