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Best Trail Running Shorts in 2020

 

Trail running can be rough and rugged. It’s not nearly as smooth as running on the road, so you need to be geared up and prepared for obstacles you may not expect.

The most important piece of gear will be your shoes. But it’s essential to wear the best trail running shorts too, to help you get the best out of your run.

The Under Armour Qualifier Speedpocket comes in first place. They’re lightweight, moisture-wicking, and have a super useful zippered pocket for keeping valuables safe.

Here are our top choices.

Top 4 Best and Favorites

 

Under Armour Qualifier Speedpocket Shorts

 

  • Polyester/elastane blend
  • Safe cellphone waistband pocket
  • Mesh sections for breathability
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Salomon XA Training Short

 

  • 360-degree waistband pocket
  • Drawcord for custom fit
  • Built-in UPF-50 protection
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Baleaf Pocketed Running Shorts

 

  • Polyester/spandex construction
  • Elastic waistband for comfort
  • Integrated mesh briefs
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Ultimate Direction Hydrolight Shorts

 

  • Inner compression liners
  • Includes custom-fitting water bottles
  • Center back pocket
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

Best Overall

1. Under Armour Qualifier Speedpocket Shorts

This sleek garment wins top spot for best trail running short. You’ll find two separate designs, one for men and one for women. This means each will have a custom fit, designed for a man or woman’s general body shape.

They’re super lightweight, and have great drying and sweat-wicking properties. Polyester and elastane make them both cool and stretchy, adding an extra element of comfort when you run in these.

Breathability gets a thumbs-up. The Speedpocket features strategically-placed mesh sections to allow the air to flow freely. This adds to keeping you dry, so wet flapping shorts will never be a problem on the trail.

What we love most is the Speedpocket’s standout feature, and what they’re named for – the useful pocket on the waistband. It’s an inconspicuous slip-in pocket that fits any sized phone.

The pocket is non-bounce and waterproof, guaranteeing your valuables will be kept as safe as possible. There’s another smaller, zippered pocket on the back, perfect for a key or cash.

Both men’s and women’s shorts are available in multiple sizes and colors.


PROS:

  • Men’s and women’s designs
  • Polyester/elastane blend
  • Safe cellphone waistband pocket
  • Mesh sections for breathability

CONS:

  • May not be comfortable for runner’s with muscular upper legs
  • Some women may not be comfortable with the short length

Best Shorts with 360 Pocket

 

2. Salomon XA Training Short

Salomon is renowned for their tough and resilient products. These shorts are slightly tougher-looking than our top choice, but they’re a close second only because their waistband may be less comfortable for some runners.

These shorts are a little longer than the above option, which some runners may be more comfortable with. They’re light enough to allow for a full range of movement and feature Salomon’s ActiveDry technology, drying within minutes.

The women’s shorts feature a lightweight brief, which the men’s doesn’t. Both have a hidden drawcord that sits out of your way when not in use, and allows for as tight a fit as you’re comfortable with to keep things where they should be on the trail.

We particularly like the waistband on these shorts. It’s wide enough to prevent chafing, while doubling up as a 360-degree mesh strip containing a variety of pockets. One pouch is zippered to keep your phone or keys safe, and others are open. This isn’t a bad thing – it means you can fit a bunch of keys, an energy bar, or even a small bottle of water in them.

Carrying space isn’t the only thing we love here. Salomon had added their 360-degree reflective treatment, and a UPF factor of 50. You’ll be safe day and night wearing these, which gets a thumbs-up from us.


PROS:

  • Good length to suit most runners
  • 360-degree waistband pocket
  • Drawcord for custom fit
  • Built-in UPF-50 protection

CONS:

  • No built-in inner brief in men’s

Best Value

3. Baleaf Pocketed Running Shorts

When you start shopping for the best trail running shorts, you may be shocked at the prices. While many of them are backed by superb technology, some runners may want something more wallet-friendly, and that’s what the Baleafs are.

Constructed from polyester and spandex, they’re both moisture-wicking and stretchable, making them pretty comfy for moderate to hard running. They weigh very little, so you’ll have full flexibility and freedom.

The elastic waistband makes them a great fit for just about anyone. An integrated mesh brief adds a bit more support while remaining breathable and cool.

There are two side pockets, which are useful but less safe for valuables as they’re not zippered. A moderately-paced run would probably not dislodge your phone but the chance is there, especially on the trail.

The men’s version does have a small zippered pocket on the back. Unfortunately, there’s no extra pocket on the women’s!

The men’s finish at the knees, with the women’s ending mid-thigh. Some women may find this too short for comfort. Both men’s and women’s are available in many sizes (including a “tall” size for men), and a range of colors.


PROS:

  • Polyester/spandex construction
  • Elastic waistband for comfort
  • Integrated mesh briefs
  • Two side pockets

CONS:

  • No back pocket in women’s

Top Shorts with Water Bottles

4. Ultimate Direction Hydrolight Shorts

Trail running shorts with a built-in water bottle system? Yes! This is less a pair of shorts than a trial running survival system.

