Best running shorts 2020: hit the road in these lightweight and breathable running shorts for men and women

Stay cool, whatever the weather, with the best running shorts

best running shorts
(Image credit: CEP)

Contrary to popular belief, the best running shorts are not exclusive to the summer period. Why? All you have to do is to combine them with a pair of compression tights or the best compression socks for running and you have yourself the best winter gear for running. Adding a winter running top might help, too.

But of course, the prime season for the best running shorts is the spring/summer season and when the weather is warm, all you need is the best running top and one of the below shorts to feel comfortable and ventilated.

Whether you are running track, going for a jog through the city or you prefer trail runs, there are different types of shorts that will help you get the most out of your run whilst remaining as comfortable as possible.

Short shorts or long shorts? We'll list the best running shorts options for all types of runners.

How to choose the best running shorts

Running shorts come in a variety of lengths and may sport many different features, not to mention the fabric choices available in 2020. There are also many style and colour options as well, so even if you are a seasoned runner, it might take considerable amount of time to pick the right running shorts for your needs.

If you find short shorts too exposing, longer knee-length shorts still allow for freedom of movement, and are that little bit better on cooler days, even if only psychologically. Your other option, of course is shorts over tights – and that goes for the guys these days too.

A few features to look out for are: moisture-wicking, number/location of pockets, type of stitching used (seamless being the preferred choice). Runners often go commando and skip wearing underwear under their running shorts, so the material used in the inside of the running shorts is also an important factor.

Using the correct underwear is always preferred when running, though, if for nothing else, for hygienic purposes. Runderwear has a range on chafe-free underwear options for both men and women, better check them out as well.

best running shorts

(Image credit: Adidas)

The best running shorts, in order

best running shorts: Saucony Interval 9" 2-1 Short

(Image credit: Saucony)

1. Saucony Interval 9-inch 2-1 Shorts

Running shorts with integrated compression liner

Specifications
Inseam: 9 inches (medium)
Material: Stretch Ultrasilk 2.0 (83% Polyester, 17% Spandex), Hydralite Reneu (100% Polyester), Jersey Liner (87% Polyester, 13% Spandex), Stretch Mesh Liner (91% Polyester, 9% Spandex)
Reasons to buy
+Loads of pockets+Integrated compression liner+Reflective details
Reasons to avoid
-Admittedly not the most flattering-looking running garment

• Buy the Saucony Interval 9-inch 2-1 Shorts directly from Saucony

Not going to lie, I wasn't overly impressed with the looks of the Saucony Interval 9-inch 2-1 Shorts when I first laid eyes on them. they look pretty unflattering in general and probably a bit too long as well. But all my concerns went away after trying them on and – most importantly – running in them.

Long they might be, the Saucony Interval 9-inch 2-1 Shorts are very comfortable to wear and don't restrict your movement during running. The integrated compression lining will not keep your thighs warm and oxygenated, but it has a large slip-in pocket for phones as well. And having the phone close to your thighs is 100% better then having them in your side pocket, where they just bang against your legs as you run.

The Saucony Interval 9-inch 2-1 Shorts have received an "anti-microbial treatment" to help eliminate odour. There are some reflective elements on the shorts too, although if you are planning on venturing out in the dark, I still recommend wearing a head torch for running, for added safety.

Best running shorts: adidas Women's Marathon 20 Short

(Image credit: Adidas)

2. Adidas Women's Marathon 20 Shorts

Retro-inspired running shorts

Specifications
Fit: Slim
Material: Shorts: 56% recycled polyester / 44% polyester plain weave; Inner briefs: 54% polyester / 46% recycled polyester single jersey
Reasons to buy
+Stretch fabric+360° reflectivity
Reasons to avoid
-No pockets

• Buy the Adidas Women's Marathon 20 Shorts directly from Adidas

As in the case in many women's short shorts, the Adidas Women's Marathon 20 Shorts are best for the hot weather. I wouldn't recommend wearing them over compression tights since they haven't got any pockets or any other features that'd make them useful to wear over them.

No, the Adidas Women's Marathon 20 Shorts are best as a minimalist, warm-weather  running shorts you can put on and go for a no-frill jog. No phone, no accessories, no makeup, just a pair of running shoes, a vest and the road under your feet, early in the morning before the city wakes up.

The Adidas Women's Marathon 20 Shorts are not completely features: they are equipped with Climacool ventilation system and are highly breathable, which comes in handy if you run in hot weather, admittedly.

best running shorts: Gore R7 2in1 shorts

(Image credit: Gore Wear)

3. Gore R7 2in1 shorts

Be visible

Specifications
Fit: Slim
Material: Outer pants – 86% Polyester 14% Elastane Insert – 71% Polyamide 29% Elastane Inner pants – 78% Polyamide 22% Elastane
Reasons to buy
+Good compression+Lightweight material+Non-restrictive
Reasons to avoid
-Go a size up

• Buy the Gore R7 2in1 shorts directly from Gore Wear

The Gore R7 2in1 running shorts were designed for warm weather. The R7 is lightweight, packable and provides ample amount of compression to your thighs. Although these shorts sport a 10-inch inseam, due to the cut and the tailored fit, your strides won't feel restricted and thanks to the flatlock seams, there is no sign of chafing either.

