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10 best women’s running shorts for working up a sweat this summer

From flowy fits to second-skin designs, this kit will keep you cool and comfy on all distances

Lucy Gornall
Tuesday 26 July 2022 17:17 BST
<p>We tested these on distances from 3k to 15k – here’s how they fared </p>

We tested these on distances from 3k to 15k – here’s how they fared

The kit you choose to wear while running can massively help or hinder your speed, comfort and endurance. You’ll want to make sure you’re kitted out in a pair of the best running shorts, then, especially as summer 2022 keeps throwing heatwaves at us left, right and centre.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to running shorts. When you’re pavement pounding, it’s easy for waistbands to slip down or wiggle around. Not only is this incredibly uncomfortable, but it also means precious running time is wasted pulling up shorts, messing around with waistbands and just getting generally frustrated. The height of the waistband also comes into play” some might prefer a high waistband for a “tucked-in” feel, while others might prefer a hip-height waistband.

Short length is also important. Do you want full coverage or do you prefer baggy shorts that might flash the flesh a little? Some baggier styles come with a tighter pair of inner shorts, which offer coverage but disguise the silhouette of your body. Pockets are also handy when you’re running – maybe to store a key or coins. Some designs now come with a specific phone pocket, which runs down the leg of the shorts.

Then there’s the fabric – from sweat-wicking and thick to thin, soft and stretchy. And finally, colour – black is a safe bet for hiding sweat patches, but there’s a whole array of other colours and designs that we reckon are definitely worth exploring.

Ultimately, the best pair of running shorts need to be comfortable, fast-drying, stylish and offer a good fit while also washing well. After all, these summer runs can get mighty sweaty!

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How we tested

Put simply, each pair of shorts was worn during a run. The minimum-length run we tested was 3km, with others enduring around 15km of wear. Although there is, of course, a big difference in run lengths, 3km tends to give a good indication of comfort because, by this point, if shorts are going to slip or chafe they’ll be doing so already. We also checked for fit and comfort during runs (as well as before and after), plus style and other additions such as pockets.

The best women’s running shorts for 2022 are:

  • Best overall running shorts – Lorna Jane reflective night cat bike short: £56,
  • Best high-waisted running shorts – Sefi timeless 9in shorts: £38,
  • Best running shorts for bright colours – BAM enduro bamboo long sport shorts: £17,
  • Best running shorts for leakproof runs – Modibodi recycled running shorts: £32,
  • Best mid-rise running shorts – New Balance relentless 2 in 1 short: £18,
  • Best loose and free running shorts – MP women’s velocity jersey shorts: £12.99,
  • Best running shorts for design – Designed by Sports rainbow bolt shorts: £34.99,
  • Best running shorts for standing out – Castore women’s mango speed shorts: £16.50,
  • Best running shorts for long runs – Lululemon senseknit running high-rise short 10in: £98,
  • Best second-skin running shorts – Runderwear women’s high-waisted legging shorts: £40,

Lorna Jane reflective night cat bike short

Lorna Jane reflective night cat print shorts.png

Best: Overall running shorts

Rating: 10/10

  • Sizes: XXS-XXL
  • Pros: Reflective print, high waistband
  • Cons: Might be too short for some

Lorna Jane has impressed us yet again with these shorts, which come with a reflective animal print, ideal for early morning or late-night runs. These fit like a glove, while a thick, high waistband offers excellent support as well as keeping everything tucked in.

We wore these for a speedy 5km run and there wasn’t even a slight bit of slippage, plus they moved with our body and didn’t feel uncomfortable at any point. The length might not be to everyone’s fancy as they are a little short, but we found they offered great coverage, with nothing exposed. An inner pocket in the waistband is useful for coins and a key, too. If you want versatility, then these shorts also work well for gym-based workouts as they offer great support and total coverage.

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Sefi timeless 9in shorts

Sefi timeless 9in running shorts.png

Best: High-waisted running shorts

Rating: 9/10

  • Sizes: XXS to XL
  • Pros: High waistband, nice length
  • Cons: A little too snug

The best thing about these shorts is the extra-high waistband, which offers amazing support and keeps everything tucked in.

