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- Best lightweight: Nike AeroSwift Running Shorts
- Most breathable: Nike Tempo Running Shorts
- Most comfortable waistband: Outdoor Voices Hudson Short (2.5″)
- Best for trail running: Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts
- Best 2-in-1: Soothfeel 2-in-1 Running shorts
- Best for sprinting: Tracksmith Twilight Split Shorts
- Best with extended sizes: Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Run Short
- Best for multiple sports: BALEAF Women’s High Waist Compression Exercise Shorts
- Best compression shorts with pockets: Yogipace Women’s Active Workout Shorts
- Best yoga pant shorts: Custer’s Night High Waist Out Pocket Yoga Pants
Protection, comfort, style, and pockets — a good pair of running shorts has a lot to offer! However, finding your dream pair can seem overwhelming. After all, with so many options on the market, it’s hard to know where to start.
Whether you’re training for a marathon or just enjoy an occasional jog around the block, you’ll want a pair that fits well, protects against chaffing, and possibly even holds your house keys.
To help narrow down your search, we compiled a list of the best women’s running shorts using the following criteria:
- Materials. We prioritized moisture-wicking fabrics to help keep you dry and comfortable. We also looked for fabrics that are designed to prevent chaffing (even after long runs).
- Price. We know that budgets can vary, so we included running shorts for a range of price points.
- Additional features. Extras like pockets and an easily adjustable waist can make a big difference when it comes to comfort and utility. We also included options with slits and mesh for added breathability.
- Customer reviews. There’s nothing more helpful than hearing from people who’ve actually run in a pair of shorts. All of the products below have mostly positive reviews.
- Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure that they meet Healthline’s business standards.
Here are 10 of the best running shorts for women.
A note on price
General price ranges with dollar signs ($ to $$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher cost.
Generally, prices range from $16.99–$65, though this may vary depending on where you shop.
- $ = under $25
- $$ = $25–$55
- $$$ = above $55
A mixture of jersey and mesh, the Nike AeroSwift Running shorts are lightweight with plenty of ventilation.
The shorts feature a Dri-FIT liner and lightweight mesh waistband with two layers of laser-perforated elastic to increase airflow.
They’re also designed with reflective elements to make you more visible when running in low light, and they come in sizes 0–18 (XS–XL).
As a bonus, the shorts have inner back and front right pockets with a waterproof barrier to help protect your valuables.
One thing to note is that the inseam is only 2 inches (5 cm), so they’re not the best option if you prefer a longer fit.
Nike AeroSwift Running Shorts at a glance
Size range: XS–XL
- waistband specially designed for increased airflow
- reflective elements
- pockets include a waterproof barrier
- length may be too short for some runners
Featuring Nike’s Dri-FIT technology, mesh side inserts, and mesh “underwear” inside for cooling ventilation, the Nike Tempo Running Shorts are one of the best options if you’re looking for a breathable short.
The shorts are available in a variety of colors and sizes ranging from XS–2XL. They also have an elastic waistband with an inner drawstring and back pocket to hold your keys or a credit card.
The Tempo Running Shorts are part of Nike’s Move to Zero initiative and made from at least 75% recycled polyester fiber — a material that originates from recycled water bottles and reduces carbon emissions by up to 30%, compared with virgin polyester, according to Nike.
Just keep in mind that the shorts run a bit large, so you’ll want to consider buying a size down.
Nike Tempo Running Shorts at a glance
Size range: XS–2XL and 1X–3X
- mesh side inserts for cooling
- large range of color options
- made from mostly recycled materials
- lighter colors can be see-through
- limited storage space in the pocket
- some runners find the fit runs large
Most comfortable waistband
The Hudson Short from Outdoor Voices is one of the brand’s most popular shorts thanks to its comfortable knit waistband.
Available in a wide range of sizes from XXS–XXXL, the short includes a built-in, brief-style liner and is made from 86% recycled polyester and 14% spandex.
Plus, the short includes dual-sided pockets for keeping your keys secure during your workout.
One thing to keep in mind is that the fit is quite short and may show off more skin than some runners are comfortable with.
Outdoor Voices Hudson Short (2.5″) at a glance
Size range: XS–XL
- payment plan option available
- large variety of style options, though, availability can sometimes be limited
- length might be too short for some
Best for trail running
Made from 100% recycled polyester, the Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts are water-wicking and lightweight. Plus, as the durable fabric can last many miles over a variety of terrains, they’re one of the best options for trail runners.
The shorts are available in sizes ranging from XXS–XL and include a zippered pocket in the back of the waistband, plus two elastic side pockets to hold a snack or smartphone.
The knit elastic waistband is 1-inch (2.5-cm) thick, and the loop drawstring allows the shorts to tighten as desired.
However, the curved cut of the shorts can make the length even shorter, so if you’re particularly prone to chaffing or just prefer a longer fit, these aren’t the best option.
Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts at a glance
Size range: XXS–XL
- comfortable knit waistband with continual loop drawstring
- numerous pocket options
- durable materials
- curved design makes for a shorter fit
Some runners prefer 2-in-1 shorts, which include a fitted liner and looser-fitting outer short. The inner lining provides coverage and protection, while the outer short offers mobility and ventilation.
These 2-in-1 running shorts from Soothfeel come in sizes XS–XL and have over 2,000 5-star reviews online.
