The 10 Best Running Shorts for Men of 2021, According to an Expert

The right fit for your exercising needs

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Wearing the wrong shorts can quickly ruin an otherwise fantastic run, so it’s important to invest in high-quality, comfortable shorts that can go the distance and help you avoid painful chafing, discomfort, and annoying bunching.

Men need running shorts that provide support and exceptional wicking capabilities, keeping them dry and comfortable. Some runners like shorts with built-in briefs and pockets to store running essentials.

Here are the best running shorts for men to help you get the most out of your runs.

Our Top Picks
Breathable and lightweight, they’re made with DriLayer fabric that pulls away moisture, keeping you cool and comfortable.
Comfortable, affordable, and versatile, they are offered in different colors and sizes.
Best for Distance Running:
Lululemon Surge Short 6" Liner at Lululemon
The liner has a 3D shaped pouch that provides outstanding support, while the flat-locked seams help protect against chafing.
These high-quality shorts offer a wide range of sizes, two convenient side pockets, and mesh sides for extra ventilation.
You get plenty of storage with two side pockets, a sweat-resistant zippered pocket in the back, and an interior side-zip pocket.
With a 9-inch inseam, these shorts are ideal for men who like a bit more leg coverage.
The stretchy material offers light compression and moves with you as run, while also helping to keep you dry.
Its durable, water-repellent fabric is quick-drying and features an anti-odor treatment that can keep you feeling fresh.
Made of a lightweight, four-way stretch knit, they have a barely-there feel that’s perfect for fast running.
The streamlined design and athletic fit are exactly what distance runners need in a high-performance running short.

Best Overall: Brooks Sherpa 5" Shorts

Men's Sherpa 5" Short
Pros
  • Good storage options

  • Excellent breathability and moisture-wicking

  • Stylish

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Relatively Expensive

  • No plus-size options

Breathable and lightweight, these stylish shorts from Brooks are perfect for hot and sweaty runs. They’re made with DriLayer fabric that pulls away moisture, keeping you cool and comfortable. As the name suggests, they’re also very functional and ideal for carrying plenty of essentials, with two side pockets and a sweat-resistant zippered one in the back. The moisture-wicking mesh liner also features an additional security pocket for a key or credit cards.

The shorts’ elastic waistband and inner drawstring allow for a snug yet comfy fit. Available in sizes extra-small to extra-extra-large and a few different color options, these versatile shorts definitely earn a spot as a staple in your summer running wardrobe.

Materials: Polyester | Storage: Two side pockets, back zippered pocket, and interior security pocket | Care: Machine wash cold and tumble dry low

Best Budget: BALEAF 7'' Athletic Running Shorts

BALEAF 7'' Athletic Running Shorts
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Quick-dry, wicking fabric

  • Good storage options

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Run small

  • Some large phones might not fit in back pocket

For a pair of comfortable, affordable, and versatile shorts, you can’t go wrong with this lightweight pair from Baleaf. They’re made of quick-dry, wicking fabric and have side mesh panels for extra ventilation, so you’ll stay dry and comfortable on the run. The built-mesh brief provides support and chafing protection, as well as a breathable fit.

The shorts’ deep side pockets and zippered back pocket can carry all your on-the-run essentials, such as your phone, keys, gels, or cash. Available in sizes small through 3X-large, these shorts are so inexpensive that you may want to stock up and grab a few different colors.

Materials: Polyester/Spandex | Storage: Two side pockets and back zippered pocket | Care: Machine wash and tumble dry low

Best for Distance Running: Lululemon Surge Short 6" Liner

Surge Short 6" Liner
Pros
  • Lightweight fabric

  • Two length options

  • Quick-drying and breathable

  • Durable and high-quality materials

Cons
  • No side pockets

  • Expensive

Distance runners need high-performance running shorts that keep them comfortable and chafe-free, but also have storage space for sports gels and other items. Made of a lightweight, quick-drying fabric, these Lululemon shorts will quickly become a favorite for long runs in the summer. The liner has a 3D-shaped pouch that provides outstanding, breathable support, while the flat-locked seams help protect against chafing.

A secure back pocket is the perfect place to hold your phone and other essentials. These shorts are available in sizes extra-small to extra-extra large and come in 4- or 6-inch inseams, so you can opt for more coverage if you want it.

