I seem to have amassed quite a collection of running shorts over the years, but somehow find myself wearing the same 3 or 4 pairs on a regular basis. I like what I like, I guess. So, casting aside the numerous pairs of Nike 2″ & 5″ Racer shorts, Saucony Inferno shorts, Gore Mythos shorts, New Balance Impact shorts, Pearl Izumi Fly shorts and who knows what other shorts I own, here’s a brief review of my current favorites.
Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts
From the Patagonia Website
Designed for the core trail runner, the feature-rich Strider Pro Shorts are made of fast-drying polyester. Details: four envelope pockets overlap on back hips, center-back zippered pocket; odor-resistant built-in liner.
- Super comfortable!
- Plenty of easy-to-access storage – two stretchy mesh pockets on each hip, plus a zipped pocket at the center of the back.
- Drawcord ties either internally or externally.
- Outer fabric is lightweight, fast drying and features breathable Air Flow mesh panels for ventilation.
- Breathable liner with good moisture wicking properties.
- Reflective logo.
- 5″ inseam.
- The rough internal seam of the brushed elastic waistband can cause slight chafing on the lower back.
Quite simply, the most comfortable shorts I own, and the ones I find myself searching for each time I head out for a run. The shorts are lightweight, airy, and really comfortable – size small [29″-30″] fits well both at the waist and through the leg. The liner does a good job of wicking away moisture and, according to the Patagonia specs, features permanent odor control. Storage is ample for both training runs and races – the pockets stretch to accommodate everything from gels and bars to Body Glide and a thin shell jacket. Even my favorite 10oz Ultimate Direction bottle fits in the front hip pocket! Patagonia make quality gear and these Strider Pro Shorts are no exception. Weight 4.1oz. MSRP $59.
Update: 6/1/17 – Read about the minor 2017 upgrades to the Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts here.
Pearl Izumi Fly Endurance Shorts
From the Pearl Izumi Website
The Fly Endurance short is the best utility running short by far. These shorts were designed for longer runs where storage is key and comfort is a must. Essentially replacing the need for a fuel belt, these shorts are a must-have for any distance runner.
- Gel Flask Hip Pocketing System.
- Large rear zipped pocket.
- 4″ inseam.
- Front and rear reflective accents.
- Liner. Fabric is too thick and does not wick moisture very well.
Initial impressions of the Pearl Izumi Fly Endurance shorts were good. Fit was excellent, although somewhat surprisingly, I did have to size up to the Medium [31.5″-34.5″] whereas typically I wear a size Small in Pearl Izumi shorts and tights. The waistband is comfortable with the internal flat drawcord laying flat against the skin. The shorts are relatively lightweight and the soft touch polyester/elastine fabric feels good and stretches nicely on the run. Storage is adequate for a trail running short and is made up of 2 hip pockets that can accommodate small hand flasks, gels, or other small nutrition/fuel packs, and a wide, zipped pocket at the rear which keeps things in place relatively bounce free. To be honest my iPhone 5S jumped around a little too much the one time I decided to take it on a run, so usually I reserve the back pocket for just a house key and some emergency cash.
The most annoying thing about the shorts, especially during the hot summer months, is the Transfer Dry liner – it’s definitely comfortable enough in the early stages of a run, but seems to hold moisture like a sponge as the miles tick by. Chafing has been an issue on some longer runs, so I tend to reserve the Fly Endurance short for cooler, shorter efforts. Weight 4.7oz. MSRP $60.
Pearl Izumi Fly Endurance Shorts are available for purchase online at Amazon.com
Salomon S-Lab Sense Shorts
From the Salomon Website
Sense minimalist running shorts are so light and comfortable, you won’t feel them when you run. Large pockets on the front and back, plus 2 smaller gel pockets, let you carry essentials for a long days.
- Inseam. The 4″ inseam works well for me. Not super short, and just enough leg coverage.
- Weight. Tipping the scales at just 2.5 oz, the Sense shorts are easily the lightest shorts in my collection. The combination of the bi-stretch nylon outer and Cocono fabric brief is an incredibly minimalist combination.
- Fabric. The shorts stay dry and never get bogged down with sweat and moisture. This translates to a very comfortable experience in all conditions.
- Storage. The front waist and rear back feature light horizontal mesh panels with a stretchy fabric behind the mesh. This combination forms incredible pockets. Also, both hip sections feature mesh pockets for carrying gels or similar nutrition.
- Breathability. Salomon chose to include laser cut ventilation holes on both hips and at the rear. Another genius idea.
- Front & rear reflective accents.
- Price. Despite some really innovative fabrics and technology, $150 MSRP for a pair of shorts is pretty ridiculous.
- Liner elastic. The elastic is unusually thin and tends to cut in quite a bit.
- Waistband. For the most part the stretchy waistband is pretty comfortable, but if slightly overloaded it can “roll over” and flap around a bit.
The S-Lab Sense shorts are my typical go-to short during the summer months. Their ability to stay dry on hot/humid days is second to none, and the multiple pockets mean I can easily carry stick packs of Tailwind Nutrition, cash and even a rain shell in case the weather turns bad. The ultralight nylon fabric has held up surprisingly well, and thankfully the shorts show no signs of wear whatsoever. As mentioned above, the elastic used in the liner brief tends to dig in a bit, so I typically wear these shorts for runs of an hour or less. The only other drawback would be the price point – I’m just fortunate I was able to grab mine on sale for much less than the regular price! Weight 2.5oz. MSRP $150.
Salomon S-Lab Sense Shorts are available for purchase online at Amazon.com
The North Face Better Than Naked Shorts
From The North Face Website
Run without compromise during long-distance hauls with woven 5″ shorts that feature a quick-drying, stretch-knit liner brief for additional coverage that won’t restrict your range of motion.
- Comfortable. The fabric is lightweight and breathable.
- Four functional pockets – three drop pockets and a center zip pocket for great storage options.
- Thin inner liner, which breathes well and adequately wicks moisture away.
- Reflective logo. Always a nice touch for those early morning/late night runs.
- 5″ inseam. Not too short. Not too long. Great coverage for trail running.
- Sizing. See below.
- Drawcord. See below.
I really wanted to like these Better Than Naked shorts from The North Face. Online reviews were good, and they were touted in several places as “the only shorts you need to own”. Feature-wise they lived up to the bill, but neither the size Small [29″-31″] or size Medium [32″-34″] were a good fit for me. The Small was good through the leg, but too tight at the waist, whereas the Medium fitted well at the waist but was too big and baggy through the legs. Ah well….
On a positive note, I really liked the thin, soft inner liner and the stitch-free seams were also a nice touch. Storage was impressive for a running short, yet not quite as good as the Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts. The internal drawcord proved a touch annoying on several runs, but nothing a quick dab of Body Glide wouldn’t fix. Again, I like the external drawcord option on the Strider Pros. Weight 4.6oz. MSRP $55.
So, there you have it – my four go-to shorts for summer running. The Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts are definitely my favorite, and as luck would have it, they’ve just released some new color options for 2015. Think I’ll head over to the Patagonia website to take a look.