Published Sep. 29, 2021

Compiling a list of the best men’s running shorts is the perfect assignment for a running freak and gear junkie like myself. Being a runner and the host of a popular running podcast, I can speak with authority on the seemingly impossible task of finding suitable running shorts for men. I’ve owned so many different pairs of shorts over the years, it would be impossible to count.

While I’m particular about my running shorts, I wouldn’t say my “must-haves” are ridiculous. I like my shorts to be loose, but not have too much material. I need pockets for some of my stuff, mainly my phone, and I need quick-drying shorts with maybe some odor-defense tech. I don’t pay exorbitant prices for running shorts because when it comes down to it, these are pants I’m going to soak in sweat that few people will see while I’m running alone on roads and trails. I like to think my needs match the needs of millions of runners worldwide, so I researched some of the best men’s running shorts for runners of all shapes and sizes.

How We Chose These Products

Methodology

The following running shorts were chosen based on three criteria: functionality, material, and affordability. 

  • Functionality: All of these running shorts are practical without too many pointless bells and whistles. One thing you definitely do want to make sure your running shorts have is pockets—and not just any old pockets, but deep enough pockets for reliably holding the essentials, such as a key fob and phone, especially if you like to listen to music or podcasts on your runs.
  • Material: Most running shorts are made from sweat-wicking and breathable materials. Instead of trapping moisture against the skin, these fabrics help pull the sweat away. Popular materials for running shorts include nylon, polypropylene, polyester, and spandex. The material used in our top picks will be sure to keep you cool and dry, even while you’re working up a sweat. 
  • Affordability: None of these shorts will make you feel bad from sweating so profusely while wearing them to run.  

Best Men’s Running Shorts: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: New Balance Impact Men’s Running Shorts

Minimal and durable

These running shorts are comfortable, versatile, stylish, and perfect for any athletic activity. New Balance

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Why These Made The Cut: The New Balance Impact shorts are everything a guy needs in a running short at a fair price. The shorts are available in 5-inch and 7-inch lengths and provide runners with plenty of legroom without being too baggy. The material also dries as fast as a bathing suit.  

Specs: 

  • Material: 100 percent recycled polyester
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Colors: Helium, Black, Black/Wave Blue, Eclipse, Ocean Grey, Sulphur Yellow
  • Lengths: 5-inch and 7-inch

Pros:

  • Not too tight or restrictive
  • Pockets plus zip pocket in back for extra storage
  • Inner lining
  • Quick-drying material pulls moisture away from body
  • Colors stay vibrant even with extensive sweating and washing
  • Drawstring waist

Cons:

  • Not everyone likes lining
  • Side pockets not deep enough
  • Lighter colors show excessive sweat

The New Balance Impact men’s running shorts are everything a guy needs in a workout short. They’re breathable, comfortable, quick-drying, and every color looks good. These shorts are perfect for long runs, track workouts, or even group fitness classes. 

These shorts were designed to rise close to the body but skim the hip and thigh, giving runners more range of motion without feeling too tight. The 100-percent-recycled polyester will keep runners cool while the moisture-wicking inner briefs won’t irritate or chafe the skin and will dry just as quickly as the outer layer. 

That said, the side pockets aren’t quite deep enough to hold much. Luckily, the back zip pocket is big enough to hold a phone so runners don’t have to deal with the annoyance of a cell phone banging against the hip or legs during a run. 

Best Value: Amazon Essentials Men’s Running Shorts

Effective and Inexpensive

Lightweight and moisture-wicking with breathable active stretch fabric in a variety of color options. Amazon Essentials

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Why These Made The Cut:  Men’s running shorts serve two primary purposes: cover up a man’s underwear and hold stuff in the pockets while running. These running shorts do both, look good for a low price, and you won’t feel bad throwing them away when the funk won’t wash off.

Specs: 

  • Material: 100 percent polyester
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Colors: Black/black, black/medium gray, black/red, black/royal blue, burgundy/navy, dark gray/black, olive geo camo/black, olive/black, orange/navy

Pros:

  • Fits true to size
  • Hold up over multiple washings
  • Good for taller runners
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Breathable material
  • Suitable for all exercises

Cons:

  • Colors will fade over time
  • Easily gets snagged and material pulls

Running shorts are for sweating in and these Amazon Essentials running shorts are as basic as basic gets while still getting the job done. They’re perfect for “in case you didn’t do laundry” emergencies or just throwing into a gym bag or the back of a car if your first pair of running shorts look worse for wear after a marathon training session. Best of all, these are sold in packs of two, so you’re getting two new pairs of shorts for the same price as one pair from a high-end running company.

