After 14 hours of research evaluating 75 products, we picked Champion Men's Long Mesh Short as our top choice.
Pants can be stuffy, constricting, and make you sweat more than you want. Especially during an intense workout.
Thankfully, shorts are always appropriate for working out.
Gym shorts, board shorts, basketball shorts, compression shorts, cycling shorts—workout shorts come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Finding the right pair of shorts for your workout may be easier said than done, given how many options there are.
Don't sweat it: we've got you covered!
We've done the research of finding the best shorts for every type of workout. Whether you want yoga shorts, running shorts, extra-long shorts, uber-short shorts, or just something lightweight, we've got a pair for you. Read on to find the best athletic shorts on the market.
Cheapest shorts on the market, comfortable, decent length, loose fit, nice material, excellent ventilation, stylish, and lightweight.
Blend of fabric changes according to color and sized extra large.
Material: The shorts are a blend of cotton and synthetic materials, though the blend changes according to the color. For example, the Graphite/Black Heather color shorts are 50% Polyester and 50% Cotton, while the Oxford-style shorts are 47% Cotton and 53% Polyester. Some colors even come in 100% cotton. Not the most durable material, but lightweight and comfortable!
Fit, Length, and Features: Many reviewers have complained that the sizes run extra large, so make sure to buy a pair of shorts of your size or even one size smaller. The fit is loose and roomy, with just enough baggy to make them versatile. With the 8" inseam, they end just above the knees—perfect for most athletic activities.
The shorts are designed to be quick-drying (courtesy of the polyester mixed in with the cotton), and you'll find they're fairly odor-resistant as well. Thanks to the elastic waistband and drawstring, you'll be able to cinch them tightly around your waist for more active use. The two side pockets provide storage space for your phone, keys, or cards/IDs.
Quality: Cotton is a lightweight and super comfortable material, but not the most durable. These are almost better for loungewear than athletic wear, though they are good for walking or low-intensity, low-activity training.
Price: Starting as low as just $9 per pair, these shorts are the cheapest you'll find anywhere! Though not the most long-lasting shorts, they're comfortable, versatile, and a great fit. Definitely worth paying rock-bottom prices for.
2.25" inseam, amazingly comfortable, weigh next to nothing, inside key pocket included, 100% nylon, medium fit, durable, and inexpensive.
VERY short and do not include a drawstrings.
Material: These shorts are made out of 100% nylon, a material that is beautifully lightweight and comfortable. The fabric is soft to the touch, and they'll keep you from sweating too heavily. Though they're not designed for moisture-wicking, the material dries quickly so you won't have to worry about sweat crystals on your skin.
Fit, Length, and Features: The fit is VERY short—just 2.25 inches for the inseam. For some men, this length is just too short and can be a bit uncomfortable (everything ends up flapping in the breeze). However, for men who have trained using only short shorts, they're the perfect length. The fit is medium, neither too tight nor too baggy or loose.
The shorts come with a single pocket sized for a single key, but there are no additional pockets for your phone, ID, or other cards. (What else are you expecting from shorts so short?) Some men dislike the lack of drawstring, but the elastic waistband is tight enough that the shorts will stay firmly in place as you run.
Quality: The material is decent quality—not the most durable shorts on the market, but they won't wear out too quickly. Machine-washing them keeps the nylon and elastic waistband from being damaged by exposure to excessive sunlight.
Price: At less than $10 per pair, how could you possibly complain? The shorts offer comfort, freedom of movement, and a lightweight design perfect for guys who need very short shorts!
A slimmer (but not tight) fit, stretchy fabric, pockets, and a built-in boxer-brief make these shorts a dude pleaser.
Can't be thrown in the dryer - must hang dry.
The Swerve Yoga Short by Yoga Crow, defines what it means to be a yoga short. We're not talking basketball shorts with a fancy name -- this is a short, made by men, specifically for yoga. Plus, the shorts are made in the good ol' U.S.A. Yoga Crew is a small, independent company, so don't be surprised if you get a handwritten note from the owner with your order.
Material: The Swerve shorts are created using a blend of Nylon & Polyester which combines a 4-way stretch-ability with moisture wicking technology. What sets these bad boys apart from the rest? They feature an odor-resistant inner liner that will keep you odor free. Though, we do recommend you wash them after each use! The outer material is soft and flexible and moves with your body, while the inner is lined with a secure boxer brief ensuring your man goods are safely covered. It really is the perfect combination.
