Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Finding the perfect pair of running shorts can leave women feeling like Goldilocks. Some can be too tight, too long, or too tiny. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find the pair of running shorts that fit you just right.
Before you swap out your leggings for shorts, think about what style you like to wear on your runs. The main types of shorts fall under loose (or split shorts), compression (also sometimes referred to as “bike shorts”), and 2-in-1 (which have a fitted layer underneath a loose one). What you pick comes down to your personal preference and comfort level.
- It’s Time to Say Yes to Bike Shorts
- How I Finally Fell in Love with Tight Running Shorts
- Who Wore What? These Were the Top Shoes at the Boston Marathon
Other features like pockets, technological fabric properties, and if it includes a built-in-brief, should also be considered and thought about since you do not want anything to rub or distract. We have taken out some of the guesswork with our top picks.
Here are some of the best running shorts on the market. In a variety of styles and lengths, we promise you really will find a flattering pair to love.
Best ‘Bike’ Shorts [aka Fitted]
Fans of leggings over joggers tend to prefer transitioning to summer in compression shorts that give the same kind of feel with less fabric. Here are some of the bike shorts we tested and loved.
Varlo Calipso 6″ Shorts | $59
From the up-and-coming BIPOC-founded triathlon brand, Varlo, these running compression shorts sport a 6″ inseam–an inch longer than most traditional running compression shorts. They are high waisted with the widest waistband of all the shorts we tested, making them on point for abdominal support and stability while also being super comfortable. We also loved the two slanted side pockets (perfect for gels and a phone) and the fun designs printed on fast-drying fabric.
Tracksmith Lane 5 Short Tights | $68
Five pockets is pretty much all we have to say about these shorts from Tracksmith. That’s right, five. Two on each side and a zipped one on the back waistband. Another thing to love? These 5″ shorts have leg grippers that actually work without overly squeezing your thighs. The wicking mesh in the crotch and pocket panels make these oh-so-nice to wear on a hot day.
Janji 7″ Groundwork Pace Shorts | $70
If you’re a bike shorts lover, this colorful pair from indie brand Janji are the shorts. They fit TTS while making sure you feel locked in, and they don’t ride up even on bigger thighs (or fall down, creating the dreaded drop-crotch). And we wish all women’s clothes came with pockets like these: one on each thigh and deep enough for the biggest phone, plus one in the back for your keys.
Best Split Shorts for Women
If compression isn’t your thing and you’d rather feel that breeze, these are the best split shorts that we recommend this year.
Hoka Women’s Glide 4″ Short | $52
These Hoka Glide 4″ shorts are going to be our go-to pair this summer when things really heat up. The super wide waistband is comfortable (and has a hidden zipped pocket) and the rest of the fabric is ultra lightweight and flowy.
New Balance Impact 3″ Shorts | $45
Another lightweight option, these New Balance shorts have three pockets, including one zipped in the back and a sewn in underpants lining. If you’re looking for something longer, these are also available in a 5″ inseam. We also love that these are made from 50 percent materials considered ‘environmentally preferred.’
Brooks Chaser 5″ Shorts | $58
A hardworking short perfect for just about any run–lightweight with great detailing on the back for ventilation that also shapes your backside (no complaints here). The wide yoga-style waistband sits just right and supports but doesn’t compress. The three pockets are practical and lay flat offering a no-bounce experience.
Rabbit 2.5″ Pocket Shorts | $65
These simple looking shorts are deceptively loaded, with pockets, that is. Who knew a 2.5″ short could hold so much. If you are going for a long run and need to stash gels, keys, phone, credit card, and a tampon–these are the shorts for you with a rear zipper pocket in the waistband, two internal pockets also in the waistband, and two side zipper pockets. And they are also available in a 4″ and 6″ inseam.
The Best 2-in-1 Running Shorts
Looking for the best of both worlds? This was best combo running shorts that we tested.
Rockay 2-in-1 Shorts | $76
Not only was this our favorite 2-in-1 option (comfortable compression shorts with a highly breathable vented short overlay), but they also won us over in their sustainability. Rockay apparel is fully recycled and treated with anti-odor Polygiene, so you can just lay them out to dry and re-wear to cut down on laundering (however, you will need to wash them eventually).