The 15 Best Running Shorts for Men, for All Types of Runners
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The 15 Best Running Shorts for Men, for All Types of Runners

Jan 13, 2024

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RUNNING IS a simple pursuit—you just have to get out and go—but sometimes, even when you're already out on the road, issues can pop up that might hold you back from achieving your goals. Maybe you skipped stretching or you forgot to fuel properly? Or perhaps you've run into a couple problems with your gear? Namely, ill-fitting running shorts.

A proper pair of running shorts is vital to your performance. "Running form is crucial to your overall performance for a race and your longevity as a running competitor, especially for those who may be running more than usual, putting more miles than ever on your body," says James Dietler-Bennion, CSM CPT, Orangetheory Fitness senior head coach. This means if you have uncomfortable shorts that are throwing your running form off then you’re not going to crush that PR.

Read more: How Men's Health Thoroughly Tests and Reviews Fitness Products

When you’re not wearing the proper running gear—whether you need something like stability running shoes or you go off-road sans trail running sneaks—your time and technique can suffer. (Also, is there anything worse than too-long shorts sticking to your sweat-drenched thighs, making every stride miserable?) That's why we did an extensive sweep of the market to find the best running shorts available.

To accurately test the best running shorts we discovered, our team of fitness and style editors has put these to the test for relaxed, short runs, sprint workouts, and even races. We paid close attention to any sign of chafing, riding up, bunching, or other distractions to rule out the mediocre suspects, and bring you only the best.

What really makes a perfect pair of running shorts, according to our editors? From mesh or compression liners and pockets to a seamless fit and eye-catching print, we all have our preferences. Meaning we’ve got something for every runner. Grab a pair or two, then pick out your next running workout so you can get to work!

Best Athletic Shorts | Best Gym Shorts | Best Sweat Shorts | Best Shorts for Summer | Best Running Shoes | Most Cushioned Running Shoes

Cut in a four-inch inseam sweetspot, the Van Cortland is a running short with a proven track record. They're comfortable, lightweight, and incredibly durable (they're made with a strong antimicrobial fabric).

And when it comes to style, no other running short is as timeless. With a 4" inseam, they're slightly shorter than your average running short, but just right for hitting the pavement distraction-free.

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Van Cortlandt Shorts


These ultra-lightweight 'featherweight' shorts have minimalist waistband for extra comfort and side slits for maximum range of motion. And they also have a mesh brief liner for extra support and no-bounce hidden pockets.

"Despite being super light, but they still have rugged build," says MH Senior Fitness Editor Brett Williams. "I'm a big fan of the cut—and that I can still stow some of my gear with the internal pockets."

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Distance Short


This pair of no-frills shorts features a liner for extra comfort and security, while the lightweight fabric—woven with 100 percent polyester—wicks sweat to keep you dry. They have a handy waist pocket for your house or car keys, too.

New Balance quality, Amazon service. Which means free shipping, fast delivery, and free returns, if you want to buy a few sizes or colors and decide on your favorites later. Best of all, they're only $30.

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Accelerate Short


Just like their tops, MH editor John Thompson has found Satisfy Running's shorts to be one of his favorites for his morning runs. In his experience, the shorts are breathable and thin, but they're still sturdy enough to stay in place and not sag when throwing your phone or keys in the pockets. He also loves their style and staying power. They aren't too tight and they've held up nicely through many washes.

The Trail Shorts feature two easy pockets and an inner mesh liner made from ultra soft tech-silk. Inside the short waistband is a mini carabiner to attach a house key to, as well as a snug fitting phone pocket. Overall, they're as stylish as they are functional. Which, at this price, is absolutely essential.

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Rippy Trail Shorts


Come for the comfort and luxury materials, stay for the support and high performance.

These are often Williams' go-to running shorts, both because of the look and the built-in liner, which he says fits better than just about anything else he's worn.

The Pace Breaker Lined gives you super soft fabric with a hidden drawstring, plus a zippered storage pocket.

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Pace Breaker Lined Short 5"


These super affordable shorts are a best seller on Amazon. They have built-in mesh briefs for a breathable feel and extra ventilation. Gotta love the zippered pocket at the back waistband., too.

At 7" inches, they're more conservative in length than many other options on this list. Plus, they come in a ton of sizes, making them great for bigger guys.

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7'' Athletic Running Shorts


These brightly-patterned shorts might catch your eye, but their performance-minded features is what will keep them in your regular rotation. They're made with extra light AFO stretch woven fabric, but pack in support with a built-in brief liner. Even though these 5-inch shorts are short, there's room for your stuff with a zipper pocket in the rear and an internal drop down brief pocket for cards and keys.

"I've owned the same pair of Pace Breaker shorts for over three years now, and they've saved me a lot of money in that time because I haven't had to buy many running shorts since," says Thompson. "The fabric actually resists sweat and odor, as I've put these through the toughest sprinting workouts. And when I throw them in the wash after I'm happy to see the color and fabric stays strong every time."

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AFO Middle Short


Despite the name of these shorts, they aren't made from that furry 'sherpa' material. In fact, they're one of the most lightweight, quick-drying shorts we've tried.

