The best running shorts for women

The best running shorts for women

Finding the perfect pair of running shorts can be tricky for us women. Running shorts offer us even more choices than running leggings when it comes to fit, material, length and features. So, we put our expert panel of testers to work. They’ve tried out every different style and type to find the best shorts for women on the market right now.

Read on for our guide to how to find the perfect shorts, and our testers’ reviews.

How to choose the perfect pair of women’s running shorts


The first port of call is deciding what kind of fit you want. There are generally two options in women’s running shorts: skin-tight, like leggings, or loose, like jogging bottoms.

Skin-tight shorts usually offer more options in terms of leg length, while loose shorts tend to offer more features, such as interior liners. Other than that, fit is entirely down to personal choice and how they feel when you run.


The material your shorts are made out of will depend on the fit. Skin-tight shorts are usually a bit thicker, to keep any VPLs (or other visible bits) at bay. They usually have elastane or some other stretchy fabric, which keeps them in place and offers a more supportive fit. To find the right pair, you might want to consider opting for a similar make-up material to your favorite pair of running leggings.

Loose shorts often use lighter, softer fabric – which is especially important when it comes to chafing. They may be better for warmer runs as they offer more airflow, and are less heavy.

leg length

Running shorts tend to come in two different leg lengths: short (3-4 inches) and long (5-8 inches). Often this choice is based on personal style preference. It’s important to also think about the dreaded head. Where the shorts sit on our thighs can make all the difference – think about where they might rub when you try them on.

seams vs seamless

You might not have even considered this question when thinking about running shorts, but it can really affect how comfortable they are. Shorts with seams are usually more structured and may offer more support, which can be welcome when we feel as though we’re baring all. However, seams can sometimes get in the way and may affect how the shorts fit, especially around the crotch and legs. Seamless shorts are again useful for preventing chafing, as there are no seams to rub against the legs.

What are interior liners?

Interior liners are more common in loose-fitting running shorts. They act as an in-built pair of underwear. Usually they’re made of material that’s designed to sit comfortably next to our most delicate parts, and normally they offer sweat-wicking properties. They’re a really great option if you’re never quite sure what underwear to wear for running. As they’re sewn in, they also prevent friction between underwear and shorts, which reduces awkward bunching or rolling.

Do I need leg grippers?

Tight-fitting running shorts sometimes offer leg grippers. They’re a little rubber strip that sits around the bottom hem of the shorts, and stops the legs from rolling up. We think they’re great for keeping everything where it’s supposed to be, but some people find it annoying as they run, so best to try the shorts out for yourself and decide which you prefer.


We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about pockets! For us, pockets are a must – especially on hot days, where we don’t want to add an extra running belt layer. Both styles of running shorts often offer a pocket, and this is usually zipped and at the back, just like leggings.

The important thing is to check the size before you buy, as they are often smaller than their leggings counterparts. The other thing to think about is how heavy the pocket will be after you’ve added your kit. Loose-fitting shorts may well sag or fall down if you’ve got too much weight in there, so consider skin-tight leggings if you need to carry a lot.

Our pick of the best women’s running shorts

Once you’ve decided on your perfect shorts blueprint, it’s time to shop. Here are our testers’ all-time favorite shorts…

Brooks Chaser 5″ Short

BROOKS Chaser 5" Women's Running Shorts

Brooks Chaser 5″Short technical details

Material: 28% recycled polyester, jersey
Sizes: XS-XXL
Special features: Jersey brief liner
Price: £50

why we loved them

  • Soft and sweat-wicking
  • three pockets
  • Jersey lining inside means you can opt for no underwear if you prefer

Why we didn’t

What our tester said

“Recently, I’ve had a fierce debate with my runner friends: to underwear or not to underwear? This might be TMI, but I am firmly in the sans pants camp – which can get tricky when it comes to shorts weather. So I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled these super-soft Brooks shorts on to find a jersey brief liner inside. Sweat-wicking, seamless material kept me feeling cool, comfortable and supported as I ran. These shorts also pack an impressive amount of storage into their 5” length, with two small front pockets on the waistband and a back pocket big enough for my phone. My only (small) complaint was that I noticed a bit of a VPL around my bum – but better a visible panty line than anything else!”

