The Best Running Shorts In 2018 [For Men & Women]

Looking for a new pair of running shorts? Check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide and our top picks for every type of runner.

If you are serious about running, you’re going to need going to stock up your gear bag. And in it, should be a high-quality pair of running shorts.

But, what should you be looking for?

Running Shorts Buyer’s Guide

Breathability

The best running shorts whether that’s for the track, trail, road or gym are going to be lightweight, and constructed using breathable and moisture wicking materials. That’s going to keep you dry and fresh right up until the end of the run.

Length

If you’re running in fair weather, or short distances; a smaller length (such as a 5-inch short) is going to be what you are after. Minimalist shorts offer better breathability and flexibility.

On the flip side, those running long distances, or in poor conditions, might want to go for something longer, such as a 7-inch. Slightly less flexibility, but much more protection from the elements.

Compression

I’ve always liked compression clothing, and not just for running. It’s proven to improve blood flow which helps you run faster and further, but also improves recovery.

If like me, you want compression running shorts, you’ve got two options:

  • Running shorts and a separate pair of compression shorts
  • A pair of running shorts with built in compression

What’s Next?

Our guide to buying running shorts covers a range of categories for different runners looking for different shorts including (in this order):

We’ve covered the best running shorts in each category and finally; declared a winner.

Best Running Shorts With Pockets

If you need to carry your phone, keys, snacks and drinks whilst running, you don’t have to have pockets (if you need lots of storage, check out our buyers guide to the best hydration packs).

But, if pockets are a necessity, these are your options.

Saucony Throttle

Saucony have gone above and beyond with the new Throttle shorts. If crazy design with technical qualities is what you’re looking for in your running shorts, look no further.

But, don’t be dazzled by the unique design, Saucony have produced a contender for the best running shorts top spot here.

Most shorts offer just one pocket, whereas Saucony have managed to incorporate two. Better still, they are zippered, so whatever valuables you are carrying are going to stay safe.

There’s a lightweight brief liner which is more than enough, and allows the Throttle short to breathe perfectly.

Check Price on Amazon  

Under Armour Launch

Like the Saucony Throttle, the Under Armour Launch shorts are incredibly lightweight. But, it feels like their integrated mesh panels offer that little extra breathability.

It’s a loose fit, and there’s a large pocket incorporated into the design, big enough for your phone and keys.

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Under Armour Launch or The Under Armour Launch Shorts?

It all comes down to storage. If you need the two pockets, then Saucony is going to be the short for you.

But, our hands down winner is the Under Armour Launch. Cheaper, more technical and adequate storage.

Best Trail Running Shorts

Trail runners need a more specifically designed short.

If you hit the trail for extended periods, you’re going to be exposed to the elements. And, that means a longer (7”) and more protective short is required.

Brooks Sherpa – 2-In-1 (7”)

The Brooks Sherpa trail short is the first worthy contender. It’s a 2-in-1 short, so it comes inclusive of an boxer liner.

Storage is integrated into the hip with two well sized pockets.

But, that’s not all. The Brooks Sherpa trail running shorts also come with two additional pockets. The first sits on the right thigh, and the second on the back (a small zipper pocket). Storage here is plentiful.

What else do you need? They are reasonably priced, highly breathable, have tonnes of storage and better still, look cool.

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Salomon Fast Wing Trail

At just under $100, we’re starting to spend some serious cash, but as with most Salomon products; it’s worth it.

The Fast Wing trail running shorts are light, incorporating a breathable liner for additional comfort. They have some storage space thanks to the zipped pocket – more than secure enough for your phone – but not exactly mind boggling.

We’d be looking at using the Fast Wing Trail’s on the mid-long all-weather runs. Making this an excellent all-rounder.

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Brooks Sherpa Or The Salomon Fast Wing Trail Running Shorts?

I rarely advocate the higher priced item, but in this case, Salomon gets my vote.

The Brooks Sherpa just seems like an allrounder, and not just a trail allrounder.

Whereas the Salomon incorporates all the core characteristics that trail running shorts should have.

