9 Best Running Shorts of 2024 for Style and Speed, Tested


Huffing and puffing your way through yet another mile on the track, the streets, or the trails is undeniably hard. What shouldn’t be hard is finding the best running shorts to help you achieve all those goals. Theoretically, any pair of workout shorts will do, but the best running shorts are built a little differently since they’re geared for speed. Ideally, they won’t hold you back when you’re propelling yourself forward in a marathon or competitive event, and even better if the shorts in question make you look good while you’re mid-sprint, too.


The Best Running Shorts, According to GQ


After putting some mileage on a range of options from dedicated running brands like Tracksmith and District Vision, plus testing some all-purpose shorts from the likes of Ten Thousand and Outdoor Voices, the GQR team is reporting back with some intel on which brand has got the right amount of storage (zippered pockets FTW), which brand has the right amount of compressive squeeze, and who’s owning the space for menswear bros with an eight-minute mile time. Here, the best shorts for every kind of runner.


The Best Running Shorts, Overall: Outdoor Voices High Stride

Overstriding is bad running form, but the High Stride shorts from athleisure brand Outdoor Voices are a different beast entirely. They’re a great pick for most runners if you take into account design, value, and adaptability. These fully polyester shorts, a former GQ Fitness Awards winner, are available in two lengths—five and seven inches (we like ‘em short!)—and either lined or unlined, which makes them pretty customizable for a variety of runners. The compression lining isn’t quite as thigh-hugging as we’d like, but it doesn’t ride up too badly, which we appreciate for having to do as few crotch adjustments as possible during a run.

These shorts are meant for high-sweat activities, and they have definitely held up during miles-long runs, drying quickly so sweat wasn’t clinging to my legs. The polyester construction is a little heavier than I’m used to with running shorts, so someone who wants something feather-light might feel bogged down with the High Strides, but they’re still a well-made pair of shorts that won’t get in your way. Also, two side pockets and a zippered back pocket make us really love these shorts, because not enough brands realize that runners love a place to put their gear.

Tested and Reviewed by Tyler Chin

Tested and Reviewed by Tyler Chin

The Best Splurge-y Running Shorts: District Vision “Aaron”

From fashion insiders to style-weary running enthusiasts, District Vision has won over many with its thoughtfully designed running apparel. Yes, its gear slots into more of an aspirational price point than its peers, but the brand’s consistently backing its products with high-quality materials and design flourishes that make up for the higher price tag. These lightweight shorts are a hybrid option comprised of brand’s five-inch training shorts, plus some built-in half tights underneath for optimal leg compression. The lining actually has a hidden phone pocket, which we appreciate, but found it to be a little snug for a larger device like the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The rear also features two handy mesh pockets and a zippered one that are great for stuffing in your AirPods (or other workout earbuds), gels, and keys before you zip out the door. These shorts do run a little large, so maybe size down for a better fit.

Tested and Reviewed by Tyler Chin

Tested and Reviewed by Tyler Chin

The Best Retro-Style Running Shorts: Tracksmith Van Cortlandt Grand

Tracksmith

Van Cortlandt Grand Shorts

Tracksmith’s brand of collegiate-inspired running gear has a cult-like following that’s been underscored by its retro designs that make you look like a track star even if you’re someone who’s just now taking up running. Its modest four-inch Van Cortlandt Grand shorts are one of its most popular styles, and I loved the mesh material on them, which feels super soft and breathable thanks to all the perforation throughout the bottoms. They feature a higher rise than you may be used to, but there’s an anti-microbial liner to keep everything in place while you’re hitting your stride. The only downer is that these shorts are lacking in any truly roomy pockets, with only two tiny ones in the rear sized for smaller items like keys and supplements. If you’re the type who’s only packing the essentials on the way out the door, it might not be a huge deterrent, but as the kind of runner who likes to at least pack a phone, it felt like a sizable inconvenience for my practice.

