Best Running Shorts for Women

Updated August 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Adidas Pacer 3-Stripes Woven Shorts
Pacer 3-Stripes Woven Shorts
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Bottom Line

Wearers rave over the slim-cut design, and our fitness expert praises the Aeroready technology.


Made with Aeroready to absorb sweat and moisture. Material is thick enough to not be see-through. Elastic and drawcord waistband allows for a custom fit. Side slits prevent shorts from riding up while running.


Material isn't as flexible as expected. Cut fairly short and small, so sizing up is recommended.

Best Bang for the Buck
C9 Champion 3.5" Woven Shorts
C9 Champion
3.5" Woven Shorts
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Best on a Budget
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Champion earns high marks with our expert for being a trusted brand in inexpensive workout gear.


Wearers say the inseam length is perfect for running. Made with a Duo Dry inner brief that wicks away moisture. Equipped with a hidden inner pocket for keys. Holds up well through repeated wash and wear. Popular choice for water sports.


Runs small. Some wearers felt the liner cut into their legs, so they ended up cutting it out of the shorts.

BALEAF High-Waist Compression Running Shorts
High-Waist Compression Running Shorts
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Longer Cut
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Our expert recommends these for runners who have more developed thigh muscles and want to avoid chafing.


High-waistband compression shorts that are comfortable and slimming. They don't ride up while bending either. Seams are well-placed and designed to be chafe-free. Side pockets are large and fully functional. Available in extended sizes up to 3XL.


Seam down the center of the crotch makes the shorts somewhat uncomfortable while sitting.

BALEAF 3" Running Shorts
3" Running Shorts
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Relaxed Fit
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This relaxed fit is ideal for warm-weather exercise as it allows for maximum airflow.


Material quality and construction is comparable to premium running shorts. Large pockets can hold even big phones. Built-in brief is supportive and appropriately cut for each size. Washes well and dries fairly quickly.


Waist tends to run small in all sizes. Material rides up a little during running.

THE GYM PEOPLE High Waisted Women's Running Shorts
High Waisted Women's Running Shorts
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

Hidden pockets, flexible fabric, and multipurpose functionality make these shorts a top pick by our expert.


Feels smooth and lightweight while running. Dries quickly to prevent absorbing bad smells. Pocket is hidden in a seam embedded in the waistband for secure storage. Suitable enough to store phones, earbuds, and other accessories. Available in multiple colors.


More practical than stylish, so may not be the best choice for more casual runners.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best running shorts for women

Running is an excellent cardio workout that burns plenty of calories. If you’re just starting as a runner, you’ve likely invested in gear such as a pair of quality running shoes and a fitness tracker to monitor your progress. But you shouldn’t overlook the importance of a good pair of running shorts to help with your training.

Running shorts are similar to other types of shorts, but they're designed to provide the most freedom of movement possible. This freedom helps you maintain a natural gait and can boost your speed while running. Many running shorts are designed to wick moisture so you stay dry and comfortable, no matter how long you run.

There is no shortage of running shorts on the market. If you’re overwhelmed by all the choices, our buying guide can help. To give you a head start, we’ve included some specific recommendations for our favorite women’s running shorts on this page.

running shorts for women1
Running shorts are designed to offer more effective ventilation and moisture absorption than other athletic shorts to keep you comfortable during a run.

Key considerations


Compression running shorts: These shorts offer an extremely snug fit that clings to the body. Usually made of spandex, they provide excellent support to the thigh muscles. The tight fit reduces the risk of chafing and limits wind resistance to increase your speed. Compression shorts can help keep you warm, too.

V-notch running shorts: This extremely popular style has an upside-down V-shaped cut at the side hems. The cutouts allow for a greater range of motion and create a loose, relaxed fit.

Split-leg running shorts: These shorts are similar in design to V-notch running shorts because they also have a V-shaped cut in the exterior hem. However, the front part is sewed in such a way that it overlaps the back panel. The split varies in length depending on the shorts, but some pairs are split as high as the waistband. A split-leg construction can help you lengthen your stride.

Expert TIp
I highly recommend washing your running shorts with a laundry detergent designed for athletic wear since they are formulated to minimize odor AND promote longevity of synthetic athletic apparel.
BestReviews Fitness Expert


Running shorts for women are available in synthetic and natural materials. Those made with synthetic fibers tend to last longer, but natural fibers are generally more breathable in warm weather.

Polyester: Polyester is a lightweight synthetic option that offers excellent durability and breathes well. Running shorts made of polyester don’t wrinkle easily, either.

Nylon: Nylon is another synthetic material. It doesn't develop odors as readily as polyester because it’s so effective at wicking away moisture. These shorts offer excellent stretch, making them comfortable for long-distance running.

Spandex: Often used in compression running shorts or as a component in fabric blends, spandex gives the shorts a comfortable stretchy fit.

Cotton: Cotton is a natural material that feels soft and smooth against the skin and breathes well in warm weather. It absorbs sweat and other moisture easily and generally doesn’t create much friction or chafing.

Polypropylene: A water-resistant material, polypropylene stays dry through serious sweating. It works well as a base layer for running.

Wool: Another natural fabric, wool helps regulate temperature, making it ideal for hot and cold weather. It’s often used with spandex to provide a snug fit, but it is a lightweight, breathable material.

