The right pair of women’s compression running shorts can go a long way toward keeping you comfy over hot miles and helping your legs stay fresh. To make the best choice, consider how often you want to wear them and whether you prefer a loose or fitted style. Also consider whether you need a liner, which can minimize chafing by eliminating the need to change your undies before every run. And if you don’t like the idea of having to wear a liner, look for 2-in-1 shorts that look like classic shorts but include a tight cycle-style layer underneath for support and a relaxed outer layer for coverage.
The perfect women’s compression running shorts will have soft, lightweight fabric that wicks sweat and dries quickly. They should fit snugly, with a comfortable waistband that’s not too tight and stays put during the run. And you’ll need pockets to stash your gels, water bottles, and keys, especially if you’re doing an ultra marathon or a race.
In our tests, these women’s compression running shorts stood out for their fabric, waistband, and inseam. Their fabric is a stretchy, moisture-wicking polyester and nylon blend with just enough compression to help keep the muscles in place without feeling constricted or tight. They have a four-inch inseam that hits the sweet spot for summer trail and mountain running and tapers on both sides to enhance range of motion. The waistband is comfortably wide and features a smooth, continuous drawcord to cinch in or out as needed. And they have a rear zipper pocket that’s just big enough for keys or a small amount of cash.
For a pair of shorts that offers all the basics, we love these women’s compression running shorts from Blooming Jelly. The built-in liner is a soft, stretchy material that fits close to the skin without being tight, and they come in 40 colors to match your sneakers. The main shorts have a 4-inch inseam that’s shorter on the inside to reduce chafing and longer on the outside for full mobility, with a high elastic waistband that fits comfortably and won’t ride up. A back zippered pocket is just big enough for a key and has an easy-to-locate paracord loop pull—which is better than a standard zipper that could jostle your key while you’re running.
If you’re looking for a pair of running shorts with more compression, this option from 2XU offers a next-to-skin feel thanks to the polyester and spandex fabric. They have a four-inch inseam with a slight side split and a zippered pocket that’s big enough for a phone or small cash. Plus, they’re available in two different lengths to suit your height and preferences.
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