You can get away with going for a run without your smartwatch or your power meter. But you can’t get away with not wearing a running shirt and pants. In summer, a pair of tights won’t do. You’ll need running shorts.
There are plenty of companies willing to sell you running shorts for eye-popping prices. But you don’t need to spend a lot of cash on expensive running shorts. If you’re looking for something very specific, sure, spend a bit extra on it. But running is supposed to be a simple, inexpensive sport. And there are plenty of clothing options out there that match that belief.
If you are okay with simple, we’ve reviewed some of the best everyday cheap men’s shorts for running and working out.
Our first choice would be the New Balance Accelerate 5-inch shorts. They have a mesh brief, are made from 45% recycled material, and use NB Dry technology to wick away sweat.
Here are seven excellent options that will see you through many runs.
Top 3 Best And Favorite
New Balance Accelerate 5 In Short
Adidas Run-It Shorts
ASICS SILVER 7IN 2-IN-1 SHORT
Best Overall 5 Inch
1. New Balance Accelerate 5 Inch Short
The New Balance Accelerate 5-inch shorts are sleek and streamlined.
They’re made entirely from polyester, which is lightweight, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying. NB Dry technology helps to wick sweat away so you can stay as dry and cool as possible while you’re running.
This pair of shorts is also environmentally friendly, made from around 50% recycled materials. An elastic waistband with a drawcord allows you to get a comfortable fit around your waist. You’ll also find an inner crepe brief for extra support and to prevent the material of the shorts from chafing.
Two side hand pockets and an internal key pocket at the waist offer a good amount of space to store your valuables. A reflective logo on the front left leg keeps you visible on the road or trail for safety.
Note that these shorts run small. You will need to order a size larger than you usually would to get a good fit.
- Mesh insert
- Crepe brief liner
- Inner key pocket
- NB Dry technology
- These shorts can run small and you may need to order a size bigger
Top Runner-Up 5 Inch
2. BALEAF 5 Inches Running Shorts
The Baleaf 5-inch running shorts are our runner-up choice.
They are made from 95% polyester and 5% Spandex, which gives them a bit of stretch and adds to their comfort. This makes them lightweight and comfortable to move in, and the Quick-Dry feature helps to prevent them from getting damp.
A drawcord helps you to get a personalized fit and a built-in mesh brief lining provides subtle support and a locked-in feeling. For convenience, you have two side pockets and a back pocket with a zipper closure to help you carry small items safely.
They are machine washable and dry quickly, so you can start each run fresh and clean. Some runners feel that there is too much material in the front area of the shorts, which can bunch up and create an unflattering and uncomfortable look and feel.
- Built-in mesh brief
- 2 side and one back pocket with zips
- Quick-drying fabric
- Drawstring closure
- Some men may find that the material bunches up in the front, which creates an unflattering look
Best Overall 7 Inch
3. Adidas Run-It Shorts
If you prefer longer shorts, the Adidas Run-It 7-inch shorts come to just below the knee and have a semi-fitted design that follows the contours of your body.
The AEROREADY fabric repels moisture by drawing sweat to the surface of the shorts for quick evaporation. A minimum of 20% of the fabric is recycled.
A mesh inner brief provides a supportive feeling and stops the material of the shorts from riding up or chafing. The waistband is elasticated for easy on and off, but it also has a drawcord if you need a snugger fit around the waist.
Two side pockets and an inner key pocket offer plenty of space for small essentials. In some cases, runners may feel that the pockets don’t provide enough space to carry a smartphone comfortably.
- Mesh-lined inner brief
- Semi-fitted feel
- AEROREADY moisture-wicking fabric
- Elastic waistband with drawstring
- Some runners may find that the pockets aren’t deep enough to fit a phone
Top 2-In-1 Shorts
4. ASICS Silver 7 Inch 2-In-1 Short
Most running shorts—even the more affordable ones—come with an inner lining. The ASICS Silver 7-inch 2-in-1 shorts goes one step further and features compression shorts under their outer shell, which gives an unbeatable supportive feeling and ensures that nothing chafes or rides up.
