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Running shorts are designed specifically for running. They come in various colors, styles, and materials, and some also have storage pockets and sweat-repelling material.

A quick look at the best running shorts for women

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Running shorts can provide flexibility and comfort while a person is exercising, and some fabrics are breathable as they allow air to flow and reduce sweating. They may also be less irritating to sensitive skin.

People can find compression shorts, a type of tight-fitting running shorts. A 2020 study found that compression shorts can enhance athletic performance by supporting the muscles and preventing muscular fatigue.

Furthermore, according to a recent study, tighter fabrics, such as Lycra can be effective for muscle compression. Some bandages contain Lycra construction in combination with cotton, nylon, or viscose.

Another study also mentions polyester, a fabric that manufacturers use for tight-fitting sportswear. These also have a moisture-wicking design.

There are some factors that women should consider when buying running shorts:

  • Material: Some running shorts have a combination of materials for different purposes. For instance, a person can find a product with nylon for sweat wicking and spandex, which is a stretchy fabric that allows for movement in all directions without restrictions. Soft materials may be the best option for comfort as they do not irritate the skin. There are also eco-friendly brands that use recycled materials for their products. Some fabrics are water-repelling or tear resistant, which may suit trail or long-distance runners.
  • Inseams: Shorts with long inseams provide a lot of coverage, but those with shorter inseams may benefit those who are into speed running and racing as they allow greater freedom of movement for longer and quicker strides. Tighter shorts with longer inseams are generally better at preventing chafing, but athletes need to find the inseam length that works best for them.
  • Breathability: A person may also wish to look for shorts with good ventilation and sweat-wicking technology, as these can help prevent skin irritation.
  • Features: Individuals may consider buying shorts with pockets and interior liners to prevent chafing.

Medical News Today’s methodology

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Reputable: MNT chooses products from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.
  • Materials: MNT chooses products that use safe and durable materials and fabrics that are easy to clean.
  • Sizing: MNT chooses products available for various body shapes and sizes.
  • Quality: MNT chooses companies that adhere to high quality manufacturing processes.
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Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Below are some of the best running shorts for women available online.

We use “men’s” and “women’s” in this article to align with how companies market their products, but there is no need to stick to one or the other. A person should choose the product with the fit, style, and features that work best for them.

Best water-repellent: Athleta Mesh Racer Run Shorts

  • Price: $49
  • Sizes: XXS–3XL
  • Materials: recycled polyester and polyester

These recycled polyester running shorts should feel smooth on the skin. They are water-repellent and have mesh ventilation to avoid sweat buildup.

The company recommends these shorts for short- and long-distance runs and trail running.

They also have:

  • a nonslip waistband
  • reflective details
  • a built-in brief for extra coverage
  • two pockets
  • a secure zip
  • a hidden key pocket

They are available in three colors: black, white, and lilac.


  • wide range of sizes
  • lightweight design
  • water repellant
  • key pocket


  • limited color range
  • the waistband is not adjustable
  • some customers claim the sizing is not consistent
  • buyers report the white shorts are see-through
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Best fast-drying: On-Running Running Shorts

  • Price: $79.99
  • Sizes: XS–XL
  • Materials: polyamide and elastane

These running shorts have a four-way stretch blend of polyamide and elastane, which are lightweight and fast-drying. The inner part features a silicone grip that prevents the shorts from riding up as a person moves.

Other features that they come with include:

  • an adjustable waistband
  • an inner brief for support
  • a reflective logo for night visibility

They are available in black, white, purple, green, and blue.


  • silicone grip stops shorts from riding up
  • adjustable waistband
  • reflective details for night visibility
  • fast-drying material


  • more limited range of sizes than other brands
  • no online reviews
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Best lightweight: Lululemon Speed Up Low-Rise Shorts

  • Price: $68
  • Sizes: 0–14
  • Materials: nylon, elastane, recycled polyester, and Lycra fiber

These Lululemon shorts come with a combination of nylon, elastane, and recycled polyester, and they also feature a quick-drying Lycra fiber. The company claims that the design is lightweight, and according to reviews, it can wick away sweat.

Other features include:

  • a drawcord
  • a back pocket
  • a built-in liner
  • waistband pockets

They come in 14 different colors and patterns and are available in two lengths: 2.5 and 4 inches (in).


  • comes in two lengths
  • comes in a wide range of colors
  • features several pockets
  • adjustable waistband


  • unsuitable for those over size 14
  • many customers report issues with sizing
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Best for a tight fit: Nike Air Fast

  • Price: $50
  • Sizes: 1X–3X
  • Materials: recycled polyester

Nike offers these mid-rise, 7-inch running shorts that contain recycled polyester. They have a bold, colorful pattern in three colorways: pink, green, and gray.

They are lightweight and have a tight fit. Nike makes these shorts for larger people, and waist sizes range from 41–53 inches.

They also come with the following features:

  • breathable design
  • fast-drying material
  • a zippered pocket


  • suitable for larger people
  • contains recycled material
  • breathable and fast-drying material


  • only comes in three sizes
  • limited color range
  • tight fit may not be comfortable for everyone
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Best stretchy: New Balance Impact Run 2 in 1 Shorts

  • Price: $54.99
  • Sizes: XS–2XL
  • Materials: recycled polyester and spandex

New Balance’s shorts consist of spandex and 100% recycled polyester and are lightweight and stretchy.

