Best Running Shorts of 2022
UPDATED February 8, 2022 15:08 PM

Best Running Shorts of 2022

Enhance your run with the right apparel.

Best Overall
Nike Women’s Dri-fit Tempo Track Shorts are the best overall.
Nike Women's Dri-fit Tempo Track 3.5 Short

These shorts feature Nike’s Dri-Fit technology, mesh side panels, and a quick-drying inner lining.

Best Compression
The Reebok Women’s Compression Running Shorts are the best compression shorts.
Reebok Women’s Compression Running Shorts

Lightweight and soft, these compression shorts help with muscle fatigue, recovery, blood flow, and circulation.

Best with Inner Shorts
Under Armour Men’s Launch 2-in-1 Shorts are the best with inner compression.
Under Armour Men’s Launch 2-in-1 Shorts

These shorts’ outer layer has 4-way stretch for greater range of motion and a built-in compression liner for extra support and comfort.

Written By Alexandra Berenbaum
Updated February 8, 2022 15:08 PM

The right apparel can make or break your run, and that includes running shorts. The best running shorts are comfortable, breathable, and hardly noticeable, so you can focus on what you set out to do: run. 

Type, style, length, and color are all a matter of preference, but one thing that should be non-negotiable is fabric. The most popular fabrics for running shorts are polyester, nylon, and spandex because they’re lightweight and moisture-wicking, meaning the fabric transfers moisture from your skin to the shorts and then dries quickly to help keep you dry and cool. Here are our picks for the best running shorts. 

How We Picked the Best Running Shorts

Methodology

As someone who enjoys running, I know that apparel, sneakers, and gear can either make or break the run. All I want to do when I’m running is listen to music and go. I don’t want any distractions and that includes anything from uncomfortable sneakers to having to hold my phone to running shorts that keep riding up. With comfort and performance in mind, I looked at 12 brands and 16 products. The features that were more important when it came to which running shorts to include in our list were fabric, style, color,  plus any extra details. 

The most important feature we considered was fabric because running shorts should be breathable, lightweight, and moisture-wicking to help keep you dry and cool while running. There are a range of fabrics used, but we found that polyester, nylon, and polyester- or nylon-spandex blends were the best options. We included a range of styles since that is a matter of preference. Compression shorts are different from v-notch shorts just as a built-in liner is different from a two-in-one design. The shorts we selected come in a variety of colors since every runner has a different sense of style. Lastly, we looked at extra features such as pockets, mesh panels, and drawstring waistbands. All of these fun details can add to the overall appeal of a pair of shorts. 

The Best Running Shorts: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Nike Women's Dri-fit Tempo Track Short

Best Overall
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Stay cool, dry, and comfortable during your run with these moisture-wicking Nike Shorts.

Why It Made The Cut: Not only does the Dri-Fit technology help you stay dry and cool, but these shorts also feature a mesh side panel and a soft inner lining. 

Specs:

  • Material: Polyester
  • Color: 30+
  • Inseam: Approximately 3.5 inches

Pros:

  • Dri-Fit Technology
  • Mesh side panels
  • Elastic waistband with internal drawstring

Cons: 

  • Not true to size
  • Lighter colors may be see-through

Available in over 30 color combinations, the Nike Women's Dri-Fit Tempo Track Short is a favorite among reviewers. The shorts feature Nike Dry fabric to help you stay dry and cool during your run. The Dri-Fit Technology wicks sweat away from your skin and moves it to the shorts’ surface where it quickly evaporates. Made from recycled polyester, these shorts come with mesh side panels that have a curved design to allow you to move freely and experience enhanced ventilation. The built-in brief made with soft recycled fabric also utilizes Dri-Fit technology and further enhances your run by helping with wick away sweat and reducing chafing. 

An elastic waistband with an internal drawstring customizes the fit and keeps the shorts in place. A small pocket lets you bring a key or card on your run. Note, though,  that some reviewers say that sizing fluctuates from color to color and that the lighter colors may be see-through.

