Best Running Shorts for Men in 2022: Comfort and Mobility

Best Running Shorts for Men

When it comes to running attire, finding the best running shorts is incredibly important. In fact, your shorts might be the fourth most important piece of running attire after socks, shoes, and running jackets. Not just any pair will do. You need them to be comfortable, breathable, flexible, and have a length that shows off just the right amount of leg for you. After all, "sky's out, thighs out" as the saying goes. (Seriously, runners say that. But we promise we'll never say it again.)

Whether you're a split short traditionalist looking for a replica of your high school track shorts, or a dude ready to splurge for the most fashionable pick, we have the best running shorts of this year. Our comprehensive list features lightweight, comfortable, basic, bargain, and luxury running shorts, and we know you'll find the perfect pair to help you run your best.

Why Trust Us?

ACTIVE.com's editorial team relies on the knowledge and experience of fitness and wellness experts including competitive athletes, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and certified trainers. This helps us ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. Collectively, the team has spent countless hours researching equipment, gear, and recovery tools in order to create the most accurate, authentic content for our readers. Customer satisfaction is also a key part of our review process, which is why we only feature products that are highly rated.

The Best Running Shorts for Men - Our Top Picks

By clicking on the product links in this article, we may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Sponsorships and affiliate commissions help support our research so we can help you find the best products. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Best Overall Running Shorts for Men - Nike Stride 7" Running Shorts

Nike Stride 7 Running Shorts

SPECS

  • Length: 7"
  • Material: 94% polyester, 6% spandex
  • Pockets: Side pockets, drop-in liner pocket, back zip pocket
  • Liner: Yes

Check Price

Breathable, soft, flexible—sounds like a runner's dream, right? Well, the Nike Stride 7" Running Shorts are all these adjectives and more. These shorts are some of the most functional on our list. They have four pockets for storing essentials, including a waterproof phone holder. The liner offers support where you need it most without feeling too restrictive.

Nike's new woven fabric is really what sets these shorts apart from the rest. It's lightweight, giving your skin the room to breathe and your legs the ability to move. Reviewers loved that the waistband lies flat and doesn't slip. Plus, these shorts just look good.

What We Like

  • Breathable, flexible, lightweight fabric
  • Functional pockets
  • Comfortable waistband
  • Stylish

What We Don't Like

  • Comparatively speaking, these shorts are pricier than others
  • For runners who like a split short, these will be too long

BUY: Nike Stride 7" Running Shorts

Best Basic Running Shorts for Men - Men's UA Launch Run 7" Shorts

Men's UA Launch Run 7 Shorts

SPECS

  • Length: 7"
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Pockets: Open hand pockets with internal right-side mesh phone pocket
  • Liner: Yes

Check Price

If you are looking for a standard, comfortable, get-the-job-done type of running short, then the UA Launch will be your go-to for every run. Reviewers appreciate these shorts because of their no-nonsense functionality. They are soft, cool, and sweat-wicking. They have pockets, including one to snugly fit your phone. But you won't find any bells or whistles—no hidden pockets, no compression liners—which for some, is a good thing.

What they do have is style. They look good and most men loved that they felt fully covered and supported running in them, even at high speeds. The shorts come in a variety of colors. They do run a tad on the smaller side, so it's a good idea to go up one size for comfort.

What We Like

  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Mesh sides for breathability
  • Stretch and flexibility for maximum mobility
  • Reasonably priced

What We Don't Like

  • The underwear liner can be uncomfortable
  • Lighter colors will show sweat

BUY: Men's UA Launch Run 7" Shorts

Best Budget Running Shorts for Men - DSG Men's 5'' Run Shorts

DSG Men's 5 Run Shorts

SPECS

  • Length: 5"
  • Material: 88% polyester, 12% spandex
  • Pockets: Open hand side pockets
  • Liner: No

Check Price

The price is right for these shorts from Dick's Sporting Goods. Reviewers raved about the quality and comfort that come with a price tag of less than 30 bucks. They offer the basics: moisture-wicking fabric, side pockets, and a drawstring waistband that fits well without feeling too tight. Many runners compared them to name brand shorts and reported the feel and look were first-class.