Runnerwear Ultra-Light Women’s Running Shorts

runnng shorts for women runnerwear

Runnerwear Ultra-Light Women’s Running Shorts technical details

Material: 86% polyamide, 14% elastane
Sizes: S-XL
Special features: 4-way stretch ultralight fabric
Price: £47

why we loved them

  • Only 60g – unbelievably light
  • Stay in place while you run
  • Side slits for more dynamic movement

Why we didn’t

What our tester said

“The best thing about these shorts is that they feel as though they don’t exist – an odd endorsement, to be sure, but definitely a good one when it comes to running. They’re so light and smooth that they genuinely feel like a second skin – as I headed out on my run I did have to check that I hadn’t forgotten to put them on! Each design element has been carefully considered to work in harmony with the others. The fabric is light and a little bit loose, allowing for movement as you run. The leg hems have been finished with reflective grippy material that stops that fabric from moving too much. But the hems aren’t at all restrictive or sticky, thanks to the side splits at the sides, giving you full range of motion. All of this combined into a great run experience: for maybe the first time ever, I didn’t have to think about adjusting my clothing at all as I ran. My only small gripe is pocket-related: while they do have a little zip pocket at the back, it wasn’t quite big enough for me personally, so I still needed to add a running belt to the mix.”

Smartwool Intraknit Active Lined Short

running shorts for women smartwool

Smartwool Intraknit Active Lined Short technical details

Material: Outer: 86% recycled polyester, 14% elastane. Lining: 33% Merino wool, 33% Lyocell, 24% nylon, 8% elastane, 2% polyester
Sizes: XS-XL
Special features: Breathable Merino blend inner lining
Price: £89.99

why we loved them

  • Secure but comfortable waist band
  • Soft inner lining that can be used in place of underwear
  • multiple pockets

Why we didn’t

What our tester said

“A lovely snug waistband that’s secure, but not too tight, keeps these shorts in place on the run. Both the waistband and the tight-fitting inner shorts are made from Merino for ultimate comfort. In fact, the inner shorts are soft enough to go commando if that’s your thing. They have a hidden pocket on the right leg which is perfect for your phone and there’s a zip pocket on the back of the loose top-layer shorts that’s big enough for some keys and a bank card. I’m a big fan of this design; these are top quality.”

Proviz Reflect 360 Women’s Running Shorts

running shorts for women provided

Proviz Reflect 360 Women’s Running Shorts technical details

Material: 140 gsm microfiber
Sizes: UK women’s 6-22
Special features: 360 reflective technology
Price: £34.99

why we loved them

  • Really reflective
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile

Why we didn’t

  • Inner lining can feel a little tight

What our tester said

“These shorts are perfect for anyone who wants visibility at night. Proviz is known for its super-powered reflective material. It’s a lovely subtle dark gray in the day, but brilliant white at night. These shorts have a panel of that down each side and across the back. They also have a handy in-built liner, though I did find the legs of the liner were snug around my thighs, so it might be worth going up a size. Overall, a lovely and lightweight pair of shorts for running adventures, day or night.”

Brooks High Point 3″ 2-in-1 Short

running shorts for women brooks high point

Brooks High Point 3″ 2-in-1 Short technical details

Sizes: XS-XXL
Special features: Water repellant fabric and UPF 30+ sun protection
Price: £60

why we loved them

  • durable
  • light and airy
  • soft inner
  • four pockets

Why we didn’t

  • Strong color contrast that won’t be to everyone’s tastes
  • Outer layer can be a little tight

What our tester said

“Squeal – I love these shorts. And I’m not even sure why! It feels kind of like fancying someone who is just not your type, but being unable to resist them at the school disco! I love the weird orange/brown colour, the shocking pink contrasts and the white piping. Of course, the materials are soft and airy and the styling is great for trails, with water and tear protection and UPF 30+, four hip pockets and rear zipped one. It felt like the sizing of the top short was a bit tighter than I’d like so might be worth sizing up. Other than that, 100% weird crush!”

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