Buying the best running shorts for you is more difficult than it seems. You don’t want to drop $50 on a pair of shorts that look nice in pictures but ride up while you run, don’t give your thighs enough breathing room, or have an uncomfortable waistband. Keep reading for the best running shorts for women to buy right now.
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What to look for in women’s running shorts
So many factors contribute to the fit of running shorts, but one of the most important is the length. An inseam of 5″ to 7″ is going to be the most comfortable for the majority of female runners; unless you have tween-size thighs, anything shorter will ride up. Another important fit factor to consider is how the fabric around the waist feels—you want a comfortable waistband that isn’t so tight it gives you a stomachache and isn’t so loose that you have to keep pulling your shorts up as you run.
Most running shorts are spandex, nylon, polyester, or some combination of all three. No matter if you’re in the market for compression-like bike shorts or side split shorts, you want to make sure the material has some kind of moisture-wicking element. Absolutely no cotton!
It’s crucial that running shorts have ample storage space to hold the essentials—keys, credit card, a nutrition gel, even a mask. Zippered pockets are a nice-to-have, but tight-enough pockets that keep everything secure without a zipper can get the job done.
The best running shorts for women
Outdoor Voices Warmup Short
These are my all-time favorite pair of spandex shorts for running. They’re made of Outdoor Voices’ mid-weight “textured compression” fabric, a combination of polyester (86%) and spandex (14%). They aren’t suffocating like a standard pair of compression shorts, are long enough to prevent chafing, and have a wide waistband with a pocket large enough to hold two GU gels as well as a credit card and keys. I have three pairs that I rotate through, and they’re flattering enough to wear when I’m not working out.
Outdoor Voices Move Free Short
Though it isn’t a running-first brand, Outdoor Voices makes the best spandex running shorts I’ve worn, so it only makes sense to have two options from the brand on this list. If you want something lighter than the Warmup short, go with the Move Free shorts. They’re made of TechSweat, the brand’s proprietary fabric that’s a mix of nylon (72%), lycra (17%), and polyester (11%), and are softer than the Warmup short. They’re lightweight, and the waistband is less restrictive. They’re the type of workout shorts that you forget to take off when you come back from a run because you don’t notice them—they’re that comfortable. I prefer the 6″ inseam to the 3.5″, the latter of which kept riding up. If you find a 3.5″ inseam comfortable, power to you.
Nike Tempo Luxe Shorts
The Nike Tempo Luxe is another pair of running shorts of which I own multiples. I find them to have a higher level of comfort than Nike‘s iconic Tempo shorts, plus they have a roomy zip pocket in the back with plenty of storage space for the essentials. They have a 5″ inseam, a brief liner, and are made of a 100% polyester fabric that stretches with your body to offer a full range of motion. These are one of my favorite pairs of shorts to wear on long adventure trail runs because the quick-drying fabric can handle the elements.
Nike Tempo Luxe 2-in-1 Shorts
If you’re self-conscious about wearing tight-fitting spandex shorts but want their anti-chafing benefits, opt for the 2-in-1 version of the Nike Tempo Luxe. These have a longer inner layer and a loose-fitting outer layer (the inner layer‘s inseam is 5″, the exterior’s is 3″), and the same comfortable elastic waistband as the standard Tempo Luxe. The inner brief doesn’t hug your thighs as much as a compression bike short does, so these might ride up a bit, but they’re probably the best running shorts for optimal coverage.
Brooks Chaser Shorts
Available in a few different lengths (3″, 5″, 7″) as well as a 2-in-1 version, the Brooks Chaser shorts are a fan favorite no matter your personal preference. They have a smooth, wide waistband with an infinity drawstring, a jersey inner liner made of sweat-wicking material, and LOTS of pockets—two in the front, one in the back that can hold your phone, and a bungee loop for keys.
Lululemon Track That Shorts
These high-coverage 5″ shorts from Lululemon are designed to have a little extra room in the leg for those of us whose thighs need space to spread out. They’re made of a lightweight, four-way stretch fabric, have a built-in liner, a continuous drawcord in the waist, and a zippered side pocket. And for those looking for shorts that sit well above the hip, these have a mid-rise fit.