Flexibility and durability are two big wins for these mid-length shorts. They come in plenty of colors and the overall look is polished and sleek. Reviewers found them to be true to size, and many said they bought multiple pairs after trying them out.

What We Like

  • Comfort and flexibility
  • Suitable for multiple activities
  • Great price

What We Don't Like

  • Not as moisture-wicking as we hoped in very sweaty conditions
  • Few pockets

BUY: DSG Men's 5'' Run Shorts

Best Split Running Shorts for Men - adidas OWN THE RUN SPLIT SHORTS

adidas OWN THE RUN SPLIT SHORTS

SPECS

  • Length: 3"
  • Material: 100% recycled polyester
  • Pockets: No
  • Liner: Yes

Check Price

When it comes to split shorts, your thighs are going to be seen—but don't knock it 'till you try it. Runners who feel constricted by long shorts might love the breezy feeling of these super-soft, super-light shorts.

The side slits are just high enough to offer full range of movement in your stride. Runners of all shapes and sizes said these shorts were comfortable and felt cool throughout even the hottest runs. The drawstring waist ensures they sit right where they need to be for your ultimate comfort.

What We Like

  • Ideal length for split shorts
  • Great movement
  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like

  • No pockets
  • Reflective logo and stripes peel after washes

BUY: adidas OWN THE RUN SPLIT SHORTS

Best Men's Running Shorts for Trail Running - Vuori Trail Shorts

Vuori Trail Shorts

SPECS

  • Length: 6.5"
  • Material: 92% polyester, 8% elastane
  • Pockets: Side pockets, back zipper pocket, hidden liner pocket
  • Liner: Yes

Check Price

If you aren't familiar with the Vuori brand, just know that it is synonymous with comfort. They pay special attention to the feel and performance of fabrics, and these trail shorts are proof. They are meant to keep you dry and have enough stretch to handle multi-directional movement on the trail.

The waistband is comfortable, the cut is stylish, and it comes in cool but subdued colorways. The fit and feel of these make them a perfect choice for trailrunners everywhere. Be forewarned, these might require a bit of extra care when laundering—a delicate cycle is best to maintain color integrity and drawstring placement.

What We Like

  • Fabric is lightweight, soft, and moisture wicking
  • Flexibility and stretch moves with you
  • Good-looking colors

What We Don't Like

  • Pockets sag when carrying heavy objects
  • Requires extra laundry care

BUY: Vuori Trail Shorts

Best Lightweight Running Shorts for Men - Lululemon Pace Breaker Lined Shorts

Lululemon Pace Breaker Lined Shorts

SPECS

  • Length: 5"
  • Material: 89% Polyester, 11% elastane
  • Pockets: Side pockets, zipper side pocket, no-bounce phone pocket in liner
  • Liner: Yes

Check Price

Lululemon is the gold-standard in design, especially when it comes to matching anatomy to function. These shorts offer incredible stretch and comfort, and even feature a mesh liner with a built-in pouch for extra support. Pair that with a super lightweight fabric and well-placed, no-bounce pockets, and you have a pair of shorts that will make you feel like you are faster than you've ever been before.

These are nearly perfect in every way. But one thing did get us down about these shorts, and that's the sogginess factor; they will wick sweat and dry eventually, but seem to retain moisture for longer than some of the other shorts that made the list.

What We Like

  • Super light
  • Liner offers maximum support
  • Comfortable and flexible
  • Great color options

What We Don't Like

  • Can get soggy in sweaty conditions
  • Expensive

BUY: Lululemon Pace Breaker Lined Shorts

Best High-End Running Shorts for Men - Praise Endurance Diablo Running Short

Praise Endurance Diablo Running Shorts

SPECS

  • Length: 4"
  • Material: 90% nylon, 10% elastane
  • Pockets: Zippered side pocket, liner side pockets for phone
  • Liner: Yes

Check Price

If you are a runner who cherishes the finer things in life, then Praise Endurance is the perfect brand for you. They specialize in "run & après run" gear that is designed by creatives and loved by the most stylish and sophisticated among our tribe. The bottom line? These shorts look great, which, for some, make them well worth the price.

