Skip to main content

The Best Running Shorts For Women

Women running in a city
(Image credit: Getty Images / Leo Patrizi)

Whether you love or loathe summer running, there’s a glorious moment every year when it’s finally warm enough to ditch the leggings and switch to running shorts. However, finding shorts that are comfy, flattering, breathable and chafe-free, and with a secure pocket (our personal dealbreaker), can be tougher than hill sprints in a heatwave. 

To help you find a pair that suits, we’ve been putting the best women’s running shorts to the test since 2018, as well as using the experience we’ve gained to identify even more recommended buys with a detailed analysis of their specs and user reviews.

Women's running shorts tried and tested

Just a few of the women’s running shorts the author has tested (Image credit: Camilla Artault / Future)

There are three types of running shorts: the traditional, looser-fitting type, often with a side split which allows for ease of movement (and breeziness); the cycling shorts-style ones – skin-tight numbers that will minimise chafing and offer support; and finally two-in-one shorts, which combine the two types above. 

We’ve sorted our selection below into those three categories, beginning with the shorts we’ve tested in order of preference, then included the best of the rest – from least to most expensive – to broaden your options.

To round out the rest of your running wardrobe, browse our selections of the best running bras, best running shoes, best women’s running tops, best running leggings and best running jackets for women

The Best Two-In-One Running Shorts For Women

On Running Women's Running Shorts

(Image credit: On)
(opens in new tab)

On Running Women’s Running Shorts

Lightweight shorts combining minimalist style and comfort

Specifications

RRP: £70
Tested: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, supportive waistband is adjustable 
+
Very lightweight and quick-drying

Reasons to avoid

-
No zip pocket

We like the clean, simple look of these ultra-light shorts. The skin-tight inner layer helps avoid chafing, while the racing shorts-style lightweight top layer is flattering. The wide waistband is supportive and comfortable, with a drawstring to keep it firmly in place. You’ll find a fold-over pocket at the back of the waist with a key loop.


Rockay Women’s Shorts

(Image credit: Rockay)
(opens in new tab)

Rockay Women’s Shorts

Comfy combo shorts with eco credentials

Specifications

RRP: £83
Tested: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Flattering
+
Comfortable
+
Capacious hidden pockets hold items securely 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

This 5in (13cm) pair from sustainable sportswear brand Rockay will keep you cool and comfortable in hot weather. The stretchy inner lining sits comfortably against the skin to prevent chafing and wick away sweat, while the perforated outer layer helps with air flow. The wide waistband sits fairly high, and there are two large and cleverly hidden pockets on the inner shorts, which can fit your phone and any other essentials. These shorts cost a pretty penny, but they feel high-quality and are flatteringly cut. And you can tell everyone Rockay donated part of the proceeds from your purchase to the ReSea project (opens in new tab) – which actually makes a demonstrable difference by removing plastic from the ocean.


Brooks Chaser 5in 2-in-1

(Image credit: Brooks)
(opens in new tab)

Brooks Chaser 5in 2-in-1

Versatile shorts with all the pockets

Specifications

RRP: £55
Tested: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
So many pockets
+
Versatile waistband can be worn two ways

Reasons to avoid

-
Waistband divides opinion 

These lightweight shorts start with a 5in (13cm) skin-tight liner with anti-chafe seams, then layer Brooks’ Chaser shorts on top. The waistband is quite high, but according to Brooks it can also be worn folded down if you prefer a low-rise fit. As well as a secure zip pocket at the back, there are two drop-in interior pockets at the front, one of which has a key loop, and two phone-sized pockets on the outer leg of the liner shorts, tucked under the top layer. Now you just need to remember which pocket you put your keys in.


Sundried Legacy

(Image credit: Sundried)
(opens in new tab)

Sundried Legacy

Great value two-in-one shorts with a classic track look

Specifications

RRP: £30
Tested : No

Reasons to buy

+
Flattering and comfortable
+
Great value

Reasons to avoid

-
Zip pocket is small and oddly placed

Channel a classic track look with these navy and white trim 3in shorts with a side split. You won’t feel too exposed because they’re two-in-ones with a built-in skintight liner. This pair, made from recycled materials, also has a secure elastic waistband and a zip pocket on one side of the rear.