Moving in these is easy and at no point during our run did we feel them slip down or budge, so our entire attention was focused on stride, pace and actually making it to the finish line! They’re also seamless, so there’s no annoying camel toes or wedgies. The fabric is antimicrobial for 100-plus washes, which is supposedly effective on bacteria and fungus. We washed them a couple of times and the shape and fit remained exactly the same.

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BAM enduro bamboo long running shorts

BAM enduro bamboo long running shorts.png

Best: Running shorts for bright colours

Rating: 8/10

  • Sizes: 8 to 16
  • Pros: Colourful, thick waistband, very soft
  • Cons: Might be too loud for some

If it’s summer colours you’re after, this is the perfect pair of running shorts, with shades of red, green, blue, pink and orange, and a pretty palm print. Coloured shorts often mean a greater chance of sweat marks, but the pattern and colours on these shorts disguised any patches.

The jersey fabric – primarily made from planet-friendly bamboo – is super soft and stretchy. The waistband doesn’t have much give, so don’t assume they’ll stretch to fit – get the right size, though, and you’ll find these are incredibly comfortable and work well for day-to-day wear, too. The thick waistband doesn’t budge while running and the short length is just right – no butt cheeks on show, essentially.

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Modibodi recycled running shorts

Modibodi recycled running shorts.png

Best: Running shorts for leakproof runs

Rating: 10/10

  • Sizes: XS to 2XL
  • Pros: No need for sanitary products, eco-friendly
  • Cons: Some might find them too bulky

An invention like no other, this Australian-owned brand are recycled running shorts with a gusset so absorbent it can handle heavy periods (two to three tampons’ worth of blood). We decided to road test these during “period week” and, although there was an initial fear (after all, going out without any sanitary products can feel a little daunting), these shorts did their job.

This not only means total peace of mind when running, but it also helps reduce the need for disposable pads, tampons and liners – a huge plus in helping to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. We were concerned that the absorbent gusset would mean the shorts felt uncomfortably bulky – and, although they are, of course, a lot thicker in the crotch area, they’re surprisingly discreet.

The 78 per cent recycled material is soft and very comfortable, and the shorts stayed up during our 3km run. They also sit high on the waist and come with a handy key pocket – ideal for coins, hairbands, grips and other on-the-go bits.

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New Balance relentless 2 in 1 running short

New Balance relentless 2 in 1 short.png

Best: Mid-rise running shorts

Rating: 9/10

  • Sizes: XS to 2XL
  • Pros: Nice fit that doesn’t dig in, inner stretch, short
  • Cons: The pink shade does show dirt

New Balance rarely fails to provide good-quality, affordable sportswear, and this pair of 2-in-1 shorts is no different. We opted for the baby-pink pair, which did show the dirt (sweat, city smog etc) more than our usual black pairs. That said, they were very comfortable, with the mid-rise waistband being loose enough to allow for full belly breathing but also tight enough to stay up.

The inner shorts underneath the baggier outer shorts allow for full coverage, plus the New Balance DRY fast-drying technology keeps sweat to a minimum and prevents overheating. In fact, despite getting very sweaty, we stayed dry throughout the entire run. All in all, a pair of shorts that never failed to offer great comfort.

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MP women’s velocity jersey running shorts

MP women’s velocity jersey shorts.png

Best: Loose and free running shorts

Rating: 8/10

  • Sizes: XXS to XXL
  • Pros: Plenty of freedom, baggy fit
  • Cons: No inner short

If you’re someone who prefers to run without a tight waistband, or pretty much any form of restriction, then these shorts are ideal. In fact, we reckon these are perfect for those super-hot days when anything even remotely tight becomes a real burden.

The adjustable waistband doesn’t dig in and the baggy fit allows for total freedom when running, though the lack of an inner tighter short – common in baggier style shorts – might annoy some people. However, we found these offered good coverage during runs as they aren’t overly short and you can choose where the waistband sits – the higher the waistband, the more butt is on show. The fabric is lightweight and soft, with some reflective prints for visibility during those early morning or evening runs.