These men’s running shorts are roomy without being too big, fit through the hip, thigh, and leg, and made from breathable active stretch fabric. The deep side pockets are perfect for carrying anything you might need on the run, like a phone, iPod, or gels and snacks for those extra-long runs.  

In addition to being lightweight and moisture-wicking, these shorts come in so many colors and patterns you could wear a new pair every day for two weeks without repeating a style.  

Best With Pockets: Pinkbomb Running Shorts

Room for Everything

Bring the essentials along with these two-in-one running shorts that feature built-in compression shorts to support legs, enhance performance, and provide greater flexibility. Pinkbomb

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Why These Made The Cut: These men’s running shorts have a 2-in-1 design that features an outer mesh layer for breathability, with compression shorts underneath to provide stability and a full range of motion.  

Specs

  • Material: Mesh outer layer, compression undershorts, elastic closure
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Colors: Army green, black, blue, green camo, gray, gray camo, khaki, light blue, light gray, navy blue, orange, red, white, yellow camo

Pros:

  • Phone pocket with a headphone jack
  • Variety of colors
  • Inexpensive
  • Concealed zip pocket
  • Elastic waistband with drawcord

Cons:

  • Occasional sizing issues
  • Compression shorts can be too snug

I don’t want to keep going on and on about the importance of pockets, but these men’s running shorts from Pinkbomb are a pouch-lover’s dream. The shorts have two side pockets, a hidden zipper pocket for keys or money in case of emergency, and a slot in the compression shorts for a smartphone.

Your phone will stay snug and secure in the inside pocket. Plus, the shorts have a small hole for runners who use wired headphones.The two layers make these shorts a perfect option when running in lower temps, but the shorts aren’t too hot for those hot, humid jaunts.

Reviewers say these shorts run true to size, and because they come in a variety of colors, you should have no trouble finding a pair that matches your other running gear.

Best Reflective: Under Armour Launch

For the Midnight Runner

Stay safe on early morning or late night runs with these stretchy, lightweight reflective running shorts from reputable sporting goods company Under Armour. Under Armour

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Why These  Made The Cut: In addition to their lightweight and stretchy material that allows for free range of motion, these running shorts feature a reflective logo that keeps runners visible while running during darker times of the day. 

Specs:

  • Material: Polyester, elastic waistband
  • Sizes: S, M, L , XL, XXL, 3XL
  • Colors: Black, black with red stripe, cosmos, pitch gray, fresco blue, academy blue

Pros:

  • Reflective colors for early morning/late night runs
  • Side pockets plus a mesh phone pocket
  • Inside liner
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Quick-drying
  • Mesh side panels

Cons:

  • Slightly higher price
  • Shorter in front, longer in back design give shorts a “mullet” look

Running early in the morning or late at night can be a great way to start or end the day, but getting your miles in during periods of low light can be a bit dangerous, especially for those who run in high-traffic cities or near busy roads. Fortunately, these running shorts from Under Armour offer a bit of help in the form of a reflective decal. Situated on the front of the right leg, the Under Armour logo reflects headlights or street lamps, improving your chances of being seen by early morning or late night drivers.

Beyond the safety aspect, there are many things to love about these running shorts, but there’s one selling point standing out above all the rest. These stretchy Launch shorts from UA feature anti-odor technology that prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes. There’s nothing worse than the stink lingering on your running clothes. Once the sweat odor sets in, there’s almost nothing that will remove the stench.

Some runners prefer the liner to the compression shorts option. These shorts feature a mesh liner and can double as a pair of swim trunks in a pinch. The waist is stretchy but soft and won’t irritate the skin.

Best Minimalist: Baleaf 3-inch Running Shorts

Basic Staple

Lightweight and stretchy fabric wicks sweat away and help keep you dry and comfortable. BALEAF

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Why These Made The Cut: These Baleaf running shorts aren’t flashy; in fact, they’re not much more than material and a drawstring, but what they lack in pizzazz they more than make up for in longevity.  

