best running shorts for women guide

Best Running Shorts For Women

Whether you plan on wearing your running shorts to compete in, for training or for simple decompression and relaxation, a good pair of running shorts should be practically designed, and also comfortable to wear.

Finding the correct fit will help prevent chafing, bouncing, and several other distractions that can hinder you from enjoying your run.

Running shorts are specifically designed to facilitate free movement and improve comfort while running or exercising.  The materials that are used when creating running shorts are lightweight and durable.

All running shorts should be flexible, durable, and breathable, and come in different leg lengths and waist heights. Different running shorts have different purposes and features, in this guide we are going to take a look at running shorts in more detail.

What Makes A Good Pair Of Running Shorts?

A good pair of running shorts should be lightweight whilst also being breathable and moisture wicking. Some running shorts provide compression, whereas others are loose fitting and afford the athlete freedom of movement. Other ‘2 in 1’ designs provide compression via the under shorts and discretion with the looser fitting top layer.

A well-made pair of running shorts will not cause the runner any itching when they become wet and also allow for freer movement when running. Most running shorts have seams that are cut up near the outer side of both legs to allow free movement.

It's also normal to wear different shorts to suit your training days, the most important thing is that they are comfortable and don’t inhibit movement. Many runners prefer to wear a shorter pair (3”) for racing or short runs, as this will allow more range of motion and increase breathability. However, if your thighs tend to rub together, it may be a good idea to go for a longer pair of 5” to 7” compression shorts, or a 2-in-1 to minimize chafing.

Running shorts don’t need to be reserved for just summer weather either, paired with a pair of compression tights, they are perfect for all seasons.

What Are The Different Styles Of Women's Running Shorts?

The three main styles of running shorts are compression (sometimes also known as bike shorts), loose (or split shorts), and 2 in 1 shorts which have a fitted layer underneath a loose one.  Compression shorts come in a variety of lengths too.

There is no one ‘best style’ it usually comes down to personal choice, and to an extent the type of activity you are doing.  For example, split shorts are particularly suited to long distance running as they afford the user a huge range of movement with no chafing.

Fitted shorts and 2 in 1 shorts are often worn by runners, CrossFit athletes and gym goers alike.  They are popular as they provide the same supportive feeling as running leggings, due to their compression and sculpting properties. They also maintain your modesty!

What Are The Different Lengths of Womens Running Shorts?

The most common length for women’s running shorts are 5” and 7” inches.  This measurement is taken on the inside leg seam – called the inseam. Running shorts also come in 3” length and 9” length too.

For an average height person, 7” running shorts will sit just above the knee (taller athletes may opt for longer length 9” shorts to get the same look). 5” running shorts finish mid-thigh and 3” running shorts will finish on the upper thigh.

How To Wash And How Often Should You Wash Your Running Shorts?

Running shorts will get sweaty after every run so it is advisable to wash them after every use.  Bacteria and yeast will have rubbed off onto the shorts as you sweat, and this will end up smelling if not they are not laundered. 

It is important to take note of the washing instructions on the label of your shorts though, as some may specify that they may only be washed on a cool, delicate cycle, while others will be fine on a regular wash with other similar coloured clothing.  Most running shorts however should not be tumble dried.

It is a good idea to wash them as soon as possible after a workout or run so that they don’t begin to smell (the smell is caused by the dried sweat and bacteria).

What Is The Difference Between Mens And Womens Running Shorts?

As a rule, women’s shorts tend to be shorter in length and curved upwards, whereas men’s running short are usually longer in length and cylindrical.  Women’s shorts are also often more tight fitting.

Why Do Womens Running Shorts Ride Up?

It is common for ladies’ shorts to ride up, especially when running.  This tends to happen more for women than men, this could be due to a difference in figure shape.  Women tend to as a rule have curvier thighs, so that when in motion the rubbing can cause the legs of the shorts to ride up.  It may also be because ladies’ shorts tend to be shorter in length.

Ways to avoid your shorts riding up is to choose a 5” or 7” inseam and go for tighter fitting compression shorts so they grip the thighs and stay in place. Ensuring the shorts are the perfect fit (not too big and not too small) should also reduce the chance them riding up.

