One of the great things about running is that it doesn’t require a ton of expensive gear – a good pair of shoes and some comfortable running shorts, and you’re good to go!
But not all shorts are cut out for running, especially if you regularly cover long distances.
Waistbands that dig in, hems that chafe, and poorly-designed pockets that leave your phone and essentials bouncing around can seriously distract you from your run.
So to help you find the best running shorts in terms of comfort and performance, we’ve put together this handy guide!
First, we’ve outlined all the main features to look for in a great pair of shorts, then we’ve listed the 10 best running shorts for men and women available right now.
So let’s get started!
Best Running Shorts for Men and Women In 2023
Features to Look For in Running Shorts
The best running shorts will be made from a fabric that quickly wicks sweat away from your skin so you remain dry.
That means cotton – a fabric that tends to hold on to moisture and become heavy – is out, and you should look for shorts made with a high percentage of polyester instead.
This will often be combined with spandex or elastane, which stretches easily to allow you greater freedom of movement.
Other things to think about include:
It’s important that the waistband fits you snugly and comfortably so that it doesn’t dig in, and your shorts stay in place throughout your run.
Some come with an elasticated waistband and others will also have a drawcord.
This can give you more of a ‘locked in’ feel and is also useful if you like to carry a phone, as it ensures the weight won’t cause your shorts to slip down mid-run!
This refers to the length of the shorts, with a longer inseam providing more coverage.
The length you prefer is a matter of personal choice, although a shorter inseam tends to provide greater freedom of movement, whereas more coverage might be suitable if you’re trail running or need protection from the sun.
Lined or Unlined
Running shorts often come with built-in liners.
Some people like them because they can take the place of underwear, providing support, wicking moisture, and helping prevent chafing.
But others prefer the cool, light feeling of unlined running shorts, which they feel provide a better range of motion.
Ultimately, the choice is yours, but be sure to check the specs so you’re clear as to whether the shorts you choose have a liner built-in or not.
Not everyone needs pockets in their running shorts, but they can be useful for bringing along keys, cards, nutrition, and even a phone.
If you intend to carry important items, zippered pockets are ideal as you won’t have to worry about those items bouncing out as you run.
If you want to bring your phone, make sure that there is a pocket large enough to accommodate it and that it is in a position where it won’t move around, ideally as close to your body as possible.
The Best Running Shorts for Men and Women
Fabric: 100% recycled polyester Sizes: X-Small to 3X-Large, 5 to 9 inches inseam, Pockets: 3
|Highly breathable||Pockets are too shallow for a phone|
|Comfortable fit||Built-in mesh briefs won’t suit everyone|
|Wide range of colors|
Sweating is an inevitable part of running in the summer, but to stay focused and comfortable you need shorts capable of wicking away moisture quickly.
That’s just what you get with this pair from Adidas, which are made with AEROREADY fabric, specifically designed to keep you dry.
Some colorways feature reflective details to improve your visibility when running at night and all pairs are made with at least 60% recycled content, so they are environmentally friendly, too.
They also come with three pockets – two on the sides and a small, zippered one at the back for your key – but you’ll need a holder for your phone as none are big enough to accommodate it safely.
Fabric: 100% Recycled Polyester Sizes: X-Small to XX-Large, Pockets: No
|Flat, non-chafing waistband||Run slightly big|
|Lots of colors to choose from||White color is see-through|
|Fitted or snug fit available|
These shorts are perfect if you’re looking for extra support and coverage for your core, with a wide waistband and a body-hugging feel.
They have flattering curved seams to accentuate your natural shape and are made with a stretchy fabric for complete freedom of movement.
The Dri-FIT technology in the fabric wicks moisture away and keeps you dry, even during strenuous runs, and they stay comfortably in place throughout every stride.
Fabric: 95% Polyester, 5% Spandex Sizes: Small to 3X-Large, Pockets: 3
|Comfortable inner briefs||Phone may bounce when you run|
|Inner drawstring at waistband||The longer liner won’t suit everyone|
|Pocket for your phone|
Lightweight and quick-drying, these affordable shorts are versatile enough for running and your cross-training workouts too.
The inner briefs are snug – although not to compression levels – and molded at the gusset for a perfect fit.
We also like the adjustability provided by the drawcord, which makes it easy to cinch them in if needed.
There’s plenty of storage, too, with two pockets at the sides for smaller items and a zippered pocket at the back to keep your phone safe and secure.
Fabric: 89% Recycled Polyester, 11% Spandex, Sizes: X-Small to X-Large, Pockets: 3 plus key loop
|Built-in stretchy liner||A little pricey|
|Lots of storage|
If your thighs have a tendency to chafe when you run and you prefer the extra coverage of a longer inseam, these are the best running shorts in our guide for you!
They’re breathable, they look great, and – best of all – they don’t ride up, so you can run in comfort and stay focused on your performance.