Best Running Shorts For Women

Looking for the best running shorts specifically designed for women? We’ve got you covered with these two awesome options.

Nike Dry Tempo

When I first found the Nike Dry Tempo shorts for women, I couldn’t believe the price; for such a high profile brand it’s a darn good deal.

And, the good thing is this isn’t a new model for Nike. They’ve been producing the Dry Tempo for a while, and improving it year on year.

They’ve got a slim but comfortable fit, and offer excellent moisture wicking capabilities, better than most in this price bracket.

Check Price on Amazon  

Brooks Chaser

You can grab the Brooks Chaser in both a 5” or 7” variety, so there’s a short there for every type of runner.

The fit seems a little odd in comparison to the Dry Tempo; slightly larger. And, the breathability struggles to even be on par, let alone better.

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Nike Dry Tempo Or The Brooks Chaser Womens Running Shorts?

There’s a hands down winner here. Price. Comfort. Fit.

Nike Dry Tempo.

Best Compression Running Shorts For Men

Compression running shorts won’t just help you run, but will aid recovery. And, I use my compression shorts for more than just running. If you hike, walk, or bike – you can use them there too!

Under Armour Men’s HeatGear® Sonic Compression

I’ve become a huge fan of Under Armour over the last few years. As I mentioned here I ended up buying more than one of their running tees.

These shorts are incredibly flexible, so they feel part of you while you run. That’s important, because other shorts don’t and that induces chaffing (not fun).

They come complete with anti-odour technology, so you’ll be smelling fresh right up until the end of your run. This feature is almost not needed. The moisture wicking properties get rid of sweat quicker than you can produce it.

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Nike Pro Combat Core Compression 2.0 (6”)

Nike’s weighing in with a pretty good contender to the Under Armour compression short with their Pro Combat Core 2.0.

They’ve incorporated their popular Dri-FIT moisture wicking and breathable material into the Core 2.0 to make them fresher than ever.

They feel comfortable, but slightly snugger than the Under Armour competitor.

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2XU G2 Pace With Compression (5”)

2XU specialise in compression gear for runners, hikers and bikers. Their G2 Pace With Compression is a 5” short. It’s both a compression and normal running short, so no need to purchase either separately.

You’d think they’d feel bulky, but they just don’t. They’ve done an excellent job of providing adequate amounts of compression, but also comfort, with the help of the exterior liner.

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Under Armour Men’s HeatGear® Sonic Nike Pro Combat Core 2.0 Or The 2XU G2 Pace?

I’ve leaned towards Under Armour here, but I won’t judge you if you go with the Pro Combat from Nike. They are both great options.

If you’re looking for a ready to go short/compression combo, then 2XU is the one for you.

Best Compression Running Shorts For Women

Nike Womens Pro Compression

A comfortable elasticated waist, and Dri-FIT moisture wicking material makes the Pro Compression for women a short that’s hard to beat. Chaffing is almost non-existent here thanks to the flat seams.

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Under Armour Women’s HeatGear Armour

HeatGear is a fabric from Under armour that helps to cover a bigger surface area, without increasing the weight or decreasing comfort. It provides excellent moisture wicking properties and ensures that temperature is regulated throughout a run. And, with anti-microbial properties, the fabric keeps you fresh until the end of your run.

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Nike Womens Pro Compression Or The Under Armour Women’s HeatGear Armour Compression Shorts?

Unless you’ve got a brand preference here, save yourself the cash. They are too close to call and that means the only deciding factor is price. And, at time of writing, that means Under Armour wins.

Ready To Run?

Thanks for reading.

If you’ve not already, check out our Beginners Guide To Running, which includes the ultimate kit list.

Written by
Grant Draper

Grant's a motorcycle geek, outdoor enthusiast & confirmed racing nut. He road tests all the gear he buys, and then gives his feedback here on NoobNorm.

He also details any quick fixes he stumbles upon, whether that's to stop brakes on motorcycles sticking, or unusual noises coming from gaming wheels.

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Written by Grant Draper