The shorts feature a back pocket with a zippered closure, as well as a side phone pocket. They also have an elastic waistband that fits flat against the body.
The outer part of the short is made from 90% nylon and 10% elastane, while the lining is constructed from 80% nylon and 20% elastane.
Soothfeel 2-in-1 Running Shorts at a glance
Size range: XS–XL
- phone pocket as well as back zipper pocket
- plenty of color options
- shorts tend to run small, so you may want to size up
Best for sprinting
While these shorts will work for any type of run, they’re especially good for sprinting due to a split on the outer part of the leg that allows for a greater range of motion.
In fact, the Twilight Split Shorts were recently updated and now feature a higher-rise waist with a higher slit, which further extends the range of motion.
These shorts are ultra lightweight and made with moisture-wicking, quick-dry fabric. They’re also designed with three stretchy internal pockets for storing any necessities.
One thing to keep in mind is that while there are several color options, the shorts are only available in sizes 0–10 (XS–XL).
Tracksmith Twilight Split Shorts at a glance
Size range: XS–XL
- stretchy pockets
Best with extended sizes
With sizes ranging from XXS–6XL, Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Run Shorts accommodate almost every body.
What’s more, the shorts are made from recycled water bottles and manufactured in SA8000-certified facilities, which guarantee fair wages and safe working conditions.
The fabric is 79% rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) and 21% spandex for plenty of stretch and comfort, while the inseam is 4.75 inches (12 cm), offering a fair amount of coverage.
Compression helps keep these shorts in place, and the back pocket is big enough to hold keys or a credit card during your run.
Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Run Short at a glance
Size range: XXS–6XL
- payment plan option available
- made from recycled water bottles
- wide range of sizes
- only one small pocket
- not made to go in the dryer
Best for multiple sports
If you enjoy compression shorts for the extra support but also want deep pockets for securing your smartphone, the BALEAF Flyleaf 8″ High-Rise Pocket Shorts are worth considering.
Made of 87% polyester and 13% spandex, the shorts are moisture-wicking and stretch well.
They also have an elastic closure and a wide waistband for comfort.
The shorts are available in 5-, 7-, and 8-inch (12.7-, 17.8-, and 20.3-cm) inseam options, allowing you to choose your preferred length.
As a bonus, the shorts are available in a large range of colors, patterns, and sizes — ranging from XS–3XL.
BALEAF Flyleaf 8” High-Rise Pocketed Shorts at a glance
Size range: XS–3XL
- multiple inseam length options
- deep pockets
- tight fit doesn’t appeal to everyone
Best compression shorts with pockets
Yogipace also offers a compression option with deep side pockets and multiple sizes to choose from.
Yogipace Women’s Active Workout Shorts have a wide elastic waistband with a hidden pocket and drawcord for a secure fit.
When ordering a pair, keep in mind that the shorts tend to run small, so it may be best to choose a size up.
Another potential downside is that the shorts are only available in black.
Yogipace Women’s Active Workout Shorts at a glance
Size range: XXS–XXL
- UPF protection
- large pockets
- drawcord for fit
- only available in black
- runs small, so you may want to order a size up
Best yoga pant shorts
Love the feel of yoga pants but prefer to run in shorts? These yoga pant shorts are the perfect solution.
In addition to stopping above the knee, the shorts are made from moisture-wicking materials, offer four-way stretch, and feature a high waist for comfort.
The deep pockets allow you to keep keys and cash handy, and the longer inseam means that runners feel comfortable keeping them on for errands during or after their run.
While there are lots of fun colors and patterns to choose from, these yoga pant shorts don’t offer as many sizes as others on our list.
Custer’s Night High Waist Out Pocket Yoga Pants
Size range: S–XXL
- lots of color and pattern options
- deep pockets
- low price
- limited sizes
- may not be flattering for all body types
In need of running short but feeling overwhelmed about how to choose? Here are some factors to consider:
- Check your measurements. It’s not fun squeezing into shorts that are too tight or constantly pulling up baggy shorts mid-run. Sizing can vary between brands, so knowing your actual measurements is important.
- Consider the features that are most important to you. Do you love pockets? Need a waistband that adjusts easily? Have sensitive skin that gets irritated by certain fabrics? Want a certain length? Considering these features is key for finding the perfect shorts.
- Think about the types of running you intend to do. If you’ll be running in rough terrain, longer shorts are a good option, as they provide more protection. Or, if you’re heading to the track to sprint, you’ll want ones with side splits for maximum range of motion.
- Find a good deal. Don’t hesitate to check several websites or visit multiple stores to find the best price.
- Return policy. Especially if you’re unable to try on a few pairs before purchasing one, be sure to pay close attention to the return policy just in case you need to swap your shorts for a different pair or size.
Whether you’re new to running or training for your ninth marathon, there’s nothing like a new pair of running shorts to get you even more motivated for your afternoon jog.
Plus, the right pair of running shorts can also provide protection and offer a way to secure your house keys.
By considering your fit, style of running, and must-have features, we’re confident that you’ll find a pair of running shorts that’s right for you.
If you’re new to running or changing up your exercise plan, don’t forget that it’s always best to check with a healthcare professional first. They can offer important advice and guidance based on your specific health needs.