Under Armour Fly By 2.0 2 in 1 shorts

(Image credit: Under Armour)
(opens in new tab)

Women's UA Fly By 2.0 2-in-1 Shorts

Great-value shorts combining compression and coverage

Specifications

RRP: £30
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Comfy waistband stays put
+
Inner shorts offer support without riding up

Reasons to avoid

-
Small pocket without zip

These lightweight low-to-mid-rise shorts have a 4.5in (11cm) compression layer overlaid with a 3.5in (8cm) lightweight layer for a combination of support and coverage. The waistband is soft and comfortable, and has a hidden drawstring to keep it in place. Mesh panels help heat escape and the contoured cross-over splits at the side allow for extra freedom of movement. A single drop-in key pocket is the only storage option.


Nike Eclipse 2-In-1 women’s running shorts

(Image credit: Nike)
(opens in new tab)

Nike Eclipse 2-In-1

Combo shorts offering flexibility, speed and style

Specifications

RRP: £49.95
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Flattering and comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Zip pocket is oddly placed
-
Size down for a better fit on the inner shorts

Who wants to buy two pairs of shorts when you can buy two in one? This pair offer soft, stretchy liner shorts with a touch of compression, layered under matching top shorts with a side split – a flattering combination that offers flexibility, speed and style. There’s a zipped side pocket which can accommodate a phone and two drop-in pockets for your bank card and keys, and the comfortable wide waistband has a hidden drawstring to ensure an optimal fit.


Montane Katla 4in Women’s Running Shorts

(Image credit: Montane)
(opens in new tab)

Montane Katla 4in Shorts

Best two-in-one trail shorts

Specifications

RRP: £50
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Deep stretch waistband with drawstring
+
Large rear pocket with zip
+
Very lightweight and fast-drying

Reasons to avoid

-
Inner shorts may ride up

A super-lightweight pair of shorts with built-in undershorts to keep chafing at bay, these are designed for trail running and are ideal for hot conditions. The wide, stretchy waistband sits comfortably with an inner drawstring to keep it in place. There’s a secure zip pocket at the back of the waistband plus drop-in gel pockets.


Odlo Zeroweight Ceramicool Pro 2-In-1

(Image credit: Odlo)
(opens in new tab)

Odlo Zeroweight Ceramicool Pro 2-In-1

Lightweight flowing shorts

Specifications

RRP: £55
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Zip pocket at the rear

Reasons to avoid

-
Undershorts can ride up

These tick all the boxes for training in hot weather, keeping you dry and avoiding chafing. Odlo claims the soft under-shorts cool your skin by up to 1°C, while the loose outer layer offers a flattering fit. But is there a zip pocket? Yes, there is, so we’re happy to recommend these as a great pick for summer.

The Best Loose-Fitting Running Shorts For Women

Brooks 5in Chaser Running Shorts in blue

(Image credit: Brooks)
(opens in new tab)

Brooks Chaser 5in Running Shorts

Shorts to keep you cool and comfy on summer runs

Specifications

RRP: £50
Tested: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Cooling, breathable fabric
+
Comfortable waistband with drawstring

Reasons to avoid

-
No zip pocket

These loose-fitting lightweight shorts offer plenty of room for movement, with a wide, comfortable waistband that you can secure with a hidden drawstring. They have built-in underwear made from a soft jersey fabric, and the slightly flared outer layer has hidden side slits to allow for a greater range of movement. The fabric is designed not to cling to you even when you’re mega-sweaty. Just one drawback for us: there’s no zip pocket. There is a foldover pocket at the back of the waistband, but you might not want to risk putting your phone in it.


On Running Race Shorts

(Image credit: On)
(opens in new tab)

On Running Race Shorts

Featherlight shorts with soft, wide waistband

Specifications

RRP: £70
Tested: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly light, quick-drying fabric
+
Comfy waistband stays put 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
No zip pocket

Ideal for training in hot conditions or pushing your limits during a race, these shorts are both comfortable and lightweight. There’s a soft and stretchy hidden inner liner, and the outer layer is made from a perforated quick-drying fabric that drapes nicely – it’s a flattering cut. The wide, soft waistband stays where you want it and there’s a fold-over pocket at the back that has an elastic loop inside so despite the lack of zip, you don’t run the risk of losing your keys.


