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6 best running shorts for women in 2021

For your next workout, you may want to consider one of these highly rated running shorts from popular brands like Lululemon and Athleta.
Mixed race woman running at waterfront. See the best running shorts for women to try in 2021. Shop women's running shorts from Nike, Lululemon, Under Armour and more for your next workout.
In need of a new workout wardrobe? These top-rated running shorts from brands like Girlfriend Collective and Outdoor Voices could be comfortable options. Julien McRoberts / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

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Working Out From Home, or WOFH, was a big trend in the past year amid the pandemic — while we were stuck at home, we saw a surge in sales for home gym gear and exercise equipment like treadmills, bikes and kettlebells. But as we move toward more normalcy in the coming months, you could be looking to take your workouts outside as well, whether that’s at a fitness studio or park. Searches for workout clothes have risen again in the past few weeks, which might mean some are seeking things like new sports bras to add to their wardrobes as they head outside of the house. And with today, June 2, being Global Running Day — a worldwide celebration of running where runners can pledge to run a particular distance — you might be looking for some new workout gear. One item you may be searching for is reliable running shorts — and to help, we gathered a few options from Shopping reader favorite retailers like Girlfriend Collective and Outdoor Voices.

Features to look for in running shorts

To find the best running shorts for women, we consulted our previous coverage on sweat shorts and recommendations for running shorts from fitness experts including marathoners and runners to figure out common features that might be useful to search for when it comes to women’s running shorts.

  • Moisture-wicking: This is a term you’ll often see when it comes to workout wear. It refers to a fabric that both moves sweat (or water) away and dries it quickly, as Deanna Wu, vice president of Brooklinen, previously told us.
  • Built-in briefs:Marathoner Jordan Zimmerman previously explained that underwear can cause chafing, which means many runners don’t wear them while running. She suggested finding shorts with built-in briefs instead.
  • Fabrics: While polyester on its own isn’t very breathable, a polyester blend could handle the heat, as textile professor Preethi Gopinath previously mentioned. Generally, for some stretch, you can look for spandex and elastane, fashion stylist Jessica Cadmus said in our guide to men’s work-from-home pants.
  • Elastic waistband: Many of the options experts recommended to us included adjustable waistbands, which could help make a pair of shorts more comfortable to move around in (and provide a much more customized fit).
  • Pockets: Pockets were another feature that experts pointed out in their picks. Pockets are a practical solution to hold essentials while running — especially so you can avoid carrying a purse or wallet with you.
  • Length: Along with these features, you’ll probably want to pay attention to the length of the shorts — a couple of inches could mean more or less coverage.

Best women’s running shorts to shop now

With these features in mind, we compiled a few highly rated and size-inclusive running shorts for women to consider wearing to your next workout from popular brands like Athleta and Lululemon.

1. Under Armour Fly By 2.0 Running Shorts

These sweat-wicking shorts are a popular pick with Amazon shoppers, earning an average 4.5-star rating over more than 10,600 reviews. They feature a built-in brief, a knit waistband with an interior drawstring and mesh panels that are designed to help with excessive heat. You’ll also find a reflective logo that shines in the dark on one of the front sides of these shorts. They currently come in sizes XS to 3XL and in various colorways including Crystal Lilac/Exotic Bloom and Dark Cyan/Cosmos.

2. Girlfriend Collective Gazelle Short

This short is meant to be both lightweight and water-resistant. Like many of Girlfriend Collective’s clothes, it’s made from recycled single-use plastic bottles. The short features an underwear lining, zippable pockets and a drawstring waist. It is available in sizes XXS to 6XL and in seven shades, including Geranium and Quartz. While Girlfriend Collective doesn’t publicly share the average star rating for its products, these shorts have garnered more than 1,200 reviews.

3. Athleta 4-Inch Printed Mesh Racer Run Short

This short is specifically designed for three types of running — short, long and trail running, according to Athleta. It’s made from the brand’s Recycled Featherweight Stretch — a blend of polyester and spandex — which is meant to be lightweight. It features mesh ventilation, a side zip pocket, a built-in brief liner and an internal drawcord at the waist. This short currently comes in sizes XXS to 3X and in eight prints including Violet Static and Black Camo Lux. While Athleta doesn’t provide an average star rating, more than 90 percent of reviewers left this short with a 5-star rating.

4. Nike Tempo Running Shorts

These sweat-wicking shorts are made with what Nike calls its Dri-FIT technology to keep you dry and comfortable while working out. The shorts feature mesh side inserts for cooling ventilation, an elastic waistband with an inner drawstring and a drop-in back pocket. They are available in sizes XS to 3X and in a variety of colors like Citron Pulse and Barely Green. They have earned an average 4.7-star rating over more than 1,200 reviews at Nike.

5. Lululemon 4-Inch Tracker Short

This Lululemon option is meant to be lightweight and sweat-wicking. It features Lycra fabric in order to both stretch and keep its shape while you’re exercising. You’ll also find a drawcord at the waist, side zippered pocket and a built-in liner on this pair. You can choose between sizes 0 to 20 and 12 colors, including True Navy and Warm Coral. This short has earned an average 4-star rating over more than 2,100 reviews.

6. Outdoor Voices Hudson 2.5-Inch Short

A bestseller at Outdoor Voices, these shorts were formerly called the Hudson Shorts but were renamed. The pair is made from the brand’s RecPoly fabric, a quick-drying and lightweight recycled polyester. It features a knit waistband and built-in liner. Some of the eight colors these shorts come in have limited availability, but White and Navy are among the fully in-stock shades. Some sizes, including XXL and XXXL, are currently sold out, but most of the colors are available in sizes XS to XL at the moment. While Outdoor Voices doesn’t publicly provide an average star rating, these shorts have 914 reviews.

Where to find women’s running shorts

If you’re searching for more options for your workout wardrobe, the following athleisure and activewear-centric retailers offer a range of styles for women’s running shorts.

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