Wearing the proper shorts are key to ensuring you have a great run. Shorts made with the wrong material can chaff, stick to your skin in hot weather, and generally be uncomfortable.
For maximum performance, it’s important to wear shorts that are designed specifically for running. This means lightweight material, moisture-wicking fabric, and liners to keep everything in place. Shorts are available in different lengths to match personal preference and for different running styles.
To help you select running shorts that are right for you and your running needs, we’ve reviewed over 50+ models to determine the best men’s running shorts. Take a look at our list and find the right pair for you.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
New Balance Accelerate 5” Shorts
Salomon Trail Runner Twinskin
Asics 6″ Woven 2-in-1
3” Inseam Shorts
First, we’ll start with 3” inseam shorts. These are one of the shortest men’s shorts available, usually worn by the guys crossing the finish line first.
1. Asics Split Shorts
Designed for running performance, these shorts enhance your running experience. The thin polyester fabric and relaxed fit prevent the shorts from sticking uncomfortably to your skin and restricting your range of motion. The side split adds to the freedom of movement.
The Asics 3-inch split shorts offer versatility as they are designed for both daily training and racing. Wear these shorts when temperatures rise above 65 degrees. When track and pavement surfaces rise, breaking a sweat won’t slow you down.
- Outer zip pocket in back holds small essentials
- Fit small
2. New Balance Accelerate 3” Split Shorts
These shorts are excellent for training. The fit is relaxed, allowing for cooling airflow as you run. Mesh side panels and lining add to this cooling effect. The 100% polyester material boasts New Balance’s dry, moisture-management fabric technology so your shorts won’t cling and restrict your motion.
New Balance Impact 3” Split running shorts contain a swim-trunk-like mesh liner to provide comfort and support without the need to wear a possibly restrictive pair of underwear.
- Great in temperatures over 65 degrees
- Extremely lightweight
- Small pocket
- Comfortable waistband
- Some people find mesh liners irritating
5” Inseam Shorts
Next up, 5” inseam shorts. This is the classic running short length and the most popular length by far.
3. New Balance Accelerate 5” Shorts
New Balance 5” Accelerate Shorts are lightweight and breathable. Wicking fabric will keep you cool even during the hardest runs.
Thanks to 100% polyester and a mesh liner, you can run with freedom and full mobility. The fabrics won’t stick to you while you run.
The Accelerate shorts have a superb fit. Pockets are available to stash small items. The mid-length inseam doesn’t bunch up as you run, nor does it hang so low that it restricts movement. The waistband contains a drawstring so you can adjust the fit.
These shorts come in quite a few color options and are reasonably priced.
- Comfortable mesh
- Great airflow
- Excellent fit
- No zippers on side pockets
4. Brooks Sherpa 5” Short
The Sherpa 5” shorts by Brooks are designed for distance runners. These shorts will keep you comfortable for the duration of your run whether you’re running several miles or a full marathon. True to its name, these shorts feature two side pockets to hold gels and other small non-essentials and a larger zippered pocket in the back.
Both the fit and the fabric enhance your distance performance. The Sherpa is semi-fitted: it’s loose without being fully relaxed, and it follows your body’s contours without hugging tight. DriLayer technology in the polyester-spandex blend fabric keeps you dry on long runs.
- Four pockets for power bars, gels, and more
- Side splits increase range of motion
- Pockets aren’t big enough for large phones
5. Salomon Agile 5″ Shorts
These shorts are made for long-distance running and are engineered to perform for the duration. They have a soft inner shell and an outer shell, together they are comfortable and extremely lightweight.
Agile shorts are comprised of 78% polyester and 22% elastane, making them lightweight and flexible. Their advanced skin active dry technology whisks away perspiration, rain, and even mud to keep you dry. Mechanical stretch mesh means that the shorts flex with your movement.
- UPF 50 for sun protection
- Breathable and lightweigh
- Single zipped pocket may be inadequate to carry what you need during long runs
6. Under Armour Launch SW 5”
If you love to run but don’t like the tight fit, Under Armour delivers the perfect solution. Their Launch SW line gives you a fitted pair of shorts that don’t hug your body.
Each pair has a mesh liner, providing a comfortable interior that breathes while you’re on the move.
These lightweight shorts also wick away sweat and moisture for a dry and chaff-free run.
These shorts are made with material that fights odors. And it works to combat bacteria before it has a chance to spread.
The UA Launch shorts have two side pockets. They are unimposing and don’t get in the way while you run. The right pocket has an interior pocket to store a phone.
And thanks to an elastic waistband, you get a comfy fit.
