The 12 Best Running Shorts for Women of 2022

The Brooks Chaser 5” takes the gold.

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 Best Running Shorts for Women of 2022

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Whether you’re a casual jogger or gearing up for an all-out runcation, proper apparel is crucial. 

“Finding the best running shorts is almost as important as finding the best shoe,” says Angela Carron, a certified running coach, marathoner, ultramarathoner and triathlete. “You need to consider length: short or long? Waist: high rise, low rise, drawstring? Form-fitting or loose? Liner, no liner? And most importantly, the right material. You want to look for great moisture-wicking, quick-drying, stretch fabrics that feel great against the body.”

Colleen Quigley, Team USA Track & Field runner and 2016 Olympian, takes a similar approach. “I always say, look good, feel good, run good. If you put on a pair of spandex shorts that are too short or too tight, you won’t be able to relax and enjoy the run because you’ll be worried about feeling self-conscious the whole time,” she says. “On the other hand, if your flowy shorts are riding up and you keep having to adjust them while you run, it’s gonna mess up your groove and make you grumpy. So for me, it’s what do I feel good in and won’t require any adjusting while I run?”

Our favorite overall running shorts for women are the Brooks Chaser 5” for their adjustable waistband, comfortable liner, and excellent storage options, but there are plenty of other great options out there to suit every preference.

These are the best women’s running shorts:

Best Overall: Brooks Chaser 5” Short

Brooks Chaser 5” Short

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Why We Love It: Comfortable, cute, capacious, and full coverage — what’s not to love?

What to Consider: Not everyone likes a longer running short.

“In a world where athleisure is king and there are an abundance of brands (and marketing), finding a pair of running shorts that look good is easy. However, finding a pair of running shorts that feel good too? Not as easy,” says Cortney Logan, an RRCA run coach and founder of Run Sweat Sip, who has been a runner for more than 16 years and a run coach and race producer for nine. She calls the Brooks Chaser “hands down, my absolute favorite pair of running shorts.”

“These shorts offer great coverage, are lightweight and appealing to the eye, as this short comes in a variety of colors and patterns,” she says. “My personal favorite? The leopard print! These shorts offer a soft and stretchy liner (you don’t feel suffocated in these). Bonus: the liner doesn’t ride up either. There is an adjustable waistband and no-bounce pockets and a pocket on the back for your phone. Also, these shorts are made with 28 percent recycled materials.”

They’re also a top-seller at Fleet Feet, according to Catherine Moloznik, vice president of purchasing and merchandising at the running outfitter, and Brooks offers a 90-day test period to make sure you’re completely happy with your gear.

Sizes available: XS–XXL | Materials: 89 percent recycled polyester, 11 percent spandex

Best Longer Inseam: Lululemon Base Pace High Rise Short 6”

lululemon-base-pace-high-rise-short-6

Lululemon

Why We Love It: They’re soft, stretchy, and long enough to stay put.

What to Consider: These don’t have a liner included.

“The biggest thing to consider when looking for a running short is making sure that you find a short that fits properly and is not going to roll up on your thighs while you run,” says Alexandra Weissner, run coach and co-founder of Brunch Running. Her current favorite is the Lululemon Base Pace High-rise Short 6”.

“This short hits perfectly mid-thigh which protects my legs from chafing,” she says. “Honestly that is the biggest thing I look for in a short. I do not want to be pulling my shorts down constantly on a run, I want to run. They are super lightweight and smooth and they stay put. The Base Pace has silicone grippers on the hem to prevent ride-up. The continuous drawcord allows you to adjust the waist to your perfect match. Everything feels good and that means I can focus on running and not what I am wearing.”

These are also a favorite of Quigley, who says, “These are so comfy and so flattering. I love the way they look and feel."

Sizes available: 0–20 | Materials: 84 percent nylon, 16 percent lycra elastane

Best Tights: Brooks Method 5” Short Tight

brooks-method-5-short-tight

REI

Why We Love It: You can stay tucked in but still comfortable and carry all your stuff.

What to Consider: There’s no liner.