But they're not just aesthetically divine, these shorts move well, too. The flexible fabric is comfortable and keeps you dry throughout your run. The liner has snug pockets for no-bounce phone storage and the back zippered pocket is handy for gels and keys. Finally, the reflective features are their rad logo, keeping you safe and looking cool.

What We Like

  • Great design
  • Breathable and lightweight
  • Moisture-resistant
  • Functional pockets

What We Don't Like

  • The unisex design doesn't offer as much support as other shorts
  • Expensive

BUY: Praise Endurance Diablo Running Short

Most Comfortable Running Shorts for Men - REI Co-Op Swiftland 5" Running Shorts

REI Co-Op Swiftland 5 Running Shorts

SPECS

  • Length: 5"
  • Material: 73% nylon, 27% spandex
  • Pockets: 2 drop-in pockets, one back zippered pocket
  • Liner: Yes

Check Price


Stay cool and move freely with the REI Co-op Swiftland 5" Running Shorts. REI's attention to detail on this design is apparent and includes a flat-seam stitch to prevent chafing. The supportive and lightweight mesh liner makes it feel like you're running in almost nothing at all. The four-way stretch fabric flows with your stride. You won't find many running shorts more airy and comfy than this.

The pockets can hold keys and your phone, and they don't stretch or sag. Most reviewers of these running shorts say that they've ordered multiple pairs and don't plan on running in anything else.

What We Like

  • Airy material, breathable
  • Functional pockets
  • Flexible fabric
  • Reasonably priced

What We Don't Like

  • Some reviewers say the waistband is too thick
  • Limited color selection

BUY: REI Co-Op Swiftland 5" Running Shorts

Best Fully Lined Running Shorts for Men - Janji 7" AFO-Vent 2-in-1 Multi Shorts

Janji 7 AFO-Vent 2-in-1 Multi Shorts

SPECS

  • Length: 7"
  • Material: Short: 80% nylon, 20% elastane; Liner: 94% polyester, 6% spandex
  • Pockets: 5 power-mesh-lined pockets, 2 liner pockets
  • Liner: Yes

Check Price

If you prefer running shorts with a full liner, Janji has you covered. These 7-inch shorts boast a supportive liner that is moisture-wicking and flexible. They also have more pockets than any other shorts, which makes them a great choice for long runs, trail runs, or any outing where you might need some extra gear.

Stretch and movement is important to Janji, and reviewers gave them extra stars in this department. These are truly an adventurer's choice and function well for other activities as well as running. The one issue? The liner seams caused some irritation for guys with fuller thighs.

What We Like

  • Supportive liner with supreme moisture-wicking and temperature control
  • Incredible pocket system
  • Flexible fabric

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive
  • Rough seams have the potential to chafe
  • A pocket with a zipper would be nice

BUY: Janji 7" AFO-Vent 2-in-1 Multi Shorts

Best Compression Running Shorts for Men - Men's HeatGear® Armour Compression Shorts

Men's HeatGear Armour Compression Shorts

SPECS

  • Length: 6"
  • Material: 84% polyester, 16% elastane
  • Pockets: Side pocket
  • Liner: No

Check Price

If you are looking for incredible support for your thigh muscles, these tight and snug compression shorts will deliver. You can't go wrong with UA's base layer series, especially if you are looking for a short to keep you dry and the perfect temperature. These are made to move in any direction you need, making them useful for speedy track days and long, slow distance runs alike.

Wear these on their own or with a liner-less short over top. They come in almost every color imaginable and are priced well enough that you can get multiple pairs. The mesh side pocket is perfect to hold your phone in place.

What We Like

  • Holds everything in place, including your phone
  • Exceptional moisture-wicking technology
  • Super stretch flexibility

What We Don't Like

  • Only has 1 pocket
  • Thicker waistband could be bothersome

BUY: Men's HeatGear® Armour Compression Shorts

What to Look for in Running Shorts for Men

Length

Length is truly a personal preference in running shorts. You might wonder why some dudes love the short-shorts that barely cover anything at all. Those men need the space and flexibility to stride out without feeling restricted by stiff fabric, while other men need a little bit of length. The good news is that running shorts nowadays have fabric technology that is flexible and should stretch with you as you run. If you're looking for a bit of coverage but feel like a longer short is messing with your speed, compression shorts worn under a shorter cut of split shorts could solve your problems.