- Moisture-wicking material
- Comfortable fit
- Anti-odor material
- Side pockets pockets
- Some runners found the shorts pill easily
7” Inseam Shorts
7” inseam shorts provide a bit more coverage for those who prefer a longer short. They are not the longest out there, but they are perfect for someone who wants a longer short, but doesn’t want to feel too restricted.
7. New Balance Accelerate 7” Shorts
New Balance makes the grade again. This time with their 7” Accelerate Shorts. Very similar to the 5″ Accelerate but longer for a more modest look.
They sport a mesh liner that keeps you cool and allows you to ditch the underwear for more freedom. This internal brief provides a comfortable fit that is supportive and airy.
They are lightweight and dry quickly for comfort while running.
The pockets are a nice addition. They don’t get in the way while you run. And there is even a drop-in pocket for small items like keys or gels along the waist.
- Plenty of pockets
- Comfortable fit
- Quick-drying material
- May be too big for some runners
8. Salomon Trail Runner Twinskin Shorts
Whether you’re running off-road, around town, or engaging in another activity, Salomon Trail Twinskin Runner Shorts are made to perform for you. These shorts are lightweight and fast-drying to keep you moving forward. An anti-chaffing inner seam keeps you comfortable on long runs.
These trail runner shorts have a relaxed fit and are made to look causal but sporty. Wear them while trail running, town running, doing another activity that requires comfort, or hanging out. They have a large, 360 degree pocket around the waistband for gels, bars, a small phone, even a small water bottle.
- Waistband isn’t prone to riding up or rolling down
- UPF 50 sun protection
- Tons of storage
- Fit tends to be small
- No zippered pocket
9. Salomon Agile 7” Shorts
Salomon’s Agile shorts have a well-thought out design with unique materials to keep you comfortable.
The implementation of AdvancedSkin and ActiveDry technologies work to keep you dry as you run.
You’ll love the lightweight design and feel of Salomon’s Agile shorts. Both the outer and inner layers of fabric are light and offer superb airflow. Even better, the materials won’t chafe your skin.
A nice bonus is the addition of a rear pocket. It stays closed and secured with a zipper; perfect for a gym key or other small item.
- Reflective lining
- 100% polyester
- Rear pocket
- Only a single small pocket
10. Brooks Sherpa 7” Shorts
High-quality shorts offer fit and performance for distance running and racing—including marathons—as well as trail running. The lightweight, DriLayer fabric allows for this versatility. The breathable polyester-spandex material provides the right amount of stretch to enhance your performance. Like the 5″ version, these have numerous pockets to store gels, ID, and keys.
The shorts come with a lightweight, breathable yet snug, compression-like liner that surpasses mesh liners in support, comfort, and discretion. You can adjust the fit of your shorts with the drawstring. Enjoy these versatile performance shorts during your long runs, wherever those runs may be.
- 4 pockets carry necessities and a smartphone yet are snug to prevent items jostling while running
- Some wearers found the liner caused chafing
9” Inseam Shorts
9” inseam shorts are the longest running shorts. There aren’t too many options since this is the least popular length. Many runners like the coverage but find it’s too restricting.
11. Brooks Equip 9” Shorts
If you prefer your shorts to be liner-free, you should check out Brooks’ Equip shorts. These 9” runners are made from a combination of polyester and spandex. This provides a fit keeps you dry and stretches to help you move freely.
The DriLayer materials in the shorts fight away moisture. This ensures that you remain comfortable in all situations. If you’re running and it starts to rain, the Equips will dry quickly when the rain stops.
Ventilation is excellent, too. They breathe well, even on hot days. You get superb airflow for greater versatility and comfort. Very impressive considering their length.
A simple drawstring within the waist allows you to get the perfect fit. Brooks offers the Equips in sizes from XXS to XXL.
- Lightweight design
- Dries quickly
- No liner
- The length is too long for speed workouts
2-in-1 Boxer Brief Shorts
This style of running shorts features a tight, boxer length inner lining instead of the traditional bikini-style brief. The advantage is your much less likely to experience chafing; however, some runners find this style of short too restrictive.
12. Asics 6″ Woven 2-in-1 Shorts
With these shorts, Asics provides runners with an inner layer that breaths and supports. As you work out, enjoy your run in these 2-in-1s that have a stretchy outer layer and supportive inner layer.
Polyester fabric breaths, draws moisture away from your skin, and keeps you cool. The drawstring waist allows you to adjust the fit of these shorts so it is neither too tight nor too loose. Without physical discomforts to distract you, you can focus on your performance.
- Inner liner is breathable mesh
- Outer shorts move well while running
- Pockets don’t securely hold valuables
13. New Balance Transform 2-in-1 Shorts
Enhance your range of motion and overall performance with the Transform 2-in-1 shorts from New Balance. These polyester/spandex shorts are stretchy for maximum flexibility. They’re also cool and breathable thanks to wicking technology and perforations along the sides of the legs.