Gym+Coffee Contender Shorts

(Image credit: Gym+Coffee)
(opens in new tab)

Gym+Coffee Contender Shorts

Fast-drying shorts with flair

Specifications

RRP: £40
Tested: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Large zip pocket at back of waist
+
Flattering cut
+
Fast-drying fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Fabric isn’t the softest

With a flattering cut and quick-drying, non-clingy fabric, these lightweight shorts are great for summer running. The wide, soft and comfortable waistband is shaped to stay put, and it features a large zip pocket at the back as well as a drop-in pocket at the front. The shorts flare out a little to keep the air flowing, and a mini side-split allows for greater freedom of movement.


Columbia Titan Ultra II Short

(Image credit: Columbia)
(opens in new tab)

Columbia Titan Ultra II Short

Flattering lightweight mid-rise shorts

Specifications

RRP: £55
Tested: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Comfy, secure waistband
+
Zip pocket, plus gel pockets 
+
Stretchy brief liner

Reasons to avoid

-
Seams on inner thighs can rub

A flattering cut distinguishes this very lightweight pair of running shorts. The soft, perforated liner offers good coverage and there’s just a hint of a side split. The waistband is fairly wide and the elastic is encased in soft cotton. Along with the usual sweat-wicking tech, there’s an antimicrobial treatment to keep your shorts smelling fresh for longer. A sturdy zip pocket at the back has room for essentials while two elasticated mesh side pockets are an added bonus: just right for stashing a mask or some energy gels.


New Balance Q Speed Fuel

(Image credit: New Balance)
(opens in new tab)

New Balance Q Speed Fuel

Feel the breeze in these eye-catching shorts

Specifications

RRP: £40
Tested: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight fabric and airy design
+
Drawstring waistband stays put

Reasons to avoid

-
Waistband is not the most comfortable
-
No zip pocket

These breezy and stylish shorts are great for very humid summer runs. Loose and lightweight, they’re made with sweat-wicking fabric that doesn’t cling and feels barely there. Although the cut is higher at the sides to keep you extra cool, the 3in (7.6cm) inseam means these shorts are not actually as short as they look, while the interior brief ensures you’re not flashing anything. The toggled drawstring allows you to adjust the waistband easily and we love the colourful elastic detail at the hip. There’s a fold-over pocket at the back of the waistband and a tiny drop-in pocket at the front.


Kalenji Women’s Running Shorts Dry in black

(Image credit: Decathlon)

Kalenji Women’s Running Shorts Dry

No frills shorts with a pocket at a great price

Specifications

RRP: £7.99
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing value
+
Stretchy fabric keeps you cool and dry
+
Comfy waistband

Reasons to avoid

-
Pocket not large enough for a phone
-
Only available in black

If you’re on the hunt for a bargain, snap up a pair of these basic but very functional running shorts from Decathlon. The fabric, which is made with recycled polyester, is stretchy, lightweight and quick-drying, and the wide, soft waistband with a drawstring sits comfortably where you want it. There’s a zip pocket at the back of the waistband for your keys, although it’s not quite big enough for a smartphone. There are no built-in knickers in these ones.


Nike 10K

(Image credit: Nike)
(opens in new tab)

Nike 10K

Simple, lightweight shorts

Specifications

RRP: £22.95
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Lightweight, breathable fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
No zip pocket

A firm favourite among many runners, these classic black shorts are basic, but will be comfortable whatever warm-weather running you do. There’s a small drop-in pocket at the front, but no zip pocket – at this price we can forgive that.


2XU Aero 4in Shorts in light blue

(Image credit: 2XU)
(opens in new tab)

2XU Aero 4in Shorts

Lightweight, fast-drying shorts with a comfy waistband

Specifications

RRP: £35
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Wide soft waistband is comfortable and flattering 
+
Lightweight, fast-drying fabric
+
Zip pocket at back of waist

Reasons to avoid

-
None

With a simple, functional design, this is a great everyday pair for summer running. The fabric is lightweight and breathable, and there’s an underwear-style inner liner. The wide, soft waistband has a zipped pocket at the back for your keys or a card.


