We updated this article in August 2022 to ensure our top picks, extensively vetted by the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab, were in stock, accurately priced and available for purchase. We also added new products from brands like Girlfriend Collective, Lululemon and Gym Shark.
Running can help you to feel strong and free, and it's a great way to relieve stress. But running in a bad pair of shorts might just have the opposite effect, causing uncomfortable chafing, slowing you down or leading you to overheat. This summer, work out in one of our comfortable running short picks that don't ride up and stay in place without irritation or rubbing.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab has evaluated all of the best products you need for a great run — from running shoes to workout leggings to running socks. While we haven't formally tested all of these running shorts in our Lab, we chose picks from top-performing brands that excelled in our previous tests others with rave reviews from our panel of readers and our editors who are avid runners. Here are the best running shorts of 2022.
Our top picks:
1Best Overall Running ShortsHotty Hot Low-Rise Lined Short Lululemon Read More
2Best Value Running ShortsWomen's Standard Fly By 2.0 Running Shorts Under Armour Read More
3Best Athleisure Running ShortsMesh Racer Run Short 4" Athleta Read More
4Best Running Shorts for Thick ThighsTempo Women's Running Shorts Nike Read More
5Best Bike-Style Running ShortsUltimate Stash II 7" Short Athleta Read More
Keep reading to learn more about how we choose the best running shorts. You'll also find a shopping guide to help you choose the perfect pair. Interested in a shirt to match your new favorite shorts? Check out the best workout tops for all types of exercise.
At the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab, we test fitness gear of all sorts, including apparel like sports bras, leggings and shorts — from bike shorts to running shorts. We analyze products in our Lab using specialized equipment and with the help of consumer testers, and we receive real user feedback from our panel of readers. Not every pair of shorts that we've featured has been formally tested in the Lab, but we choose products from brands that have performed well in other product categories or that have received rave reviews from real consumers, our panelists and our editors. When we test workout gear, we evaluate characteristics such as:
✔️ Moisture management: To understand how well fabrics will perform against sweat, we measure how quickly droplets of water are wicked away from the fabric's surface.
✔️ Pilling: Pieces of fabric are rubbed together using our abrasion machine to see if they will form small balls of fiber on the surface (also known as pills).
✔️ Construction: Our textiles experts analyze how well the apparel has been pieced together, looking for design features like quality fabrics, flat seams and secure linings.
✔️ Washability: We run garments through repeated laundry cycles to analyze shrinkage, appearance and colorfastness and to generally observe how well the garments withstand consistent washing.
When buying running shorts, here are features you should look out for:
✔️ Fabric: Performance fabrics made of fibers like polyester and nylon will wick sweat away, keeping you dry while exercising. Elastane, spandex or lycra fiber blends have stretch and improve compression. Avoid cotton fabrics, as they can hold onto sweat and moisture, which can feel uncomfortable and weigh you down.
✔️ Liner: Many running shorts feature a lining of some kind, whether it has built-in underwear or a liner that extends to cover your thighs. If there’s no liner, make sure to wear proper running underwear to prevent wedgies, dampness and chafing.
✔️ Inseam: A standard pair of running shorts has an inseam between 3 and 9 inches, with an average of around 5 inches. A shorter inseam (2 to 4 inches) makes for a shorter short. The shorter length allows for a little more mobility and may be more comfortable for higher-speed runs, but it won't provide as much coverage. A longer inseam (7 to nine 9) is great for protecting against friction while you're running, especially for longer distances.
✔️ Pockets: If you’re running outside on a road, track or trail, you’ll want an easy way to bring your valuables with you (think: ID, keys and phone). Many running shorts have hidden pockets on the hip or waistband for smaller items, while others have zippered pockets to ensure larger belongings stay secure. If you choose shorts without storage, try a running phone holder or fanny pack.
Emma Seymour has been a Senior Textiles Product Analyst in the Good Housekeeping Textiles Lab for over three years, overseeing Lab and consumer tests of exercise gear like workout shoes and bike shorts. With a degree in Fiber Science and Apparel Design from Cornell University, she has extensive research experience particularly focused on athletic wear. As a lifetime sewer with previous product development experience, she has a strong fashion background with expertise in proper fit and construction.
Amanda Constantine joined the Good Housekeeping Institute in 2022 as a Home & Apparel Reviews Analyst and has tested apparel of all kinds from swimsuits to the most comfortable walking shoes. She has a Master of Science in Consumer Sciences from Ohio State University, along with undergraduate degrees in apparel merchandising and marketing communications. Prior to joining Good Housekeeping, she served as a lecturer at Ohio State University, teaching fashion and textiles courses and conducting research.