How To Stop Chaffing When Running With Shorts?

To prevent chafing when running in shorts there are a few things you can do. Firstly you could apply a skin lubricant liberally such as zinc oxide or petroleum jelly to your inner thighs before running, this will allow your shorts to move against your skin with less friction and thus reduce chafing.

The shorts themselves can actually be the culprit. Avoid running in shorts that have seams on the inner thigh. Choosing tight fitting longer length compression shorts with no inseam can really help.  The material that your shorts is made from is also important, make sure you choose a pair that are designed to be sweat wicking and breathable so that your skin doesn’t stay moist and become more susceptible to chafing.

In no particular order, we are going to cover some of our favourite womens running shorts:

  • Nike Aeroswift Tight Running Shorts
  • Adidas Fastimpact Running Bike Shorts
  • Under Armour Fly-By 2.0 Shorts
  • Saysky Pace Shorts 3"
  • Nike Epic Luxe
  • Skins Series 5 Half Tight Shorts
  • Hoka Speedboat Trail Shorts
  • Inov-8 Race Elite 4" Shorts
  • Sweaty Betty On Your Marks 4" Shorts
  • Nike Eclipse 2 in 1 Shorts


nike aeroswift tight womens shorts
  • Precision fit / mobility
  • Sweat wicking techology
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Higher price point
  • Available in one colour

The Nike Aeroswift tight running shorts are designed to be lightweight and super stretchy for the ultimate comfort whilst racing.

They are designed to be figure hugging and feature an elastic waistband, to deliver the perfect fit and to stay in place when competing.

The lightweight fabric features an open hole design to keep you cool. The sweat wicking nature of the fabric helps to draw moisture away from the body to enhance performance. The Nike Aeroswift tight running shorts have a 4” inseam.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Nike Aeroswift Tights Womens Shorts



adidas fastimpact running bike womens shorts
  • Made partly from ocean plastic
  • High supportive waistband
  • Sweat guard pocket for keys
  • Wash with delicates only
  • Only available up to size Large

The Adidas Fastimpact Running Bike Shorts Tights are high performance 5” compression shorts designed to be supportive and allow freedom of movement. 

The Aeroready technology will wick sweat away, and keep you cool. With side and back valuables and gel pockets designed to shield from sweat, they are incredibly practical too. The high supportive waistband with drawstring will ensure these shorts stay in place.

The reflective zig zag detailing on the legs means you will stay visible on early morning and evening runs. These shorts are made from 40% recycled materials, with the yarn itself being made from 50% Parley Ocean Plastic so they will keep your sustainability conscience clear.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Adidas Fastimpact Running Bike Shorts



under armour fly-by 2.0 womens running shorts
  • Affordable
  • Available in 10 colours
  • Key pocket
  • Wash in cold water with delicates
  • Only available up to size XL

The Under Armour Fly-By 2.0 shorts are affordable and come in a huge range of colours.  These shorts are loose fitting with a 3.5” inseam and will allow complete freedom of movement with no restrictions.  The reflective logo detailing is great to boost visibility in low light runs, and a key pocket is a nice addition.  

The lightweight fabric ensures you keep cool, and that sweat is pulled away from your body, mesh panels also help with air flow. The soft waistband and drawstring make sure the shorts stay put and the built-in brief adds will keep you covered at all times.

>>> Check The Latest Price Under Armour Fly-By 2.0 Shorts


Saysky Pace Shorts 3 Inch - £49

saysky pace 3 inch womens running shorts
  • 7 colour choices
  • Gel pockets
  • Mid price point
  • Great race day shorts
  • Only available up to size Large
  • No zip pocket
  • No reflective details

The Saysky women’s Pace shorts come in a wide range of colours and are cut in a loose fit with 3” inseam. They are equally suited for running or wearing in the gym.

They are constructed using Sayskydry fabric, which provides high performance moisture wicking credentials to keep you comfortable and dry when working out. 