Janji 3in AFO limited run shorts in a fun print

(Image credit: Janji)
(opens in new tab)

Janji 3in AFO Middle Short

Limited run lightweight shorts

Specifications

RRP: £45-£50
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Limited edition appeal
+
Nice prints and colours
+
Flattering and well cut
+
Great for hot, humid conditions

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest

Boston-based running apparel brand Janji sells limited runs of its gear, giving it an hard-to-come-by, in-the-know appeal. But while the colour or print may change, the brand sticks with what works, and the 3in AFO Middle Short is extremely popular. Made with quick-drying, lightweight fabric, these mid-rise shorts will keep you cool even in very hot, humid conditions. There’s a comfortable waistband with a drawstring and a zip pocket at the back, and built-in briefs made of sweat-wicking fabric.


Lululemon Speed Up running shorts

(Image credit: Lululemon)
(opens in new tab)

Lululemon Speed Up

Lightweight low-rise short shorts giving full freedom of movement

Specifications

RRP: £48
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Zip pocket at the back of the waist

Reasons to avoid

-
A lot of money for not much fabric 

If you like to keep your shorts short, you’ll love this super-lightweight pair with a 2.5in (6.4cm) inseam and a cross-over on the outside leg. The wide, low-rise waistband has a drawstring to tighten if needed, and there’s also a loose inner lining. Stash your valuables in a secure zipped pocket at the back of the waistband, while the long pocket at the front of the waistband is perfect for your gels.


Sweaty Betty Track and Field shorts in black

(Image credit: Sweaty Betty)
(opens in new tab)

Sweaty Betty Track and Field Shorts

Airy shorts with a choice of lengths

Specifications

RRP: £50
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Flattering
+
Choice of lengths
+
Two zip pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Contents liable to bounce in pockets
-
Light colours are a little transparent

Available in a choice of either 2in (5cm) or 3.5in (8cm) inseam, these classic running shorts are made of light, breathable, non-clingy fabric and come with built-in underwear. The two side pockets both have zips, a slightly odd idea that we found divides opinion: although they keep your stuff safe, a phone or keys tend to bounce around in them.


Runderwear Women’s Ultra Light Running Shorts

(Image credit: Runderwear)
(opens in new tab)

Runderwear Women’s Ultra Light Running Shorts

Lightweight shorts best paired with your favourite running underwear

Specifications

RRP: £50
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight, fast-drying fabric
+
Zip pocket at the back

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
No built-in underwear

If you’re wedded to your Runderwear running underwear and want a lightweight pair of liner-free shorts to wear over them, try these. The exceptionally light fabric is slightly stretchy and very fast-drying, and they have a 4in (10cm) in-seam and a laser-cut reflective trim. Oh, and there’s a zipped pocket at the back of the waist, engineered so your phone won’t bounce around in it.


Nike AeroSwift Shorts

(Image credit: Nike)
(opens in new tab)

Nike AeroSwift Shorts

Super-light race shorts for maximum airflow

Specifications

RRP: £59.95
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight fabric
+
Pleated back panels increase airflow
+
Side split allows for greater freedom of movement

Reasons to avoid

-
No pockets
-
Expensive

If you’re in the market for race shorts that will keep you cool, these will certainly do the job. The fabric has received the sweat-wicking treatment, and the back panel is made of pleated material which stops them clinging and promotes airflow. Even the waistband is breathable. They are cut for a slim fit, with a 3in inseam and cross-over side split for maximum freedom of movement. In line with the stripped-back style there are no pockets at all. The barely-there feeling won’t be for everyone, however.

The Best Skin-Tight Running Shorts For Women

Arc’teryx Essent High-Rise 8in

(Image credit: Arc’teryx)

Arc’teryx Essent High-Rise 8in

Comfy, practical shorts in a choice of colours

Specifications

RRP: £55
Tested: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Two large pockets
+
Good colour selection
+
Inclusive sizing

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest

Strokably soft, with a matt finish, these flattering high-waisted shorts are made with fabric that’s supportive yet thin enough to keep you from overheating. There are two large, secure leg pockets that will easily fit a phone. Best of all, the shorts come in four colours including three that are not black. Note that the numerical sizing (00 to 16) corresponds to US sizing.


