11 Best men’s running shorts in 2021
Finding a pair of comfortable and affordable men’s running shorts can be a difficult task. So, we’ve done the work for you – here’s eleven pairs.
You can’t go wrong with a good pair of running shorts – keeping you cool, dry, comfortable, and looking your best. However, with such a wide selection of men’s running shorts available, it can often be difficult to choose the pair that’s right for you.
When it comes to shopping for shorts (and other running clothing) there are several general guidelines you should follow, these include:
- Moisture management and sweat-wicking technology – does it have any/how good is it?
- The fit – are they comfortable?
- Price range – is it worth the money/can you justify the price?
Taking these guidelines into consideration will help you make greater informed purchases. Nonetheless, with that out of the way, the remainder of this article will provide you with nine of the best running shorts for men, followed up with a couple of honourable mentions.
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1. Rockay men’s flare half tight running shorts
- Compressive and supportive
- Two pockets (one for your smartphone and the other for keys/nutrition)
- HeiQ® Fresh odour control and sweat-wicking design
- Creating using recycled fabric
To begin with, we have the Rockay men’s flare half tights running shorts. These shorts are created using recycled fabric, like all other Rockay products, helping to combat ocean waste and contributing to a more sustainable future. Utilising a compressive and supportive design, you’re guaranteed comfort mile after mile, whether running intervals on the track or a leisurely stroll on the fells. Also, the fabric is designed with anti-odour technology, resulting in less frequent washing and equally as good sweat-wicking performance.
Unlike other running shorts, this pair from Rockay features two pockets – a large and secure outer pocket for your smartphone, and another slightly smaller pocket for keys, cash, or any nutritional items. Your smartphone comfortably slots into the pocket, with no bounce when running, and no concern of it falling out.
One potential downside, however, is the price – coming in towards the higher end of the price bracket. Also, some users may not be the biggest fan of compressive and slightly tighter gear, instead preferring a more ‘traditional’ pair of shorts, such as the pair below from Ten Thousand.
2. Ten Thousand distance men’s running shorts
- Multiple inner and secure pockets for valuables and nutritional items
- Lightweight and minimal design
- Extensively tested to eliminate both hot spots and chafing
- Deep side slit provides optimal range of motion
The Ten Thousand distance shorts are relatively new, designed with both performance and comfort in mind. Throughout the design process, Rich Roll and Olympian Ryan Hall were directly involved, making suggestions and trying the shorts to guarantee optimal comfort and performance.
Unlike other men’s running shorts that have either one small back pocket or no pockets, the distance shorts contain multiple inner pockets. These are located inside the mesh lining of the shorts, small enough not to notice or be intrusive, but large enough to store a set of keys, some emergency cash, or multiple nutritional items for those longer runs and training sessions.
The shorts are comfortable, lightweight, and minimalist, ideal for trail runners, road racing, and anything in-between. Despite the many benefits, and while we do have a lot of good things to say about the distance shorts from Ten Thousand, they are definitely a premium short, with the price definitely reflecting this.
3. 2 in 1 shorts with zip pockets
- 1 zipped pocket on the back of the shorts for small items (e.g. a bank card, cash or keys)
- Reflective logo for increased visibility
- Lightweight and breathable design
Two in one running shorts are becoming more and more popular, especially during the winter months. With a compression base layer, your muscles will remain warm and prepared for fast running – a must-have component when it comes to staying injury-free. Oh, and you’ll also benefit from the zipped pocket on the back of the shorts, ideal for smaller items.
Despite this, some users of the 2 in 1 shorts reported the back pocket to run slightly low, almost awkward when running with keys or other items (e.g. nutrition or a smartphone). This is the complete opposite of the Rockay men’s flare half tight shorts as these contain minimal bounce and more secure pockets, designed to enhance comfort. Furthermore, other runners communicated signs of chafing, but this was based on individual experience.
Overall though, for the price you can’t really complain, receiving numerous features and a sleek design for less than a round of drinks at your local pub.
