The 13 Best Running Shorts for Women of 2021, According to a Running Coach

Run without interruption with these no-slip shorts

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Best Running Shorts for Women

Verywell

Our Top Picks
Complete with multiple pockets to store running essentials, it also features four-way stretch fabric and a lightweight waistband.
Budget-friendly and versatile enough for both short or long runs, its inner brief offers enhanced comfort and chafing protection.
The built-in, no-show breathable mesh liner doesn't ride up or limit your range of motion, even when you're sprinting.
Designed with sweaty runners in mind, its targeted mesh ventilation system keeps you cool and comfortable as you log miles.
Complete with built-in briefs for extra coverage, its technology wicks sweat away while the mesh panels increase ventilation.
Available in a wide range of sizes, these shorts are well-designed for all runners with a compressive fit that ensures snugness.
You won’t have to worry about your shorts riding up, bunching, or sliding down with these popular compression shorts.
Especially ideal for speedwork and sprinting thanks to its 3-inch inseam and split, it allows for excellent mobility.
A staple for your summer wardrobe, its adjustable drawcord and split short design ensures a fit that stays put.
A solid pick for marathon runners, its back pocket fits most phones while its wicking design offers comfort during heavy mileage.

From lightweight racing shorts to compression shorts, running shorts are a must-have for any runner who logs miles outdoors in the warmer weather. Choosing the right shorts can mean the difference between a comfortable, successful run and one that gets cut short due to chafing, discomfort, or wardrobe malfunctions.

No matter what type of running shorts you prefer, quality and comfort are non-negotiable factors. Some runners like shorts with built-in briefs to avoid mid-run adjustments and pockets to stash on-the-run essentials. Aside from that, all runners love shorts that are flattering as well as functional.

Here are the best running shorts for women for every budget and preference, according to a running coach.

Best Overall: Lululemon Speed Up Short Long 4" Updated Fit

Speed Up Short 4" Lined Updated Fit
Pros
  • Comfortable

  • Lots of storage

  • Lightweight and stretchy

  • Great fit and function

Cons
  • May run small

  • White may be see-through

These high-performance women’s running shorts from Lululemon earn our top spot for their quality, features, and comfort. Designed with runners in mind, the shorts feature a lightweight waistband and continuous drawstring so they’ll stay in place without digging into your sides.

They’re made from Lululemon’s fast-drying, lightweight Swift material, which wicks away moisture, keeping you dry and cool. The four-way stretch fabric also makes them comfortable to run in and ensures they retain their shape, even after many trips through the washing machine.

The secure back pocket and the continuous gel pockets on the waistband provide plenty of flexible storage options. With a 4-inch inseam, they're just the right length—not too short or too long. They come in women's sizes 0 to 14 and in a variety of colors and patterns.

Materials: Swift fabric and Lycra | Storage: Zippered back pocket and continuous waistband gel pocket | Care: Machine-washable

Best Budget: C9 Champion 3.5” Knit Premium Running Shorts

C9 Champion 3.5” Knit Premium Running Shorts
Pros
  • Stay securely in place

  • Lightweight and comfortable

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • No pocket for large phone

  • White color is see-through

If you’re looking for comfortable, affordable shorts that work well for short or long runs, you can’t go wrong with this lightweight pair from Champion. With a 3.5-inch inseam, they’re not too short or too long and sit comfortably on the waist, with a wide, stretchy waistband to keep them in place. The zippered pocket in the back is ideal for securely stashing on-the-run essentials such as keys, sports gels, or cash.

The inner brief has wicking fabric for enhanced comfort and chafing protection, and the stretchy fabric allows you to move with ease. Available in sizes 0 through 22, these shorts will quickly become a staple in your summer running clothes rotation.

Materials: Polyester and spandex | Storage: Zippered pocket | Care: Machine wash and tumble dry

Best Design: Hylete Iris Short

Hylete Iris Short
Pros
  • Comfortable design

  • Lightweight and wicking

  • Variety of colors available

  • Good storage options

Cons
  • Pricier than some other options

  • May be too short for some women

These high-quality shorts from Hylete feature a stellar design that’s both practical and flattering. Comfortable and well-made, they have a high-stretch waistband and four-way stretch fabric that moves with you while you run. The built-in no-show breathable mesh liner doesn't ride up or limit your range of motion, even when you're sprinting.

