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We vetted top products, spoke to avid runners, and compiled this list of the best running shorts for women so you never have to know the peril of running the distance in a pair that can’t hack it.
- Best overall running shorts: Oiselle OG Distance Shorts
- Best for long runs: Senita Lux High Waisted Rio Shorts
- Best for all-day wear: Ibex Women’s Springbok Short
- Best lightweight: Nike AeroSwift Running Shorts
- Most breathable: Nike Tempo Running Shorts
- Best for trail running: rabbit Dirt Pounders 2.0
- 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 running and biking: Sweaty Betty Power 6″ Biker Shorts
- Best compression shorts with pockets: Brooks Method 5″ Short Tights
- 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 you just enjoy an occasional jog around the block, you’ll want a pair that fits well, protects against chafing, and possibly even holds your 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 chafing (even during long runs).
- Price: We know budgets can vary, so we included running shorts at a range of price points.
- Additional features: Extras such as pockets and an easily adjustable waist can make a big difference for comfort and utility. We also included options with slits and mesh for added breathability.
- Feedback from avid runners: We spoke with real runners who have put many a pair of shorts to the test.
- Customer reviews: There’s nothing more helpful than hearing from people who have actually run in a pair of shorts. All 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 the best running shorts for women.
A note on price
General price ranges with dollar signs ($–$$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher cost.
Generally, prices range from $16.99 to $65, though this may vary depending on where you shop.
- $ = under $30
- $$ = $30–$55
- $$$ = over $55
Best overall running shorts
These polyester shorts have been in my rotation for training and racing for nearly a decade. They’re that Goldilocks perfect length, not too short and not too long, with a 3.25-inch (in) inseam. They can withstand just about any type of weather conditions.
I also appreciate that all three pockets have zippers, so whether you’re out on a short midweek run with just your keys or you’ve stashed gels for a longer effort, your items are secure and won’t fall out.
Also, the cut of the leg is more flattering than my other short options.
While the numbered sizes are unusual for activewear, I’ve found that they fit true to size. I’m usually a size small in athletic apparel and a size 4 in everyday clothes, and a size 4 in these shorts fits me just fine.
Oiselle OG Distance Shorts at a glance
Size range: 2–12
- three zipped pockets to keep belongings secure
- flattering fit
- built to last
- pockets not large enough to store phone
- sizing that may be confusing for some
Best for long runs
These shorts are my current go-to shorts for long runs and races. Similar to the Brooks Method shorts, these are high waisted and offer two deep side pockets for easy and ample storage.
They’re slightly shorter, with a 3.75-in inseam, but I find that you can hardly tell thanks to the high waist and the fact that they stay put and don’t ride up. If you prefer longer shorts, these also come in a 7-in version.
While I’m a fan of sleek plain black, these compression shorts come in a wide range of fun colors such as magenta, bright orange, and navy blue. And you can’t beat the price point of these shorts, considering the quality. I’ve been known to buy three pairs at a time.
Senita Lux High Waisted Rio Shorts at a glance
Size range: XS–XXL
- two deep pockets for ample storage
- fun color options
- don’t ride up
- no middle length between 3.75-in and 7-in inseam options
- may chafe if you find yourself between sizes
Best for all-day wear
Ever wish you could multitask and go straight from a busy day to your run without messing with much? One runner we talked to, Svati, loves these flattering and stylish shorts for that reason.
Because they are very transitional, she doesn’t like to waste these comfortable shorts on morning runs. Instead, she can wear them all day before jumping into her afternoon or evening run.
These lightweight and breathable shorts feature a 3.5-in inseam and a built-in Merino Tencel brief to add comfort and prevent chafing. A hidden interior pocket is useful for stashing keys.
Ibex Women’s Springbok Short at a glance
Size range: XS–XL
- stylish enough to wear out for daily tasks
- flattering fit
- quality materials that are built to last
- minimal pocket storage
- few color options
Made of a mixture of jersey and mesh, the Nike AeroSwift Running shorts are lightweight and have 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 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 in (5 centimeters [cm]), so they’re not the best option if you prefer a longer length.