There are some reflective details at the back and the front and if you get the Citrus Green colourway, you can further improve your visibility on the roads. Storage-wise, there two elastic side pockets on the side for gel-packs and a zip pocket at the back for keys/phone etc.

My kit size is medium but I found the medium Gore R7 2in1 shorts a bit on tight side, so if you are not after ultimate compression, go a size up your usual. 

best running shorts: Under Armour Men's Launch SW 7-Inch Shorts

4. Under Armour Men's Launch SW 7-Inch Shorts

Best longer shorts for running

Reasons to buy
+Mesh panels for breathability

• Buy the Under Armour Men's Launch SW 7-Inch Shorts directly from Under Armour

Under Armour’s longer men’s running shorts are a great alternative if you don’t like tight fitting short shorts. They provide room for movement and with the mesh inserts they remain breathable and moisture-wicking. They’re designed to be super-stretchy for high performance and they feature a special key pocket to keep car or house keys when out for your run. 

The reflective version of these shorts are also ideal for night time runners as they have high-vis strips on the sides.

Best running shorts: dhb Women's 3" Run Short

5. dhb Women's 3" Run Short

Non-restrictive shorts ideal for races and bigger workouts

Reasons to buy
+Polygiene Permanent Odour Control

• Buy the dhb Women's 3" Run Short at Wiggle

If you’ve got a race coming up, then you’re going to want as much freedom of movement as possible. These short running shorts from dhb are designed to be spacious for those longer strides. 

The draw cord allows you to adjust the feel of the shorts and the polyester material is quick drying so you can expect to stay cool and dry all the way round the track. Integrated odour control does what it says.

best running shorts: TCA Endurance 2-in-1 Running Shorts

(Image credit: TCA)

6. TCA Endurance 2-in-1 Running Shorts

Work just as well for workouts, too

Specifications
Inseam: 8 inches
Features: Two zip pockets, side mesh panel
Reasons to buy
+Integrated compression liner+Good price+Zip pockets
Reasons to avoid
-Not the lightest shorts, especially when wet

• Buy the TCA Endurance 2-in-1 Running Shorts directly from TCA

By now, you have probably noticed there are quite few compression shorts on this best running shorts list. Reason being, they are the perfect type of shorts for those intermediate days when it's not quite warm just yet but too warm for full-length tights, or for those crisp mornings when the sun hasn't woken up yet and a bit of extra warmth around the quadriceps muscle-area is welcomed.

There is one thing I like more than two-in-one shorts: variety, and more like, giving the readers of T3 a variety of options to choose from. Therefore, let me introduce the TCA Endurance 2-in-1 shorts, a running shorts with – you guessed it – an integrated compression liner. It's slightly longer, with an 8-inch inseam length, but thanks to the mesh panels on the side of the legs, it isn't too warm and also not uncomfortable to run in.

There are also two zipped (!) pockets to store your valuables/keys/gels securely as you devour the miles. Don't fill them up too much, though, because it will weigh down the otherwise not feather-light shorts even more. Also, if the TCA Endurance 2-in-1 shorts gets wet, they might get even heavier, something to keep in mind before you head out for a drizzly-jog after work.

best running shorts: Asics Men's Woven 7-Inch Shorts

7. Asics Men's Woven 7-Inch Shorts

Shorts that will still keep you warm

Reasons to buy
+Woven fabric protects from wind

• Buy the Asics Men's Woven 7-Inch Shorts at Amazon

You may find that running in shorts is better for your performance, but you find you get too cold. In which case, these men’s running shorts from Asics may be the perfect solution for you. The woven material is designed to block out the wind and keep your legs insulated on your run. 

They have a deep pocket which is suitable for holding most sizeable smartphones, and they are stretchy for ultimate comfort, too. Users found them to be long-lasting and reliable for training.

best running shorts: Under Armour Women's Fly by Shorts

8. Under Armour Women's Fly by Shorts

Short but loose; these shorts will improve speed and performance

Reasons to buy
+Loose cut for movement

• Buy the Under Armour Women's Fly by Shorts at Amazon

Ladies may find these short shorts are perfect for running races as they have a shaped hem for enhanced coverage of the legs without looking too baggy, and the woven fabric will ensure you don’t get too cold when running against the wind. 

With mesh side panels you’ll find these shorts don’t retain sweat like others, and they are fast-dry too if you happen to get caught in the rain. With front hand pockets and hidden back pocket storage, you can keep all your essentials with you and the reflective back panels make these shorts a good choice for city or night time joggers.