They come with fast-dry technology and a drawcord closure so a person can adjust the waistband for a comfortable fit.

The shorts feature tight-fitting undershorts with a looser, woven shell. The waistband has a “storage tunnel” so wearers can loop extra layers of clothing through to keep their hands free while they run.

There is also a secure inner pocket on the fitted undershorts.


  • storage options for extra layers
  • includes a fitted undershort with a woven shell
  • made from 100% recycled polyester


  • more limited range of larger sizes than some brands
  • one color option
  • limited online reviews
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Best antimicrobial: Tracksmith Twilight Split Shorts

  • Price: $62
  • Sizes: XS–XL
  • Materials: micro-polyester and elastane

These shorts are suitable for fast runners. They have a split design so the shorts do not get in the way when a person runs quickly.

The material is a blend of micro-polyester and elastane. According to the company website, it is lightweight, comfortable, and antimicrobial.

The manufacturer also uses high-gauge knitting equipment to create the “micro-mesh” fabric to provide optimal airflow.

Moreover, the shorts come in eight colors and have internal back pockets to hold items tight against the body.


  • split design is more comfortable for sprinting
  • micro-mesh fabric provides optimal airflow
  • wide range of colors


  • more limited range of sizes than other brands
  • 3-inch length may feel too short for some
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Best sweat-wicking: Outdoor Voices TechSweat 6″ Short

  • Price: $48
  • Sizes: XXS–XXXL
  • Materials: nylon, Lycra, and polyester

These shorts contain nylon, Lycra, and polyester. The company calls this fabric TechSweat, which is reportedly cool to the touch and suitable for high-sweat sports, such as cardio, spin classes, hot yoga, and more.

People can choose from three different colors, and they can also find:

  • a flexible mid-rise waistband
  • a 6-in inseam
  • a front storage pocket

These shorts come in black, light green, and dark orange.


  • wide range of sizes
  • suitable for high-sweat sports
  • very soft fabric


  • limited color range
  • a limited number of pockets
  • some buyers report the fabric is see-through
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Best breathable: Baleaf Women’s High Waist Biker Shorts

  • Price: from around $18.99
  • Sizes: XS–3XL
  • Materials: polyester, cotton, and spandex

This product has three different inseam options: 8-, 7-, and 5-inch. It is available in a wide array of colors. They also have large side pockets big enough for a mobile phone.

These shorts use polyester, cotton, and spandex fabric. It is flexible, stretchy, wicks away moisture, and offers breathability.

The company states that the shorts provide moderate compression and may support the muscles.

The prices can range from around $19–40 depending on the size and style.


  • suitable for a wide range of sports and activities
  • features large pockets on each side
  • made from breathable and moisture-wicking material
  • wide range of sizes and colors


  • prices vary significantly between styles
  • some sizes are often sold out
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The following table compares the running shorts in this article on cost, size, material, and more.

Best forPrice SizesMaterialsFeatures
Athletawater-repellent$49XXS–3XLrecycled polyester and polyester• water-repellent and breathable fabric
• zipped pockets
• nonslip waistband
On-Runningfast-drying$79.99XS–XLpolyamide and elastane • inner brief
• fast-drying
• silicone grip
Lululemonlightweight $680–14nylon, elastane, recycled polyester, and Lycra fiber• sweat-wicking material
• built-in liner
• adjustable waistband
• pockets
Nikefor a tight fit$501X–3Xrecycled polyester• zippered pocket
• breathable, fast-drying material
New Balancestretchy $54.99 XS–2XLrecycled polyester and spandex• fitted undershorts and loose shell
• adjustable waistband
Tracksmithantimicrobial$62XS–XLmicro-polyester and elastane• antimicrobial
• breathable micro-mesh fabric
Outdoor Voicessweat-wicking $48XXS–XXXLnylon, Lycra, and polyester• flexible
• mid-rise waistband
• front pocket
Baleafbreathable from around $18.99XS–3XLpolyester, cotton, and spandexflexible stretchy, and moisture-wicking material

Below, we answer some of the top frequently asked questions about running shorts for women.

What kind of shorts are best for running?

The National Institute on Aging recommends choosing lightweight and breathable shorts, allowing individuals to move easily. A person may also look for clothing that uses moisture-wicking fabric.

Why are women’s running shorts so short?

Most women’s running shorts are short to provide the maximum range of motion and breathability.

However, shorts with mid-rise waistbands and longer, 6-inch inseams are available for those who want more coverage. This means they will cover the majority of a person’s thigh.

Should running shorts be tight or loose?

Opting for loose running shorts may be best, as tight clothing may not provide enough space for moving.

Tight clothing can also lead to skin irritation that can cause conditions such as urethritis.

What is the point of running shorts?

Running shorts are a type of clothing that comes with a flexible design to increase comfort and reduce the restriction of movement while running. The shorts are also lightweight and allow air flow to reduce sweat buildup.

There are also special types of shorts for different kinds of running. For instance, shorts suitable for sprinting may be very short and have a split-seam design to allow the maximum range of movement.

Many brands stock shorts for women who enjoy running, available in different colors, materials, and styles. Running shorts can benefit runners by allowing for free and comfortable movement.

People should check reviews and compare the features of each product before purchasing. Some fabrics also wick away sweat to reduce the risk of skin irritation or infection.