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It’s hard enough to start a running routine without expensive gear getting in the way. And unless you plan on shelling out some serious dough, it can be tough to find running gear that’s cute, comfortable, and effective. So I went on the hunt to find the best affordable women’s running shorts. Finding affordable women’s running shorts that I would love was a challenge but I think I found some gems. Here’s my review of the 6 shorts I tried.
Here are a few guidelines for the shorts I bought, ran in, washed, and am now reviewing.
- I didn’t pay more than $25 a pair for any of these shorts (some were on sale, some were pre-owned, I’m a savvy shopper y’all!)
- I often go straight from my run to chasing my 2-year-old around so I wanted shorts that aren’t too revealing and could transition quickly to toddler friendly
- I made sure I had multiple runs (and therefore washes) in each pair of shorts before I reviewed
- My runs were between 3-6 miles each in temps between 50-85 degrees
- Bonus points for shorts I could carry my iPhone 11 in
I added pictures of me in each pair so you get an idea of what my body shape is and how they look on real people. I’m clearly not a professional photographer (or model, lol) but I did my best, people! I’ve also included links where you can buy the shorts I wore or shorts that are similar if you want a pair for yourself.
Reebok 5″ Bike Shorts
In short, these are solid running shorts. They hold up well, they’re pretty comfortable, and they do their job. They aren’t the cutest shorts, but they’re a good buy and won’t disappoint you.
Pros: You can find these almost anywhere, (like right here!) and they come in several colors. They’re also stretchy, stay in place, and have mesh pockets on each side big enough to carry a phone.
Cons: Not really many cons here except that they can be hot to run in on warm days because they’re high rise. And they just don’t have the punch of fun like cute prints that you can find in other shorts.
Marika 5″ Tummy Control Bike Shorts
I have to start by saying these started out as some of my favorite shorts but didn’t stay at the top of the list. Check out the cons for why.
Pros: These come in really cute colors and different prints. They’re comfortable, stay put, and have pockets for a phone.
Cons: After about 3 washes the seams came out of these shorts. I was devastated. And a little annoyed. I contacted Marika and they gave me a credit on their website but it wasn’t enough to purchase the same shorts again from them. I didn’t love that either. SO these have dropped down the list of shorts I recommend. If I have to replace shorts after three washes they are NOT affordable.
Constantly Varied Gear Star Struck 5″ Shorts
Of all my bike shorts running shorts, I have to say these are my favorite.
Pros: These are super cute and come in tons of prints. I was impressed that the print wore so well. It doesn’t stretch out or fade when you have the shorts on. These shorts are also super flattering and comfortable. The fabric is crazy soft, while also being stretchy and supportive. And they definitely have the softest waistband of all the shorts I bought. And you don’t have to worry about these shorts riding up on your legs because they have a slip of sticky liner on the leg, keeping everything in place. They have pockets on each side that are big enough for a phone, so I love that. Added (and unexpected) bonus was they shipped really fast. These also come in 2.5″ and 5″ lengths so get what you feel great in!
Cons: Honestly, the only con I can think of is they might be warmer to run in than other styles of shorts in summer. But really, that’s all I can think of with these cute shorts. I’m a big fan.
EUC Nike Running Skirt
These were not my favorite. In fact, it was tough to make myself run in these more than a couple of times. Full disclosure, I also bought these used from Poshmark because Nike gear can be expensive. I’m glad I didn’t spend a lot on them because I don’t love them. I also couldn’t find anything that was really close to what these are where you could purchase them new. but there are several options on Poshmark if you do want a pair!
Pros: They’re not bad-looking on. They’re great if you want to be modest because the skirt keeps more mystery than other running shorts. The fabric was soft and held up well, even being already used.
Cons: The liner in this skirt was a pair of shorts. And it drove me nuts. I tried with and without undies. No matter what they weren’t comfortable and the shorts rode up, bunched up, and were generally annoying as all get out. There also wasn’t a pocket big enough for my phone. They were all around annoying to wear on a run and after this review, I won’t be wearing them again if I don’t have to. Sorry Nike but these were a disappointment.
Lululemon Groovy Run Shorts
Let’s start by saying that I purchased these used on Poshmark because, let’s be honest, Lululemon anything is expensive new. I’ll say that there were TONS of Lululemon shorts for sale on Poshmark. There’s always some risk buying used but if you’re a bargain hunter like me, it’s worth considering.
Pros: The fabric was super soft and comfortable. They were also really cute and pretty flattering. I also like the ability to tighten these shorts with the drawstring on the inside of shorts that can never come out. It’s a small, but helpful detail in a pair of running shorts.
Cons: The zipper pocket on the back wasn’t big enough to hold my phone. That was a disappointment because it means I have to wear a run belt or only wear them when I push my son in the stroller when I wear them. So that’s a bummer. These shorts are also lined which for many means the only comfortable way to wear them is without skivvies. That really bothers some folks. I’m a believer in running commando in “lined running shorts” but it’s definitely something to consider when purchasing. They’re also not as high rise as some of the other shorts I reviewed so they do give me a muffin top fear anytime I wear them.
In short, if you’re cool buying them used, the price might be right for these. But I found a brand of running shorts that’s just as cute, comfortable, can carry a phone and is affordable enough to buy brand new. Read on!
Tough Mode Lightweight Training Shorts
These are my hands-down favorite of all my running shorts. Ok, so here’s why.
Pros: They’re super cute. Very affordable. Crazy comfortable. There’s a zipper pocket big enough for a phone. I stayed cool and comfortable even on long runs. They don’t make an annoying swish sound when you run. I love these shorts and I’ll definitely be buying more.
Cons: They don’t have a drawstring to adjust the size. Seems like a small thing but it was something I wish they had. Mine shorts were a smidge too big (I should have ordered a size down) and because they were a little too big my phone bounced around when I ran. Not a big deal but kind of distracting. They also have a liner but I love the liner, super soft, and helps keep you cool if you go commando.
Ok, that’s my shortlist. I really hope this review of affordable running shorts for women to help other runners. I had no idea until I was a runner how difficult it is to find a decent pair of affordable shorts. Let me know if you’ve found (affordable) workout shorts you love in the comments section and keep running!
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