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10 best men’s running shorts for clocking up the kilometers

We tested these on both shorter speed sessions and longer training runs to find the top performers

Jon Axworthy
Friday 19 February 2021 15:50
<p>Whether you’re a serious marathon man or if Couch to 5K is more your speed, these shorts will see you straight to the finish line</p>

Whether you’re a serious marathon man or if Couch to 5K is more your speed, these shorts will see you straight to the finish line

Whether you’re a serious marathon man or Couch to 5K is more your speed, then you’ll know the importance of having the right pair of shorts on when you gear up.

After all, no one wants to end up with chafing just a few miles into their run. That’s why we put more than 10 pairs of men’s running shorts to the ultimate test.

Read more: 9 best running gloves sure to keep your hands warm this winter

With each pair we paid particular attention to the inner lining and all the points of contact with our skin. They had to be comfortable yet still breathable and had to work with our gait to avoid any rubbing so that we could go for miles.

We tested them on both shorter speed sessions and longer training runs to see how durable they were, and we also noted how easy it was to port personal items from phones and keys to energy gels and bars around with us. Did everything feel secure and immobile so it wouldn’t impact the run by bouncing around or worse falling out as we went?

We clocked up the kilometres quickly and road tested all kinds of styles, but finally we were left with the top 10 shorts that we’d happily have in our training drawer.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Columbia titan ultra II

The built-in compression liner in these shorts means there’s no faffing around before you run and you can just get them on and go. The liner provided an extremely comfortable layer next to the skin while the outer extended the use of the shorts into the colder months. The fabric is wonderfully soft which produced a nice fluid movement when running and there is a small security pocket in the back, which is just the right size for some car keys, while there are slip pockets for any gel packets that you’re taking out with you.

New Balance London acceptance impact run 5 inch shorts

These shorts made from good breathable material wicked well and offered a really comfortable fit, which sat close to the body as we ran so there was minimal impact when it came to chafing. In terms of storage, there’s a zippered side pocket for security as well as easy access pockets for energy gels and bars, which we had no problem getting into on the move.

Nike flex stride shorts

These five-inchers offered good breathability and a liner to provide support and keep everything in the right place when we picked up the pace. What we really liked about these shorts was the fit, which skimmed the hip and thigh as we ran and was really comfortable. Two big front pockets and a zipped back pocket provide plenty of options for storage too.

Nike fast shorts

These are the same shorts worn by Eliud Kipchoge when he smashed the marathon world record in Berlin and we didn’t hear him complain about chafing when he crossed the finish line. If you’re particularly susceptible then these half-length shorts will ensure that no matter how fast your stride you’ll stay comfortable with good compression that will help with muscle fatigue when the miles start to mount up. There isn’t any storage so these really are a race day short, although you can layer them under another pair of shorts for more versatility.

Soar three season shorts 4.0

A very popular brand within the running community, these shorts are designed to straddle the seasons with an excellent mix of multi-holed ventilation up the side, which worked well on warmer days, while the double layer of fabric won’t leave you feeling exposed on early morning runs. There’s no rubbing at the hem edges and the inner is made from Italian knitted fabric that was barely noticeable, while also providing just the right amount of compression. A small back zipper provides storage for keys and nutrition.

On lightweight shorts

If you’re looking to lighten the load when you’re running and shave some seconds from your Strava post then these featherlight, versatile shorts from On could be the perfect match. The comfortable, light and stretchy fabric blend used for the inner is also utilised for the front half of the shorts, while the polyester back panels are perforated for good breathability. If you’re not so worried about weight, there’s a good pocket pouch on the back, which can hold your phone securely in place.

Odlo zeroweight 2-in-1 shorts

When things start to hot up, these shorts use “Ceramicool” fabric for the inner, which does a really good job at regulating your temperature as you run. The outer is made from woven mesh which moved really well with our stride and didn’t hinder any movement, while the zippered back pocket kept its contents secure and in place so we could just stash keys and gels and forget about them until we needed them.

Tribe Sports endure race shorts

If you like a slightly longer pair of shorts, these eight-inchers are made from Repreve yarns, which are recycled from plastic bottles. As well as doing their part for the environment, they are also high performance and allowed for good breathability and sweat-wicking, with the longer leg not restricting movement or causing any discomfort. Personal items can be stored in a zippered back pocket under the waistband.

Adidas terrex agravic pro trail shorts

These off-roaders feature panels of stretchy side mesh, which are both comfortable and adaptable to any kind of stride length, as you have to change your running style to react to different types of terrain. The mesh inner brief is really comfortable and breathability was good throughout the run. Good detailing includes waistband pole straps and a zipped back pocket. The prominent reflective bar down one leg also means that you’ll be seen if you need to run some road before you get to the trailhead. 

Under Armour men’s UA qualifier speedpocket 18 cm shorts

If you need your phone when you’re running, but don’t run with a belt, then these 7-inch shorts offer an internal pocket that secures even a plus-sized phone so that it doesn’t bounce around and distract you from your run. The inner lining is comfortable, breathable and the panelled construction allows the shorts to move with you as you go.

The verdict: Men’s running shorts

For pure comfort on runs, both long and short, Columbia titan ultra II offers the much wanted second-skin effect thanks to good design and quality materials that eliminate chafing and keep all your personal items secure.

For wet, windy and wintery runs why not invest in one of these men’s winter running jackets too, that will keep your fitness regime in full swing no matter the weather

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