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Now that it’s warming up outside, it’s time to order some new running shorts. Once you hit the pavement with your legs in the breeze, running will feel 10x more enjoyable. There’s something about the freedom that gives your body an extra burst of energy, and new shorts always help to get you out the door and into that run. Since there are so many brands competing for your attention, we’ve rounded up our favorite choices for the season.
What to Consider Before Buying Running Shorts
There are several factors that most running shorts have in common, but beyond that, there’s a lot of choice in the market. Running shorts will typically be made from polyester, which is a lightweight and moisture-wicking material. But many of the best brands make their shorts from recycled polyester, to lighten the environmental impact of this synthetic fabric. Another consideration is length. Many running shorts have a thigh-baring 5″ inseam, but you can find longer shorts with 7″ and 9″ inseams. Or, go even go shorter, with options like the Saucony shorts, which are 2.5″. (If you aren’t ready to show that much leg but like the freedom of movement that comes with shorter shorts, try combining linerless running shorts with compression shorts.)
How We Chose the Best Running Shorts
Runners will have different footwear needs, and the same goes for shorts. That’s why we’ve included options in different lengths — freeing 2.5″ shorts all the way to a more modest 9″ inseam. Most of these running shorts have liners, which vary from mesh brief-liners to shorts with built-in compression boxer briefs. That said, some of our options are linerless. We also took into account factors like style and sustainability — you’ll find multiple shorts on here with at least 50% recycled content.
So if you’re in for a short sprint, a long-distance trail run, or lifting weights in the gym, here are the best men’s running shorts in 2021.
1. Tracksmith Session Shorts
Tracksmith has come out with a great option for your summer running routine. These shorts boast an enviable sweat-drying, odor-resisting fabric which can be helpful on longer runs on a hot day. They have a five-inch inseam version as well, which is nice for runners seeking more legroom. Other features include a drawstring for adjustability and an inside back pocket for small items. Take these on a long trail run or for a jaunt around the city and you won’t be disappointed.
2. lululemon Surge Short 6-Inch Liner
Athleisure lovers can likely agree that there are few things more comfortable than lululemon gear, and these 6-inch shorts certainly hold true to that notion. Designed for running, they are lightweight, moisture-wicking, quick-drying and abrasion-resistant. These shorts are offered in a relaxed fit, meaning they’re roomy in the glute and thigh area for ultimate comfort as you crush your next easy 10.
3. Brooks Sherpa 5″ Running Shorts
Where brands like Nike and Adidas dabble in different sports, Brooks is all about running, and they’ve been at it for a long time. That’s why these 5″ “sherpa” shorts are a great option for dedicated runners. They have reflective detailing for those late-night runs, and there are side pockets and a zip pocket on the back. They have a mesh lining as well.
4. Gymshark Speed 5″ 2 in 1 Running Shorts
Running shorts don’t have to be expensive, and inexpensive running shorts don’t have to feel cheap. Take these affordable shorts from Gymshark, which have handy zippered pockets for stashing your essentials while you run, and the shorts are made from a lightweight and breathable material with plenty of stretch. They’re also equipped with a zero distraction waistband and are built for speed.
Read more: The Best Shorts for Men
5. Nike Flex Stride Running Shorts
Nike has always been a front runner in the exercise realm, and here they reign again with their Flex Stride shorts made of sustainable materials. They’re equipped with woven fabric and enhanced breathability to keep high-sweat areas as cool and dry as possible. They’ve got a soft brief liner for support and come in a variety of colors, including this unique Light Sienna.
6. Under Armour Compression Shorts
BEST TO AVOID CHAFING
If you’re finding yourself suffering from chafing or irritation, try these compression shorts on their own or underneath another pair of shorts. Stop your skin from becoming inflamed and red by protecting your legs with Under Armour’s compression shorts. Don’t be worried about the fit — they’re meant to be tight. Plus, you can wear them by themselves which can be lighter than pairing them with another pair of shorts. This option is also our best deal at just $21.
7. Mack Weldon Stratus Active Shorts
RUNNING SHORTS WITH POCKETS
Mack Weldon makes elevated basics for everyday wear. We’re obsessed with the brand’s men’s joggers, but they also make great shorts for working out. The Stratus Active Shorts come in a few colors, and you can choose from a liner or linerless model. The shorts are mid-length and made from a stretchy blend of polyester and spandex. Ventilation gaps keep you cool even on long runs and there are plenty of zipper pockets for keeping your earbuds, wallet and keys secure.
8. Janji Transit Tech Shorts
A great in-between choice for those looking for more support and coverage, Janji has burst onto the running scene with hot colors and loud prints, to which the Transit Shorts don’t disappoint. These shorts are built to be able to do anything in — they’re unlined, so they’ll be your casual go-to shorts. The DWR finish makes them water-resistant, and the zip pocket on the back is perfect for phone storage. The sustainably-minded company produces these shorts from recycled polyester. They also come in a variety of interesting prints and colors, so be bold in your choices and have fun out there.