They pack a number of useful features to improve your performance on the trail, while looking pretty cool at the same time.

Firstly, we like the addition of compression inner liners. Compression gear has its own benefits, such as increasing blood flow to muscles and promoting easier recovery.

Over those is a thin mesh outer layer, breathable and light. But the real feature here is the waistband. It’s made of 2-way stretch mesh and has a hidden rigid adjuster to keep you as comfortable as possible.

These shorts embody the saying “business at the front, party at the back”. From the front, they look like any old pair of shorts. But around back is where the real feature lies.

Two side mesh pockets, each with a custom-sized water bottle and a secure flap, allow for easy access to hydration. A middle pouch fits most phones and other belongings. A large reflective logo on the back finishes it off and makes you visible in low light.

They’re the perfect hands-free trail running system!


PROS:

  • Inner compression liners
  • Includes custom-fitting water bottles
  • Center back pocket
  • 2-way stretch mesh construction

CONS:

  • Some runners may find the water bottles uncomfortable

Top Shorts with Side Pockets (Men’s Only)

5. Brooks Sherpa 7″ 2-in-1 Short

Sometimes fancy pockets aren’t necessary. If you prefer your pockets on the side, these shorts are a great product. The only downside – they only have a men’s design (although a woman could wear it if she liked the design).

They’re made entirely from polyester. This means they’ll wick away moisture very well, with the help of Brooks’ DriLayer tech. As an added bonus they’re machine washable and tumble dryer-friendly.

The semi-fitted cut may be slightly tight on some, especially with the included mesh brief. An elastic waistband and drawstring allow for as custom a fit as you wish.

It may not look like it, but these simple shorts contain a variety of pockets. You won’t find normal side hand pockets, but it does feature side envelope pockets, which are perfect for things like snack bars and hydration sachets.

A center-back zipped pocket is safe, secure, and sweat-resistant, great for storing your phone as you run. There’s even a tiny inner security pocket on the mesh brief for valuables.

The size range is impressive, from X-Small to 2XL 7. Women, if you like these shorts you should be able to find a size to fit you!


PROS:

  • Variety of pockets
  • DriLayer fabric
  • Machine-washable and tumble dry
  • Semi-fitted cut

CONS:

  • No women’s design

Check Men’s Price on Amazon

Most Versatile Men’s Trail Shorts

6. Vuori Ponto Shorts

If you want a pair of trail running shorts that don’t look like trail running shorts, we’ve picked these as our most versatile. They’re a stylish-looking pair of pants that can double up as smartish wear when you’re not doing something sporty.

Their spandex/polyester blend makes them light, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and just stretchy enough. They’re a little more fitted than the average pair of men’s shorts, but comfortable enough for it not to be restrictive.

The drawcord and elastic waistband mean they’ll fit just about anybody, and be easy on the skin and hips. Front and back zippered pockets allow just enough space for valuables and ensures they won’t fall out while you’re running or bending.

They’re a little on the pricey side, but we can’t complain. Considering how versatile these are, you’re basically paying for two pairs – one sporty, one casual.


PROS:

  • Front and back zip pockets
  • Elastic waistband with drawcord
  • Polyester/spandex
  • Fitted design that’s versatile enough for many uses

CONS:

  • Slightly pricey

Check Men’s Price on JackRabbit.com

 

FAQs

Wondering why the best trail running shorts are necessary? Here are common questions and answers.

What Are The Benefits of Trail Running Shorts?

Trail running shorts are geared for those taking part in a rugged and tumble sport. They’re made to be lightweight and have a high degree of comfort.

Most of them have several pockets that zip closed, for the convenience of carrying what you need with you.

Other practical properties include being antimicrobial and preventing odor, and quick-drying so you can run in comfort.

Many have a built-in brief for added support, and a drawstring closure to ensure a tight but comfortable fit.

What Is The Difference to Normal Gym Shorts?

You can run in any old pair of shorts you buy in a clothing store. But the best trail running shorts have some built-in technology that make the run more comfortable.

In particular, they’re designed in such a way that they won’t chafe, which is essential with the range of movement on a trail run.

The other feature that makes a big difference is that they’re quick-drying. Wet shorts sticking to your skin while you’re on a run is not fun at all, but you won’t have to worry about that with a proper pair of trail running shorts.

What Material is Best?

Shorts come in a variety of materials. When shopping, you may be unsure of which is the best to buy.

Cotton, while soft and extremely comfortable, is hot and will leave you soaked in sweat. Synthetic fabrics are best for their quick-drying and moisture-wicking properties. Ideally, you’d want to choose a polyester blend.

Most often, polyester is combined with elastane, spandex, or Lycra for the best of both worlds – dryness and stretchiness.

The Wired Runner