4. Higher State men’s race running shorts
- Non-restrictive and lightweight design
- Small rear zipped pocket for storing valuables
- Higher flow breathable technology increases breathability and reduces the build-up of moisture
The Higher State men’s running race shorts are one of the more budget-friendly options on our list. The non-restrictive and lightweight design increases mobility and range of motion, ideal for competition and equally as good for those harder training sessions.
Similar to other shorts, including the Nike fast 2-inch running shorts, there is also a small rear zipped pocket – ideal for storing valuables and the perfect size to fit a key. Many users report excellent quality, especially given the price – an excellent option for those on a budget, further completed by the optimal fit and two choices of colours.
Some runners may find these a tad too short, so if that’s you, then you may wish to consider a longer pair, such as the New Balance accelerate 7-inch shorts, as seen below.
5. New Balance accelerate 7-inch shorts
- Small key pocket
- Reflective logo for added visibility whilst running at night
- NB dry technology wicks sweat away from the body, keeping you dry and comfortable
- Split side seams increases mobility
The New Balance accelerate seven-inch men’s running shorts utilise NB’s dry technology, allowing for an enjoyable, but more importantly, comfortable running experience. If you log the majority of your miles early in the morning or after work, the reflective logo will increase your visibility and safety when pounding the pavement.
The shorts are lightweight and stylish, great worn over a pair of running tights or standalone. Also, this pair is slightly longer than other running shorts, making them a versatile choice year-round.
One potential downside for some users, however, is the brief lining inside the shorts – this may cause some chafing and general discomfort. However, for most runners, this shouldn’t be an issue. Furthermore, there are no zipped pockets, only regular pockets to store keys, cash or a smartphone – this is just something to be aware of.
6. Nike Pro men’s compression running shorts
- Compression design for improved athletic performance
- Secure and comfortable fit
- Dri-fit technology prevents moisture build-up, keeping you dry and focused on your run
The benefits of compression are well-known but include: reduced muscle fatigue, increased athletic performance, and decreased recovery times between workouts. Men’s compression running shorts are particularly popular for harder runs and races, allowing you to push yourself to your limit with less strain placed on your body.
Although the shorts are well-known to be super comfortable, there is the downside of no pockets. However, if wearing these as a base layer, this should not be an issue. Furthermore, compression shorts are generally more expensive than other shorts, so you may wish to factor this in before making a purchase.
As with the majority of Nike apparel, you’ll also benefit from their dri-fit technology, keeping you cool and dry throughout the entire duration of your run. Oh, and we nearly forgot: there’s a choice of five different colourways, a style to suit every runner.
7. New Balance Accelerate men’s 5 inch running shorts
- NB dry technology wicks sweat away from the body, keeping you dry and comfortable
- Small key pocket
- Reflective detailing
- Split seam design further increases mobility
The New Balance Accelerate five-inch running shorts are very similar to the seven-inch version, as seen at number five in our list. With a slightly shorter length and a more vibrant and reflective colourway, the five-inch shorts are designed for regular training sessions and those faster runs.
Unlike other shorts, you will benefit from superior visibility thanks to the reflective detailing when running at night, a slightly better option than the Accelerate (seven-inch) counterpart. As we see with many other shorts, the key pocket is only small, but it does the job – if you’re looking for extra pockets without sacrificing on performance, then consider either the Rockay half tights or the distance shorts from Ten Thousand.
Nonetheless, these a great well-rounded pair, a great addition to any runner’s wardrobe, especially if you’re one who runs late into the evening with very poor lighting.
8. Nike fast 2-inch running shorts
- Nike’s signature Dri-fit technology
- Pockets for safely storing valuables
- Split vent for increased freedom of movement
There are only a few people brave enough to rock a pair of two-inch shorts. However, if you’re wanting to show off the quads then the Nike fast is for you. Unlike other shorts, the split vent and short design (pun intended) allow for increased freedom of movement and focus on your run and nothing else.
Some runners may find these too short, perhaps more comfortable with a longer pair of shorts such as the New Balance seven inch pair (as seen above). Despite this, the Nike fast shorts are intended for racing and fast running, eliminating unnecessary fabric for increased mobility and a faster run.