For those who don’t want to run in lined shorts, Logan recommends going for a compression pair instead. The Brooks Method Short Tight is her personal favorite. Though they’re super fitted and keep you feeling supported, they still have three pockets to hold anything you may be bringing with you. There’s also an internal drawcord to really dial in your fit, and the quick-dry fabric wicks away sweat and includes strategic perforations for extra airflow. We also appreciate the color options, which range from neon to jewel tones.

Sizes available: XS–XXL | Materials: Not listed

Best Short Inseam: Rabbit Catch Me If You Can 2.5”

rabbit-catch-me-if-you-can-25

Rabbit

Why We Love It: Despite their short length, these won’t ride up.

What to Consider: The pockets aren’t ideal for bringing your phone along.

The Rabbit brand is designed by runners and consistently wins praise for shorts options across their catalog. “I have run 117 marathons and admittedly have an embarrassing number of ‘favorite running shorts’ that I have accumulated over the years,” says Carron. Her current favorite is the Rabbit Catch Me If You Can. “I prefer a lightweight short with a liner with a short inseam. They work great for me and are amazing at wicking away moisture.”

“They even have a small zippered pocket in the back of the waistband that I am able to put a gel or two in or my key fob and it doesn't bounce,” says Carron. There are also two front internal pockets in addition to the back zip, and the super-lightweight shorts are available in a tighter tailored version or a relaxed fit.

Sizes available: XS-XL | Materials: 89 percent polyester, 11 percent spandex

Best High-rise: Lululemon Find Your Pace High Rise Lined Short 3"

lululemon-find-your-pace-high-rise-lined-short-3

Lululemon

Why We Love It: These sit high but still stay flowy with a side slit.

What to Consider: The material is on the thinner side.

“There’s a lot of personal preference that goes into this, but personally I love doing runs in loose, flowy shorts,” says Quigley. “The Lululemon Find Your Pace shorts are my absolute favorite. They have a high slit up the side that gives maximum knee drive freedom! No restrictions in movement means I can run fast or slow in these shorts.”

“I love that running shorts have liners so that I don’t have to wear underwear,” she says. “The Find Your Pace shorts are a great example — they are so, so flowy (which is great) but then the liner is there so that when you’re running, stretching, jumping, etc you don’t have to worry about flashing anyone. Bonus: the liner makes the mid-run pit stop so easy. Pull the shorts down, pull them up!”

Sizes available: 0–20 | Materials: Polyester and lycra elastane

Best Minimalist: Under Armour Women's Fly By 2.0 Running Shorts

Under Armour Women's Fly By 2.0 Running Shorts

Courtesy of Dick's Sporting Goods

Why We Love It: There’s minimal baggage but plenty of color options.

What to Consider: There’s only a small key pocket, with no other storage.

Under Armour’s breezy Fly-by shorts will appeal to the runner who doesn’t want too many bells and whistles. While there is a built-in brief, the rest of the construction is fairly minimal, focusing on the lightweight, quick-dry, sweat-wicking fabric. Mesh panels help keep you ventilated and the knit waistband has an internal drawcord to adjust for your ideal fit. There are also reflective accents to make sure you’re visible in low-light conditions, and a small key pocket to tuck your key into so you don’t have to stash it in your shoe. And you’ll definitely be able to color-coordinate your running outfits with these shorts — there are a whopping 39 color options available. 

Sizes available: XS–3XL | Materials: 100 percent polyester

Best Wide Waistband: Blooming Jelly Quick-Dry Running Shorts

black running shorts amazon

Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: They have solid features and an extensive color selection.

What to Consider: The inseam is on the shorter side, and the size range isn’t all that expansive.

Blooming Jelly’s running shorts provide all the basics in an affordable and easy-to-order package and have 40 color options available to match your favorite sneakers. The built-in liner is made of a stretchy material for a comfortable fit that won’t ride up, and there’s also a zipper pocket that’s large enough to store a phone, cards, and keys (though it may jostle around while you’re running). The main shorts are also made of stretchy, quick-drying fabric, and a thick elastic waistband keeps them in place no matter how fast you’re going. Note that the 3XL is only equivalent to about a US size 16, and all of the shorts have a 1.75-inch inseam no matter the size.

