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Running Apparel • May 5, 2022

Best Running Shorts for Men

best men's running shorts 2021


Ready to show off those hard-earned runners’ legs? At least you’ve gotta be prepared to put away those tights and long pants for the summer. We love our shorts here at Believe in the Run, and you best believe we’ve run in our fair share. If you’re not sure where to start shopping, here are our picks for the best men’s running shorts.

Different runners prefer different shorts, and our team is no exception. We’ve tried to include longer shorts, shorter options, and a few tights for when you really want to feel fast.

We’ll skip our traditional vocabulary lesson this time, as each pair is packed with its own terms and tech. Ready for the long and the short of it?

(And by the way, The North Face — can you please bring back the Better Than Naked short, aka the best running short of all time? K thanks.)

Janji AFO 3″ Split Shorts 2.0

janji afo shorts

Both Jeremy and Austin put their fair share of miles into the original Janji AFO split shorts. Now, we have an updated pair, dubbed the 2.0, to be excited about. Janji’s main change lies in the waistband — the AFO 2.0 features a more traditional option than the original shorts. The name stands for Air Flat Out, and it refers to the lightweight and breathable material used. In fact, Jeremy has made the AFOs his go-to shorts, praising everything from the liner to the pair of pockets.

If you know Austin, you know that he has two rules when it comes to running shorts. First, they have to be less than 5-inches (the AFOs are 3-inch shorts but come in longer lengths, too), and second, they need at least one zipper (you’ll find exactly one on the rear pocket). If you want even more reason to get your split together, Janji has a good selection of bright prints to escape the crowds of black and gray shorts.

PRICE: $64

Shop Janji AFO


Tracksmith Van Cortlandt Grand 4″

Van Cortland Grand

Robbe’s favorite pair of men’s running shorts right now is the Van Cortlandt Grand from Tracksmith. The 4-inch length is a happy medium, and the VC Grands have a backstory that’s guaranteed to make you feel smarter. They take their design from the shorts that George Dole wore to race Roger Bannister at Iffley Road, how about that?

You’ll have just enough storage thanks to two rear gel pockets, and the built-in liner is just right. Robbe may not be ready for the 3-inch life (nothing wrong with that), but these shorts have successfully moved him on from the 5-inch realm. If you’re ready to move with him, you can take your choice of quite a few different classic shades.

PRICE: $65

Shop Tracksmith Van Cortlandt


Dahlie Elite Shorts

dahlie elite short

The word “elite” has two meanings when it comes to running. If we’re talking shoes, it probably means a carbon fiber plate is involved. Think of the Puma Deviate Elite Nitro — it’s got a plate and a Molly Seidel bronze medal to its name. However, if we’re talking shorts, it probably means we’re talking short as shit. These Dahlie Elite Shorts fall into the second category. Yes, the inseam is technically 5-inches, but the split design gives you an unrivaled feeling of freedom.

Dahlie managed to trim the weight of these Elite Shorts to just 100g, complete with a brief liner on the inside. They feature a four-way stretch design, which basically disappears when you’re on a long run or a race. If you’re a runner who likes to pack heavily, these might not be for you. Dahlie went for weight over storage, and you won’t find a single pocket on the Elite Shorts… not even one for your keys.

PRICE: $70

Shop Dahlie Elite Shorts


Nike Aeroswift Half Tight

Nike Aeroswift Half Tights

If you like to keep things a little tighter on speed days, Nike’s Aeroswift Half Tights are tough to top. They’re a top pick from our resident runfluencer-turned-reviewer Ben Johnson, and you can find more than one pair gracing his Instagram feed. Right now, Nike has just three colors to choose from, but they’ll all make you look just as fast as you feel.

The Aeroswift Half Tights aren’t exactly loaded with storage space, but you should be able to tuck a key or your ID safely inside. You’ll also find a built-in brief liner for just a bit more support. We can’t say that the AeroSwift Half Tights will make you as fast as Ben, but you’ll definitely look good.

PRICE: $85

Shop Nike Aeroswift


Roark Run Amok Alta 5″

roark shorts

A relative newcomer to the scene, Roark Run Amok is throwing down some head-turning (and really nice quality) gear, and we’ve been running in it all spring. Their designs are very “get lost in the desert somewhere out West” (yes, please), and we can totally get behind their “Open Roads Open Minds” mantra.

Storage is minimal, with one back phone pocket and two gel/key pockets, but this 4-way stretch short with a moisture-wicking brief liner is meant for open roads – nothing more, nothing less. We chose the 5-inch inseam version, but you can also check out a 7-inch one, and Roark has plenty of colors to sink your teeth… er, legs into.

PRICE: $69

Shop Roark Run Amok


Tracksmith Off Road Shorts

tracksmith off roads alex shorts

This isn’t Tracksmith’s first time on our list, nor will it be the last, but the Off Roads Shorts did bring Taylor around on the idea of 2-in-1s. I mean, what’s not to love? You get the security of a half-tight and the free feeling of a pair of shorts. As the name suggests, the Off Roads Shorts are meant for you to get out and hit the trails.

