Both With and Without a Liner

The 12 Best Gym Shorts of 2018 for All Workouts

June 18, 2018 Buying Guides By Photo by Henry Phillips

This guide to the best gym shorts of 2018 covers the best shorts for running as well as weight-lifting, yoga and everything in between.

Table of Contents
The Nature of Short Preferences
The Best Gym Shorts of 2018


The outfit you put on before you hit the gym or head out to a workout can make or break your performance. Itchy and poorly-made materials can add too many pauses to squat jumps, mountain climbers and deadlifts, resulting in a less than perfect workout. And we’re all familiar with the curse of chafing, (that’s preventable) which will stop a runner in his or her tracks. The exact length of the shorts you choose is deeply personal, and whether or not shorts are lined is just as polarizing. Some people love pockets, some people hate pockets, some people want sweat-wicking materials and some people want a more spandex-like feel. We polled the Gear Patrol staff to figure out what we’re all wearing to the gym, as well as professional trainers to see what they recommend.

What We Learned About Shorts

You’re going to need to try on the pairs in-store or at home and move around in them. Every single person I spoke with had a different preference on what makes a great short. Overall though, our team prefers a 7-inch or longer short, whether they’re running, commuting, lifting weights at the gym or hanging out. We’ve put our shorts through the ringer, wearing them everywhere — from the gym floor to the park, we’ve chased kids around all day and put them through miles upon miles of roads and trails.

The Best Gym Shorts of 2018

Buying Guide

Patagonia Strider Pro Running Short

Best for Running: These shorts come in a 7-inch style with a tie at the front to secure the shorts, so if you decide to take a dip mid-run, there’s no worry about them slipping away. They’re also quick-drying thanks to the polyester material with a DWR finish. The two non-zippered pockets on the sides are helpful for the essentials like keys, phones and even sunglasses — and for anything super important, like credit cards, the 4-inch zipper pocket that sits on your lower back is like a vault.

Champion Run Short

Best Budget Pick: For just $23, you can pick up a pair of this classic brand’s 9-inch inseam shorts. Offered in black, navy and a slate grey, the polyester and spandex blend mixes to create some of the most ventilated lightweight fabric. A jersey lined waistband, keeps the shorts from rubbing at your hips, and the brief liner offers just enough support.

Rhone Bullitt Shorts

Best for Weight Lifting: The four-way stretch is integrated into a ripstop nylon, so if you snag a weight on them, or your gym is particularly gritty, there’s no fear you’ll be patching holes in these shorts years from now. The two side pockets are just what you would find in your typical pants or sweats, except these are lined with mesh, to help keep that breathable feeling.

SAXX Kinetic Run

Best 5-inch: Short shorts these are not. While this inseam length might be popular among the runners of the world, our team member liked these for the gym. Anti-odor technology is a welcome addition to a pair of shorts you’re sure to sweat in. And in typical SAXX fashion, the innovative design with a 3D hammock-shaped pouch inside makes for plenty of support and 360 degrees of movement — without any concern.

Vuori Kore Short

Best 8-inch: With a boardshort-like vibe, these are the shorts you’ll use for everything. From moving day, to personal training sessions, to a day at the beach with the parents, the performance fabric made with a Coolmax polyester and spandex blend is stretchy, lightweight and feels great. With 11 colors and patterns to choose from, these no-frills shorts are a the basic staple you’ve been waiting for.

Lululemon T.H.E. Short

Best 9-inch: When I asked all the staffers about their go-to pair of shorts, Lululemon was by far the most mentioned brand. T.H.E. Short 9-inch (recently updated) features an Out of Mind liner, which is more of a spandex-short liner, rather than a boxer brief. One of the seven available colors is bound to suit your fancy.

Adidas Supernova Short

Best for Exploring: The lightweight and sweat-wicking materials are ideal for any all day use — whether you’re trekking up a fourteener, or chasing after a four-year-old. Built-in mesh briefs keep these seven-inch shorts extremely breathable. The hit of reflectivity down both side panels is a bonus to help you stay safe when working out — whether you’re an early bird or a night owl.

Nike Distance 2 in 1 Running Shorts

Best for Boxing: With a compression short liner beneath the Nike Flex fabric, you’re secure in all your jabs, ducks and kicks. The Dri-Fit technology wicks away any sweat, and the uniquely placed mesh panels help with breathability as well. Did we mention the hidden pocket in the liner? Keep your phone or keys secure to your leg, then stuff any extras in the kangaroo pocket along your lower back.

Isaora Drone All Terrain Shorts

Best for Biking to Work: Our outdoors and fitness team is a big fan of Isaora. The training shorts are built to help you tackle everything from a bike commute to an all-day training session. The lightweight fabric combo (nylon and spandex) dries fast, meaning if you get sweaty on your way to work, simply hang them while you change into work clothes and they’ll be ready for you to wear home that night.

Outdoor Voices Sunday Shorts

Best to Wear All Day Long: Appropriately named, the Sunday Shorts are built for lazy days, but can easily transition to work for your five mile daily loop. A 7.5-inch inseam and both back and side pockets make these shorts wearable all summer long.

Reebok Woven Performance Short

Best for CrossFit: With a tapered fit and easy-to-tighten waistband, these shorts work to keep you cool and dry. Summer tends to bring a lot of hot weather, and these work well, especially during any outdoor bodybuilding sessions.

Patagonia Baggies

Best for Hiking: The other brand that popped up multiple times when I polled the staff for their picks was Patagonia. Everyone seems to love its Baggies — the lightweight and minimal shorts that have been around since 1982. Whether you’re hiking, biking, rock climbing or running, these shorts are best for those who want shorts to function well and feel great. One of the Baggies’s tricks for success is that the shorts stuff into the right pocket. Imagine how many pairs you could fit in a weekender!

The Best Gym Shorts of 2018

Best Gym Sneakers

Whether you hit the CrossFit Box or lift weights at the gym, there’s a gym sneaker in here for you. We tested the latest models from Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Under Armour, Nobull and more. Read the Story

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Meg Lappe is Gear Patrol's Editorial Coordinator, handling strategy across our digital, print, video and social teams. She can typically be found running around.

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