Running shorts might not be the biggest kit investment you’ll make this year, but it’s still worth thinking about the features you’re looking for and shopping around for the right pair. For us, the fit was absolutely key. A good pair of run shorts should allow you enough room for a decent range of movement (we did a lot of uphill runs while testing, which gets the knees up higher), but not be so loose that you feel like they’re flapping around you.
A comfortable waistband is important and a drawcord to adjust it is helpful, especially if you find your weight fluctuates. Most shorts in this test had a brief liner, but the Gore have an inner tight, so think about what you prefer. Finally, consider what you need to carry on summer runs. A zippy pocket for keys/emergency cash is a huge help.
GORE MYTHOS LADY 2 IN 1 SHORTS
These vibrant little numbers (other colours are available) were the only shorts on test to offer an internal cycling short-length inner tight, which is designed to fit like a second skin, rather than just an inner brief like most of the others. Gore describe the inner tight as ‘compressive’, but we didn’t really see the benefits of compressing what little thigh area they cover, and on test runs we didn’t notice a compressive effect.
They do fit very well though and the inner tight didn’t ride up at all, making them a good choice if you want a little more modesty or don’t like the feel of baggier shorts. These are going to be a little warmer by nature of the two layers, but the top ‘shorts’ layer has plenty of breathable panels and stretch in the fabric, so we didn’t find it an issue, although they might not be our first choice on scorching hot summer days. There’s also a zippy pocket on the back and two tuck pockets on the legs of the inner tight, making these the best choice if you have a multitude of things to carry.
Verdict: Somewhat pricey, but comfortable and worth considering if you like a two-layer short 80%
ZOOT RUNNING BOARD SHORT
Pulling on these shorts from Zoot gave rise to some initial bafflement. They came up a little large around the waistband, so we reached for the drawcord on the front to tighten them, only to find that it’s purely a decorative feature and doesn’t actually do anything. Zoot describe this as giving an ‘innovative look and feel’, whereas we’d prefer it to be ‘useful’... And while on the subject of usefulness, there are no pockets here, either, which seems a bit stingy for £45.
Still, once we got out on our 10K test loop these were a very comfortable short. The shape is good and the lightweight woven material has a little stretch in it making for a decent range of movement, while the wide stretchy waistband feels good against the hips (albeit sitting a bit low!). The inner brief stays in place well and is made with Icefil fabric, which uses Xylitol to keep things cool. The substance is woven into the fabric and when it comes into contact with sweat, it creates a cooling effect, lowering body temperature. Fancy, hey?
Verdict: A mixed bag… Fancy tech in the fabric, but not many other features. Plus decorative drawcord is annoying 67%
BROOKS CHASER SHORT
It might seem like a petty annoyance, but whereas Brooks’ men’s shorts get a zippy pocket, for some reason the women’s instead has two little tuck pockets in the top of the waistband which you’d have to be pretty trusting (or daft) to put something you wouldn’t want to lose, like your house keys, in. Admittedly some shorts in this test have no pockets at all, but in our mind if you’re going to bother adding a feature, at least make it practical.
However. With that soapbox moment out of the way, these are actually a very comfortable pair of shorts. The wide waistband sits on the hips without either moving or digging in and while there’s no drawcord, we found we didn’t need one – maybe go a size down if you prefer them to sit higher though. They feel light and the split petal-design hem is designed to allow a good range of movement. The mesh brief liner was very comfortable and breathable and didn’t ride up at all. Finally, plain colours are available, if you’re not keen on stripes.
Verdict: Excellent comfort if you like a baggier short with plenty of movement. We’d like a more secure pocket, though 76%
Continue reading our guide to this year's best running shorts for women (2/2)