Sizes available: XS–3XL | Materials: 90 percent polyester, 10 percent spandex

Best Size Range: Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Run Short

Girlfriend Collective High-rise Run Short

Girlfriend Collective

Why We Love It: These sustainable shorts prove compression can still be comfortable.

What to Consider: The current lineup is mostly darker colors, so you’ll need to add your own reflective gear if you’re running at night.

Girlfriend Collective’s activewear has earned the brand a dedicated online following, and their running shorts are just one example of their attention to quality. The shorts are compressive and sweat-wicking to stay in place without stifling you, no matter how long you’re pounding the pavement. The tight fabric won’t get in your way, and the 4.75-inch inseam is long enough that you should avoid any riding up or chafing. Bonus: they’re made from recycled post-consumer water bottles, so you get some extra sustainability cred. And with sizes ranging from XXS up to 6XL and five different color options, you’re sure to find the perfect pair.

Sizes available: XXS–6XL | Materials: 79 percent recycled polyester, 21 percent spandex

Best 2-in-1: New Balance Impact Run 2-in-1 Short

new-balance-impact-run-2-in-1-short

Amazon

Why We Love It: These offer the best of both flowy and tighter fabrics.

What to Consider: There are not a lot of color options available.

Can’t decide between a flowy short or compressive tight? Why not just get both? The Impact features both a woven shell and fitted inner short, with a mid-rise waistline and cut that won’t suffocate you. A storage tunnel holds your extra layers so they don’t slow you down, and a drop-in pocket on the inner short can hold your phone, cards, and even some snacks. Both layers are designed to be quick-drying and wick away sweat. For running after dark, the logo and side seams are also reflective. Moloznik says 2-in-1 shorts are “great for those who like to have a compressive liner against the skin for support and comfort.”

Sizes available: XS–2XL | Materials: 100 percent recycled polyester

Best UPF: Athleta Run With It 4.5" Short

athleta-run-with-it-45

Athleta

Why We Love It: These are airy, comfortable, and made of solid fabric that will keep you going across conditions.

What to Consider: The fabric can be thin.

If you’re regularly running outside, it’s important to stay protected from the sun. Shorts with UPF will keep you covered even if you’ve started to sweat off your sunscreen. The thick knit waistband on these shorts includes a back zippered pocket for stashing phones and accessories. Enjoy the silky feel of the recycled fabric, which is also abrasion-resistant in case of any snags, breathable, and quick-drying to avoid both sweat buildup and dampness after getting caught in a sunshower. There’s an internal drawcord to find your ideal waist fit and a split design to provide extra mobility. There’s also a 3.5-inch version available if you’re looking for a shorter inseam, though it doesn’t seem to be UPF-certified.

Sizes available: XXS–3X | Materials: Recycled polyester and spandex

Best for Trail Running: Hoka SG Trail Short

hoka-sg-trail-short

Hoka

Why We Love It: These solid shorts have so much storage.

What to Consider: The size range is a little limited.

You likely know Hoka for their trusted running shoes, so it makes sense that the shorts that accompany them would be equally reliable. The SG trail shorts have an impressive amount of storage in their small frame. They include one large “dump pocket” that can hold up to a 200-milliliter soft flask for hydration or a light jacket (or simply your keys) as well as a secure zip pocket and an elastic bungee to hold anything else you need to attach. Keep it all up with a drawcord-adjustable elastic waistband.  There’s a liner included as well, along with wicking fabric.

Sizes available: XS–XL | Materials: 78 percent nylon, 22 percent elastane

Best Waterproof: Patagonia Strider Running Shorts

patagonia-strider

REI

Why We Love It: These keep you dry without suffocating you.

What to Consider: DWR fabric is inherently a little less breathable.

If you’re regularly running in the rain (we’re looking at you, Pacific Northwest), an extra layer of DWR (durable water-repellent) coating might make your runs a little easier. In addition to the DWR finish, this fabric is smooth and quick-drying, and the elastic waistband stays in place thanks to an internal drawcord and power mesh. There’s one pocket in the back of the waistband that can hold your phone, and the built-in liner also includes odor control in addition to the usual moisture-wicking and non-chafing design. In classic Patagonia fashion, the majority of the polyester used is recycled, and the body and liner fabrics are Bluesign-approved and Fair Trade-certified sewn.