Materials: Polyester and elastane | Storage: Secure back pocket | Care: Machine wash cold and tumble dry low

Best Plus Size: Nike Men's Flex Plus Training Shorts

Nike Men's Flex Plus Training Shorts
Pros
  • Wide range of sizes

  • Stylish

  • Lightweight and soft fabric

  • Good ventilation

Cons
  • Inseam may be too long for some runners

  • No zippered pocket

When it comes to running shorts, the selection of plus-sized clothing is still very limited. However, these high-quality shorts from Nike offer a wide range of sizes, from small to 3XLT. They’re made from a lightweight flex fabric that allows for an excellent range of motion and also has an elastic waistband and drawcord for a secure fit.

With two convenient side pockets and mesh sides for extra ventilation, these shorts are a solid choice for running and other activities. They're even stylish enough for casual wear.

Materials: Polyester and spandex | Storage: Side pockets | Care: Machine wash and tumble dry low

Best for Storage: Brooks 7" 2-in-1 Cargo Running Shorts

Brooks 7" 2-in-1 Cargo Running Shorts
Pros
  • Lots of storage options

  • Chafing protection

  • Breathable, lightweight fabric

  • Compression brief

Cons
  • Expensive

  • May be too long for some

If you like the feel and performance of compression shorts, but prefer a bit more coverage, these 2-in-1 shorts from Brooks are a fantastic option. The 7-inch inseam shorts are made of a lightweight, sweat-wicking fabric and feature a compression brief that provides support and chafing protection. The mesh inserts provide cooling ventilation during long, sweaty runs.

Aside from the exceptional comfort, these shorts also provide plenty of storage options, with two side pockets, a sweat-resistant zippered pocket in the back, and an interior side zip pocket. Available in sizes extra-small to extra-extra-large, they’ll keep you running comfortably for miles, whether on roads or trails.

Materials: Recycled polyester and spandex | Storage: Side pockets, sweat-resistant back pocket, and zip interior pocket | Care: Machine wash and tumble dry

Best Long Shorts: Under Armour Men's Launch 9'' Running Shorts

Under Armour Men's Launch 9'' Running Shorts
Pros
  • Durable

  • Comfortable

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Anti-odor protection

Cons
  • Not available in plus sizes

  • May be too long for some men

With a 9-inch inseam, these Under Armour shorts are ideal for men who like a bit more leg coverage. The lightweight, four-way stretch material features moisture-wicking and anti-odor technologies to keep you feeling dry and fresh. The built-in liner provides additional coverage and support, while the open side pockets and secure phone pocket give you storage options.

The elastic waistband with internal drawcord helps keep the shorts from riding up or falling down. Available in sizes small to extra-extra-large, these shorts work well for running, but are also perfect for backyard lounging and casual wear.

Materials: Polyester | Storage: Side pockets and phone pocket | Care: Machine wash and air dry

Best Compression: Brooks Source 9" Short Tight

Brooks Source shorts tights
Pros
  • Supportive, stretchy feel

  • Lightweight material

  • Comfortable, secure, flat waistband

  • Good storage

Cons
  • Short-tight style may not be for everyone

  • Relatively Expensive

For excellent support and maximum range of motion, these Brooks Source Half Tights are a popular pick for both short and distance running. The stretchy material offers light compression and moves with you as run, while also helping to keep you dry. Minimal seams reduce the overall weight and protect against chafing.

Two side drop-in pockets are perfect for stashing your phone and any other on-the-run essentials. With a streamlined design, flat waistband, and an adjustable drawstring, these shorts provide a secure, comfortable fit. They’re available in men’s sizes extra-small to extra-extra-large.

Materials: Polyester and spandex | Storage: Two drop-in hip pockets | Care: Machine wash cold and tumble dry low

Best for Trail Running: Patagonia Men's Strider Pro Running Shorts

Patagonia Strider Pro 5in Short
Pros
  • Chafe-free and odor-resistant liner

  • Supportive, comfortable fit

  • Good storage options

  • Lightweight, breathable fabric

Cons
  • Some smartphones may not fit in the zipper pocket

  • Not available in plus-sizes

Perfect for hitting the trails, these shorts from Patagonia feature a comfortable, minimal design with plenty of room for trail running essentials. The 5-inch inseam works for short or long distances, and the side splits allow for enhanced mobility and ventilation. Even better, the durable, water-repellent fabric is quick-drying and features an anti-odor treatment, helping to keep you feeling dry and fresh on the trails.

With a comfortable elastic waistband and a sturdy drawcord, these shorts stay put, so you won’t be tugging at them while you’re running. The shorts’ side pockets lie flat, and another zippered back pocket is ideal for stashing valuables such as credit cards, keys, or cash.

These durable shorts come in men’s sizes small to extra-large.

