The best running shorts for women - Women's Running

The best running shorts for women

Author: Kate Sellers

Read Time:   |  June 27, 2022

Whether you're a summer shorts wearer or like to get your legs out all year round, here's our pick of the best running shorts for women

Finding the perfect pair of running shorts can be tricky for us women. Running shorts offer us even more choices than running leggings when it comes to fit, material, length and features. So, we put our expert panel of testers to work. They’ve tried out every different style and type to find the best shorts for women on the market right now.

Read on for our guide to how to find the perfect shorts, and our testers’ reviews.

How to choose the perfect pair of women’s running shorts

Fit

The first port of call is deciding what kind of fit you want. There are generally two options in women’s running shorts: skin-tight, like leggings, or loose, like jogging bottoms.

Skin-tight shorts usually offer more options in terms of leg length, while loose shorts tend to offer more features, such as interior liners. Other than that, fit is entirely down to personal choice and how they feel when you run.

Material

The material your shorts are made out of will depend on the fit. Skin-tight shorts are usually a bit thicker, to keep any VPLs (or other visible bits) at bay. They usually have elastane or some other stretchy fabric, which keeps them in place and offers a more supportive fit. To find the right pair, you might want to consider opting for a similar material make-up to your favourite pair of running leggings.

Loose shorts often use lighter, softer fabric – which is especially important when it comes to chafing. They may be better for warmer runs as they offer more airflow, and are less heavy.

Leg length

Running shorts tend to come in two different leg lengths: short (3-4 inches) and long (5-8 inches). Often this choice is based on personal style preference. It’s important to also think about the dreaded chafe. Where the shorts sit on our thighs can make all the difference – think about where they might rub when you try them on.

Seams vs seamless

You might not have even considered this question when thinking about buying running shorts, but it can really affect how comfortable they are. Shorts with seams are usually more structured and may offer more support, which can be welcome when we feel as though we’re baring all. However, seams can sometimes get in the way and may affect how the shorts fit, especially around the crotch and legs. Seamless shorts are again useful for preventing chafing, as there are no seams to rub against the legs.

What are interior liners?

Interior liners are more common in loose-fitting running shorts. They act as an in-built pair of underwear. Usually they’re made of material that’s designed to sit comfortably next to our most delicate parts, and normally they offer sweat-wicking properties. They’re a really great option if you’re never quite sure what underwear to wear for running. As they’re sewn in, they also prevent friction between underwear and shorts, which reduces awkward bunching or rolling.

Do I need leg grippers?

Tight-fitting running shorts sometimes offer leg grippers. They’re a little rubber strip that sits around the bottom hem of the shorts, and stops the legs from rolling up. We think they’re great for keeping everything where it’s supposed to be, but some people find it annoying as they run, so best to try the shorts out for yourself and decide which you prefer.

Pockets

We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about pockets! For us, pockets are a must – especially on hot days, where we don’t want to add an extra running belt layer. Both styles of running shorts often offer a pocket, and this is usually zipped and at the back, just like leggings.

The important thing is to check the size before you buy, as they are often smaller than their leggings counterparts. The other thing to think about is how heavy the pocket will be after you’ve added your kit. Loose-fitting shorts may well sag or fall down if you’ve got too much weight in there, so consider skin-tight leggings if you need to carry a lot.

Our pick of the best women’s running shorts

Once you’ve decided on your perfect shorts blueprint, it’s time to shop. Here are our testers’ all-time favourite shorts…

BROOKS Chaser 5" Women's Running Shorts

BROOKS Chaser 5″ Women’s Running Shorts £50
Tester: Kate

Recently, I’ve had a fierce debate with my runner friends: to underwear or not to underwear? This might be TMI, but I am firmly in the sans pants camp – which can get tricky when it comes to shorts weather. So I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled these super-soft Brooks shorts on to find a jersey brief liner inside. Sweat-wicking, seamless material kept me feeling cool, comfortable and supported as I ran. These shorts also pack an impressive amount of storage into their 5” length, with two small front pockets on the waistband and a back pocket big enough for my phone. My only (small) complaint was that I noticed a bit of a VPL around my bum – but better a visible panty line than anything else!