Fit, length, and features: The shorts run on the smaller side and are meant to be slimmer so extra fabric does not get in the way of your practice. So don't be surprised if they seem a little tight. Not to mention, it will give the ladies something to look at during class. They come in a variety of color combinations, including black, heather grey, blue, dark green, and maroon. Guys love how versatile these shorts are - ideal for lounging, stretching, and downward dog.
Quality: These five-star rated shorts are made with quality in mind. Guys everywhere claimed that these shorts felt high quality and lasted far longer than others on the market. Another feature we love are the well-made seams and waistband. They are flat, creating a no bunch, no fuss practice.
Price: At $69, the Swerve Yoga Short is not the cheapest pair of shorts on our list; however, they are mid-range compared to others and are a steal for the quality. These shorts will hold up for years and are well worth the investment. Get multiple pairs, you will not regret it.
These compression shorts are a great choice when it comes to active living. Whether you run, lift, bike, or row, these compression shorts are sure to get the job done for a fraction of the cost of most competitor brands.
These run slightly small, but reviewers say over and over again that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Stretch material makes it easy to move about in, while also keeping all of the important parts in place. And the flatlock seams protect against chafing.
Made of 84% Polyester and 16% Spandex, these compression shorts are quick-drying, moisture wicking, and machine washable. As an added bonus, these compression shorts even come in a variety of colors.
You can get these bad boys for as low as $10 on Amazon, which we think is an amazing deal at 1/3 of the cost of other brands of compression shorts.
Ideal for taller athletes, long but not baggy, no uncomfortable bunching, good elasticity, smooth, water-repellent, odor-resistant, comfortable waistband, and good UV protection.
Sheer fabric prone to pilling and fraying.
Material: These UnderArmour shorts are made with 90% Polyester and 10% Elastene, making them a lightweight choice despite their extra length. The fabric is odor-resistant and water-repellent, so it will keep your legs and groin dry as you train hard. There's just enough elasticity to the material that you can move in all directions comfortably.
Fit, Length, and Features: The medium-fit shorts are ideal for the average athlete, but there's enough elasticity to the material that heavier men or those with thick thighs will be comfortable. Thanks to the 10" inseam length, the shorts are perfect for taller guys.
The shorts come with mesh pockets, allowing you to carry/store keys, cards/IDs, and your phone. However, be warned: the material is very sheer, so people will be able to see what you're carrying. The UPF 30+ will protect your skin from UV radiation in the sunlight. Thanks to the durable elastic waistband and drawstring, your shorts will stay firmly in place no matter how much you run and jump around.
Quality: The shorts look nice right off the rack, but they're prone to pilling and fraying over time. You may have to replace them more often than other shorts.
Price: Starting at $20, these are slightly on the pricier side of the scale, but they're a good option if you prefer long shorts!
Stylish, incredibly lightweight, comfortable, keeps everything dry, excellent breathability, moisture-wicking, mesh pockets, flexible, odor-resistant, and decent length.
Material: These shorts are made with a blend of 88% Polyester and 12% Spandex, but the fabric is specially designed to be both moisture-wicking and quick-drying. Whether you're a runner, a resistance trainee, or just someone who sweats a lot, the lightweight fabric of these shorts will keep you comfortable for hours.
Fit, Length, and Features: The shorts have an 8" inseam, meaning they're long enough for most athletes without being too long for runners. The fit is comfortable and loose, but not baggy. Thanks to the 4-way stretch of the elastic material, you'll find you have excellent freedom of movement no matter what type of exercise you're doing.
The shorts come with a mesh pocket, a solid elastic waistband that keeps everything in place, and a liner to keep your privates nice and dry. Definitely one of the most comfortable shorts on our list.
Quality: The quality of these shorts is decent, though they're not the most durable. They will fade or wash out after a few months, and they may lose their trendy look quicker than some of the other shorts on our list.
Price: At $68 per pair, these are among the priciest shorts we've found. However, they're amazingly comfortable and weigh next to nothing—a runner and lifter's dream!
No fancy frills, simple and sleek design, minimalist, comfortable, subtle style, short enough for free movement, durable, not too pricey, lightweight, sweat-wicking, and breathable.
No pockets and a bit shorter than you would expect.
Material: The shorts are made with Nike's Dri-FIT fabric, a blend of synthetic materials that is effective at wicking sweat away from the body. The material is also incredibly lightweight and soft to the touch, so say goodbye to discomfort down under!
Fit, Length, and Features: The fit is slim without being hip-hugging, and the short (5") length makes them ideal for versatile movement. Some people complain that they're TOO short, but the built-in mesh will keep everything important in place as you run, jump and play.
