The 9 Best Running Shorts for Men in 2023

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A comfortable pair of running shorts is an essential part of your gear, especially once temperatures start to rise.

Whether you’re training for a marathon or going for an evening jog around the block, you want to be sure that your shorts won’t bunch, slide down, chafe, or otherwise distract you from your run!

That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide, containing some of the best running shorts for men on the market.

We’ve listed our top nine pairs and the reasons we love them, plus we’ve outlined all the things to consider before making your choice.

So let’s get started!

best running shorts for men visual

The 9 Best Running Shorts for Men in 2023

1. Best for Spring and Fall – Smartwool Merino Sport Short

2. Best Trail Running Shorts for Men – Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts

3. Best for Summer Runs – REI Co-op Swiftland Running Shorts

4. Best Budget Running Shorts for Men – BALEAF Athletic Shorts

5. Best Aerodynamic Running Shorts for Men – Nike Dri-FIT ADV AeroSwift

6. Best for Freedom of Movement – On Lightweight Shorts

7. Best Value for Money – Under Armour Launch Run Shorts

8. Best Men’s Running Shorts for Daily Training – New Balance Accelerate

What to Look for in Running Shorts for Men

The best men’s running shorts should – of course – be comfortable.

But just how comfortable they are is dependent on a few main factors:

#1: Fabric

Ideally, the running shorts you buy will be made from polyester or nylon, perhaps blended with elastane or spandex.

Polyester and nylon are both lightweight and sweat-wicking, quickly moving moisture away from your skin.

They dry quickly, too – so even if you get extra sweaty or caught in the rain, you won’t be forced to run for an extended period in heavy, uncomfortable gear.

Spandex and elastane are useful because they add elasticity to the fabric.

This means that your shorts will stretch easily and allow you to move freely.

As a bonus, some manufacturers use materials that have anti-odor properties, helping you feel fresh for longer.

running shorts

#2: Liner

Almost all running shorts these days come with a built-in liner.

This is designed to take the place of underwear, giving you the support you need and protecting you from chafing.

Check that the liner in the shorts you choose is made from a breathable fabric that will dry quickly.

#3: Inseam

This refers to the length of the leg of your running shorts.

There is no ‘correct’ inseam length to opt for, as it’s really a matter of personal preference.

In general, though, a longer inseam (7 inches+) is ideal if you need greater sun protection or regularly enjoy trail running.

Anything shorter provides greater freedom of movement and is more appropriate for training or racing.

Man running through tunnel

#4. Waistband

Waistbands come in a variety of widths and either with or without a drawcord.

Again, the type you choose is really a matter of personal preference.

I tend to go for shorts with a drawcord, just to be sure I can cinch them in tight and prevent them from slipping when I run.

This is even more important if you tend to run with things in your pockets, because the extra weight can drag them down.

If the sensation of a knot against your skin bothers you, pick an exterior drawcord over an interior one.

#5. Pockets

Unless you’re racing, it’s pretty likely you’ll want to bring a few items along on your run.

Most of the men’s running shorts in this guide have pockets for small items like gels, keys, and cash, whilst many offer secure, zippered pockets for your phone, too.

Ideally, the phone pocket will be centrally located, usually right under the waistband at the back.

This position will stop the phone from bouncing as you run.

Man running with dog

The 9 best Running Shorts for Men

#1. Best for Spring and Fall – Smartwool Merino Sport Short

Fabric: 86% Polyester, 14% Elastane, Lined: Yes – 54% Merino Wool/46% Polyester, Pockets: 2, Sizes: Small to XX-Large, Inseam: 5 Inches

Smartwool Merino Sport Lined 5'' Short
Odor resistantToo thick/warm for hot days
Supportive fitLiner could be more durable
Temperature regulating

Merino wool is a natural fiber from Merino sheep and feels great against your skin, non-itchy and wicking away moisture to keep you cool.

Despite the description given by Amazon, these shorts are not 100% wool – instead, it is used in the quick-drying liner, whereas the shell is made from a durable polyester fabric with a water-repellent finish.

The mesh-lined waistband, meanwhile, features an interior drawcord to help you achieve a perfect fit.