Tracksmith’s shorts even feature an elastic waist belt in case you really want to push the built-in pockets to their limit. The Off Road Shorts come in with a 5-inch inseam, which is just right on an unpredictable trail. Although last year’s colorway sold out pretty quickly, Tracksmith still has a few versions from its latest collection, including Ivy and Navy

PRICE: $98

Shop Tracksmith Off Road


Lululemon Surge

Lululemon Surge

Jarrett’s favorite shorts, the Lululemon Surge, come in two perfect lengths — 4-inches and 6-inches. They combine an outer Swift Fabric layer with a clever OOM (Out Of Mind) liner for maximum comfort and come in a complete rainbow of colors. You shouldn’t need any extra pocket space either, as the Surge shorts offer a rear pocket as well as liner-mounted options.

Ditching your shirt on a toasty run is a great feeling, but it’s not as fun to carry a damp shirt around. Luckily for all of us, Lululemon added a clever waistband loop that’s just large enough to fit your gross garment. You just might look like the roadrunner cruising along with your tail behind you.

PRICE: $68

Shop Surge 4-Inch Shop Surge 6-Inch


Rabbit Beach Break 5-Inch

rabbit beach break short

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I love a pair of shorts that I can use for multiple occasions. Luckily, so do the folks at Rabbit. Sure, Tracksmith has its Cannonball Run collection every summer, but now you can pick up the Rabbit Beach Break instead. These 5-inch shorts are equal parts board shorts and running shorts, right down to a comfortable brief liner. Seriously, you can pound out five miles and head right into the ocean to cool off.

Rabbit pretty much nailed everything you can want in a board short — the rear pocket has a drainage hole, while a side pocket zips to keep your keys secure. Oh, and it has two normal pockets in case you pick up any shells along the way, or maybe you’re like Robbe and found a film cannister.

PRICE: $68

Shop rabbit Beach Break


BOA Elite 1-Inch


If you’re like our resident track star Mercer, and no inseam is too short, then BOA Elite is the place to be. These men’s running shorts stay together with an impossibly short 1-inch inseam, and they come in enough wild patterns to guarantee that you turn heads. Seriously, you can get ‘em in jorts, cash money, and even space print.

The BOA Elite split shorts are one of our more affordable picks, which makes sense. After all, you’re paying for about half of the amount of material you’d find on other shorts. You should have no problem hitting your full stride with the split design, but don’t hold your breath on storage space.

PRICE: $29

Shop BOA Elite


ASICS Core Road 5-Inch


Robbe has us back in a more comfortable territory with these 5-inch ASICS Core Road shorts. They’re an absolute classic of a pair of shorts, one that you’ve probably seen a few times as you’ve racked up your weekly miles. The Core Road shorts aren’t fancy, but they’re a reliable pair that you could comfortably wear throughout your daily life.

You won’t find nearly as many color options here as you would from BOA, but the blue and gray shades are all we need. The built-in pockets are just right, and the reflective ASICS logos give you a little bit of peace of mind when you run early (or late) to beat the summer heat.

PRICE: $35

Shop ASICS Core


Tracksmith Reggie Half Tight

Tracksmith Reggie Tight

We’re Tracksmith suckers, we’ll admit it. There’s just something about the designs and the materials that’s tough to top. The Reggie half tights are the New England company’s response to the best half tights on the market, and they come out swinging. They’re a perfect match for the Van Cortland singlet, and both Ben and Thomas voted for them on this list.

You can grab your Reggies either lined or unlined, just to make sure you perform at your best no matter the weather. Tracksmith’s classic half tights come in its usual variety of varsity-inspired hues, and you can look forward to new shades just about every season.

PRICE: $72

Shop Tracksmith Reggie


How we make our picks

We rack up a lot of miles here at Believe in the Run, and we’ve gotta wear something while we do it. These recommendations come from our team of writers scattered throughout the United States. We stick to what we know, and we do our best to recommend products that you can actually buy.


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. bwarp1 says:

    Oh man… I just warmed up my thighs to 5” after years of 7”.

    It might be summer 2022 before I unleash a few more inches and try these shorts out

    1. Robbe Reddinger says:

      You’ll get there!

  2. Dan says:

    No path projects for this year’s picks? Did they drop off so much from last year?

    1. Robbe Reddinger says:

      Honestly, need to add them to the list. Slipped off the radar. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Antoine says:

    No Vuori for this year’s picks?

  4. bill says:

    Soffe Ranger Panty usually about $14.00. Thousands of Marines like them. I do also.

  5. David Curtin says:

    Soar running gear from the UK is unbeatable IMO

    1. Robbe Reddinger says:

      One of my favorite singlets is from Soar, but we didn’t love the shorts.

  6. Jesse says:

    Should have had Patagonia Strider Pro 5 inch on the list. The Tracksmith Off Road shorts are terrible, poor fit, and non functional pockets. Poorly designed product overall.

  7. Jarrett says:

    Team 5 inch! Ain’t nobody out there who needs to see me in 3 inch shorts. That’s too much thigh haha

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