Sizes available: XXS–XL | Materials: 100 percent polyester

Tips for Buying Women's Running Shorts

Know which fit and length works best for you

Matt Scarfo, a run coach and NASM-certified personal trainer, recommends an inseam between 5 and 7 inches. “Most people love short shorts for running, but inseams that are four inches and under might not give you the coverage you need while running,” he says. “That short length can also mean that people with larger legs experience rubbing, which can lead to painful chafing. Longer inseams are less likely to ride up, keeping you protected while you run.”

“A common complaint we hear about running shorts is that the legs ride up while running, which can be both annoying and uncomfortable,” adds Moloznik. “To combat that, it's best to find the running short shape and rise that works best for your body. Rise is the distance from the middle of the crotch seam to the top of the waistband; it determines where the shorts will sit on your body. Currently, running shorts are offered in three rises – low, mid, and high rise. It's also important to determine the inseam length that fits best. Our best-selling lengths are 3 inches and 5 inches.” 

Choose synthetic materials

Normally we’re all about those natural fibers, but “when it comes to shorts, synthetic is the best way to go,” says Scarfo. “Synthetic shorts tend to be moisture-wicking, meaning they stay cool and dry fast if you get sweaty. Since they wick away moisture, synthetic shorts can also help prevent chafing so you don’t get any painful hot spots while running.”

Carron, however, disagrees. “You can choose a synthetic blend of polyester and nylon or opt for a natural material like merino wool. Both materials have great functionality and one is not necessarily better than the other. It is all about personal preference.”

Prioritize features based on your intended use

While these aren’t the most full-featured items to analyze, you’ll still want to look at what different shorts offer based on your intended use. If you run at night, consider looking for shorts with reflective designs. “I always love when my running gear has pieces of reflective material on it,” says Quigley. “Especially as we are heading into winter and daylight hours are shrinking. If you’re an early or late runner, you want to make sure you can be seen, so look for reflective pieces on all your clothing (jackets, hats, etc).”

You’ll also want to think about how much you usually carry on your runs and what that means in terms of pockets. “Shorts with pockets are all the rage,” says Scarfo. “If you’re wearing tight shorts, you’ll likely find a pocket on the outside of the legs. Flowy shorts will usually have a pocket along the lower back that zips. These pockets are great for storing your phone, keys, and nutrition securely. However, these back pockets can also get very sweaty, so keep that in mind if you’re going for a hot run.”

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Why do running shorts have liners?

    “A liner can be instrumental in reducing bulk in your shorts, keeping you cool and reducing the chance of chafing because of too much fabric around your hips and groin,” says Scarfo. “Some people prefer to wear their regular underwear when they run, so they’ll cut the liner out. However, if your shorts provide a supportive liner that keeps you feeling protected and cooler during your runs, you can absolutely use only the liner for a bit more freedom on the go.”


    Both Carron and Logan also pointed out the added moisture control with a liner. 

  • What should I wear with running shorts?

    Logan recommends “equally as comfortable tops, socks, and shoes. If you are comfortable in your running gear, you will have a more enjoyable run because you won’t be fussing and tugging at your clothing.”

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Rena Behar has been covering travel gear and a slew of other shopping areas since 2014, at outlets including Wirecutter, Reviewed.com, New York magazine, TripSavvy, and, naturally, Travel + Leisure. To curate this list, she surveyed multiple coaches, personal trainers, and long-time runners, including Angela Carron, certified running coach, marathoner, ultramarathoner and triathlete; Cortney Logan, an RRCA run coach and founder of Run Sweat Sip; Catherine Moloznik, vice president of purchasing and merchandising for Fleet Feet; Colleen Quigley, Team USA Track & Field Runner and 2016 Olympian; Matt Scarfo, a run coach and NASM-certified personal trainer; and Alexandra Weissner, run coach and co-founder of Brunch Running.

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