Choosing the best running shorts is very personal. Every runner’s body is different and everyone has distinct preferences for fit and function. For example, maybe you’re a frequent speed-oriented runner or maybe you run several miles at a moderate pace each time you go, or maybe you’d like to run shorter distances with quick warm-ups on conveyor belt. Whatever your needs and goals, the best running shorts for women are lightweight and don’t cause painful chafing.
A good pair of running shorts, like a good pair of running shoes, can be a huge motivation to achieve your personal best. According to the women we spoke to, their favorite running shorts emphasize comfort and coverage, and specifically factors like fit, practical details like phone pockets, and style. also general. Read on to find the best shorts for women to get you started.
Best Running Shorts for Women Globally
Go-To Running Shorts that will go the distance
Best Comfortable Running Shorts for Women
Cross the finish line in style with these shorts
Best Women’s Compression Running Shorts
A snug fit that holds everything together
Hitting just above mid-thigh, these fitted shorts from Outdoor Voices look like they might bunch up as soon as you start running. But according to runner Mary M., that’s not the case. “They stay put and are a great breathable fabric,” she explains. Mary is such a fan of the compressive material and comfortable fit that she owns several pairs of these shorts.
Best chafe-free running shorts for women
A mid-thigh style that prevents uncomfortable skin irritation
Avid jogger Ali B. says these are his favorite shorts for hitting the pavement because they don’t ride up his 5’3” frame. If you have particularly long legs, she recommends opting for the eight-inch-long Wunder Train shorts, just to be on the safe side. Another great feature of this pair is their sweat-wicking material that keeps the wearer cool and doesn’t pill between the thighs, Ali adds. Plus, they come in a variety of pretty colors and patterns.
Best High Waisted Running Shorts for Women
Running shorts that sit high on the hip
Best Plus Size Running Shorts for Women
Built-in compression provides coverage and comfort
Best Cooling Running Shorts for Women
Stay cool with optimal range of motion
Best Tight Running Shorts for Women
Fitted running shorts that don’t ride up
Allie Buchalski, a member of the Brooks Beasts pro running team, says the Method 8” cropped tights are one of her favorite styles for hitting the trail. My phone can also be carried in the side pocket without me worrying about it falling out,” she says. The shorts also have lightweight, sweat-wicking fabric and minimal seams for a barely there feel.
Best Short Running Shorts for Women
Barely There Shorts to help you set the pace
What to Consider When Buying Women’s Running Shorts
- Material: “The most popular running shorts are made from full-synthetic microfiber weaves created from super-stretch woven polyesters and lycra/spandex blends,” says Michael Yardis of specialty store Threads & Treads. “These types of materials are breathable, sweat-wicking, anti-friction, and potentially even odor-resistant.” So basically avoid cotton as they can be slow to dry and can be bulky and heavy when wet.
- Adapt: This look is something that is entirely user preference, and there are a few different styles to choose from. Some prefer fitted compression shorts while others opt for a roomier lightweight material. Many prefer a combination of the two, with both a lightweight outer layer and a snug underlay or liner.
- Trim: Often, “it’s best to have a liner built in so it’s a ‘slip one and done’ setup,” says Yardis. A liner should be breathable and non-chafing, and it shouldn’t impede the movement of the shorts inside your thigh when running. However, the liners are incredibly polarizing and runners seem to either love them or hate them.
- Belt: This feature ranges from thinner drawstring styles for easy, customizable adjustments to thicker, form-fitting waistbands that can be tucked away. Because you don’t want any of your extras, like keys, cash or a phone, lying around or getting lost, pockets are often tucked away in the waistbands of running shorts.
- Length: When it comes to length, most runners find they have a sweet spot. You want to feel like you’re covered, but you also don’t want the shorts to ride up and chafe your inner thighs. Typically, the best running shorts for women have an inseam of two to seven inches.
Frequently Asked Questions About Women’s Running Shorts
What are the best types of shorts for running?
It’s a matter of opinion, but most experts agree that the best women’s running shorts are lightweight, stay put during sprints and longer runs, dry quickly, don’t chafe, and have practical pockets. However, the best type largely depends on what you are most comfortable in and what will help you achieve your running and training goals. Some brands that offer a wide variety of styles include Lululemon, Athleta, and Under Armour, so you can start your search on those sites.
Is it better to run in baggy or tight shorts?
The tightness of shorts generally depends on personal preference, length of run and air temperature, says Michael Yardis of Threads & Treads who runs a specialist shop. Many runners prefer tighter shorts in cold weather to trap in heat and lighter, shorter shorts when it’s hot and humid.
How long should running shorts be?
Running shorts should be long enough to give you coverage that makes you comfortable and the right length and fabric to allow for a good range of motion. Many women prefer an inseam that keeps the delicate inner thigh skin covered to prevent chafing.