The sweat-wicking DriLayer fabric keeps you nice and dry and we love the infinity drawstring that provides a custom fit and won’t disappear into the waistband!
The pockets are very useful, too – you get two on the front of the waistband, a large, secure one at the back for your phone, and a bungee loop for your keys.
Fabric: 55% Recycled Polyester, 45% Polyester, Sizes: X-Small to 5X-Large, Pockets: 3
|Quick drying and moisture wicking||No drawcord|
|Side splits for mobility||No zippered pockets|
|Affordable||Lighter colors are a little see-through|
Available in a wide range of colors and prints, these lightweight shorts come with an internal brief for a secure fit.
There’s a decent amount of storage – the drop-in hip pockets and hand pockets giving you lots of space to stash your essentials – but the lack of a drawcord to cinch in the waist means you have to be careful not to add too much weight.
The midrise style is comfortable, sitting just below the waist for freedom of movement, whilst the athletic fit means you never feel restricted.
Some colors come with reflective detailing for visibility at night and we like the mesh insert at the side that helps keep you cool.
Fabric: 88% Polyester,12% Elastane Sizes: X-Small to X-Large, Pockets: 2
|Phone stays in place when you run||Run small|
|Non-chafing flatlock seams||Too short for some runners|
Having a pocket to accommodate your phone is handy – but ensuring that it is held snugly in position so it won’t bounce is essential!
The expandable pocket right in the front of the waistband makes these the best running shorts if you like to stay connected or listen to music while you run, as it holds your phone securely in place.
It’s big enough for plus-sized phones and it’s water-resistant too, which means your phone is well-protected against sweat and rain!
These shorts are made from a comfortable, lightweight material that moves when you do, and we appreciated the extra coverage provided by the built-in brief.
Fabric: 95% polyester, 5% spandex, Sizes: Small to XXX-Large, Pockets: 4
|Very affordable||A little heavy for summer runs|
|Supportive lining||Won’t suit shorter runners|
Whether it’s to navigate a route or listen to our favorite playlists, many of us like to run with our phones.
Pinkbomb recognizes this and has designed the best running shorts for men in terms of storage, with a secure pocket in the liner and a hole for wired earphones!
You also get deep zippered pockets on the sides – perfect for safely storing essentials like your keys and cards.
The 2-in-1 design provides protection against friction – a real bonus if your thighs tend to chafe when you run – and the elastic waistband has a drawstring for a comfortable fit, with no slipping.
Fabric: 100% Polyester, Sizes: X-Small to 3X-Large, Pockets: 1
|Loose, comfortable cut||No real storage (just a hidden key pocket)|
|Loads of colors to choose from||Run small, especially around the thighs|
You don’t need to break the bank to find a great pair of running shorts and the popular Fly By shorts from Under Armour deliver plenty of bang for your buck!
They come with built-in briefs to provide the coverage you need with shorter shorts and we love the mesh panels at the sides that allow the air to flow and keep you cool.
The crossover hem has a flattering look whilst giving you complete freedom of movement and the lightweight, woven fabric feels soft against your skin.
The soft-knit waistband feels comfortable, too, and comes with an internal drawcord so you can achieve a perfect fit.
Fabric: 100% Polyester, Sizes: Small to 3X-Large, Pockets: 3
|Cool, airy feel||Mesh liner can feel snug for some|
|4-way stretch||No zippered pockets|
|Fabric wicks sweat and dries fast|
Exceptionally lightweight, this is a pair of shorts you can put on and almost forget you’re wearing!
The stretch-woven fabric gives you total freedom of movement and has a breathable mesh liner that helps moisture escape when the going gets sweaty!
There are mesh panels at the sides to keep you well-ventilated and the elasticated waistband sits comfortably, with an internal drawcord to cinch it snugly into place.
You get plenty of storage too, including deep hand pockets at the sides and an internal pocket for your phone that holds it in place when you move.
Fabric: 100% Recycled Polyester, Sizes: X-Small to XX-Large, Pockets: 2
|Midrise for easy fit||Pockets too small for most phones|
|Reflective logo and seams|
|Storage tunnel for extra layers|
These running shorts fit just right, designed to rise close to your body and skim the hip and thigh so that you can move without restriction.
They stay perfectly in place without riding up and New Balance’s DRYx premium, fast-drying technology ensures they stay cool and dry, even when running in warm conditions.
The fitted inner shorts provide plenty of coverage and feel soft and comfortable, so you won’t need to worry about them chafing on longer runs.
The drop-in pockets are handy, too, and because they are positioned in the inner lining, your items feel secure and don’t bounce around.
The Best Running Shorts for Men and Women: Key Takeaways
A good pair of running shorts will feel comfortable, keep you cool and dry, move easily with each stride, and look good, too!
The shorts listed here tick all these boxes and are designed to enhance your performance. We hope this guide has helped you the perfect pair for your next run!