A back zip pocket protects your valuables against sweat. They're got built-in briefs, and Brooks' signature quality, making them an ideal choice for short or long runs in all conditions.

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Sherpa 5" Short


These no-frills runners from Nike feature what you need in a pair of shorts—moisture-wicking fabric, an adjustable waistband, subtle pockets, and reflective logos for night running. And without any wasteful materials to weigh you down.

"I love these shorts for everything from a 12-mile long run to walking my dog," says Williams. "The soft liner is mega comfortable, and the drawstring helps me to make the fit perfect."

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Flex Stride 5"


This versatile short is a solid choice for laid-back runners, or really anyone who makes comfort their number one priority. The Banks is made of water-resistant material, so if your jog takes you to the beach, all the better.

If you're new to Vuori, just know that it makes some of the softest, most well-made athletic clothes we've ever tried. Even after multiple washes, the fabric stays buttery-soft and won't thin out.

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Banks Short 5"


These stretchy and lightweight shorts come in 5- and 7-inch inseams (go for the shorter length for running) and are ridiculously soft and comfy. They also come with the option of liner or no liner and the shorts feature two deep front pockets, a hidden zipper pocket in the front right pocket, and a Velcro pocket in the back.

These shorts are ideal for low-key runners, and even double as swim shorts, perfect for that post-run jump in the lake, pool, or ocean in the summer.

P.S. They’re made from 4+ recycled bottles and 2+ discarded coconuts. Pretty cool, huh?

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Lucid Dreams 5"


These lightweight shorts designed with moisture-wicking fabric helps keep you cool and comfy during long trail runs or half-marathon training workouts, basically, wherever the day takes you.

A smart spin on the traditional split running short, these shorts provide nifty features like a 360-degree pocketed waistband for gear, protein bars, electrolyte powders, and your phone, an anti-chafe hem, and a built-in mesh brief.

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Velum Short


These shorts have serious performance. The 4-way stretch fabric is breathable and lightweight, and features like a back zipper pocket, two front pockets, and a media pocket make these a top tier pick.

The Mako might seem pricey for an Amazon pick, but Rhone's quality doesn't disappoint.

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Mako 9" Unlined Short


These minimalist shorts are made from top-notch materials, with an anti-odor liner and heathered finish. Stow your phone in a zippered rear pocket and get running.

No frills, just luxe performance here. We love the classic look, too, which make them just as fit for a run as they are for lounging at home.

Read more: Best Athletic Shorts

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Session Shorts


These classic woven shorts are perfect for the guy who's all about the basics. With these, you get a light, breathable material that's both soft and cool, as well as easy-access side pockets and reflective dots for night runs.

They feature built-in compression shorts and a drawstring waist, making them a secure and convenient choice for whatever run you're taking on.

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2-in-1 Short


When shopping for a pair of running shorts, there are a few important factors that you should consider to be sure they can keep up with your mileage.

Comfort: Running shorts should feel comfortable when you really get moving, meaning they shouldn't be too tight or restrictive. Look for shorts made from moisture-wicking fabric that is breathable and lightweight.

Length: Running shorts come in various lengths, ranging from short shorts to longer ones that fall just above the knee. Many prefer a shorter short (~5") for maximum comfort and ease of movement when running (and we, like Donald Glover, support the short short thing, too). But consider what you tend to feel most comfortable in.

Support: Many running shorts have some sort of built-in mesh or compression briefs to provide extra support and prevent chafing. If you prefer not having to layer a separate pair underneath, look for shorts with this feature.

Pockets: If you tend to carry items on you, such as keys or energy gels, while you run, you've probably wished for another pocket at one time or another. Some shorts, like the picks on this list from Lululemon and Ultimate Direction, have zippered, extra-roomy, and/or interior pockets for added security and storage on-the-go.

Durability: You don't want shorts that rip when you're headed out for a jog or miles from home, do you? We didn't think so.

Style: While it's certainly not the most important factor, some may prefer a certain style or color of running shorts. Consider what you like and what makes you feel confident while you run. After all, when you feel good, you perform well, too.

At Men's Health, we take great pride in providing our readers with reliable and trustworthy product recommendations. We believe that our readers deserve the best, which is why we always make sure to conduct thorough research and testing before making any recommendations. Our writers and editors thoughtfully select experts for collaboration on product recommendations, and are also experts in their own right, using their informed opinions to select products and ensuring that our content is of the highest quality.

Our product recommendations are purely editorial, and while we may receive free products to test and review, we only recommend the products we are most impressed by. We never let retailers or public relations contacts dictate our content or product coverage. Which is why you can trust us to provide you with reliable and unbiased product recommendations.

For the past two years, we consulted with Men's Health's Fitness editors and writers on the top running shorts for men. Experts including our Senior Fitness Editor Brett Williams, NASM, put a number of shorts to the test and evaluated their comfort, durability, breathability, and price point. We also considered top-reviewed running shorts that had at least 100 five-star customer ratings on e-commerce websites that we trust.

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