Do the dog days of summer have you feeling worn down and yearning for cooler temps? I hear you. Unfortunately, there are still weeks of sweating it out before it’s time to break out your warmer running clothes. On the upside, late summer and early fall are the best times to stock up on fresh running gear. Besides the possibility of cashing in on late-season sales, buying new digs can inject some newfound motivation to get out the door and suffer through another steamy run. Over the past three months, I’ve tested more than 30 pairs of running shorts to find the best. Here are the gems.
Editor’s Pick: Smartwool Merino Sport Lined
I bet you’re thinking “Smartwool makes running shorts?” Wool shorts in the summer sound awful. I had the same reaction, but rest assured, only the brief liner is made with an ultra-lightweight merino wool. The shell is a DWR treated polyester/elastane blend and while it’s a bit thicker than most running shorts, they function perfectly in heat – soft, stretchy and wick moisture wonderfully. The merino wool brief liner is top of the line, offering a snug, supportive fit, while the magic of merino prevents that nasty swamp butt feeling. For a more versatile general training/gym short check out the 8-inch inseam.
Inseam: 5 and 8-inch
Pockets: Rear zip, Internal drop-in
Shell: 86% Polyester, 14% Elastane
Liner: 54% Merino Wool, 46% Polyester
Weight: 4.9 oz.
Best 3-inch: Lululemon Fast and Free
If you’re not afraid to show a little leg, Lululemon’s all-new Fast and Free 3-inch offers a next-to-nothing feeling that’s simple and distraction-free, yet still supportive. Sporting a generous notch down the side that not only looks sharp but also opens flawlessly with each leg lift, these shorts never restrict as your hips open up. The entire back is perforated, furthering what is already an airy, breathable short. If you want to rip circles around your local track, these shorts are sure to attract attention with their fast and free attitude. I’d just recommend going up one size as they run small.
Pockets: Two internal drop-in
Weight: 3.2 oz.
Best 5-inch: Patagonia Strider Pro Short
Patagonia bills these as trail running shorts, however, functionally they’re just as suited, if not better for road running. Made with a DWR treated 100 percent recycled polyester stretch ripstop, the shell is remarkability light, and durable too. After a year of heavy use, my pair is still going strong. The shorts have a next-to-nothing, unrestricted feel with incredible range in the leg opening for a mid-length short, making these a perfect option for guys with larger thighs. The liner is Polygiene® permanent odor treated. There’s no shortage of pockets either: four envelope-style and rear zip, big enough to fit a mid-sized smartphone.
Inseam: 5 and 7-inch
Pockets: Four side envelope and one rear zipper
Shell: 100% recycled polyester stretch ripstop with a DWR
Liner:100% polyester (42% recycled) crepe with Polygiene® permanent odor control
Weight: 3.5 oz.
Best Budget: H&M Running Shorts
H&M may not be the first brand to comes to mind when seeking out running clothing, but if value is what you’re after I highly recommend these running shorts. Made with 100% polyester these no-frills shorts dry quickly and run great, all at a killer price-point. Vented mesh throughout the gusset dumps between-the-legs heat. The best part- they come in five colors, and at such a modest price stocking up won’t break the bank. My favorite color, the burgundy red, looks sharp paired with a dark-colored shirt.
Pockets: Two-side zip
Shell: 100% Polyester
Liner: 100% Polyester
Best Run/Gym Hybrid: Under Armour Qualifier Speedpocket
For those who spend just as much time in the gym as you do pounding the pavement, the Under Armour Qualifier Speedpocket is the perfect dual-duty running/training short. What makes it so good? The Speedpocket, a center-front loading pocket that’s specifically designed for smartphones. This water-resistant pouch keeps sweat off your phone and secures the largest of smartphones completely bounce-free. But the best part is by storing your phone upfront, verses in the back, like most running shorts, you’re not lying down on your phone when lying on your back.
Inseam: 5- and 7-inch
Pockets: Front-loading Speedpocket and rear zipper
Shell: 88% Polyester/12% Elastane
Liner: 100% Polyester
Weight: 4.7 oz.