The Best Fitted Running Shorts Spring 2019

image courtesy of Indy Women's Half Marathon, ©2019

featured image courtesy of Indy Women’s Half Marathon, ©2019. Look at that hotty, #12!

It’s happened to all of us: you’re having a great run and about an hour in, there’s a bit of a stinging situation. You tug your shorts down, adjust the waistband, try to scoot a seam. But you know already: they’re not the perfect shorts.

Or, you buy a pair that is totes cute but lo-and-behold, there’s nowhere for your key — much less anything else.

Recently Sesame posted on social media about looking for spandex short suggestions, and I am so about this type of crowd-sourcing! I chimed in with a few of my favorites and fails, and then we starting collecting more suggestions. All for you, dear readers.

Just kidding, this research was 100% done for my inner thighs. But by all means, reap the benefits!

Personally, I prefer fitted shorts in part because, when they fit right, they chafe my non-thigh-gapping thighs way less than other shorts. They also just feel faster and more fluid to me. But spandex shorts are not without their issues. The foremost is length — if the length is wrong, cue chafing. Next is pockets. WE NEED POCKETS.

This is the quest for the perfect spandex short.

Here are a few of our favorites plus suggestions sent our way:

Sesame found her Shorts Charming!

Oiselle Portman — This is my (Chicory’s) go-to at the moment. I’ve worn them for my last two marathons and own them in two colors. Sadly, this short has been discontinued Oiselle-land (though the last few can be found through other retailers in select sizes); they’ve replaced it with the new Aero short. (Do I need them in purple? Yes?) Both are made with Oiselle’s Nyelle fabric and have 3″ inseams and side-panel pin tuck detailing. The difference is that the Portman had two zip pockets on the front hip of the waistband, the Aero has a large back envelope pocket. While I love the Portman, I’ve smacked my fingers on those zippers more than once so maybe the update is good? My only concern is that rear pockets can be hard to reach on the move.


Saucony Bullet Shorts — a classic choice and a favorite of Barley’s. This short has a longer (4″) inseam, is made of a really smooth fabric and features wide holster pockets on both sides large enough for a cell phone or all the gels you care to carry. They also have a zippered, waterproof (!) rear pocket. Full disclosure, I had these and liked the pockets but 4″ is the worst length on me because they rolled up … and if they roll up it’s chafe city.


Tracksmith Lane 5 — someone mentioned these when I polled Twitter for suggestions, but I haven’t heard from anyone who has actually tried them. (Have you? Comment below!) The updated Lane Five has a 5″ inseam and FIVE pockets. Two pockets on each hip and one zippered rear pocket. From what I can tell, these pockets would hold gels but aren’t wide enough for a phone.


Oiselle Pocket Joggers — The winning candidate for Sesame! Another Oiselle offering in the same Nyelle fabric mentioned above. This short comes in two lengths, 4.75″ or 8.25″, both with five pockets: two side holster pockets (large enough for a phone), plus three on the back waistband including one zippered.


Rabbit First Place — A new short that I don’t think was even out when I started this article. It’s a shortie with a 2.5″ inseam and three pockets: one zippered in the back and two waistband pockets that can hold a gel or so each. I haven’t tried these but I like the pocket placement in terms of easy access while racing. They comes in several colorways; I love the ladies at Rabbit, but can we have a talk about gray shorts and sweat stains? Luckily it also comes in black!


Ododos — This was another Twitter recommendation. These are intended as yoga shorts but, really, what does that mean? They are spandex. They are shorts. They offer a few different lengths with side holster pockets and come in a ton of colors at an affordable price. I would probably snag a pair of these and if they were a bust for running, they’d probably still be fine for the gym or studio and I wouldn’t be crushed by the price point. *clears throat at some of the brands above.*


Senita Rio — I mostly know of this brand from being hammered with Instagram marketing for a sports bra that will hold my phone. These high-waisted Rio shorts come in two lengths, 3.75″ or 7″, and feature side holster pockets large enough for a phone. Also they’re a hella-good deal and cute prints including PALM TREES. (This post is going to cost me so much money…)


Lululemon Track & Train — this is a 4″ high-waisted short with side holster pockets and another waistband/key pocket. If you want something that comes over your belly button, these definitely do. But there’s that Lululemon scarcity thing … you never know how long these will be around, so instead of a Mr. Right, they may be Mr. Right Now.


Brooks Ghost Short — Another new spring addition with a 3″ inseam and pockets along the waistband that can hold a phone and gels. Reviews are scarce, but Brooks is the company who acquired sports-bra-game-changer Moving Comfort way back when, and ever since they have been showing their commitment to designing intelligent clothing for women. They’ve been killing it on the prints lately too: the “lightray” is a cute variegated stripe print that’s reminiscent of a few colorways in the Launch 6 shoes without being too matchy.


Brooks Greenlight Short Tight — A longer 7″ option with holster pockets and two waistband pockets. Sorry, print-fiends, this one only comes in basic black. If the holster pockets aren’t your thing, the old version is on sale at Running Warehouse!


Tell us — which is your winning pair? Is it one of these or something else? Feel free to plug your favorite in the comments!

Note: I tried to include only shorts that are currently available. A few favorites appear to be no longer in production.

Started running in my early 20s and ended up running my first marathon 15 months later. Managed to break 3 hours in my 12th marathon. Pilates instructor passionate about the importance of your powerhouse in running and the mind/body connection. One husband, zero kids, mama to one Australian Shepherd.

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8 comments

  1. I just ordered the Rabbit shorts (the “Legs” shorts are my FAV!) after seeing that Oiselle doesn’t seem to be making my other favorite shorts anymore – RIP mini stride shorts 🙁 Must check out these Brooks shorts too!

    1. I actually just ordered the Rabbit ones this week (finally)! I’ll probably get a pair of Oiselle Aeros too because you can’t have too many spandex shorts, amirite?

  2. I have the original Lane Five tights (bought em on ebay). They have a clear plastic/rubbery thingy that goes around the bottom of the leg holes to keep them from sliding around your legs. I did have to adjust them a few times though. But maybe the shorts are a size too large for me. Strangely I wear size medium in their loose shorts but size small in the lane five tights felt looser than I am used to with tight shorts.

  3. Saucony Bullet tight shorts have served me well. I have two pairs and although they do creep up just a tiny bit, their 4′ inseam keeps them from being too cheeky even if they creep a tiny bit.

  4. Thanks for this post! Fitted shorts are my preference these days too, for the same reasons. I also really love the pocket joggers, especially for long runs! If you’re into crazy colors and patterns like I am, I’ve also had good luck with the shorts from Dona Jo brand “Ultimate Shorts” and the 5″ shorts from IAB MFG (another brand that hammers me with Instagram ads) – although neither have the great storage of the pocket joggers.

  5. So helpful! My favorite Spandex shorts are discontinued… they are Moving Comfort from way back in the day before Brooks bought them out. I got the Pocket Joggers based on yours/Sesame’s rec, and they were perfect for my recent half.