The lightweight design and Nike Dri-fit signature technology make these a great pair for summer, keeping you cool and focused on your run. There is a pocket, but this is rather small – but this is to be expected, given the design and intended use of the shorts.
9. Adidas running shorts (2 in 1 design)
- Lightweight and breathable design
- Phone pocket
- Non-restrictive and sweat-wicking
- Flat-lying-seams reduces the risk of irritation and chafing
Finally, another 2 in 1 pair of running shorts, this time from Adidas, focus on comfort and increased ventilation. Unlike other shorts, the flat-lying seams reduce the risk of irritation and chafing, while simultaneously providing a comfortable ride thanks to a smart design.
The tights inside (2 in 1 design) improves airflow, further improving comfort and potentially offering performance benefits, too. Similar to the pair from Rockay, this pair of men’s running shorts from Adidas are also created using recycled materials, contributing to a more sustainable future.
There is also a dedicated phone pocket, something many shorts lack. This makes them a great choice for those who run with a smartphone or other valuables, much more accommodating than other shorts such as the Nike fast and the Nike Pro compression shorts.
Overall, there are very few downsides, but a back pocket would have been welcome for storing nutritional items or keys.
Although we’ve covered most of our recommended shorts above, we’ve also got a couple of honourable mentions – you may just find the ideal pair for you below:
Best running shorts with pockets
- Two front side pockets
- One reflective zipper pocket (back of shorts)
- Hidden built-in pocket
Often, many pairs of shorts contain no pockets. If they do, they are often too small or only have one, not large enough to fit your smartphone or other “larger” items. Instead, however, this pair from Superora solves all of your problems, with four pockets to store your valuables. Nonetheless, you are compromising slightly on sweat-wicking capability, but not so much you’ll notice a huge difference.
So, in conclusion: if you’re one who is constantly complaining about a lack of pockets, then you cannot go wrong with the Supernora pair. But if you’re looking for something with greater performance potential and comfort (alongside pockets), then you may wish to consider a pair such as the Ten Thousand distance shorts, as seen in our number two spot.
Best running shorts for heavy sweaters
- TCA dry technology wicks sweat away from the skin to be quickly evaporated
- x2 fusion-wielded pockets for ultimate storage
- Lightweight and breathable
- Endorsed by professional athletes
If you’re a heavy sweater, it can be difficult to find a pair of training shorts that keep you dry. However, fear not as this pair from TCA do exactly that: wick sweat away from the skin to be quickly evaporated, keeping you dry and comfortable, no matter how heavy you sweat.
The length of the shorts is slightly longer than other available pairs, including the Nike fast 2-inch shorts (however this is no surprise) and our number three choice of 2 in 1 running shorts. Furthermore, you’ll also benefit from two zipped pockets – but when carrying larger items, such as a smartphone, you are likely to experience a “bounce.”
You’ll find that more and more shorts contain similar technology, but it’s more about finding a pair that works the best for you (i.e. you find the most comfortable).
Frequently asked questions
To help answer some commonly asked questions, we’ve compiled a short FAQ for you to view below:
Why is there a liner in running shorts?
You may not know that the lining in most running shorts is so that you don't need to wear underwear. The lining is designed to provide ample support and comfort. This is mainly achieved as wearing additional layers, such as underwear, may result in chafing and irritation. Take away the extra layer and you reduce your risk of both painful consequences.
Are cycling shorts good for running?
You can get away with wearing cycling shorts for the occasional short run. However, over time this may result in chafing and irritation. Also, your movement may be somewhat restricted. Instead, we recommend sticking with your usual pair of running shorts.
Do you wear underwear with running shorts?
This depends on whether your pair of shorts has a built-in liner. If they do not, you should wear underwear. However, if there is a built-in liner, it may be more comfortable for you to wear no underwear. Nonetheless, this is your choice so do whatever feels most comfortable!
What are 2 in 1 running shorts?
Two in one running shorts contain two layers: a compression base layer and a regular shorts layer, so to say. This type of design keeps your muscles warm and is less revealing than regular compression running shorts. They're also super fashionable and allow you to recover quicker between runs.
Matthew is an avid runner, freelance writer, Durham University graduate, and the founder of Running101.