Best men’s running shorts


Consider the type of running you most often do to find the optimal shorts that support peak performance and comfort.

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Which men’s running shorts are best?

When people go running, they might not think that they would need a specialized pair of shorts. You would think that any old basketball or gym shorts would do just fine on an extended cardio workout. 

However, the best pair of men’s running shorts, like the On Lightweight Men’s Shorts, rely on extensive testing and research to allow for optimal performance. Depending on the type of running, you want to consider the leg length, side splits, pockets, and material. 

What to know before you buy men’s running shorts

Varying types

Similar to the varying types of running shoes designed to optimize specific activities, some men’s running shorts are better for one kind of running over another. 

For example, if you’re a trail runner, look for durable shorts that help protect you against the elements while keeping you dry. The trade-off with trail running shorts is that they can be slightly heavier than track shorts. 

If the image of really short shorts comes to mind when you think of running apparel, you’re likely thinking of track runner shorts. These athletes typically look for extremely-light shorts that don’t constrain their movements when they sprint aggressively or take long strides. 

Finally, you have the road runners, people who pound the pavement on a daily basis regardless of weather conditions. With that in mind, the men’s running shorts for the road need to keep their wearers cool, dry, and comfortable. 


With men’s running shorts, there’s a delicate balance between optimal performance and comfort. Generally, the more expensive running shorts provide the best of both worlds. However, they can be quite costly. 

That presents an obstacle, especially when you’re looking to purchase several types of shorts for different running scenarios. In that case, you want to weigh how much performance and comfort you’re willing to give up for a lowered cost. 


One of the most important factors in a high-quality men’s running short is the waistband. Regardless if you prefer a thicker waistband over a thinner version, they all must prevent or minimize movement. Generally, the more movement you have, the more likely you are to experience painful chafing. 

What to look for in a quality men’s running short


The best men’s running shorts offer pockets deep enough to hold your phone, keys, mask, and other essentials. 

A fanny pack might seem like a smart way to hold your valuables while running, but its movement around your waist is sure to cause uncomfortable chafing. 

Sweat-wicking material and liner

Nobody enjoys feeling damp or wet while exercising. This is where science comes into play. Most men’s running shorts are made with sweat-wicking material, so your sweat doesn’t accumulate too much on your body. 

Additionally, most brands feature a built-in liner to allow breathability and support that’s not typically found with traditional undergarments. If you’ve ever worn standard underwear on a long run, you’ll have experienced the discomfort that it can cause. 

Side splits

While the split seam on the side of shorts may initially look like a design flaw, it’s actually a calculated design that serves a purpose. You may not realize it, but shorts without the split seams allow for far less range of motion. 

While it’s not always necessary for casual runs, you’ll notice a significant difference in comfort and performance when you use split shorts in a competition.

How much you can expect to spend on men’s running shorts

Depending on the material and features, you can expect to spend between $45–$90 on high-quality men’s running shorts. 

Best men’s running shorts FAQ

How are men’s running shorts different from gym shorts? 

A. Running shorts are typically lighter and provide more comfort for longer distances. They are also more likely to be moisture-wicking than normal gym shorts. 

Are compression shorts best for running? 

A. It’s a matter of personal preference. However, there are unique benefits that come with compression shorts for runners. In addition to improved performance, compression shorts also reduce chafing and decrease the risk of injury by stabilizing your joints. However, some may not be as breathable as other types of shorts, and if they’re too tight, they can restrict the blood flow to your groin. 

What are the best men’s running shorts to buy?

Top men’s running shorts

On Lightweight Men's Shorts

On Lightweight Men’s Shorts

What you need to know: The On Lightweight Men’s Short is designed to provide optimal comfort and performance. 

What you’ll love: These shorts feature a pocket designed specifically to securely hold onto your phone throughout your run. People find that these shorts provide the most waistband and liner comfort compared to their competitors. 

What you should consider: It’s only available with a 7-inch inseam, making it not ideal for those that prefer shorter shorts. 

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry

Top men’s running shorts for the money

Brooks Sherpa 5" Men's Shorts

Brooks Sherpa 5″ Men’s Shorts

What you need to know: The Brooks Sherpa shorts are perfect for those looking to purchase an affordable, high-quality short. 

What you’ll love: These shorts feature external pockets with plenty of space and a comfortable, breathable liner with sweat-wicking material that keeps you dry. 

What you should consider: The waistband has an internal drawstring, which might prove uncomfortable for some people. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Road Runner Sports

Worth checking out

Patagonia Strider Pro 5" Men's Shorts

Patagonia Strider Pro 5″ Men’s Shorts

What you need to know: The Patagonia Strider Pro is an excellent option for long-distance runners who need to keep their valuables on them without hindering performance. 

What you’ll love: There are multiple external pockets. These shorts are also popular due to their comfortable waistband and liner. 

What you should consider: Patagonia’s shorts tend to be slightly more expensive than other shorts. 

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry and Dick’s Sporting Goods

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Christopher Lee writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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