Bamboo: Bamboo is a natural, eco-friendly option. It has natural sweat-wicking and anti-bacterial properties and feels as soft as cotton against the skin.

Waistband style

The majority of running shorts for women have an elastic waistband for a comfortable, secure fit. The elastic waistband can be folded over to adjust the fit as needed. However, some running shorts have a drawstring waistband that can be tightened or loosened to adjust the fit.

Both waistband types can be comfortable, but some people don’t like the feel of a drawstring knot at their waist.

Expert TIp
Always hang dry your running shorts to prevent shrinking and promote longevity.
BestReviews Fitness Expert



Women’s running shorts are available in several different lengths which affect ventilation and range of movement.

Short running shorts typically have a 3-inch inseam and offer the most ventilation and range of movement. They work well for sprinting and long-distance running and are favored by competitive runners.

Medium-length running shorts generally have an inseam of 5 to 7 inches and are the most popular length. These versatile shorts work well for both track and trail running.

Long-length running shorts usually have a 7-inch inseam or greater. These shorts are typically worn for sprinting and other short-distance running, though some people wear them for marathons because they limit friction. These longer shorts provide the most coverage, so they work well if you want to protect your skin from insect bites and foliage scratches during your run.


Many running shorts feature a liner, which allows you to wear them without underwear. The ability to comfortably skip underwear can reduce the risk of chafing and provide better ventilation for long-distance running.

Flatlock seams

Flatlock seams reduce bulk and increase durability thanks to the stitching design. Flatlock seams also prevent chafing, particularly in humid weather.


Most runners prefer running shorts with pockets for the storage of a phone, keys, or ID. Some styles feature deep side pockets for this purpose; others have hidden waist pockets that can hold something smaller, like a single key or some cash.

If you opt for deep side pockets, consider shorts with zippered pockets if you intend to pocket your valuables during a run.

Reflective details

If you run after dark, you’ll want a pair of running shorts with reflective panels. The panels reflect light even in dark and low-light situations, making you more visible to drivers on the road. Choosing shorts in a bright color can also make you more visible at night.

UPF protection

Some running shorts are treated to provide sun protection, just as sunscreen does for your skin. The protection factor of a clothing item is measured by its UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating. The higher the UPF, the more protective it is. Many runners prefer garments of UPF50 or higher.

women's running shorts2
Running isn’t just good for your cardiovascular health and burning calories. It can also improve your mood by releasing endorphins and endocannabinoids that provide the so-called “runner’s high.”


Women’s running shoesRunning shoes are the most critical piece of running gear you’ll invest in, so finding the right pair is vital.

Women’s running underwearIf you aren’t a fan of going commando when running, you’ll definitely appreciate a quality pair of women’s running underwear.

Prices of running shorts for women

You can find running shorts for as little as $14 or as much as $65.


The most affordable running shorts for women are typically short to mid-length compression styles made of synthetic materials or synthetic/natural blends. They may feature pockets but generally don’t have too many other special features. Expect to pay between $14 and $25 for these running shorts.


In this range, running shorts for women are usually longer compression styles or short to mid-length V-notch or split-leg styles. They’re typically made of synthetic materials or synthetic/natural blends, though there are some natural options in this price range, too. These shorts have pockets, and many may also have a liner, reflective details, and flatlock seams. Expect to pay between $18 and $40 for a pair of mid-range running shorts.

Expert TIp
Women’s running underwear is a great option when wearing running shorts without a liner. They are well made and provide excellent wicking protection. I highly recommended them.
BestReviews Fitness Expert


The priciest running shorts are typically longer V-notch or split-leg styles. They’re usually made of natural materials or a blend of natural and synthetic materials. They feature pockets, a liner, reflective details, flatlock seams, and other special features. Expect to pay between $34 and $65 for these running shorts.

Some synthetic running shorts have antimicrobial properties that help minimize bacteria and odor.



  • Opt for a longer pair of running shorts if you’re a trail runner. The additional coverage can protect you from bushes and other foliage you may need to run through. 
  • For road running, look for a pair of lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking shorts. Reflective details are a must if you run after dark or in the early morning hours. 
  • If you opt for running shorts without a liner, consider layering V-notch or split-leg shorts over compression shorts. The layering will boost blood flow to your legs and support your muscles.
running shorts for women3
Women’s running shorts are available in a wide array of colors and patterns, so you can easily find styles that match the rest of your running gear.


Q. Do I really need special running shorts?

A. You can run in any shorts or other bottoms that you feel comfortable in, but running shorts are specifically designed to maximize running performance. Wearing compression shorts can help prevent injury and muscle fatigue so you recover more quickly after a run. V-notch and split-leg shorts can help you improve your speed.

Q. How many pairs of running shorts should I have?

A. It depends on how often you run. In general, you should have a pair of shorts for every type of run you do. For example, you might have one pair each for long-distance running, short-distance running, trail running, road running, and track running. That way, you have comfortable running shorts for every occasion.

Q. What are the best running shorts to prevent chafing?

A. For most women, compression running shorts are the best option to reduce chafing. Because there’s no excess material, friction is limited, so there’s little risk of chafed skin.

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