Best Compression: Reebok Women’s Compression Running Shorts

Best Compression
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Lightweight and breathable, these compression shorts will enhance the physical benefits of your run.

Why It Made The Cut: Reebok Women’s Compression Running Shorts are designed to fit snugly on your legs to help increase blood flow and circulation.

Specs:

  • Material: 88 percent polyester, 12 percent spandex
  • Color: Gray Heather, Flint Gray Heather
  • Inseam: 9.5 inches

Pros:

  • Quick-dry fabric
  • Leg and waist compression
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Only available in two colors 

For extra support during your run, consider the Reebok Women’s Compression Running Shorts, which are designed to squeeze your legs and move with you. The supportive compression material, made from polyester and spandex, helps to increase blood flow and circulation as well as reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. Additionally, the high-rise waist offers tummy control and support. 

The quick-dry fabric wicks moisture away from your skin to the surface of the shorts where it evaporates almost instantly, allowing you to stay dry, comfortable, and focused on your run. The shorts’ two slim side pockets let you bring your key or phone along for the run, but unfortunately, there is no zipper. Reviewers love how these shorts stay in place and don’t roll up when running. Just note these running shorts are only available in light or dark grey. 

Best with Pocket: Southfeel Women’s Running Shorts

Best with Pocket
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Store your phone, cards or keys in the convenient back zipper pocket.

Why It Made The Cut: The Southfeel Women’s Running Shorts are the only pair of shorts on our list that feature a back zipper pocket so you can keep your valuables safe on your run. 

Specs:

  • Material: 90 percent nylon, 10 percent elastane
  • Color: 10+
  • Inseam: 3 inches

Pros: 

  • Quick-dry fabric
  • Built-in underwear
  • V-notch design

Cons:  

  • Not true to size

The Southfeel Women’s Running Shorts are ideal for runners who prefer to get your miles in with nothing in your hands. The back zipper pocket allows you to store your card, keys, or phone so you can move freely. Made with nylon and elastane, these quick-drying shorts are also moisture-wicking to help you stay dry and comfortable mile after mile. 

To allow a greater range of motion, the shorts feature a v-notch design (a sewn upside down V on the outer seam of both legs so you can move unconstricted), a looser fit, and a three-inch inseam. A built-in mesh liner provides extra comfort and additional sweat-wicking coverage. The elastic waistband fits snugly so your shorts won’t ride up while you’re running. Note though that while there is a size chart to refer to, many reviewers suggest sizing up and warn not to put the shorts in the dryer. 

Best with Inner Shorts: Under Armour Men’s Launch 2-in-1 Shorts

Best with Inner Shorts
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Four-way stretch material allows for better and freer movement.

Why It Made The Cut: The Under Armour Men’s Launch 2-in-1 Shorts are designed with light and stretchy outer fabric and built-in knit compression shorts for extra support. 

Specs:

  • Material: 100 percent polyester
  • Color: Black/Reflective, Halo Gray/Reflective, Pitch Gray/Reflective
  • Inseam: 7 inches (outer shorts), 8 inches (inner shorts)

Pros:

  • Mesh side panels
  • Anti-odor technology
  • Elastic waistband with internal drawstring 

Cons: 

  • Pockets do not have zippers

Visibility is an important part of running safely, and Under Armour Men’s Launch 2-in-1 Shorts deliver. Available in three reflective colors, the shorts come with an outer layer that is 100 percent polyester, while the inner is 84 percent polyester and 12 percent elastane. The result is an ultra lightweight, stretch fabric that allows for free range of motion when running. The inner mesh helps regulate body temperature as it lets air circulate freely, making these shorts one of the best tennis shorts. The sweat-wicking material dries quickly and the mesh side panels allow for ventilation. The built-in knit compression shorts help with blood flow, circulation, and muscle recovery and fatigue. And the elastic waistband with an internal drawstring helps the shorts fit well on every runner. 

