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The last thing you need when you run is your clothing and equipment to spoil the experience. Or ruin it, for that matter.
That includes your running shorts. A good pair of shorts can make your run more enjoyable and even enhance your performance. A bad pair can take all the fun out of it.
Either way, they’re an essential piece of running equipment, and we’ll devote this post to the best running shorts for men.
We’ll review the best quality running shorts – such as New Balance’s Accelerate shorts – talk about how to wear them, and their different types. Let’s start with some buying tips.
|New Balance Men's Accelerate 5in Short||Check on Amazon →|
|HYLETE Verge II Short||Check Best Price →|
|Under Armour Men's HeatGear Armour 2.0 6-inch Compression Shorts||Check on Amazon →|
|Baleaf 7” Athletic Running Shorts||Check on Amazon →|
|Salomon Trail Runner Twinskin Short||Check on Amazon →|
|Soffe Men’s Ranger Panty Running Short||Check on Amazon →|
|TCA Men's Ultra 2 in 1 Running Shorts||Check on Amazon →|
|Under Armour Speedpocket Linerless Shorts||Check on Amazon →|
|Luwell Pro Compression Short||Check on Amazon →|
|Asics Men’s Woven 7” Shorts||Check on Amazon →|
Before you buy: 7 Things to consider when purchasing running shorts
Your running shorts enhance your running experience and boost your overall performance. The wrong pair can make the experience less than ideal.
There are also plenty of running shorts from which to choose, which is a good thing, but it can make finding the right pair a bit of a challenge. To make your buying decision easier, here are some things to keep in mind as you shop for running shorts.
In general, running shorts come in three types – compression, split, and v-notch. We’ll discuss the various types of running shorts in greater detail a little later, but for now, know that the style determines the fit, length, and leg seam of your shorts.
Running shorts come in a variety of fabrics, including both synthetic and natural. They often consist of polyester or polyester-spandex blends, which are durable, lightweight, and manage moisture effectively.
Natural fibers, such as cotton, are comfortable but tend to absorb moisture – which can lead to chafing and discomfort. Also, cotton – as you probably already know – is likely to shrink in the drier.
If you’re determined to buy cotton shorts, look for a blend of cotton and another material, such as polyester, that can handle your sweat.
Shorts that have a higher percentage of nylon are ideal for wicking moisture, while spandex blends provide an extra degree of stretchiness that many runners love.
Some running shorts have handy features such as zipper pockets and hidden pouches. They’re features that make it easier to carry essential items such as your house or locker key, perhaps even some cash.
The size of the pockets and pouches is crucial if you want to carry larger items, such as your phone, wallet, or energy gels.
Men’s and women’s running shorts are different and sold separately. Men’s shorts have a cut specific to the male body, including a longer inseam. They also have more support in the groin area.
Women’s shorts, meanwhile, fit a woman’s waist, hips, and thighs more accurately. They have less room in the groin and shorter inseams.
You can also purchase unisex shorts that combine the cuts of men’s and women’s shorts. They don’t have specific support features for each gender, so they’re not as comfortable or chafing-resistant for longer runs.
Most running shorts have a built-in liner that provides moisture management and wicks away sweat. They help keep things fresh and comfortable “down there” and help to prevent chafing.
Liners also provide support and compression for men, which makes wearing a jockstrap unnecessary.
The length of the shorts is another important factor to consider, but keep in mind that there’s no correct answer as to what length is best.
The most popular length is 5-inches (the length of the inseam, that is). Five-inch shorts allow for plenty of freedom of movement, and they’re modest in length.
Shorts with 7-inch inseams are for you if you prefer a short that covers most of your thighs – and are best for cooler weather. It’s a length favored by many trail runners, and 7-inch shorts tend to have more pockets and storage than shorter shorts.
The shortest shorts come with a 3-inch inseam and provide the best ventilation because more of the leg is exposed. Competitive runners prefer shorter shorts, both for longer and shorter runs.
Visibility features are important if you run in the dark or low-light conditions. Bright colors and reflective detailing add visibility and safety to your run.
Next, let’s dive into our reviews of the best running shorts for men.