Nike AeroSwift Running Shorts at a glance
Size range: XS–XL
- waistband specially designed for increased airflow
- reflective elements
- pockets with a waterproof barrier
- 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 in sizes XS–2XL. They have an elastic waistband with an inner drawstring and a back pocket to hold your keys or a credit card.
The Tempo Running Shorts are part of Nike’s Move to Zero initiative. They’re 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 may want to buy 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
- may be see-through in lighter colors
- limited storage space in the pocket
- may run large
Best for trail running
Designed with trail runners in mind, these shorts have plenty of pockets and split legs to keep you moving regardless of how much vert you’re getting as you scale the trails and climb mountains.
One marathoner we spoke to, May, loves these for covering the 26.2-mile distance on the road. She says the side pockets make it easy to pull her energy gels out and the back pocket keeps her phone secure as she ticks off the fast miles.
Offering a 4-in inseam, these polyester and spandex shorts are moisture-wicking and quick-drying, meaning they can withstand rainy or muggy conditions. They also have a brief liner that won’t scratch or chafe and a flat waistband that can be adjusted with a drawcord.
rabbit Dirt Runner 2.0 shorts at a glance
Size range: XS–XL
- plenty of pockets
- sweat- and water-resistant
- lightweight for trails and roads
- smaller pockets
Some runners prefer 2-in-1 shorts, which include a fitted liner and a 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 more than 2,000 five-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 your 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 and back zipper pocket
- plenty of color options
- 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 because of the split on the outer part of the leg, which 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 available only 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 XXS–6XL available, the Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Run Shorts accommodate almost every body.
What’s more, they 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. The 4.75-in (12-cm) inseam offers 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 running and biking
One long-distance runner we talked to, Tonya, says she has quickly learned the importance of gear that’s functional for more than one of type of activity, since marathon training requires cross-training days that include other types of exercise, such as biking or strength training.
She swears by these shorts as a good option for running and biking long distances and appreciates that they don’t chafe, ride up, or fit too loosely, as she experiences fluctuations in her weight.
These 6-in shorts are also quick-drying and sweat-wicking and feature side and back pockets (the latter with a zipper). They provide a flattering fit and can be adjusted with a drawstring on the waistband.
Sweaty Betty Power 6″ shorts at a glance
Size range: XXS–XXL
- versatile enough for multiple sports
- flattering fit
- fun colors and prints
- may be too long for some athletes’ preferences
Best compression shorts with pockets
I’m an avid long-distance runner on the taller side, and one of my biggest challenges has been finding compression shorts that won’t ride up, aren’t too short, and are decently modest without looking too frumpy. These short tights check all those boxes, sitting high on the waist for a better and more flattering fit while still feeling lightweight thanks to minimal seaming.
With a 5-in inseam, these are the perfect length for me, but they also come in a 7-in version for those who prefer even longer. They come in various colors, from basic black to fun hues like bright light blue, neon yellow, and magenta.
In addition to being super comfortable and fitting true to size, these shorts have two deep side pockets and one horizontal back pocket big enough for stashing your phone, keys, credit cards, energy gels, or whatever else you may need to carry with you on the run.
I’m normally not a fan of carrying my phone on a run because I find it too cumbersome, but I’ve found that I barely notice it sitting inside these shorts’ pockets.
Brooks Method 5″ Short Tights at a glance
Size range: XS–XXL
- ample storage with three pockets
- fun color options
- don’t ride up
- may be too long for some runners
- more expensive
Best yoga pant shorts
Love the feel of yoga pants but prefer to run in shorts? These yoga pant shorts are the perfect solution, with a length that stops 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 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 are not available in 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
Still feel overwhelmed? 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 right shorts.
- Think about the types of running you intend to do: If you’ll be running on trails, longer shorts are a good option because they provide more protection. If you’re heading to the track to sprint, you’ll want shorts 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.
- Check the return policy: Especially if you don’t have the option of trying on a few pairs before purchasing one, be sure to pay close attention to the return policy 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.
The right pair of running shorts can provide protection and offer a way to secure your keys and other essentials.
We’re confident that by considering your preferred fit, style of running, and must-have features, 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.