Available in sizes XS-XXL

RUNDERWEAR Ultra-Light Women's Running Shorts

RUNDERWEAR Ultra-Light Women’s Running Shorts £50
Tester: Jenny

The best thing about these shorts is that they feel as though they don’t exist – an odd endorsement, to be sure, but definitely a good one when it comes to running. They’re so light and smooth that they genuinely feel like a second skin – as I headed out on my run I did have to check that I hadn’t forgotten to put them on! Each design element has been carefully considered to work in harmony with the others. The fabric is light and a little bit loose, allowing for movement as you run. The leg hems have been finished with reflective grippy material that stops that fabric from moving too much. But the hems aren’t at all restrictive or sticky, thanks to the side splits at the sides, giving you full range of motion. All of this combined into a great run experience: for maybe the first time ever, I didn’t have to think about adjusting my clothing at all as I ran. My only small gripe is pocket-related: while they do have a little zip pocket at the back, it wasn’t quite big enough for me personally, so I still needed to add a running belt to the mix.

Available in sizes S-XL

KIT CHANGE FIT Women's Running Shorts

KIT CHANGE Fit Women’s Running Shorts £45
Tester: Laurel

I was a huge fan of the Kit Change RUN leggings, so I was very excited when I heard that they were bringing out some shorts. Based on their FIT leggings, these shorts are the perfect all-rounder. They’re compressive and squat-proof, which I found to be great for both running and cross-training. They’re made from a recycled polyester (big tick for my sustainability needs) which is super soft and comfortable. I have quite wide hips, which often makes pulling on tight clothing a bit of a stressful experience, but these beauties just slide on – and stay put thanks to their high waist. I also love the length – I’m still working on the confidence to get my legs out, and these ones cut the mid-thigh in a flattering way. As more of an all-purpose pair of shorts, they didn’t have some of the technical running details that I’ve seen in other designs, but they’re definitely my favourite pair for easy miles and gym workouts thanks to their perfect fit and feel.

Available in sizes XS-XXL

SAYSKY Short Eco Combat Women's Running Shorts

SAYSKY Short Eco Combat Women’s Running Shorts £49
Tester: Kate

If, like me, you prefer to escape the full heat of the day and run early morning or in the evening, these shorts are a great shout – the flashy logo is made from SAYSKY’s super-reflective material, helping you to be seen in the twilight hours. The other thing I loved about them was a rubberised hem inside the tights, around the thigh, which kept the shorts perfectly in place as I ran – no riding up. The shorts and fit snugly, with a tie waistband for better fit around the waist, which I found really helpful. The material is made from recycled polyester and is quite soft, though I did find them a little less breathable as some other shorts I run in.

Available in sizes XS-L

PROVIZ Reflect 360 Women's Running Shorts

PROVIZ Reflect 360 Women’s Running Shorts £29.99
Tester: Sarah

These shorts are perfect for anyone who wants visibility at nighttime. Proviz is known for its super-powered reflective material. It’s a lovely subtle dark grey in the day, but brilliant white at night. These shorts have a panel of that down each side and across the back. They also have a handy in-built liner, though I did find the legs of the liner were snug around my thighs, so it might be worth going up a size. Overall, a lovely and lightweight pair of shorts for running adventures, day or night.

Available in sizes 6-22

Written by

Kate Sellers

Kate Sellers

Kate is our Senior Digital Executive and a keen runner. She's also a qualified Personal Trainer and yoga teacher, so she knows her stuff about workouts, cross-training and stretching. She loves to combine running and exploring, so you'll often find her testing out the latest kit in exciting locations across the UK and beyond. Kate champions exercising for enjoyment. "Most of the year, you'll find me running for fun and wellbeing," she says. "That being said, I do still love the thrill of training for a race from time to time!"

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