Tested and Reviewed by Tyler Chin

Tested and Reviewed by Tyler Chin

The Best Running Shorts for More Than Just Running: Ten Thousand Interval

Ten Thousand makes a whole suite of workout shorts, each dialed in for a specific activity. Among them, the brand’s Interval shorts are an immediate favorite among GQ staffers and contributors (read our full review here). The do-it-all shorts are equipped to accommodate a full range of motion, whether you’re sinking into a lunge on the floor or sprinting around the block. They strike the ideal balance between a lightweight and durable bottom and come in a range of inseams (I tried the five-inch option)—with or without liners.

The waistband has the perfect amount of stretch and give, though the the no-bunch claim from the brand hasn’t exactly held up. We really appreciate the plethora of pockets, though they’re probably best for helping you get to the gym without toting a bag than running with a fanny pack’s worth of miscellaneous items because things tend to bounce around when you’re hitting your stride. Otherwise, these are an excellent pair of stretchy shorts, and the compression liner will let you forego having to buy a separate pair.

Tested and Reviewed by Tyler Chin

Tested and Reviewed by Tyler Chin

The Best Running Shorts with Pockets: Miler Base

As part of our class of GQ 2022 Fitness Award winners, Miler’s Base running shorts won over testers with its pockets and breathable Swiss mesh fabric. Oh, and let’s not forget the anti-chafe liner. The New York-based running brand made a damn-near perfect pair of shorts, and while it’s expensive, it deserves all the praise for its exceptional performance. Do note that these options fall into the short-short category, though they feature a brief-style liner to prevent any indecent exposure. They’re also treated with an anti-odor finish if you’re the kind of athlete who’s already a sweaty mess 10 minutes in.

The Best Running Shorts with a Compression Lining: Janji Multi-Short

We’ve extolled the virtues of compression liners before, but here we go again: They boost blood flow to your muscles, aid in recovery, and prevent chafing and abrasion way down under. Instead of buying a separate pair of compression shorts, you could get a pair of running shorts—like Janji’s multi-short—with a built-in compression liner. They’re just the perfect amount of snug, and in a pleasant surprise, have sewn-in phone pockets on both legs. These shorts wick away moisture so well that while the liner might get a little damp, the micro-perforated shell stays fully dry. These are great for daily runs or chugging along during race day.


Plus, 3 More Running Shorts We Like

Nike

Dri-FIT 5″ 2-in-1 Running Shorts

We can’t talk about running shorts without including a pair from Nike. Its Dri-Fit pair is made with the material that made the Beaverton brand’s running apparel so popular, wicking away moisture to keep you cool and comfortable as you circle the track. They’re ventilated in all the right areas to avoid any hot spots, and the brand has some of the better size ranges out there for better inclusivity. These five-inch shorts have a built-in seven-inch liner, and there are a multitude of pockets to keep your goods all at close hand.

Lululemon

Fast and Free Lined Short 6″

Aside from stretchy pants made for lounging, Lululemon does revert back to its roots now and then to make performancewear. Its Fast and Free lined shorts are built for running, equipped with a sweat-wicking, quick-drying mesh material that remains breathable thanks to its perforated makeup. They’re lightweight so you don’t have to worry about anything getting in your way while running, and the lining has a specially designed pouch to secure your manhood comfortably without feeling like you’re crushing the jewels.

Bandit’s one of the best New York City-based running communities, which just so happens to make some pretty luxe running gear, too. Its Splitty Shorts are perfect for race day, featuring a dramatic split along the sides to let you sprint your way to the finish line in personal record time. The OG Splitties got decked out in the brand’s trademarked Vento fabric, which is water resistant and made with all-over perforation for breathability and to improve the overall moisture-wicking abilities. And if you sign up to become a Bandit member, you’ll save 10% off these shorts and everything else the brand stocks.


What to Look for in Running Shorts

Runners are overall looking for a streamlined silhouette that will keep them as aerodynamic as possible during a sprint or jog, but there are some additional criteria that can move the needle for you depending on your preferences.



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