Brooks Method 8in

(Image credit: Brooks)
(opens in new tab)

Brooks Method 8in

Supportive skin-tight shorts with lots of pockets

Specifications

RRP: £45
Tested: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
High, supportive waistband 
+
Plenty of pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Available only in black

If you like your shorts high-waisted and supportive, you’ll like these. The fabric is smooth and soft and offers support without feeling like a corset. The high, wide waistband has a hidden drawstring and we found it was shaped in such a way that it never threatened to roll down. The 8in (20cm) inseam reaches mid-thigh which is insurance against any inner thigh chafing. Brooks have been exceptionally generous with their pockets: a phone-sized pocket on each leg, one of which has a key loop, as well as a large fold-over pocket at the back of the waist.


BAM Enduro shorts made from soft bamboo fibre

(Image credit: BAM)
(opens in new tab)

BAM Bamboo Enduro Long Sport Shorts

Supportive and stylish longer shorts with green credentials

Specifications

RRP: £34
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Supportive, squat-proof fabric
+
Sweat-wicking and antibacterial

Reasons to avoid

-
Less breathable than most running shorts
-
No pockets

These long bamboo jersey shorts are comfy and flattering, with a firm enough hold to offer a decent amount of support. BAM’s non-see-through material is soft and stretchy, the wide waistband is comfortable, and bamboo’s renowned antibacterial properties are a bonus – you can get a few wears out of these before they start to pong. You’ll have to stash your keys elsewhere though, because there are no pockets in these shorts. They are also carbon net positive: BAM offsets carbon emissions from all its garments’ whole life, including 50 visits to your washing machine.


Runderwear High-Waisted Legging Shorts

(Image credit: Runderwear )

Runderwear High-Waisted Legging Shorts

Lightweight shorts with stay-put strips

Specifications

RRP: £40
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
High-ribbed waistband
+
Stay-put silicone strips
+
Hidden pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available in S/M/L

We were excited by the news that the company behind our favourite running underwear has launched skin-tight shorts. Lightweight, high-waisted, supportive and squat-proof, with a 6in (15cm) inseam and hidden pockets at the back of the waist, these sound as if they’re the business. There’s even a silicone strip around the legs and the top of the waistband to keep everything in place – no need for awkward readjusting mid-run. We’ll be testing them soon, so check back to see if they lived up to our expectations.


Tribe Endure Pro

(Image credit: Tribe)
(opens in new tab)

Tribe Endure Pro

Medium-compression shorts made with recycled fabrics

Specifications

RRP: £48
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight fabric with compression
+
Secure zip pocket

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one pocket

These skin-tight medium compression running shorts don’t ride up or roll down. They’re made with Econyl recycled yarn, which creates a fabric that’s lightweight and breathable as well as sweat-wicking. The mid-rise waist secured with a drawstring is comfortable and flattering, and there’s a zip pocket at the back of the waistband that fits a standard smartphone. These would be a great choice for long-distance training or racing if you find that looser shorts tend to chafe over longer distances.


2XU Compression Short

(Image credit: 2XU)
(opens in new tab)

2XU Core Compression Short

Antibacterial high-compression shorts

Specifications

RRP: £50
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Compression may help with muscle soreness
+
Breathable fabric with antibacterial properties

Reasons to avoid

-
No secure pocket

Although fairly pricy, these performance compression shorts could be worth the cash because they’re designed to help reduce post-run soreness in your abductor, glute, quad and hamstring muscles. Even though they’re built to hold you in a tight squeeze, these shorts should be ultra-comfortable because they’re made from antibacterial, sweat-wicking, breathable stretch fabric, with seams that are flat-locked to reduce chafing. There’s no zip pocket – it’s been sacrificed on the altar of compression – but who wants their keys compressed into their waistband anyway?


Lululemon Fast And Free Short 6in

(Image credit: Lululemon)
(opens in new tab)

Lululemon Fast And Free Short 6in

High-waisted soft shorts designed for running

Specifications

RRP: £58
Tested: No

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Some users reported that the legs ride up

These cycling-style shorts should minimise chafing and offer a slightly more supportive feel. The waistband is wide and comfy, with a hidden drawstring and multiple gel pockets as well as deep side pockets to secure larger items like your phone. Although lightweight, they offer good coverage.

Camilla Artault is a writer and keen runner. She has covered women’s running gear – testing leggings, jackets, bras, tops and shorts – for Coach since 2018, as well as interviewing experts and writing about a range of health and lifestyle topics.