The 10 best running shorts for men in 2020
The best running shorts for:
Men on a budget looking for a high-quality shorts
Maybe you’re on a tight budget, or you don’t want to break the bank for a pair of running shorts. But you don’t want something cheap, either.
If you fit that description, then do yourself a favor and check out the Accelerate 5-inch shorts by New Balance. They’re affordable and don’t come with a bunch of frills, but NB doesn’t sacrifice quality in the least.
Instead, you get a lightweight, super comfortable pair of shorts that are ideal for running and other kinds of physical activity. Key features include moisture-wicking materials that keep you dry and breathable material that keeps you cool during workouts of any length.
The New Balance Accelerate shorts consist of 100% polyester that’s mixed with NB-Dry materials that help you to stay dry as you run. While cotton might be, overall, a bit more comfortable, the Accelerate’s composition deals with sweat much more effectively.
They also feature an interior lining that provides extra support where you need it. Some men say they can wear Accelerate shorts without underwear without having to worry about chafing and discomfort.
The Accelerate design features a mid-length, 5-inch inseam with pleated hems, small V-cut design on both sides, and a relaxed fit that gives you enough extra room to stay comfortable.
- Their price tag and durability make them an excellent overall investment.
- They come with pockets in which you can store essential items.
- They come with an elastic waistband and drawstring that makes it easy to get a proper fit.
- The pockets don’t have zippers.
Finding a great pair of running shorts at a fair price shouldn’t be impossible, and it’s not thanks to products such as New Balance’s Accelerate running shorts for men.
- Lightweight flex-woven fabric
- Fast drying
- Quad-cut length inseam
Best running short for:
Men willing to spend a little more for true quality
When it comes to comfort, the Verge II shorts are about as good as you can get. They offer a whole host of smart design features that help men run with real freedom and security, as well as being great for a variety of other sports.
Firstly, they’re made from flex woven nylon (85%) fabric: it’s lightweight, breathable, sweat-wicking and dries incredibly quickly.
Not only that: they have a patented waistband system that stretches up to 4 inches to achieve a solid fit without cinching, scrunching or any kind of chafing or rubbing. Plus the flex-knit panels allow for a great range of motion and the two-way drawstring’s silicone texture ensures they stay nicely tied at all times.
The result is a totally seamless experience when running – exceptional comfort, perfect mobility and a real feeling of freedom and agility.
Also notable for runners are the zipper side pockets, which semi-auto lock and give you plenty of space for secure storage – whether house keys or iPhone.
And they come in a variety of lengths – from quad-cut to long – and several different colors (though it’s worth noting that not every length is available in every color)
- Hugely comfortable, light and easy to manoeuvre in
- Highly durable – they’ll survive the harshest running conditions
- A variety of lengths and colors gives you plenty of style and fitting choice
- They’re a bit on the pricier side.
The Verge II Shorts have a serious reputation: from hobbyists to world-class athletes, a growing global fanbase swear by these shorts. And with good reason: they are smartly designed, fit fantastically and come in a great range of colors.
- Lightweight but tough
- Ergonomic design
The best running shorts for:
Anyone who prefers running shorts that fit like a second skin
No matter where you work out (or work, for that matter), the chances are good that you’ll notice someone wearing Under Armour gear. Considering that the company generates over $4 billion per year in revenue, that’s not a surprise.
But they didn’t climb to the top by making poor products. Their men’s HeatGear Armour 2.0 6-inch compression shorts are proof of that, and the choice of many runners or people who frequent the gym.
They consist of UA’s tough and lightweight HeatGear fabric – 79% polyester and 21% elastane – and offer all of the performance benefits of Under Armour compression gear.
They feature an updated ergonomic design that keeps seams from rubbing against the skin, especially in high-abrasion areas, and are more durable than previous versions. They’re among the best running shorts to prevent chafing.
They also include stretch-mesh gusset and inseam panels that provide excellent ventilation, while their 4-way stretch construction helps wearers to move easily in every direction.
The polyester/elastane blend helps to wick away sweat, and it dries quickly. And there’s anti-odor technology that prevents the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
- Strategically placed mesh panels help to eliminate irritation in chafe-prone areas.
- The material wicks away sweat and helps it to dry quickly.