The side mesh panels add excellent ventilation to the shorts, and there's a built-in liner to wick away sweat. Sadly, these shorts don't come with a pocket for your keys, phone, or cards/IDs.
Quality: Nike's Dri-FIT fabric is very durable, and the shorts can stand up to months of daily use and washing without showing signs of wear. The colors may fade slightly, but there will be no fraying, balling, or threads coming loose.
Price: At $34 per pair, these are just slightly on the costlier side without being too overpriced. They offer durability, versatility, and amazing comfort, so it's definitely worth owning a pair or three.
Includes zippered pockets, lightweight, super comfortable, supportive, excellent ventilation, odor-resistant, good selection of styles and colors, excellent shorts lining, roomy without being baggy, and versatile.
Pricey and a bit slim in the butt area.
Material: The mixture of mesh, polyester, and spandex is unique, making these shorts that offer lightweight comfort, excellent breathability, and just enough elasticity for your runs. You get an excellent range and freedom of movement in these bad boys!
Fit, Length, and Features: The fit is slim without being too tight, making them ideal for trim runners. Heavier runners may find the shorts constrict a bit in the butt, especially if you're carrying something in the pockets. With the 5" length, they're definitely a pair of short shorts that allow you plenty of movement.
The shorts come with a gel pocket that provides cushioning for your phone, and the pocket is large enough to handle big phones (one user said a Samsung Galaxy 6). There is also an inner key pocket, and a zippered pocket to store money, IDs, and credit cards.
The inner mesh lining offers good support for your privates without causing overheating problems. You get excellent ventilation and comfort from these shorts!
Quality: The quality of the shorts is above market average, but not the most durable around. You'll get a few months of regular use before they start to look worn.
Price: At $44 per pair, these are definitely among the priciest shorts on our list. However, thanks to their unique features, they're a decent option for runners specifically.
Classic comfort, durable, stylish even when used, compatible with every sport, very affordable price tag, lightweight, side pockets for storage capacity, and breathable.
Thin and semi-transparent material.
Material: The mesh material used for these shorts is lightweight, though slightly transparent. If you want a comfortable pair, you'll love how soft these are. They offer superior ventilation and breathability for use on hot days. They're also lightweight enough that they make a great base layer for use in cold weather/environments.
Fit, Length, and Features: The fit of these shorts run slightly on the baggy side, making them ideal for guys who need more room to stretch and move around. They're not so long they look goofy, but they end just above the knees—classic shorts length.
The shorts have your two basic features: a drawstring and two side pockets for storage (of wallet, keys, etc.). The Champions logo is embroidered onto the left leg just above the knee, making it highly visible.
The elastic waistband is comfortable enough for guys with larger waists, and it will keep the shorts from slipping down. However, for guys with slimmer waists and thicker legs, the drawstring ensures everything is securely in place no matter how much you move around.
Quality: The best thing about these shorts is that they're durable. They don't fade or wear out like other brands (including Nike and Adidas). Even after months of regular wear, they'll still look good as new. They're one of the longest-lasting pairs of sports shorts you'll find on the market!
Price: At less than $10 per pair, these are a total steal! Larger sizes will run closer to $15 or $20, but they're still one of the best-priced shorts anywhere.
Getting motivated to exercise is difficult enough without worrying about how you look. And needless to say, going all out on the gym is challenging enough without the wrong clothes holding you back.
We’ve said it before when we talked about the best workout shirts for men, but we’ll say it again: everyone should have several pairs of good workout shorts in their closet.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a runner, a biker, a gym rat, or a CrossFit enthusiast. Whatever your preferred workout is, you’ll benefit from having good-quality activewear at your disposal.
In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know to select the best workout shorts for your needs. Sure, the market is saturated and the sheer number of options we have can be confusing. Luckily, it’s nothing that a quick read-through of this guide can’t remedy.
Ready? Let’s dive right in!
For fitness enthusiasts, investing in good quality activewear is a no-brainer. But for the rest of the population, the importance of wearing proper workout clothes isn’t as obvious.
Many of us are probably guilty of wearing regular cotton shorts—or worse, even denim shorts—to the gym at least once in our lives. Hey, no judgment here. We didn’t know any better, right? But if you happen to still be in that phase where you don’t quite get why proper workout shorts are necessary, here’s a brief explainer:
Ultimately, investing in proper workout shorts will improve your performance, confidence, and comfort level and help lower the risk of injuries. Sure, you might wear them only a few times a week, but they’re well worth it in the long run.
