The 10 Pairs of Gym Shorts Our Staff Swears By
Lululemon, Under Armour and a pair with a bunch of turtles on 'em included
Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.
Long gone are the days when you’d head to the gym wearing a simple pair of cotton shorts that you would then sweat right through, causing the dreaded one-two punch of unwanted clinging and unsightly wet spots.
Today’s gym shorts are, in every way imaginable, much better. They’re made of technical, moisture-wicking fabrics that somehow keep you dry while also drying really quickly and resisting odor in a way that seems downright magical.
Most importantly, though, they’re versatile: the shorts on this list would perform as adequately out on a run as they would for yoga or lifting. And they look good, too, which — sue us — might be the most important thing of all.
I’m not a marathon guy or a gym rat — it’s about home workouts here — so I like a workout short that emphasizes comfy and convenient. The Mako is ideal for me — it’s long (9″ inseam) and a bit baggy but not loose, full of pockets (two side, one media, one hidden stash), and I can wear it for about two weeks of daily HIIT workouts before I even need to think about washing it.
The best athletic short with a built-in liner you can find. The key is that the liner is snug without going overboard on the compression: it’ll hold everything in place without constricting. Bonus points for the zippered back pocket for small valuables (a necessity, as far as I’m concerned) and that snazzy two-tone pattern. — Walker Loetcher, Editor in Chief
Cory Rotkel, our VP of Sales, recommended these, but he didn’t provide any explanation. He’s jacked as hell, though, so you should probably trust him.
I train 6x per week and put these things through hell (sprints, burpees, HIIT, long distance runs, you name it) and they take a beating while staying comfortable. Also, my cell stays put in the pocket while running and is almost unnoticeable which is another plus. — Gil Tiamsic, National Advertising Sales Director
As a person who used to log a whole lot of miles out on the road but who’s recently switched to an entirely gym-based fitness routine (if you can call “going to the gym on weekends and whenever I get home early enough during the week and don’t have any other obligations” a routine), the Lululemon T.H.E. short has been a revelation. It’s a little longer than what I’m used to, but it’s still somewhat slim-fitting, which is nice. The wide waist band stays in place and is super comfortable, and there are side-pockets for carrying all my shit afterwards. Mike Conklin — Executive Editor
For me, the concept of “vacationing” involves equal parts active pursuits (running, paddleboarding, competitive bocci, etc) and straight up drink-in-hand, body-on-colorful-pool-float chillin’. And as a dude who prefers to travel light whenever possible, I’m always in the market for a pair of shorts that can do double duty (a four mile run in a pair of swim trunks with standard liners is not a mistake I’m going to make twice). Enter Birddogs, which not only hold the title for comfiest workout shorts I’ve ever worn, but also come in colorways fun enough to hit the pool and not feel like, for lack of more nuanced description, the guy who wore his workout shorts to the pool. All the zippered pocketry and moisture-wicking properties you’d expect, plus three inseam lengths depending on how much tanned thigh you want to show off. — Danny Agnew, Creative Director
If you came here looking for women’s shorts, you may be getting the sense that you’ve come to the wrong place. This would be true, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve done you the favor of writing about these ones, which are the only women’s running shorts that matter. I tend to work out exclusively in leggings for the majority of the year, but when the warmer weather rolls around, even I find myself tempted to go for a breezier approach. With a flat waistband, a lightweight lining that keeps these super-short shorts in place and a back pocket that I’ve admittedly never used but still appreciate, these shorts are comfy, flattering and functional. I own at least four identical pairs at this point, and when it comes time to bare my pasty legs for the first workout of the summer, these Lululemons are the only shorts I’ll do it in. — Kayla Kibbe, Editorial Assistant
I bought these shorts not because I do yoga, but because I like turtles. They’re a bit more structured and less stretchy than most of the shorts on this list thanks to a butter-shoft hemp-cotton blend. Are there better shorts on this list for pure athletic purposes like running or playing pick-up ball? Probably. But this short looks and feels better once you leave the gym, so if you prize versatility, it’s the way to go. — Walker Loetcher, Editor in Chief
The elastic waistband on the UA Raid shorts is a gamer. True to size, never slips, and pretty much renders the drawcord vestigial. These shorts are best used for training at the gym, where running or soccer shorts can look a bit silly, and yoga shorts are a bit restricting. You’ll learn to love the deep pockets, the polyester fabric, which just feels like stretched-out compression shorts, and the subtlety in the design. They go with anything. Plus: In a pinch, these shorts are cut close enough that they won’t woosh around too much on a run, though we recommend prioritizing a shorter length. — Tanner Garrity, Associate Editor
Nothing particularly flashy here, but a good, solid pair of shorts that excels equally out on the run and in the gym. The zippered side pockets and the oversized stash pocket in the back are a godsend.
We've put in the work researching, reviewing and rounding up all the shirts, jackets, shoes and accessories you'll need this season, whether it's for yourself of for gifting purposes. Sign up here for weekly style inspo direct to your inbox.
Suggested for you