- Anti-odor technology helps to keep you fresh.
- Some wearers say the length is shorter than advertised.
Compression shorts aren’t for everyone, but they’re for a lot of people. Check out Under Armour’s HeatGear shorts if you prefer the compression fit and feel.
- Mesh liner
- Side pockets
The best running shorts for:
Men who want a versatile, longer running short
Baleaf’s 7” running shorts aren’t just for runners. They’re also for anyone who works out, whether it’s in the gym or otherwise, and they have enough functionality to fit your personal workout experience.
But they’ll also serve you well if running is your main activity because they provide everything your workouts demand, including quick-dry technology that reduces excess sweat and moisture to keep you comfortable mile after mile.
Made from a polyester (95%) and spandex (5%) blend, the Baleaf running shorts are lightweight, stretchy, and breathable. Mesh panels placed on both sides of the shorts provide additional ventilation, as well.
They also include built-in mesh briefs that offer excellent support and breathability. Meanwhile, two side pockets offer generous storage space to carry essential items.
Baleaf understands the concerns of runners who run in the dark or low-light situations and builds reflective elements into their shorts for greater visibility.
- Built-in mesh briefs offer support, comfort, and breathability.
- They feature quick-dry fabric that maintains moisture absorption and manages sweat.
- Reflective elements offer more visibility in low-light situations.
- They tend to run a little large
The Baleaf Athletic Running Shorts are versatile, comfortable, and designed to help enhance your workouts.
- Plenty of storage
- Ideal support
- Mesh waistband belt
The best running shorts for:
Men who run trails frequently
Trail running is a different game than road running or running on a track. The terrain can be unpredictable, for starters, and there might not be a good place to take shelter when the weather goes wonky.
That’s why you need trail running shoes, and it’s not a bad idea to wear trail running shorts, either.
Salomon makes a pair of shorts that’s great for the trail – their Twinskin short – and their lightweight enough that you can wear them for other types of running if you so choose.
The twin-skin, polyester construction keeps chafing to a minimum and the irritations that come with it. There’s a close-to-the-leg inner boxer that provides the ideal amount of support, while the shorts allow for uninhibited freedom of movement.
The Salomon Twinskin features a 7-inch inseam that provides plenty of coverage. That’s a nice feature on the trail when things can get a bit more rugged, but they still have a relaxed, lightweight fit and a casual look and feel.
You’ll also appreciate their storage, which is another important feature for trail running shorts.
There’s a large 360-degree pocket around the waistband in which you can hold gels, a small phone, and even a small water bottle. They rank highly on any list of men’s running shorts with a phone pocket.
A couple of other pluses include a waistband that won’t ride up or roll down on you, and that they provide UPF 50 sun protection.
- There is a lot of storage space when compared to most other running shorts.
- They’re ideal for running off-road.
- An inner boxer lining offers just the right amount of support.
- Sizing tends to run small.
Trail runners can encounter a variety of conditions and types of terrain during the average run. But Salomon’s Twinskin shorts are up to the challenge in every way.
- Soft fabric
- Ideal for long-distance running
- Internal liner
The best running shorts for:
Distance runners who prefer the shortest short
Don’t let the name fool you: the Soffe Ranger Panty Running short is for men. In fact, like all of Soffe’s products, it’s rooted in the military; Soffe started in 1946 by distributing their products to military exchanges, among others.
The “Panty” in the title refers to the length of the shorts, which are longer than panties, although not by much. For runners – such as marathon runners – who dial up the mileage, it means more freedom of movement and less chafing over the long haul.
Both the outer shell and the liner of the Soffe Ranger consist of nylon. It has an overall loose fit, but the fabric is strong enough to hold up under the strain of the most demanding workouts. It’s also very soft and comes in multiple colors and prints.
With an inseam that measures about 2 ¼ inches, the Soffe Ranger is the shortest short on our list, but, again, it’s a length many runners prefer.
They’re so lightweight and comfortable that it may feel like you’re not running in shorts at all. And less fabric means less pressure on your legs.
Enhanced interior comfort comes from a comfortable brief liner, and there’s an inside pocket to hold your keys and identification cards.
