The best running shorts for women, by Nike

Buying guide

From the treadmill to the track, the trail and beyond, these lightweight women's running shorts will help keep you dry, cool and comfortable.

Last updated: 18 March 2024
4 min read
The best running shorts for women, by Nike

When you're headed out for a warm-weather or indoor run, you need to be dressed just right. The perfect pair of running shorts can set you up for optimal performance. Whether you're a seasoned runner needing a new pair or two or a newbie shopping for your first pair of women's running shorts, you need to know what to look for. Just like runners, running shorts are all different, so what works best for you depends on your needs and preferences. Running shorts come in different lengths, materials and styles, and the many options can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, you've come to the right place to find the best running shorts for women.

What features should you look for?

  • Lightweight materials that wick sweat away, keeping you both cool and dry
  • Compression (or tight fit) to help support the muscles in your hips and legs, improving circulation and lessening muscle soreness
  • An interior liner or inner layer to prevent chafing, which occurs when the fabric rubs up against your skin
  • Pockets to keep necessary items handy

1. Material

Just because you're working up a sweat doesn't mean your shorts have to feel sweaty. The best running shorts for women are made from synthetic fabrics to keep moisture away and leave you feeling dry. These include polyester, nylon or stretchy elastane. Nike Dri-FIT shorts are constructed using advanced engineering and lightweight moisture-wicking fabric to help keep moisture away from the skin.

2. Length

Some runners like their shorts extra short, while others prefer a longer length. Mid-thigh-length running shorts typically have at least a 10cm (approx.) inseam for a bit more coverage, while shorter running shorts allow you to move more easily and may be better suited for competitive runners. Upper-thigh-length running shorts will have an inseam of 8cm (approx.) or less.

The best running shorts for women, by Nike

3. Compression and support

Some runners like the looser feel of typical running shorts, while others prefer the support of tighter shorts. A pair of tight running shorts for women, also known as compression shorts, will provide more support, helping to eliminate the chafing that occurs when the fabric rubs up against your skin as you run. The best compression running shorts for women have at least a mid-thigh length so they won't ride up. We love the Nike Go Women's Firm-Support High-Waisted 20cm (approx.) Biker Shorts with Pockets for its sleek, midweight InfinaLock fabric that feels compressive and supportive in all the right places.

4. Interior liner

If you're familiar with women's running shorts, you may have noticed that some feature an interior liner. This liner can replace wearing underwear, leaving you more comfortable and mobile. The liner can help prevent chafing, provide breathability and help protect the shorts from bacteria build-up.

Other women's running shorts may have a built-in compression liner. These shorts are also often called 2-in-1 running shorts, aptly named for their looser exterior layer with a snug inner layer that helps protect you from chafing. The Nike Dri-FIT Swift is a women's mid-rise 8cm (approx.) 2-in-1 pair of running shorts with pockets for storing all the essentials. If you're seeking reflective design shorts, look no further than the Nike Women's Mid-Rise 8cm (approx.) 2-in-1 Reflective Design Shorts.

5. Waistband

The waistband on a pair of running shorts can sometimes be a dealbreaker. You want one that will not ride up while you run or feel too constricting. A pair with an adjustable drawstring waistband like the Nike Tempo Swoosh Women's Dri-FIT Brief-Lined Printed Running Shorts provides a more personalised fit.

6. Storage

Adding pockets to running shorts is absolutely genius. With pockets, you can bring your phone, money, keys and whatever else you need. If storage is important, look for a pair of running shorts with pockets aplenty. FYI: In addition to the more obvious leg pockets, some pairs have cleverly hidden pockets at the waistband. A zip is a bonus to help keep your items safe and secure while you're on the move. The Nike Women's Tight Mid-Rise Ribbed-Panel Running Shorts with Pockets have both a back zip pocket and drop-in side pockets, so you can securely store small items. Another plus: they're constructed using at least 50% recycled polyester fibres.

With more than 40 pairs of Nike women's running shorts, you're bound to find a pair that has the features you need with a look to match your style. Nike women's running shorts come in a variety of colours—from classic black and white to hot pink, purple and navy—and prints, too.

Words by Erica Brooke Gordon

Originally published: 12 February 2024

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