These shorts have a liner, to ensure total coverage and peace of mind. The polyester / spandex mix means that they are super stretchy in 4 directions, for freedom of movement. This design also features two side gel pockets.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Saysky Pace Shorts 3 Inch



nike epic lux trail womens running shorts
  • Made from 75% recycled fibres
  • Gel pockets and zip pockets
  • Reflective
  • One colour option
  • Some testers noted they come small for size

The Nike Dri-Fit Lux Trail Running Shorts have an amazing 8 pockets, so that you can reliably pack gels, protein bars and keys when out on long runs.  

Designed to be tight fitting for support and compression, the DriFit fabric will keep you cool and moving freely.

Featuring a drawstring at the waist to keep them in place and reflective detailing to keep you visible in low light. These shorts are high waisted and come to mid-thigh.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Nike Dri-Fit Epic Lux Trail Running Shorts



skins series 5 womens half tights
  • Reflective detailing
  • Compression
  • Higher in price
  • No pockets
  • One colour option

The Skins Series 5 Half Tights are specifically designed to provide compression support for all the major muscle groups; including the glutes, quads and hamstrings.

The science behind this is to reduce the muscle vibration during activity to improve comfort and performance in your workout.

The seams and logo are reflective to ensure you stay visible on low light runs.  These shorts are recommended for trail running, road running, track and field and strength training. The are cut to be mid-rise and mid-thigh.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Skins Series 5 Half Tights



hoka speedgoat womens running shorts
  • Gel pockets
  • Zip pockets
  • Mid price point
  • Come in 2 colours
  • No compression

The Hoka Speedboat Trail Short are loose fitting running shorts with a 3” inseam.  They have a few zip pockets for gels, or valuables, as a well as a secure bungee to hold things in place. The reflective logo is a nice additional feature.

The elastic waistband is soft and features a drawstring to ensure a perfect fit. The integral brief liner keeps you covered and the 4 way stretch woven material will allow complete freedom of movement.

Reviewers commented on how comfortable and cool they are, they are moisture wicking and stay put.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Hoka Speedgoat Womens Trail Shorts



inov-8 race elite 4 inch womens running shorts
  • Zip pocket
  • Drawstring waist
  • Mid price point
  • They come up small for size
  • One colour option

The Inov-8 Race Elite 4” Shorts are lightweight breathable shorts with a loose fit.  They have many handy features such as zip pockets and key loop to keep valuables secure. An adjustable drawstring waistband keeps them in place, and reflective detailing is a nice addition for enhanced visibility.  

With a 4” inseam and split sides you can be sure there is no compromise on movement at all. These are ultra-lightweight with a water-resistant finish, including a breathable and moisture wicking inbuilt brief.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Inov-8 Race Elite 4 Inch Shorts



sweaty betty on your marks womens running shorts
  • 5 colour options
  • XXS to XXL
  • 2 in 1 shorts
  • Not reflective
  • Higher price point
  • Some reviewers have reported chafing

The Sweaty Bettty On Your Marks 4” shorts give you the best of both worlds; support and free flowing cooling outer fabric.  These 2 in 1 shorts come in wide range of sizes and colours, giving them appeal to all sizes and fashion tastes.

They feature two side zip pockets for valuables, and a mid rise elasticated waistband.  The inner shorts are made from tight fitting sweat wicking fabric, and the outer material is made from lightweight recycled polyester.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Sweaty Betty On Your Marks 4 Inch Shorts



nike eclipse 2-in-1 womens running shorts
  • XS to XXL
  • Reflective
  • Zip pockets
  • Two colour options

The Nike Eclipse 2 in 1 running shorts come in a wide size range and a tight fitting inner short and a free flowing outer short. These shorts are made from 75% recycled materials and designed to be moisture wicking.

The inner shorts provide moderate support / compression while the outer shorts are loose fitting to promote air flow.

A zipped side pocket provides a secure place for your phone, while 2 extra drop-in pockets add to the storage capability, suitable for keys / gels.

The high waistband and drawstring ensure they will not move when in motion, and side vents offer cooling. Reflective details complete the functionality of these shorts.

>>> Check The Latest Price Of Nike Eclipse 2-in-1 Running Shorts



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