The Soffe Ranger also includes a lined elastic waistband that won’t dig in and chafe but provides a nice, comfortable fit on the midsection.
- The design focuses on overall comfort and breathability.
- Comfortable liner that delivers extra support.
- It includes an inside pocket to hold valuable items.
- A bit too revealing for some runners.
Lightweight running shorts abound, but it’s hard to find a pair that’s any more lightweight than Soffe’s Rangers. You’ll run comfortably and without resistance.
- Inner compression short
- Lightweight design
- Quick-dry material
The best running shorts for:
Men looking for running shorts with compression liner
TCA offers the excellent support of compression shorts with a lightweight outer design in their popular 2-in-1 running shorts for men.
There are plenty of other things to like about these shorts, as well, not the least of which is that they consist of TCA’s performance fabrics.
The outer layer is of lightweight polyester that provides exceptional breathability and helps enhance your running/workout performance.
The short’s outer layer also features an elastic waistband the provides a snug, but not too snug, fit.
And then there’s the inner compression short that sits close to the body and features moisture-wicking fabric that absorbs sweat and is quick-drying to help keep you dry and comfortable during your workouts.
Compression shorts also help speed up post-workout recovery.
You’ll also appreciate the fusion-welded back zipper pocket that’s great for storing keys and your mp3 player or another device.
- 2-in-1 design offers the support of a compression short with a lightweight, breathable upper.
- Excellent durability while promoting greater freedom of movement.
- QuickDry material keeps you dry and comfortable.
- Sizing may run very small
The TCA 2-in-1 short keeps you comfortable, dry, and well-supported when you run or work out. You’ll appreciate their breathable, lightweight feel.
- Stretch fabric
- Mesh side panels
The best running shorts for:
Men who appreciate shorts with plenty of ventilation
Under Armour earns another spot on our list with its Speedpocket 8” Linerless Shorts. Like their 2.0 compression shorts, which we list above, the Speedpocket shorts offer all of the quality and performance-enhancement that you’d expect from Under Armour.
And what’s not to like? The Speedpocket has many cool features, including its ultra-lightweight construction consisting of 87% polyester and 13% Elastane. It offers complete unrestricted movement, which every runner appreciates.
But there’s more:
- They include mesh side panels that provide additional ventilation.
- They have four-way construction that allows greater freedom of movement in every direction.
- Their material wicks away sweat and dries rapidly.
- They have anti-odor technology that prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes.
- They have a front “Speedpocket” that has enough room for most phones. The pocket is waterproof and keeps items secure without bouncing them around.
- An encased elastic waistband helps ensure a comfortable fit without chafing or digging.
- They include mesh hand pockets.
Another nice feature of the Speedpocket shorts is reflective logos that provide better visibility on low-light runs. All in all, these shorts offer a lot and will keep you comfortable as you put in the miles.
- Four-way stretch construction allows for better movement in each direction.
- Encased elastic waistband that includes a center front pocket.
- Moisture-wicking and anti-odor technology.
- Not for you if you prefer a liner.
The Under Armour Speedpocket shorts have a lot of nice features that help to enhance your running experience. They’re also comfortable and very lightweight.
- Reduce fatigue and muscles aches
The best running shorts for:
Men looking for a multi-sport running short
Luwell Pro offers another compression short that’s good for running, and which we like a lot. They’re high-performance and suitable for a variety of athletic activities and have the important features needed to make a quality pair of running shorts.
Those features include a lightweight feel and moisture-wicking fabric. The latter keeps you dry and comfortable even during the hottest runs.
The Luwell Pro consists of an 88% polyester and 12% spandex blend that offers an excellent balance between comfort and compression.
Like other compression shorts, they have many post-workout benefits – including that they help reduce lactic acid in the muscles and promote better blood circulation.
They also help to lessen the fatigue and aching muscles that may occur after a hard run or workout.
Their non-abrasion fabric has excellent elasticity and provides a four-way stretch that promotes better freedom of movement in every direction. Many reviewers also appreciate their excellent sport, especially in the groin.
While they’re great for running, the Luwell Pro shorts are suitable for multiple activities, including weight training, soccer, basketball, American football, cycling, yoga, and more.
