Runners know how exciting getting new gear can be! Even though you only need the basics to be able to run, once you start your gear collection, it can be hard to stop!
The most expensive bits of your running gear are likely to be your running shoes and your GPS watch. Other gear that costs more are things like waterproof jackets, cold weather gear, or a hydration pack.
But you don’t need to spend a fortune on shorts and shirts. You can do perfectly well wearing cheap women’s shorts for running and working out. The less you spend on shorts, the more you have for fancy gadgets!
Our first choice for affordable women’s shorts is the Under Armour Play Up Shorts 3.0. They use moisture-wicking, anti-odor material, have a 3-inch inseam, and have side pockets for carrying small items.
Read on for the other pairs of cheap shorts we recommend.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Under Armour Play Up Shorts 3.0
Adidas Run M20 2-In-1
Under Armour Launch SW 5″ Shorts
Best Overall 3-Inch
1. Under Armour Play Up Shorts 3.0
Under Armour is known for making high-quality apparel, and although these women’s shorts are on the more affordable side, they’re still impressive quality.
They feature a looser cut for comfort and a curved hem for a prettier look. They’re made from lightweight polyester that’s both comfortable and breathable and will facilitate an easy run.
An updated hem features the classic Under Armour branding and is wide and soft for the highest comfort. The tagless design also eliminates unnecessary chafing at your back.
As well as being light and breezy, the material is moisture-wicking, quick-drying, anti-pilling, and has built-in anti-odor tech to keep them fresh. Small side hand pockets make it easy to store little valuables safely.
The only thing that could get confusing is the washing instructions. Under Armour recommends a cold machine wash only, with similar colors, and without any fabric softeners.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but most runners may simply throw the shorts into the machine with their other clothes without thinking, as it’s much more convenient. This could lead to them having a shorter lifespan.
- Exposed elastic waistband
- Anti-odor technology
- Moisture-wicking fabric
- Side pockets
- Washing with other laundry may shorten their lifespan
Top Runner-Up 3-Inch
2. Nike Tempo
A 3-inch inseam is a popular short length for women, and this is our runner-up choice. They’re made from 100% recycled polyester, which is light and thin.
Nike’s Dri-FIT technology helps move sweat to the surface so it can evaporate faster, leaving you dry. Another nice feature that makes these shorts super for hot weather is the perforated sections on either side. These allow for good airflow, keeping you cool and comfortable.
A reflective swoosh helps you to be seen in any light. There’s also a small pocket on the back that fits a credit card or key perfectly.
When you buy these shots, you’re helping the environment! The yarn used to create them comes from recycled plastic bottles, and including recycled material in their clothing reduces carbon emissions by around 30%.
- Mesh side panels
- Perforated woven fabric
- Small hidden pocket in the back
- Made from recycled materials
- The mesh panels on the side may be a little too transparent for some runners’ liking
3. Adidas Run M20 2-In-1
If you prefer your shorts with an inner brief, these are the cheap women’s shorts we recommend. The form-fitting built-in tights prevent chafing and keep the shorts in place while you’re running, adding to their comfort.
They’re made of AEROREADY fabric, which wicks moisture away from the body and keeps you as cool and fresh as possible.
The briefs also have a smartphone-sized pocket that will comfortably hold most phones, keys, or cards right against the skin to prevent chafing or bouncing.
The outer layer is made of 100% recycled polyester and has an elastic drawcord at the waist so you can get a custom and comfy fit.
- Form-fitting inner brief
- AEROREADY moisture-wicking fabric
- Elastic waist with draw cord
- Mobile phone pocket on the inner brief (left leg)
- They may not be as breathable as shorts without a brief
4. PUMA Favourite Woven 3-Inch 2-in-1 Women’s Running Shorts
These shorts have a 3-inch inseam just like the others, and are made of 100% polyester. They feature a built-in brief for comfort, support, and a reduced chance of chafing.
The liner and outer fabric are made of dryCELL performance fabric that’s geared for activity. It’s moisture-wicking, keeping you as dry as possible when you’re exercising.
The waistband is elastic and comfortable, and won’t ride up or down while you’re working out. It also holds a small key pocket so you never lose your house key.