The side zipper pockets keep your valuables secure while you're out on a run and are big enough to fit most phones. These durable, high-performance shorts come in a range of neutral and fun colors and in sizes 0 through 14.

Materials: Nylon, polyester, and spandex | Storage: Two side zippered pockets | Care: Machine wash cold and tumble dry low

Best for Comfort: Athleta Mesh Racer Run Shorts

Athleta Mesh Racer Run Short
Pros
  • Lightweight and comfortable

  • Water-repellent

  • Stays in place

  • Good ventilation

Cons
  • Pocket may not hold large phones

  • Limited color choices

Designed with sweaty runners in mind, these popular shorts from Athleta have a targeted mesh ventilation system that keeps you cool and comfortable. The soft, silky recycled polyester material is sustainable and lightweight, with exceptional wicking and water-repelling capabilities.

The no-slip waistband ensures that they won’t slip down or ride up, so you can stay focused on your workout. The secure zippered pocket and hidden key pocket are ideal for carrying your phone and other essentials when running. The mid-rise shorts have a 4-inch inseam and come in sizes 00 through 18.

Materials: Recycled polyester | Storage: Zippered pocket and hidden key pocket | Care: Machine wash and dry

Best 2-in-1: Nike Women's Tempo Running Shorts

Nike tempo running shorts
Pros
  • Comfortable built-in liner

  • Comfortable fit

  • Good ventilation and wicking

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Lighter color options may be see-through

  • Not much storage

If you prefer your running shirts to have built-in briefs for support, coverage, and protection from chafing, these Nike Dry Tempo Shorts are an affordable and high-quality choice. Nike’s Dri-FIT technology wicks sweat away and the shorts’ mesh panels increase ventilation and cooling.

The easy fit and curved hems allow for a wide range of motion, and the soft fabric adds to the overall comfort. Available in sizes 0 through 18, they come in several color options and are so budget-friendly, you may want to stock up.

Materials: Recycled polyester and polyester | Storage: Interior stash pocket | Care: Machine wash and tumble dry

Best Plus-Size: Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Run Short

Black High-Rise Run Short
Pros
  • Wide range of sizes

  • Comfy, flattering fit

  • Made from recycled water bottles

  • Stylish

Cons
  • Only one small pocket

  • Can’t put in the dryer

Available in a wide range of sizes from XXS to 6XL, these comfy shorts from Girlfriend Collective are flattering and well-designed for runners of all shapes and sizes. With a compressive fit that helps them stay in place, they’re ideal for avoiding chafing and peek-a-boo incidents while running. The back pocket is perfect for stashing a credit card, cash, or keys.

They’re also very stylish and come in several colors, so they can easily work their way into your casual wear wardrobe. Even better, they're made from recycled post-consumer water bottles, so you can feel good about helping to eliminate waste from the environment.

Materials: RPET and Spandex | Storage: Small back pocket | Care: Machine wash and air dry

Best Compression: Baleaf Women's High Waist Running Shorts

Baleaf Women's High Waist Running Shorts
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Don’t slide down or bunch

  • Many color options

  • Roomy side pockets

Cons
  • High-rise waistband may not work for petite women

  • Run small

You won’t have to worry about your shorts riding up, bunching, or sliding down when you’re wearing these extremely popular compression shorts from Baleaf. The lightweight, stretchy, and breathable fabric allows for excellent range of motion and the wide, high-rise waistband enhances the shorts’ overall comfort. They’re available in sizes extra-small to 3XL and come in a short 5-inch and long 8-inch length, so you can choose how much coverage you want.

For your on-the-run essentials, two roomy side pockets offer plenty of space and the compression prevents them from bouncing. With such an affordable price, you may want to stock up and get them in several of the 40+ color options.