They fit tight, almost like a second skin, but they don’t restrict movement no matter what the activity.
- They provide excellent support for a long list of athletic activities.
- They’re lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking.
- They help you to recover faster from hard workouts.
- Sizes may run large.
Luwell Pro’s Run Compression Shorts provide the comfort and performance you need for running and a host of athletic endeavors.
- Quick-dry fabric
- Safety features
The best running shorts for:
Distance runners who prefer a longer inseam
Some distance runners prefer short running shorts – especially performance athletes such as first-tier marathon runners. But others prefer shorts with a bit more leg coverage, such as the Asics Woven 7” Shorts for men.
The latter provides plenty of coverage without restricting movement, i.e., your performance won’t suffer.
These 100% polyester shorts are breathable, soft, and lightweight, and – despite what you might think with a longer inseam – they’re not nearly as billowing as basketball shorts.
The Asics Woven shorts have plenty of other features you’ll like, as well, including:
- A zippered back pocket that’s ideal for holding keys, ID cards, cash, and nutrition gels. The zipper helps to keep your items secure. If you’re looking for men’s running shorts with zip pockets, the Asics Woven shorts are a good option.
- They have reflective dots that provide visibility if you run when the natural light is low.
- The flat waistband with an integrated drawcord makes for easy adjustability.
- The fabric dries quickly.
You’ll not only like how these shorts feel when you log longer miles, but they may even enhance your performance.
- Longer inseam but with a comfortable fit and feel.
- They’re excellent for long-distance running.
- A zippered back pocket provides plenty of storage space.
- Some customers say the sizing chart is a little off
Distance runners need a lightweight, comfortable short that won’t hold them back during long runs. The Asics Woven 7” short does just that.
7 Tips for wearing running shorts for the best performance
While style and design may mean a lot to some people, your running shorts should – first and foremost – enhance your running experience and performance.
How and when you wear them is more important than how they look, although no one feels good in a pair of shorts they (or others) think are ugly.
1. The material is very important
It’s tempting to run in your favorite pair of cotton shorts; after all, those bad boys are comfortable. But running in cotton shorts is, well, meh.
Cotton gets heavy when wet – and most runners do some serious sweating – and take a long time to dry.
So, choose running shorts made of technical fabrics, such as polyester, elastane, spandex and nylon, because those fabrics wick away sweat and are more breathable.
Synthetic fabrics with open weaves or larger fibers also breathe better than other materials during humid runs.
2. Underwear or no underwear?
As we’ve mentioned in our reviews above, many running shorts have a built-in liner. In general, the liner can take the place of underwear and a jockstrap and still provide all the support you need.
Besides, underwear adds an extra layer, and extra fabric can increase the odds of chafing.
3. The length
The length of the inseam is also important for the style of running you do, although some men run in shorts of all lengths. Many elite runners, however, prefer shorts with a shorter inseam, especially marathon and other long-distance runners.
Longer shorts are suitable for running shorter distances, and for running off-road (such as on a trail). Just make sure the materials used in the short’s construction won’t retain heat or moisture.
4. Wear them for running
OK, that seems way too obvious, but the point is that the activity most suitable for running shorts is running. Don’t wear them to a casual party, unless it’s a party with friends who don’t mind your eccentricities, and never for a formal event or business dealings.
5. Running shorts and cycling
Running shorts are OK to wear when you bike casually. They’re not so good for serious cycling because they make you more susceptible to chafing. Instead, wear cycling shorts designed for the hard, fast cycling of races or training.
Many triathletes wear cycling shorts (which are similar to compression shorts) for the other segments of the event – running and swimming – because it minimizes the time spent preparing between events.
6. Running shorts and swimming
Feel free to wear your running shorts for swimming as long as they’re made of synthetic material such as polyester or nylon. But check the rules first before you dive into a public or semi-public swimming pool.
7. Running shorts and yoga
No rule says you can’t wear running shorts for yoga but make sure that the fit isn’t so loose that they’re a bit, ahem, revealing. Biking shorts and compression shorts are better options.
The 3 main types of running shorts
We talked earlier about the different types of running shorts: compression, v-notch, and split. Here’s a closer look.
