Spandex shorts are a versatile piece of athletic gear that can be worn during nearly any workout. Made from a form-fitting fabric that’s often blended with other materials like nylon or cotton, the stretchy material fits close to the skin and helps you move with ease. They’re often worn as part of an exercise uniform by athletes and people who enjoy sports like cycling, running, and Crossfit because they keep you cool while you work up a sweat.

There are many different types of form-fitting spandex shorts, including compression shorts and those that are designed specifically for running. The type you choose depends on your specific needs and preferences.

What to Look For

Some women’s athletic spandex shorts offer additional features that may not be important to other people, but are ideal for you. For example, some have built-in pockets or come with a pouch that makes it easy to store and retrieve keys or other items while you’re on the go. Other brands incorporate technologies like SPF protection, antimicrobial treatment, or snag and tear resistance that can improve durability.

The Ibex Women’s Springbok Shorts were the most comfortable pair of low-ride spandex running shorts we tested in our review. They have a soft and stretchy fabric that’s 91% nylon and 9% spandex but the real standout is the liner, which is made from a blend of merino wool and Tencel, a sustainable fiber derived from eucalyptus trees. These fabrics are known for their temperature-regulating, quick-drying, and odor-resistant properties. The liner also feels super cool to the touch and won’t bunch or ride up while you’re wearing these running shorts. In addition, the four-inch inseam is slightly longer on the inside of the thigh than it is on the outside to prevent chafing while you’re on the run.

Another great option for women who want a high-performing pair of running spandex shorts is the Fabletics Women’s Zoneknit 3” Merino Shorts. These shorts are breathable thanks to a combination of Icebreaker’s Cool-Lite jersey fabric and eyelet mesh panels, which maximize airflow. They also have a flattering fit and are among the most durable shorts in our review. The liner is made from a merino wool and Tencel blend that’s also softer than cotton, cool to the touch, and fast-drying. The V-shaped four-inch inseam is longer on the inside of your thigh and tapers out along the side to minimize chafing, and they have a zippered side pocket for your keys.

These running shorts from Patagonia were also highly rated by our test panel for their next-to-skin comfort and look-good-on-everyone compression. The fabric is quick-drying and has a DWR finish to resist moisture build-up and prevent chafing or sogginess. The hem hits the lower to mid calf, which is perfect for most women but won’t be too long for some people who prefer a shorter length.

While these low-waisted spandex shorts from Tracksmith are incredibly popular with our reviewers, they did have some issues that some of us found problematic. The main issue was that these shorts tend to run small, so we recommend ordering a size up from what you normally wear. In addition, they have a zippered side pocket that’s designed for the back of your phone, which can be annoying to use while you’re exercising.

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