There’s also a drop-in pocket on the right-hand side plus another in the center at the back, with a zipper to keep items like your phone secure throughout your run.

#2. Best Trail Running Shorts for Men – Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts

Fabric: Recycled Stretch Ripstop Polyester, Lined: Yes – 58% Polyester/42% Recycled Polyester Crepe, Pockets: 5, Sizes: Small to XX-Large, Inseam: 5 Inches

Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts
UltralightweightPull-tab on the zipper is weak
Highly breathable
Lots of storage

The perfect men’s running shorts for longer distances, these have plenty of room for your energy chews and other essentials plus a spacious zippered pocket at the back for your phone.

The moisture-wicking liner is supportive, non-itchy, and non-chafing, plus it’s made with HeiQ Pure odor control to keep you feeling fresh.

The waistband has an external drawcord for an adjustable fit or to stop the shorts from slipping if you’ve totally filled the pockets, and the fabric dries quickly – ideal if you get caught in a shower!

Above all, these shorts are exceptionally comfortable, with splits at the sides to ensure complete freedom of movement at all times.

#3. Best for Summer Runs – REI Co-op Swiftland Running Shorts

Fabric: 73% Nylon/27% Spandex, Lined: Yes – 86% Polyester/14% Spandex, Pockets: 3, Sizes: Small to XXX-Large, Inseam: 7 Inches

 REI Co-op Swiftland 7" Running Shorts
Super-soft inner liningFabric snags easily
Good choice of fun colorwaysSnug pocket makes it tricky to insert/remove phone
Lumbar pocket stops phone from bouncing

When it comes to a good pair of running shorts, nothing beats that ‘barely there’ sensation, and that’s just what you get with this lightweight and breathable offering from REI Co-op.

They are made with a higher-than-average amount of Spandex so they’re nice and stretchy, plus they hold their shape well after multiple washes.

The boxer-brief style mesh liner manages to provide just the right level of support without feeling restrictive and the wide waistband feels both soft and comfortable.

You also get reflective details on the back and sides to help with your visibility after dark, plus a flat-seam construction to protect you from chafing.

#4. Best Budget Running Shorts for Men – BALEAF Athletic Shorts

Fabric: 89.7% Polyester, 10.3% Spandex, Lined: Yes, Pockets: 3, Sizes: Small to XXX-Large, Inseam: 5 Inches

BALEAF Men's 5" Running Athletic Shorts
Quick-drying fabricPocket too small for some cellphones
Non-chafingLiner is not very supportive
Reflective logo

You don’t need to break the bank to get a decent pair of men’s running shorts, and this popular pair from Baleaf is a case in point!

Made from a breathable and lightweight woven fabric, they offer everything you need to run in comfort, including built-in mesh briefs and an inner drawcord at the waist to keep them in place from start to finish.

There’s a zippered pocket at the back to accommodate phones up to 4.7 inches and two at the sides for smaller items like your running gels.

The only downside is that the liner is quite a bit looser than with other brands, although it’s easy to remove if you find this uncomfortable.

#5. Best Aerodynamic Running Shorts for Men – Nike Dri-FIT ADV AeroSwift

Fabric: 89% Polyester, 11% Spandex, Lined: Yes – 89% polyester/11% Spandex, Pockets: 5, Sizes: Small to XX-Large, Inseam: 1/2 Length

Nike Dri-FIT ADV AeroSwift Running Shorts
Seamless front to eliminate chafingExpensive
Lightweight support Rear pocket too small for some phones
Very secure but flexible waistband

If you want to achieve the sleekest silhouette possible with running shorts that hug your form and fit like a glove, you’ll love these soft and stretchy half-tights from Nike.

Built specifically for speed, they are made from a moisture-wicking, breathable fabric that feels just like a second skin and allows you to move freely and stay cool.

Despite the streamlined fit you still get plenty of storage options – there’s a center-back pocket for your phone and 4 further pockets around the waist for smaller items like your key or card.

Just be aware that these are not really compression tights – the ribbed fabric is both lightweight and pliant – but they are super comfy and ideal if you prefer to avoid the distraction of excess fabric as you run.

