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Best athletic shorts

What are the best athletic shorts?

The best pairs of athletic shorts should fit comfortably, allowing your body to move freely while exercising. Though they can be great for running, training, yoga or team sports, a quality pair of athletic shorts can also be ideal for simply lounging around at home. 

Choosing the best style is not always an easy task, considering the overwhelming amount of options available for people. To decide which pair is best for you, there are a few key elements to consider, from material to length to additional features that will help improve your workout. 

What to look for in athletic shorts


Almost all athletes will want to opt for lightweight, quick-drying and moisture-wicking materials, such as polyester, nylon and spandex. These matericals allow you to stay cool when performing high-intensity activities or when the mercury rises. Cotton options are also available but tend to be more suited for casual wear. 


The inseam length of men’s and women’s athletic shorts can vary drastically. The shortest inseams will start around 3 inches, with the longest options ranging upwards of 12 inches. Shorter inseams are best for running, and mid-length options can serve as good all-purpose workout shorts. 


The wearer’s personal preference ultimately determines the best color, design and style. There are endless possibilities and opportunities to customize your look. Some models will be more appealing to more serious athletes, while others are better for recreational and casual wear. 

Many women’s athletic shorts tend to be high-waisted compared to similar men’s models. However, there are a few low-cut options available. 


Zip pockets, waistband pockets, reflective detailing, interior lining and drawstring closures are all convenient features that you may want to incorporate into your search for the best pair of athletic shorts. Some people might prefer the ability to carry their phone or wallet while running, while others may consider it unnecessary weight and bulk. 

13 best athletic shorts

Best athletic shorts for men

BALEAF Men's 3 Inches Running Shorts

These polyester athletic shorts are great for runners and joggers as their breezy design, including a short inseam, won’t restrict movement on long routes. The interior pocket is ideal for storing your small essentials.

Sold by Amazon

New Balance Men's Accelerate Short

The built-in interior lining of these shorts provides extra support for all types of athletic activity, while the reflective logo makes it safer for those who prefer running at night.

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Nike Men's Flex Stride 7-inch Shorts

Utilizing a relaxed fit, a mesh lining and Dri-FIT material, this option ensures that you’ll stay cool and dry throughout your workout. Many people will also appreciate the eco-friendly recycled fabric used in the construction of these shorts.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Champion Men's 9-inch Jersey Short

You can choose between a full cotton or cotton/polyester blend, depending on the color and style. Whichever you choose, these Champion shorts are a perfect crossover option between technical and casual athletic wear.

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Nike Men's Dri-FIT Training Shorts 5.0

The Dri-FIT fabric incorporated into these Nike training shorts allows them to manage sweat and wick moisture away from the body, keeping the wearer from overheating. With a 9-inch inseam, this option will rest slightly above the knee for a comfortable fit.

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Under Armour Men's Raid 10-inch Workout Shorts

Athletes wearing these men’s athletic shorts will benefit from the four-way stretch of the polyester/elastane blend and built-in UPF sun protection. The anti-odor technology will keep you feeling fresh even after working up a sweat.

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Best athletic shorts for women

Under Armour Women's Fly By 2.0

With plenty of color options to choose from, these durable running shorts will hold up to strenuous activity as they wick away sweat and moisture to make your exercise routine more enjoyable.

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Nike Women's Tempo Dry Core 3-inch Running Shorts

Featuring an elastic waistband with included drawstring cord, you can achieve a perfect fit no matter your body type. To increase airflow during workouts, these Nike shorts have included ventilated mesh side panels.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Adidas Women's Marathon 20 Shorts

Not too tight and not overly baggy, the Marathon 20 shorts offer a relaxed athletic fit. The featured key pocket is handy for carrying some extra cash, cards or other essential items you need.

Sold by Amazon 

Adidas Women's Essentials 3-Stripes Shorts

Whether you decide to wear them at the gym, while training outdoors or just relaxing at home, you’ll enjoy the casual appearance of these 3-Stripes shorts. This option uses 92% cotton for an extra-soft feel and 8% elastane to provide stretch.

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Hanes Women's Jersey Short

With a 7-inch inseam and complete cotton construction, these jersey shorts are perfect for casual wear and low-energy exercises. One of the best aspects of these shorts is their deep side pockets which are roomy enough to fit a phone or wallet.

Sold by Amazon 

BALEAF High Waist Compression Shorts

Sporting a tighter fit than many other options, those looking for a short that you can use for biking, yoga, hiking, fitness classes and more will enjoy this nylon/spandex blend. Featuring both side and hip belt pockets lets you keep your essentials secure and within reach at all times.

Sold by Amazon 

90 Degree by Reflex Soft Comfy Activewear Lounge Shorts

The ribbed elastic waistband and drawstring closure means you’ll always get an ideal fit. With both a lifestyle and activewear appeal, you can wear these stretchy shorts in everyday situations.

Sold by Amazon 

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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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