Materials: Polyester/Spandex | Storage: Two side pockets and hidden waistband pocket | Care: Machine-washable

Best for Sprinting: Tracksmith Twilight Split Shorts

Tracksmith Twilight Split Shorts
Pros
  • Great for track running

  • Comfortable fit

  • Quick-drying

  • Durable and versatile

Cons
  • Only go up to size 10

  • Can’t put in the dryer

While these highly-rated shorts from Tracksmith perform well for any type of run, they’re especially good for speedwork and sprinting. They have a 3-inch inseam and a split on the outer part of the leg, allowing for excellent range of motion.

Unlike other split shorts, this pair isn’t too long, bulky, or stiff. Ultra-lightweight and comfortable, they’re made of a moisture-wicking, quick-drying fabric that feels soft and smooth against your skin.

Despite its streamlined design, the shorts still fit in three stretchy internal back pockets for sports gels and other essentials. Available in women’s sizes 0 to 10 and in several gorgeous colors, these durable shorts will quickly become a go-to staple for avid runners.

Materials: Polyester and spandex | Storage: Three back internal pockets | Care: Machine wash warm and hang dry

Best No-Slip: Athleta Run With It 3.5” Shorts

Athleta Run With It 3.5” Shorts
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Quick-drying

  • Don’t ride up or fall down

  • Wide range of sizes

Cons
  • Not a lot of color options

  • Only one pocket

With a wide, stretchy waistband and an adjustable drawcord, these Athleta shorts stay put, so you won’t be tugging and pulling on them as you’re running. Whether you’re running long, short, or on the trails, the split short design allows for an excellent range of motion.

The lightweight, stretchy fabric is soft, smooth, and feels comfortable against your skin, while the shorts’ targeted ventilation and quick-drying fabric keep you cool and dry.

A back zippered pocket keeps your cash, credit cards, and other small items secure. Available in women’s sizes 00 to 26W, these shorts are an ideal choice for women seeking a flattering, reliable staple for their warm-weather running wardrobe.

Materials: Recycled polyester and spandex | Storage: Back zippered pocket | Care: Machine wash and dry

Best for Marathons: New Balance Impact Run Shorts

New Balance Impact run short 3 inch
Pros
  • Comfortable for distance running

  • Excellent wicking and ventilation

  • Lightweight and flattering fit

  • Good storage options

Cons
  • Limited color options

  • Not available in plus sizes

Marathon runners need shorts with exceptional comfort and good storage options for all their on-the-run essentials. With a streamlined, relaxed design and a wide, elastic waistband, these New Balance Impact shorts will keep you feeling comfortable and confident as you’re logging serious mileage.

The back-zip pocket can fit most phones and the two small pockets in the front are ideal for your long-run fuel. The internal brief liner provides additional comfort and support, while the moisture-wicking fabric and vented sides keep you cool and dry.

These distance-ready shorts are available in women’s sizes XS to 2XL.

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

Best Long: Lululemon Fast and Free Shorts

Lululemon Fast and Free Shorts
Pros
  • Good coverage

  • Stylish

  • Comfortable

  • Plenty of storage

Cons
  •  Limited color options

  • More expensive than some other choices

If you prefer long shorts, you’ll love the coverage and comfort you get with these Lululemon 10-inch shorts. Made of stretchy, breathable fabric, they move with you as you run and keep you protected from painful chafing. The high-rise waistband and continuous drawcord help keep your shorts in place, so you don't have to pull them up mid-run.

If you prefer to run with your phone, there’s plenty of space to hold it in the deep, drop-in pockets. The five small waistband pockets are perfect for storing essentials, like your money, keys, or credit cards.

The shorts come in women’s sizes 0 through 14 and, if you prefer a little bit shorter, they’re also available in a 6-inch length. For women who also enjoy cycling, they also work well as bike shorts.

Materials: Nylon and Lycra elastane | Storage: Two side pockets and five waistband pockets | Care: Machine wash and tumble dry

Best Petite: Outdoor Voices Hudson 2.5" Shorts

Outdoor Voices Hudson short
Pros
  • Flattering cut

  • Sleek and streamlined

  • Comfortable

  • Good for petite women

Cons
  • Length may be too short for some

  • Pocket not big enough for phone

If you wish you could wear your favorite pair of leggings all summer-long, you’ll love the feel and comfort of these shorts from Outdoor Voices. They work for all shapes and sizes, but petite women in particular prefer the streamlined style, flattering cut, and 2.5-inch length.