In running shorts for men, an athletic fit helps you move in ways you need to without restriction. The flexibility and breathability of these shorts don’t sacrifice support. Both the inner and the outer layers of these running shorts work with your body for your performance.
New Balance’s Transform 2-in-1 Shorts are a must on this list of the best running shorts for men.
- Knit inner layer offers a comfortable, more supportive alternative to mesh
- 2 zipped hand pockets hold important items
- 2 pockets might be insufficient for long runs
- Knit isn’t as breathable as mesh
14. Under Armour Launch 2-in-1 SW Shorts
Under Armour’s Launch 2-in-1 SW shorts work to improve circulation and muscle movement.
The Launch 2-in-1s hug your body without restricting movement. The lightweight materials used ensure you remain comfy. And thanks to excellent airflow, you stay cooler, longer.
This is due to mesh strips along the sides of the shorts. You also get 4-way stretchiness for some of the best movement around.
You’ll have greater freedom and flexibility than ever. Your motion isn’t impeded in any way.
Even better, these premium materials work to repel odor and wick away sweat and moisture.
For added safety, Launch shorts come with reflective strips along the sides.
Another nice feature is the addition of pockets. You get one on each side for your hands. And there’s also one that securely holds your mobile phone.
- Great fit
- Sizing runs a bit small
What are men’s running shorts made out of?
Most men’s running shorts are made from synthetic fibers, usually polyester-spandex blend or a nylon blend. These types of shorts not only offer a good fit, but they also provide optimal moisture-control to prevent discomfort and chafing. Men’s synthetic-based running shorts provide great durability, so runners can use them frequently.
Why do men’s running shorts have liners?
Most men’s running shorts have a built-in liner. The purpose is to manage moisture and keep sweat away. Most runners choose to wear running shorts sans underwear. The built-in liner provides enough support and keeps you cool.
There are two types of liners in men’s running shorts.
The most common is the bikini brief style. This keeps you cool and supported.
2-in-1 style shorts offer a boxer-brief liner. This are good if you chafe easily on the inside of your thighs.
What are men’s split leg shorts?
Due to their unique design and loose fit, men’s split leg shorts provide the greatest range of motion for the runner. That’s why they most often preferred by the fast runners.
One of the most common features of men’s split leg shortsis the upside v-shape cutout that is strategically located on the outer leg seam. This unique design begins about half-inch from the hem.
As compared to other types of men’s running shorts, split leg shorts typically have a shorter inseam of 2-3 inches.
How much breathing room should men’s running shorts have?
We strongly believe that men’s running shorts should always have a lot of breathing room. When running shorts offer you optimal ventilation, moisture control, and freedom of movement, you are less likely to experience chafing and irritation. In almost all cases, more breathing room in your running shorts equates to a dry and comfortable run.
How are men’s running shorts measured?
Running shorts are measured by the length of the inner seam. This is the distance between the seam located at the base of the crotch and the one at the bottom of the running short’s leg.
Most running shorts come in lengths from 3 inches to 7 inches with a few options that are shorter or longer.
What is the ideal length for men’s running shorts?
There is no correct answer here. It really comes down to personal preference.
Medium length shorts of 5 inches are the most popular length. They offer the best of both worlds: they allow freedom of movement while modest in length.
Many runners don’t go shorter than 5 inches for modesty reasons – or just because casual shorts are longer and wearing something so short doesn’t feel natural.
7 inch inseams or longer are best for cooler weather or if you want a short that covers most of your thighs. This length tends to be more popular with trail runners and weekend runners. Longer shorts usually have more pockets and storage than shorter shorts.
Should you get longer or shorter men’s shorts based on the distance you run?
Most long distance runners prefer longer shorts. Many long running shorts have pockets. And since speed is less of a concern for longer runs, wearing a “fast” pair of shorts isn’t as important.
Although short length shorts of 3 inches can technically be worn for long distance, they are better for short distance and sprints due to their lightweight and non-restrictive design. Since they offer great range of motion and ventilation during a run, they are commonly worn by fast runners at short races.
What is the difference between men’s compression shorts and running shorts?
While men’s compression shorts resemble cycling shorts, have compression concentrated around the thighs (and lack the chamois padding). They are designed to increase the blood flow to your legs, resulting in better performance while running. They are also have long inseams, typically between mid-thigh to knee-length. Finally, compression shorts provide exceptional flexibility due to its stretchy material.
Compression shorts can be worn by themselves. But most runners choose to wear compression shorts under looser shorts that lack a liner.