  1. £12 from
Prices may vary
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Designed by Sports rainbow bolt shorts

Designed by Sports rainbow bolts running shorts.png

Best: Running shorts for design

Rating: 8/10

  • Sizes: S to XL
  • Pros: Great design, thick waistband, phone pocket
  • Cons: Tricky to put on

These shorts are comfortable and streamlined but incredibly tight to pull up, though that probably explains why they don’t budge when running. The fabric blend contains spandex, making them super stretchy, and the pattern is really attractive if a little niche – it appealed to us, though, as they’re certainly different to most.

The thick waistband offers nice support, plus there’s a phone pocket down the short leg. We weren’t too keen on using the pocket while running, as it did feel a little heavier on one leg. However, the shorts didn’t slip down with the phone in it, and stayed put throughout our run. There’s also a rear zip pocket that’s big enough for a phone, so there are more than enough pocket options. We also wore these shorts to the gym, as they’re described as being “squat proof” – versatility would be a key point with these shorts.

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Castore women’s mango speed shorts

Castore mango speed running shorts.png

Best: Running shorts for standing out

Rating: 9/10

  • Sizes: 6 to 16
  • Pros: Gorgeous bright colour, breathable
  • Cons: No inner short

Even on a cloudy summer’s day, our mood was noticeably boosted when we put on these bright running shorts. In fact, we reckon you could stop traffic in them!

Super lightweight, these shorts making running far more streamlined. They also come with a mesh waistband along the back, which we found made a real difference during a sweaty run. An elasticated waistband is ideal to help loosen or tighten the shorts – after all, on some days bloating can become really uncomfortable when it’s smothered by tight shorts.

The only downside is that no inner short does mean some flapping fabric, which could expose more flesh than you’d want. Plus, the material is a little see-through, so no Bridget Jones pants unless you want everyone seeing your undergarments. That said, we’re big fans of these shorts, and the sunshine colour continues to make us smile.

  1. £16 from
Prices may vary
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Lululemon senseknit running high-rise short 10in

Lululemon senseknit high-rise running short.png

Best: Running shorts for long runs

Rating: 9/10

  • Sizes: 0 to 14 (US sizes)
  • Pros: Super soft, comfortable, high waistband
  • Cons: Slight camel toe, expensive

Serious support is what these super-soft shorts offer, and they’ve been specifically designed for longer runs. Made with senseknit technology, these come with four-way stretch, epic breathability (no sweat showed while we were wearing the light-grey shorts) and they’re quick drying, too.

The price is a bit of a turn-off, naturally, and the light-grey colour did leave us with a slight camel toe. However, these shorts did live up to every single positive claim – they did dry fast, they were very supportive and they were lovely to run in.

They also have grippers at the hem to keep the shorts in place, and the drawcord allows you to tighten or loosen as you wish. There’s also a foldover envelope on the waistband to store little essentials. The fabric is also really soft and stays this way even after washing.

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Runderwear women’s high-waisted legging shorts

Runderwear women’s high-waisted leggings running shorts.png

Best: Second-skin running shorts

Rating: 8/10

  • Sizes: S to L
  • Pros: High waistband, second-skin feel, thick fabric
  • Cons: Very tight

When you’re running, even the slightest thing can be irritating when it comes to clothing. But these Runderwear shorts are like a second skin, so you’ll forget you’re even wearing them.

The high waistband, although very tight, kept everything streamlined and “tucked in”, and it didn’t slip down once during our 10km run, thanks to a silicone hip-grip. The fabric is thick and also squat proof, with no chance of a camel toe. Plus, these shorts dry quickly. Really quickly. If you choose to go for coffee after your run, you won’t be sitting there fidgeting in damp kit.

All in all, we loved wearing these shorts for runs, plus they worked well for other workouts, too, meaning they’re super versatile. And, thanks to the second-skin feel, these worked well underneath other clothes – ideal for the chilly winter runs.

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The verdict: Women’s running shorts

After many, many runs, it’s safe to say that all of the women’s running shorts in this round-up are certainly the best we’ve found. The Lorna Jane shorts were fantastic for overall running and day-to-day wear, while the Lululemon senseknit shorts were the best for our longer runs, thanks to being quick drying with plenty of support.

We were also impressed with the Modibodi shorts, thanks to their insane sustainability credentials and the fact that we found them really comfortable and absorbent. Big thumbs-up from us.

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