Materials: Polyester | Storage: Side pockets and back zippered pocket | Care: Machine wash and hang dry

Best for Sprinting: Tracksmith Session Shorts

Tracksmith session shorts
Pros
  • Quick-drying

  • Durable and versatile

  • Great for track running

  • Comfortable fit

Cons
  • Only go up to size extra-large

  • Air dry only

These popular shorts from Tracksmith work well for runs of all distances, but they’re especially good for sprinting and trackwork. Made of a lightweight, four-way stretch knit, they have a barely-there feel that’s perfect for fast running. They’re also extremely breathable and have a durable, antimicrobial liner that provides good support and anti-odor protection.

Despite its minimalist design, the durable shorts still feature a zippered back pocket for keys and credit cards. Available in men’s sizes extra-small to extra-large, they’ll quickly become your go-to shorts when speedwork is on your training schedule.

Materials: Polyester and spandex | Storage: Back pocket | Care: Machine wash warm and hang dry

Best for Marathons: New Balance Impact Run 7" Shorts

New Balance Impact Run Shorts
Pros
  • Good storage options

  • Inner brief offers support

  • Good wicking capability

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Pockets may not fit large phones

  • May run big

For marathon runners, New Balance’s Impact shorts are ideal for staying comfortable and chafe-free during long training runs and the race itself. The streamlined design and athletic fit are exactly what distance runners need in a high-performance running short. The inner liner provides extra comfort, security, and support, while the lightweight fabric wicks away moisture to prevent the shorts from clinging to you with sweat.

With side pockets and a back zippered pocket, there’s plenty of space to stash essentials such as sports gels, money, and keys. For functional, high-quality shorts, you can’t go wrong with this stylish pair that’s made for mileage. They’re available in men’s sizes small to extra-extra-large.

Materials: Polyester and spandex | Storage: Side pockets and zippered back pocket | Care: Machine wash and tumble dry

Final Verdict

For comfort, durability, and overall performance, the Brooks Sherpa Shorts (view at Amazon) are our top pick. They’re lightweight and breathable, but still offer good support and coverage. Constructed from sweat-wicking, quick-drying fabric, they’ll keep you cool and comfortable no matter how far you’re running.

If you want to stock up on affordable shorts for summer running, the Baleaf 7-inch Running Shorts (view at Amazon) are another solid pick for both short and long-distance running. They’re comfortable and versatile, with plenty of storage space for on-the-run essentials.

What to Look for in Running Shorts for Men

Style

Some men’s running shorts are tight-fitting with compression, while others are looser and have notches on the sides that allow for great range of motion. Built-in briefs can offer more coverage and support. Running shorts come in different lengths, from 3- to 10-inch inseams, so you can find ones that suit your needs and preference.

Material

Shorts that are made from synthetic materials, such as polyester, spandex, or nylon will provide optimal comfort and performance. Those fabrics stretch and move with you as you run, and they’re also very breathable and moisture-wicking. Cotton is not the best material for running shorts because it’s quick-drying, which can lead to chafing and discomfort.

Storage

Most runners want at least one place to stash items in their shorts. If you like to run with your phone, compression shorts with side pockets are ideal, since there’s enough room for large phones and it’s less likely to bounce. Waistband pockets with a zipper are ideal for holding valuables such as keys, cash, or credit cards.

FAQs

Are Shorter Shorts Better for Running?

Length of running shorts is a matter of personal preference. Some runners like shorter inseams for speed workouts and racing, since they offer a lot of flexibility and range of motion.

“Longer shorts that come down past your knees really tend to get annoying on longer runs,” says Paul Ronto, ultra-runner, gear expert, and chief marketing officer for RunRepeat.com. “If you are one of these short-short haters, try shorts with the built-in compression lining. They tend to stick down further than the hem of the shorts and don't show off as much skin.” 

Why Do Men's Running Shorts Have Liners?

Some men’s running shorts have liners or built-in compression shorts to offer additional support and coverage. The built-in liner moves with the shorts, helping them to stay put and reduce the risk of chafing.

Do You Wear Underwear With Running Shorts?

Wearing tight-fitting, moisture-wicking underwear with running shorts can provide support and prevent chafing when you’re running. However, if you’re wearing 2-in-1 running shorts or ones that have a built-in liner, it’s not necessary to wear underwear with running shorts.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As an avid runner, running coach, certified personal trainer, and fitness writer, Christine Luff has researched and tested lots of running gear and attire. She knows that the right pair of running shorts can make the difference between a mediocre run and a fantastic one.

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