The elasticated waistband is snug and comfortable and also features a drawcord if you feel you need a tighter fit.
They also have a split on the side at the leg, to improve ventilation and allow for freedom of movement. You’ll stay dry during your run thanks to moisture-managing technology built into these shorts.
You can keep small valuables safe in a hidden laminated pocket on the side of the shorts. There are no external pockets. A small reflective logo on the left leg is easily seen in low light conditions, keeping you safer if you like to run at night.
- Deep split on the side
- Built-in compression shorts
- Hidden internal pocket
- Reflective details
- No side pockets
Best Overall 3 Inch
5. New Balance Impact Run 3 Inch Split Short
The New Balance Impact Run 3-inch Split Shorts are ideal for athletes who want a pair of shorts that are streamlined, comfortable and non-restrictive.
The close fit and split hems eliminate any extra material and allow for a full range of motion.
Even though these shorts are shorter than others, they still feature an inner brief for comfortable support and an elasticated waistband for easy pull-on and off. They also make use of NB Dry technology for removing sweat and other moisture to the surface of the shorts to be evaporated.
Even though there’s much less fabric on a pair of these shorts, they still feature drop-in pockets on either side, and a back pocket that’s secured with a zipper.
Made from 100% polyester—48% of it recycled—you can machine wash and tumble dry these shorts with the rest of your laundry.
- NB DRY fast-drying technology
- Drop-in pocket and back-zip pocket
- Inner brief lining
- Elastic waistband with internal drawstring
- Some runners may find these shorts to be a bit too short for comfort
Runner-Up 3 Inch
6. Brooks Hightail 3 Inch Split Short
The Brooks Hightail 3-inch split shorts offer just as much unrestricted freedom of movement as our first choice 3-inch pair above. But they are slightly less fitted, so runners who like a looser fit may prefer these.
They are manufactured from 100% polyester with DriLayer technology, which wicks away sweat to keep you moisture-free and comfortable. The seams feature sweeping splits for better movement and ventilation.
These shorts also feature a mesh brief liner that’s moisture-wicking and keeps you feeling secure and stable during your run. A hidden pocket on the liner offers a small space to carry a key or card.
- DriLayer fabric
- Split at side seam
- Drop-in pocket
- Sweat-wicking mesh brief liner
- These shorts can run large and you may have to get a size smaller
Best Overall 10 Inch
7. Under Armour Raid 10″ Shorts
These are the opposite of the short shorts reviewed above. Runners who prefer longer cuts may find their perfect match in the Under Armour Raid 10-inch shorts. They provide ample coverage, but they’re also the only shorts on this list that don’t have an inner supportive liner.
Their polyester fabric is light, stretchy and features UA’s HeatGear technology, which is designed to keep you cool in the heat. It’s smooth against the skin, moisture-wicking, quick-drying and offers extreme comfort. You’ll also find that it has UPF 30 sun protection and odor protection technology.
An elastic waistband with a drawcord makes these shorts a very comfortable fit, with the option to loosen or tighten them as much as you like. Two deep mesh side pockets offer enough space for hands or valuables.
- Anti-odor technology
- Sun protection of UPF30 +
- Moisture-wicking fabric
- 4-way stretch fabric
- These shorts can run a bit large in length, and may come to the mid-knee
What features should good running shorts have?
No matter how much your shorts cost, they should have certain features.
The shorts should be light and fit you comfortably. They should be made of breathable and quick-drying material so that you stay ventilated and as dry as possible. Some form of anti-odor technology is also a good feature.
You also want to be as visible as possible, especially if you are running in an area with traffic. Pockets are also good to have to hold small valuables while you’re running.
What’s the difference between cheap shorts and more expensive shorts?
Both cheap shorts and expensive shorts will serve the same purpose. But expensive shorts have more features and are usually a better fit.
Cheap shorts may be made of a less durable fabric that could also be less comfortable against the skin. The fit might be less exact, and often they run small or large.
Cheap shorts also tend to have fewer pockets to store items while running.