Specs:

  • Material: 95 percent polyester, 5 percent spandex
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL, 3XL
  • Colors: Gray, light gray, black, mesh army green, blue, red, royal blue, tourmaline teal, army green, light blue, navy, orange, neon green, white, yellow, purple, neon yellow, mesh navy, mesh white, mesh black, mesh gray, mesh light gray, mesh royal blue

Pros:

  • Lightweight and stretchy fabric
  • Side pockets
  • Lined
  • V-shape for increased leg room
  • Material doesn’t trap in smells
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Shallow pockets
  • Lighter colors accentuate sweat

Think about the most dependable person in your life. The man or woman who’s always available in a pinch, ready to go the extra mile, and will never complain. These Baleaf running shorts are just as dependable as that friend. They’re so dependable that I actually own not one, not two, but three pairs.

These shorts have been put to the test repeatedly and come back to run another day. They’ve long outlived and outworked the moneyI spent on each pair. Although these shorts have pockets, they aren’t the best at keeping things in place once the legs get moving. They’re deep enough to hold a key fob or an emergency bag of trail mix and not much else.

As many times as I’ve run in these shorts and come back home a sweaty, dripping mess, these running shorts don’t hold onto the stink the way other shorts do, and they dry quickly, sometimes even entirely while during the after-run cooldown.

Things To Consider When Buying Men’s Running Shorts

If you’re new to the sport, you must consider a few things before purchasing a new pair of running shorts.

Types of Shorts

There are three different types of running shorts: compression, v-notch, and split. Compression shorts are similar to spandex shorts and are made of stretchy materials that hug the butt and thighs. Studies have found many benefits to compression shorts, including preventing injuries. The most common type of running short is the V-notch. These shorts have a sewn seam running down the leg with a “V” shape at the end to provide a broader range of motion. A split leg overlaps the front and back of the shorts in place of the V.  

Length of Shorts

Just like your favorite pair of cargo shorts, running shorts come in different lengths. The optimal length depends on your height and how you like to wear your shorts.  A 3-inch inseam provides the best ventilation and range of motion. A 5-inch inseam is a good length for both road and trail running as they provide the most versatility. A 7-inch inseam should hit just above the knee on most runners and work well for trails to protect against branches, brush, bugs, and anything else that will tear up the legs.

Liner vs. No Liner

Some running shorts come with a liner stitched inside, similar to a bathing suit. Some runners like the liner because it means support without the extra layer of underwear, while others feel the liner is often too restrictive and causes chafing after long periods of running.

Pockets and Compartments

If you read this entire guide, you’re probably tired of hearing me talk about the importance of pockets, but you’ll thank me when you buy running shorts that include spots for all your stuff.

Style vs. Function

Just because a pair of shorts look good, that doesn’t mean they’re suitable for running. Choose substance over style. Save the nice shorts for the gym or running errands.

FAQs

Q: Do I need different shorts for different types of runs?

There are no hard and fast rules for running short lengths. When it comes to picking out running shorts for specific runs, let personal preference guide your purchases. I mentioned that 7-inch inseam shorts were suitable for trail runs because they protect more of your leg. If you feel as though that length is too long, wear shorter running shorts. I tend to wear shorter running shorts for trail runs because I find them less restrictive when moving my legs to jump rocks, roots, and stumps.

Q: How many pairs of running shorts does a person need?

This answer depends on how many times a week a person runs and how often they do laundry. I’m a firm believer that the more pairs of running shorts a person owns, the better. For example, I run six or seven times a week, so I own about 12 pairs of running shorts. I’ll typically pick up a new pair of running shorts after tossing an old, stinky pair or if I’m in a store and a deal is too good to pass up. I also suggest having running shorts designated just for running and pairs of shorts strictly for the gym, especially if the stink sticks to your clothing.

Q: How do I get the smell out of my running shorts?

The best advice for getting the smell out of running clothes, or preventing stink from setting in, is to wash the clothes as soon as possible. The longer sweaty clothes stay wet and gross, the harder it will be to remove the funk. There are several pre-soak options available to soak clothes in before washing, but several runners I’ve talked to swear by either a solution of baking soda and water (one cup baking soda and two cups water) or white distilled vinegar and water (one part vinegar to four cups of cold water).

Final Thoughts

Finding the best men’s running shorts involves testing for fit and practicality. There are hundreds of brands and styles to choose from, so the process can be slightly exhausting. Once you settle on a favorite brand or cut, make the process easy on yourself and buy several pairs in assorted colors.

Keep in mind the crucial components for an exceptional pair of running shorts: They keep you dry, wick away sweat, prevent chafing, and have generous pockets. Eventually, you’ll find a few favorite pairs that will become your companion for all the miles ahead.

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