1. Compression shorts
Compression shorts often consist of a blend of materials, including polyester and spandex, and fit tight against the body. Their length may vary, with men’s styles usually extending from mid-thigh to knee-length.
Why choose compression shorts? Well, while they’re comfortable for many people, they also offer benefits.
For one, they help aid post-performance recovery and, say some experts, reduce the risk of muscle strains and the soreness that often occurs after a hard workout.
Other benefits of compression shorts include that they generally cause less chafing than shorts made from other materials, and they don’t ride up the thigh during exercise.
A common belief is that compression shorts enhance performance, whether running or otherwise, but a 2015 study that evaluated the performance of elite male runners didn’t back those claims up.
But researchers involved with the study confirmed that compression shorts help post-workout recovery.
2. V-notch shorts
V-notch shorts, the most popular style of running shorts, get their name from the v-shaped cutout on the outer leg just above the hem.
The cutout serves more than a decorative function: it enables runners to have a greater range of movement than with shorts in which the seam is sewn together down the leg.
V-notch shorts also feature an easy, loose fit, and tend to be on the shorter side to offer the most flexibility.
3. Split shorts
Split shorts and v-notch shorts often get confused, but the split-leg style offers more range of motion and typically has shorter inseams.
Split seams also have an upside-down “V” cutout at the bottom, but are created by the front panel overlapping the back rather than being part of the leg seam.
Another running short to consider is the trail-running short. Trail-runners tend to have compression elements as well as a slightly heavier feel to provide extra protection from the elements.
How we chose these running shorts for our reviews
Running shorts come in a variety of styles, fabrics, and often serve a variety of functions. One of the main goals in compiling our reviews of the best running shorts was to include a sampling from the various styles – compression shorts, short shorts, trail shorts, etc.
Quality and craftsmanship were, as always, primary concerns, as well as factors such as breathability, comfort, and additional features such as pockets, the comfort of the waistband, and moisture-wicking capability.
We also studied the reviews of others, particularly the reviews of customers and potential customers such as you. Running shorts that earned consistently high marks from runners caught our eye.
The brand was another factor, as was the price, although neither necessarily guarantees the quality of the shorts. Some brands earn a lofty reputation for a reason, however, just as some shorts are a better investment at whatever price.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
How do you keep running shorts from riding up when running?
Making sure that your running shorts are the proper size will help keep them from riding up. In many cases, leg openings that are too small or a rise that’s too long causes them to ride up.
Or, you can try a few DIY methods, such as this one that relies on caulk, to prevent the problem.
Why do running shorts have built-in underwear?
One of the key benefits of wearing running shorts with built-in underwear is that they won’t ride up unless the fit is wrong. Also, built-in underwear provides moisture-wicking, breathability, and helps to eliminate chafing.
Why do running shorts have liners?
Liners provide some extra support and help prevent chafing. If you wear running shorts with liners, wearing additional underwear is generally unnecessary.
What to wear under running shorts
It’s generally not necessary to wear anything under running shorts if they have a built-in liner/underwear. But some men still wear underwear, such as boxer briefs, depending on the quality of the liner.
Why are running shorts so short?
Running shorts are minimal for a variety of reasons, including that they’re designed for optimal freedom of leg movement. They’re also lighter than other types of athletic shorts and feature excellent ventilation.
How should running shorts fit?
The length is an important aspect of the overall fit and is often a matter of personal preference. Otherwise, your shorts should fit somewhat loosely but should be snugger in the thigh and buttocks reason.
It’s never a good idea to run in shorts that are too small or too tight.
Why wear running shorts?
The design of running shorts makes them conducive for running long distances, but also for shorter runs. They can help reduce muscle fatigue, improve performance, reduce chafing, and even improve muscle oxygenation.
Serious and casual runners alike understand the importance of having quality running shorts. Taking the time to find a pair that best suits your needs and style of running is crucial to overall comfort and for having an enjoyable running experience.
Running is hard work, but it should be fun, and not having the right equipment, such as running shorts, can make a huge difference.
We’d love to hear from you, too. What type of running shorts do you prefer? Which brand? We always welcome your feedback and suggestions.