Read more: Best Bike Shorts
9. Outdoor Voices High Stride 5″ Short
Outdoor Voices has quickly become one of the most popular athletic brands for men and women, and these stylish and simple shorts are great for runners of all stripes. They feature a built-in liner and a hidden phone pocket. The fabric is light on your body, but it’s also lighter on the planet — that’s because it’s made out of 100% recycled polyester.
10. Vuori Trail Short
These trail shorts from Vuori are built lightweight, with super-stretchy performance-woven fabric. The shorts have an easy fit with a boxer brief liner on the inside, and have a 6.5″ inseam which puts them on the shorter end of the spectrum for running. The CoolMax liner is built for breathability and comfort, and the brushed elastic waistband hugs tight without constricting movement. The waistband also has a pocket for storing your goods so you can go hands-free in the gym, on the trail or anywhere your workout takes you.
11. lululemon T.H.E Short 7″ Linerless
BEST FOR LOUNGING POST-RUN
These unlined, seven-inch shorts are a lightweight dream to run in. Longer than your average sprint workout style short, lululemon has made a classical short in a variety of colors. Made from sweat-wicking material, these shorts will keep you running comfortably on a hot day. There’s also a bonus pocket for your keys.
12. Reebok Running Essentials Two-in-One Shorts
BEST INNER LINER
These running shorts from Reebok are designed to be comfortable and supportive. They’re made with a built-in fitted boxer-brief-style inner liner. But unlike your average pair of Calvins, these liners come with built-in pockets for securely stashing your phone without worrying it jumping around while you run. The shorts have a mesh side panel for added breathability and reflective detailing for running at night.
13. Ten Thousand Foundation Short
BEST FOR POST-WORKOUT COFFEE
If you’re a part of a running group that regularly gets brunch or coffee after the workout, or like to hang out in your gear for a while after the training sesh is over, you need these shorts from Ten Thousand. They’re made for durability in the gym, and comfort all day long with two-way stretch for flexibility and a drawcord for a customized, secure fit. They’ve got a 7″ inseam and a perfect pocket system for storage, and they’re made of abrasion-resistant fabric built to be durable.
14. BearBottom Run Short V2
BearBottom has done a cool thing — they took their customer reviews and made a second version of their shorts based on what people wanted. And what they came up with is beyond amazing with its material sourced from recycled plastic. Although these shorts are not for the modest runner — the seam line comes in at only 5.5 inches — they are still worth considering for their cool factor alone. At 88% polyester and 12% spandex, these shorts are set to breathe as well as move with you. Pick these if you aren’t afraid to show some leg, love the environment, and need multiple pockets for storage.
15. Saucony Split Second Short
BEST FOR SPEED
If you’re into speed, these 2.5-inch shorts are meant for you. The shorter inseam means more flexibility and a longer stride, which will improve your speed on the track. A mix of polyester and spandex, these shorts will keep you dry and comfortable. Best for hot days and speed workouts on the track, Saucony has the right shorts for you.
16. Satisfy Coffee Thermal Short Distance 8” Short
Satisfy makes some excellent, good-looking shorts and their Coffee Thermal Short Distance fare quite well in a colder environment or on a cool morning. The coffee-charcoal lining keeps you insulated and only weighs 125 grams. With a tight inside layer to prevent chafing and an insanely light outer layer, you’ll be running every day once you put these on. With bonded seams to make sure extra fabric doesn’t rub against your skin, no corners have been cut with Satisfy. The inner key pocket is double-lined to prevent any movement. Although the priciest shorts on this list, they’ll be well worth the investment if you’re a serious runner.
17. Asics Split Short
Asics has been a treasured athletic brand for many years now and they are only improving in their performance department. The split short has a neat, five-inch inseam and is lightweight to the point of dreaminess. These shorts will take you far this summer. 100% polyester with ventilation cuts for extra breathing, these shorts will keep you cool and in shape.
18. Nike Dri-FIT Trail Flex Stride Shorts 5″
Plain black shorts not really doing it for you? Make a bold statement with these color-blocked shorts from Nike, which are inspired by trail running. They work well anywhere, though, thanks to the convenient side and back pockets and stretchy poly/spandex construction. They have a slightly roomier fit to keep you comfortable.
19. New Balance Accelerate 7″ Running Shorts
Keep it comfortable with New Balance’s 7″ short, which offers a slightly longer fit than the standard 5″ fit. They have deep pockets for storing your essentials, and they have a brief liner to keep your other essentials in place. These shorts are made from polyester, with 55% coming from recycled materials.
20. Under Armour Men’s UA Qualifier Shorts
These shorts from Under Armour feature a 2-in-1 design — there’s a built-in pair of compression shorts for comfort and support while running or working out. Four-way stretch keeps you moving, no matter where your workout takes you. The inseam of the shorts is 5″, but the inner compression shorts are 8″, adding extra coverage and support.
21. All in Motion Men’s 5″ Lined Run Shorts
Not totally committed to this whole running thing yet? Or maybe you love running, but you don’t want to sink serious cash into a casual hobby. Whatever the reason, these All in Motion shorts from Target are an affordable way to get lined running shorts. They might lack the bells and whistles, but they still have handy features like zippered pockets, a mesh liner and vented sides. Plus, the shorts are made out of recycled polyester.