These shorts are a good choice for night running. A large Puma logo on the front is reflective and easy to see in all light, and a small row of stars on the back waistline lets motorists see you from behind too.
Be aware that the manufacturer recommends washing these shorts inside out, with only mild detergent, and no fabric softener. Washing them in other ways may reduce their durability.
- dryCELL performance fabric
- 360 degrees of reflective visibility
- Drop-in key pocket
- Built-in inner liner
- Must be washed inside out with mild detergent and no fabric softener
Best 4 Inch
5. ASICS Silver 4-Inch Shorts
If you prefer a happy medium between long and short, a pair of 4-inch shorts might work better for you. These are the ones we’d choose.
They’re both soft and lightweight, making for the perfect comfort wear on the road, in the gym, or on the yoga mat. A drawcord in the waistband makes it easy to adjust them to your liking, although the waist is elasticized for comfort.
An inner brief offers some support and prevents the shorts from riding up or chafing. There’s a small, hidden pocket inside the shorts that can comfortably hold small valuables.
They’re available in five sizes and the fit is regular and comfortable. Reflective details add to your safety in low-light conditions.
- Lightweight woven fabric
- Reflective detailing
- Small hidden pocket
- Figure-hugging inner brief
- They run small
6. Under Armour Launch SW 5″ Shorts
The 5-inch length of these shorts is comfy and offers high coverage, with a relaxed fit that sits close to the skin but isn’t skin-tight.
Ultralight fabric that has a bit of stretch to it allows for freedom of movement. An in-built brief gives a little added support and stops the material from riding up. It’s also sweat-wicking to keep you as comfortable as possible, whatever activity you’re doing.
Another comfort feature is the wide and soft waistband. It’s wide enough to prevent chafing and has a drawcord for a custom fit. It also has a hidden inner key pocket and a built-in back pocket.
The side hem features a short split, just enough to increase the ventilation. There’s also a small reflective logo on the front right leg for extra visibility.
- Wide knit waistband
- Split side hem
- Built-in liner
- Stretch-woven fabric
- May not be breathable enough for some
Affordable women’s shorts don’t have to be bad quality. If you know what to look for, you can find some surprisingly high-quality gear! Here’s how to shop for cheap women’s shorts for running and working out.
What features should good running shorts have?
When buying cheap running or workout shorts, consider the following features so you’re sure you buy a decent quality pair.
You want a pair of shorts that doesn’t weigh you down when you’re running. Sometimes cheaper shorts can be made of thicker material that feels heavy when you run.
Find a lightweight pair of shorts that feels breezy and easy to wear, and doesn’t get in your way or feel heavy when you’re on the move.
Shorts should have some kind of reflective detail on them. Usually, this is just a logo or small section of the shorts, but there should be some reflective stuff on both the front and the back.
Quick-Drying & Breathable
You also don’t want your shorts to get soaked and weigh you down while you’re running.
The material should be moisture-wicking and quick-drying so if you sweat or run through a puddle it dries fast and leaves you comfortable.
They should also have good airflow so that you remain cool throughout your run.
Some sort of anti-odor technology is always helpful in running apparel. You may not find this on cheaper shorts, but some of them will have it within the material.
The shorts you choose should be a good fit for you. This is quite individual – what feels good to you may be different than what feels good to someone else.
Pockets are also a helpful addition. Sometimes you just don’t want to have to wear a running belt when you’re going for a casual run, but a zippered pocket is great to keep a phone safe while you’re running.
Some shorts have built-in sun protection, or are water-repellent or wind-proof. This is helpful if you run often in an area that gets a lot of sun, wind, or rain.
What’s the difference between afforable shorts and more expensive shorts?
Shorts with a smaller price tag aren’t necessarily bad quality, but they aren’t quite the same as expensive ones. The biggest difference is that cheap shorts are less durable because of the fabric they’re made from.
The material is also usually a little less comfy than expensive shorts. This may make a difference if you have very sensitive skin, but generally, it’s not that noticeable.
Cheap shorts usually don’t have as many pockets as expensive ones, and often won’t have hidden key pockets or bounce-free pockets.