Made with lightweight, buttery-soft fabric, they also have excellent wicking capabilities and are quick-drying. The comfortable knit waistband keeps them secure and the built-in brief liner offers additional protection and comfort.

Available in sizes XS to XXXL, these shorts also have a hidden zippered pocket for small items, like keys or credit cards.

Materials: Recycled polyester fabric and spandex | Storage: Hidden zippered pocket | Care: Machine wash cold and tumble dry low

Best for Long Distance Runs: Under Armour Women’s Qualifier Speedpocket Shorts

Under Armour Women’s Qualifier Speedpocket Shorts
Pros
  • Water-resistant pocket fits even large phones

  • Comfortable, stretchy material

  • Anti-odor technology

  • Fast-drying

Cons
  • Limited color options

  • Runs small

For distance runners, Under Armour’s Speed Pocket shorts are perfect for keeping them comfy and chafe-free. With an expandable, water-resistant waistband pocket and a zippered pocket in the back, they also have plenty of space to stash essentials for long runs or distance races.

The comfortable, breathable fabric and four-way stretch construction allows for excellent mobility in every direction. Available in women’s sizes 0 through 16, they also feature UA’s anti-odor technology and outstanding wicking capability to keep you feeling fresh and dry. Although the color options are limited, these shorts are a good wardrobe staple for runners.

Materials: Polyester and elastane | Storage: Expandable, water-resistant waistband pocket and back zippered pocket | Care: Machine wash and tumble dry

Final Verdict

For a comfortable, high-performance, and durable pair of shorts, you can’t go wrong with the versatile Lululemon Speed Up shorts (view at Lululemon). They’re lightweight and breathable, but still provide the coverage and support you need on the run. Made from material that’s moisture-wicking and quick-drying, they’ll keep you cool and comfortable, no matter how far you’re running.

If you’re looking to stock up on budget-friendly shorts for your summer running wardrobe, the C9 Champion 3.5-inch Premium Running Shorts (view at Amazon) are a high-quality, comfortable pick that works well for both short and long-distance running. 

What to Look for in Running Shorts for Women

Style

Some women’s running shorts are skin-tight, while others feature a looser fit and a split-style that allows for great range of motion. Shorts may have a built-in brief for more coverage and support. Women’s running shorts come in many different lengths, from 3- to 10-inch options, so you can choose the one that suits you best.

Material

Shorts that are made from synthetic materials—such as polyester, nylon, or spandex—will provide the most comfort and optimal performance on the run. In addition to allowing for excellent mobility, those fabrics are very breathable and moisture-wicking. Runners should avoid shorts made of cotton because they’re not quick-drying and can lead to chafing and discomfort.

Storage

Many runners like storage options in their shorts so they can carry their phone and stash other running essentials. For hands-free running, compression shorts with side pockets are ideal, since there should be plenty of space for even large phones and there’s little risk of bouncing. Pockets that are secured with a zipper are perfect for carrying valuables such as keys, cash, or credit cards.

FAQs

Are shorter shorts better for running?

Short length is really a matter of personal preference for runners. Some prefer split-style shorts and shorter inseams for speed workouts and racing since they offer a good range of motion and flexibility. However, longer compression shorts are also beneficial for runners who’ve had issues with chafing when running.

Can you wear bike shorts for running?

Compression shorts that are worn for biking can also be used for all types of running, from sprinting to long distance. They’re usually lightweight, stretchy, and moisture-wicking, which are all beneficial features for runners and can help prevent issues such as thigh rubbing and irritation. Just avoid running in bike shorts with built-in padding, as those would be too bulky and uncomfortable.

Why do women's running shorts have liners?

Some women’s running shorts have liners to provide additional support and coverage. Since the liner is built-in, it moves with the shorts and helps them stay put and also reduces your risk of chafing on the run. Wearing shorts with built-in briefs eliminates the need for underwear, helping to simplify your running wardrobe.

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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