#6. Best for Freedom of Movement – On Lightweight Shorts

Fabric: 87% polyamide/13% Elastane, Lined: Yes – 71% Polyamide/29% Elastane, Pockets: 1, Sizes: Small to XX-Large, Inseam: 8.66 Inches

On Lightweight Shorts
Very stretchy and lightweightNo zipper on pocket
Supportive linerRun a little small
Reflective logo for visibility

The waistband on these cool and comfortable running shorts for men is thicker than usual but sits flat against your skin and stays in place throughout your run.

Instead of a typical drawstring, it features a pull loop so you can adjust the fit, especially if the weight of your phone in the rear pocket causes the shorts to slip.

Speaking of that phone pocket – it uses a fold of elasticated fabric to keep your device secure rather than a zipper.

This can feel a little worrying but actually seemed pretty effective – plus it makes it a lot easier to access your device on the go.

#7. Best Value for Money – Under Armour Launch Run Shorts

Fabric: 100% Polyester, Lined: Yes, Pockets: 3, Sizes: Small to XXX-Large, Inseam: 7 Inches

Under Armour Men's Launch Run 7-inch Shorts
4-way stretch fabricPosition of phone pocket won’t suit everyone
Internal mesh liner for breathabilityRun small
Mesh side panels for ventilation

This is a great pair of shorts for the price, made with a very lightweight, sweat-wicking fabric that dries super fast.

It comes with two open hand pockets at the sides for smaller items and a phone pocket on the right-hand side built into the mesh lining, although this can feel slightly distracting if you’re used to carrying your phone in a rear pocket.

The encased elastic waistband has an internal drawcord for easy adjustment and the mesh at the sides does a great job of keeping you well-ventilated when the going gets tough.

The streamlined fit is comfortable, too, and just loose enough to allow for unrestricted movement.

#8. Best Men’s Running Shorts for Daily Training – New Balance Accelerate

Fabric: 55% Recycled Polyester, 45% Polyester, Lined: Yes – Crepe, Pockets: 4, Sizes: X-Small to XX-Large, Inseam: 5 Inches

New Balance Men's Accelerate 5 Inch Short
AffordableNo drawcord
Good choice of colorsLighter colors may be slightly see-through

When it comes to the best running shorts for men, the Accelerate Short ticks lots of boxes, offering comfort and performance at a remarkably low price!

The mid-rise design means that they sit comfortably just below the waist, whilst the moisture-wicking liner provides support where it’s needed.

There are two hip pockets and two side pockets to stash your smaller items, but – sadly – none are zippered or suitable for a phone, so you’ll need a belt or armband if you like to stay connected when you train.

The fabric wicks sweat away from your skin and dries quickly, plus it has a lightweight feel and a fit designed for active movement.

#9. Best Running Shorts for Men Overall – Janji AFO Middle Shorts

Fabric: 88% Recycled Polyester, 12% Elastane, Lined: Yes – 94% Polyester, 6% Spandex, Pockets: 2, Sizes: Small to X-Large, Inseam: 5 Inches

Janji AFO Middle Shorts
Weightless feelRear zipper is weak
Secure phone pocket and key loop bungee
Bonded hem seams for a chafe-free fit

These airy, lightweight shorts are Janji’s bestsellers – and as soon as you try them for yourself, you’ll see why!

Their minimalist design is just so effortlessly comfortable, particularly in hot weather when you can rely on them to keep you cool and dry.

The waistband is especially well designed, made from a perforated soft knit fabric and featuring an external facing drawcord that won’t dig in and distract you from your performance.

There are heaps of cool colors and designs to choose from, all featuring reflective logos on the front and ‘watermark’ reflectivity on the back to help keep you safe in low-light conditions.

The 9 best running shorts for Men: Key Takeaways

This guide to the best running shorts for men contains something for everyone, whether you’re looking for the aerodynamic silhouette provided by the Nike Dri-FIT ADV AeroSwift or want the cool, airy feel of the Lightweight Shorts from On.

We hope it’s helped you find the perfect pair for your needs and that you enjoy wearing them for your next run.

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Christine Albury is a dedicated runner and fitness nerd: when she's not working out she is studying the latest fitness science publications, and testing out the latest running gear!

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