Material

Our standard advice is to avoid cotton shorts for running. Cotton absorbs sweat, which will make them heavy, hot, and moist, which is not pleasant at all.

Most running shorts are made of a combination of polyester, nylon, and spandex. All of these materials have stretch and durability and don't require special care.

  • Polyester: Polyester is cloth made from plastic. It is lightweight, wrinkle-free, and non-absorbent.
  • Nylon: Nylon is a soft fabric that wicks sweat and dries quickly. It's very durable and has a very good stretch.
  • Spandex: We're all familiar with the stretching capabilities of spandex, which is why it's a favorite for flexible sportswear. It's also durable, breathable, and wicks sweat.

There are companies now that are making athletic clothing from natural fibers that offer the same benefits as the synthetics. These include bamboo, tencel (made from wood fibers), and Merino wool. Finding the right fabric will take some trial and error, but one of these will work for you.

Pockets

Do not underestimate the importance of pockets in a pair of running shorts. Figure out all that you need to carry, and find a pair of shorts with that number of pockets or more. Think about it: Do you run with absolutely nothing? Then you do not need pockets! Do you need your phone? You will need a phone pocket that is snug enough to ensure there is no bounce. Do you need fuel? Your keys? A place for your ID? Your good luck rabbit's foot?

Then, what kind of pockets do you prefer? Zippers are useful for important stuff. But if you plan to do core work following a run, a zipper in the back has the potential to dig into your tailbone. Poorly placed zippers could chafe—in fact, any pocket that bounces could chafe.

Inseam

The length of a running short is the inseam measurement of that short. It generally ranges from 2 inches (very short) to 7 inches (long but still not basketball shorts).

Lined

A lined pair of shorts is basically a short that has some version of underwear inside it. Liners offer support so that a jockstrap isn't necessary. Some shorts might have mesh briefs, like lightweight underwear. Other shorts will be fully lined—like a compression short within a looser short. It's best to test out different versions to find what works for you.

FAQs About Men's Running Shorts


What type of shorts are best for running?

Your basic running shorts will have a mesh or full liner and pockets made specifically for running. You have other options as well, like compression shorts, v-notch shorts, and split shorts.

Compression shorts are tight spandex shorts that are meant to support your muscles and hold everything in place. While solid science isn't there to support this claim, some runners swear they keep your legs fresh and promote blood flow.

V-notch shorts are shorts that have an upside-down "v" cutout on the side leg seam, which allows more give when you stride. Most running shorts feature this style.

Split shorts are similar to v-notch shorts except the fabric on either side of the "v" isn't stitched together. Some split shorts are split all the way up to the waistband while others have a slit just up to mid-hip. You will see track, cross country, and elite runners sporting this look because it allows for maximum range.

Are loose or tight shorts better for running?

Loose or tight is a personal preference. Some runners are going to want a compression short that sucks and holds their muscles and other body parts in so they feel no bounce and extra support while they run. Others want a roomy fit. When you're shopping for your perfect pair, the most important factor will likely be range of motion. It's disappointing and frustrating to run in a pair of shorts that actively constricts your movement, and that's what you most want to avoid.

What goes under running shorts?

Many men wonder if they are supposed to wear their boxers or briefs under running shorts. The short answer is, no. Because the vast majority of running shorts have liners in them, you shouldn't have to worry about special undies or a jockstrap. But if you hate liners (and plenty of people do), you can find athletic underwear or compression base layers to put under linerless shorts.

What kind of shorts do marathon runners wear?

Marathon runners' shorts preferences vary. Most elites opt to wear split shorts so they are unrestricted while they run, but you will see some of them sporting compression shorts—especially on chilly days. Recreational runners wear all sorts of different styles. It all depends on your preferences and needs.

Discuss This Article