Under Armour’s anti-odor technology helps stem the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Reviewers say these shorts “deliver in comfort, design, and style” and “the inner liner is fantastic and fits like a glove.” While there are both open hand pockets and a mesh phone pocket, some reviewers say they’re too small to fit anything but a key or card. 

Best Budget: Amazon Essentials Print Shorts

Get excited for your run with these fun prints.

Why It Made The Cut: Light compression, sweat-wicking fabric, and an affordable price tag are just a few of the quality features of the Amazon Essentials Print Shorts. 

Specs:

  • Material: 73 percent polyester, 27 percent spandex
  • Color: White Leopard, Alligator, Donuts, Purple Abstract, Purple Circle Flower, Leopard, Black, Space Dye Black
  • Inseam: 3 inches

Pros:

  • Fun prints to choose from
  • Sweat-wicking fabric
  • Side pockets

Cons: 

  • Not true to size

If you’re one of those people who likes to inject some fun into your running, consider  Amazon Essentials Print Shorts. If donuts aren’t your thing, don’t worry, there are seven other prints to choose from, like white leopard, purple flowers, or classic black. Designed with sweat-wicking fabric, these shorts are quick drying. The fabric is 73 percent  polyester and 27 percent spandex, resulting in a soft feel and four-way stretch for free range of motion. Most reviewers love the shorts, commenting on the quality of the material. One reviewer, however, said the print she purchased was slightly see-through, though she mentioned the issue could have been due to a sizing problem. Many reviewers who purchased these shorts suggested sizing up. 

If you prefer compression shorts, then these might not be the best fit, though they do offer gentle compression in the waist area. The high waist design provides light support while the waistband keeps the shorts in place. Plus, the open pockets on either side of the shorts allow you to bring a key or card along for your run, though a phone might not fit. 

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Running Shorts

Style

There are three main styles of running shorts: compression, v-notch, and split running shorts. Compression shorts are designed to fit snugly on your body to provide muscle support and help with chafing. V-notch is the most classic and popular style. They have an upside down v-shape on either side of the leg seam that allows greater range of motion. Lastly, split running shorts are similar to v-notch, but are not sewn together and instead, are made with overlapping fabric. This style offers even more flexibility. The style you choose depends on your personal preference and comfort level.

Fabric

Running shorts come in a variety of fabrics, both natural and synthetic. The most popular fabrics are polyester, nylon, or a polyester/nylon-spandex blend. These fabrics are the most durable, lightweight, breathable and help with moisture management. One fabric to stay away from is cotton as it absorbs moisture and can be uncomfortable.

Length

The inseam on running shorts can range anywhere from 3 inches to 9.5 inches. There’s no correct length, only one that feels most comfortable for you. Shorter fits offer more breathability and a better range of motion, while longer shorts may build more heat. Compression shorts tend to have a longer inseam, while v-notch and split shorts are usually on the shorter side.

FAQs

Q: What do running shorts do?

There are many different types of running shorts that “do” various things, such as provide support and help to keep your body cool and dry. Most running shorts are made with polyester or a polyester blend to help reduce moisture. Compression shorts can help provide muscle support, while v-notch and split shorts allow a runner to have greater range of motion.

Q: What’s the purpose of two-in-one shorts? 

Two-in-one shorts are compression and traditional shorts rolled into one. The compression shorts replace the inner lining, providing more support, while the outer shorts offer coverage. Typically, both the liner and outer shorts are quick-drying.

Q: What shorts are best for running?

The best shorts for running are those made with lightweight and moisture-wicking fabrics such as polyester, spandex, or nylon. Style is a matter of preference but these materials will help you have a more comfortable run.

Final Thoughts

The best running apparel and gear should enhance your experience, and running shorts are no exception. Colors, prints, length, and style are all a matter of personal preference and comfort. As long as you choose running shorts with a breathable, comfortable, and quick-drying fabric, you’ll feel good mile after mile.