Obviously, workout shorts are not one-size-fits-all. Some workouts will require special cuts, fabrics, or features. If you want to learn more about the different types of workout shorts, check out this section.
Compression shorts are useful in so many ways. They provide added support to the hamstrings, thighs, and groin—therefore helping lessen the risk of injury. Compression gear, in general, is designed to stimulate blood circulation by adding a bit of pressure to the muscles. This decreases the chance of blood clots and helps the muscles recover faster.
Because compression shorts hug the skin, they’re a great option if you want to protect yourself from chafing and rashes. What’s more, they provide extra warmth to the muscles, which then makes your muscles less prone to pulling or straining. Overall, if you are a competitive athlete or into some serious training, compression shorts are a must-have.
Running shorts are designed to be super lightweight to avoid weighing you down during your runs. They’re also usually made of polyester or lycra—breathable fabrics that wick sweat away from the body. Good quality running shorts avoid the use of cotton because this fabric makes your inner thighs more prone to chafing and irritation.
Typically, you can get running shorts in one of three lengths—five, seven, or nine inches inseam. The best length for you will, of course, depend on your preference, height, and body type. If you frequently struggle with chafing, a longer pair of shorts would probably suit you best. On the flip side, short shorts are great for a quick running session in the summer.
Unlike any other type of workout shorts, yoga shorts should be loose and comfortable above all. They should allow free movement in order to let you execute even the most complicated poses without worry. At the same time, they shouldn’t be so loose that they ride up and expose the wrong body parts when you’re trying to execute anything that would require your legs to go upside down.
If you’re looking into all-purpose shorts for when you’re using free weights or machines in the gym, consider cotton-blend shorts that are mid-thigh to above-the-knee in length. Anything longer than that might limit your movement and even give way to safety issues.
Plus, while cotton fabrics are not the best at keeping you dry, they’re comfortable, low-maintenance, and they wash well—perfect for workouts that don’t make you generate a ton of sweat.
When it comes to clothing, we know you’re probably used to walking into a shop, buying the first decent piece that fits, and then leaving. But when it comes to choosing the best workout shorts, there are actually several factors that you have to consider before making the best purchasing decision.
Aside from checking the reviews and ratings of a particular pair of shorts, here are some of the other key considerations you should think of before shelling out cash. Now, not all of them might matter – some will depend on the type of workout you like doing. Nonetheless, scanning this list will definitely help you make a better choice.
When it comes to the best workout shorts, the type of fabric used will always make a difference. Shorts will either be made using natural or synthetic fibers or a combination of these two.
Synthetic fibers provide great moisture management and are frequently stretchable. Polyester, polyester-spandex, and nylon blend are some examples of synthetic fabrics.
Natural fiber workout shorts are usually made of cotton. These shorts will offer good stretch, comfort, and movement. However, they aren’t as great at wicking away moisture from the skin. Natural fibers are also less durable than synthetic ones.
Breathability is important to keep you cool and comfortable. If you live in a place where it gets extremely hot in the summer, wearing shorts that aren’t breathable enough can lead to heat rash, excessive sweating, and discomfort.
Using breathable fabrics, as well as a cut that allows for excellent ventilation, will keep your groin from turning into a sweat fest. Some shorts also use mesh inserts to improve their breathability.
Moisture-wicking materials will make your workouts more pleasant—especially if you do a lot of sweaty cardio.
Working out in a clearly-drenched pair of shorts can be quite embarrassing. At the same time, fabrics that don’t have moisture-wicking abilities tend to get weighed down by sweat. You might also want to go for water-resistant fabrics if you live in a wet climate.
Depending on your preferred workout and situation, you might want to go for workout shorts that come with pockets. Different workout shorts will offer varying degrees of storage capacity. Some pairs will have tiny pockets for valuables like keys, while others will have enough space for you to carry an energy bar or a replenishing gel for long-distance running.
Some workout shorts come with a liner built-in. A liner can be good for your performance because it provides ample support and moisture-wicking properties. The idea behind having a liner is to make it unnecessary for you to wear underwear—helpful if you find that that extra layer of fabric is causing chafing issues. The liner should be supportive enough to keep your goods in place and wick away sweat.
We all love a classic, understated pair of plain black workout shorts. But choosing a pair with a unique and colorful design can pay off, too! After all, the color of the clothes you wear can impact the effectiveness of your workouts.
Visibility becomes important if you like to run, bike, or jog in the evening. Choosing a pair of shorts that has good reflective detail will help prevent accidents. At the very least, go for a pair that is vibrant in color (think neon green) as darker fabrics have less visibility.