Expert Essentials

Workout Shorts That Are Damn Near Perfect

Six athletes on their favorite no-fuss bottoms for the trail and gym

“These shorts have all the right stuff,” says mountaineer Chris Brinlee Jr. about Cotopaxi’s Crux Shorts. (Courtesy Chris Brinlee)
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Six athletes on their favorite no-fuss bottoms for the trail and gym

There are few things worse for a workout than ill-fitting shorts. To avoid chafing disaster, follow advice from the pros and try one of these pairs—they’re all light, comfortable, and allow for easy movement.

Spyder Phenom Boardshorts ($55)


shorts

(Courtesy Spyder)

Steven Nyman, Downhill Skier

These are Olympian and downhill ski specialist Steve Nyman’s go-to shorts in the off-season. “I wear them all day, every day, for all activities—­strength training, surfing, and paddleboarding,” he says. “They’re stretchy, easy to move in, and have cuts on the side of legs, which suit my big ol’ skier quads. Without them, I’d blow through shorts fast. They’re also not too long, which can be restrictive.”

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The North Face Better Than Naked ($55)


shorts

(Courtesy The North Face)

Stephanie Howe Violett, Ultrarunner

“The name is astute because I feel like I’m not wearing anything,” says Stephanie Howe Violett, the 2014 Western States 100 champion. “The fabric feels good against the skin, and the wide waistband stays put without being too tight. And when it’s dark out, the bright colors motivate me. After all, it’s those small things that get you out the door.”

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Mizuno Alpha 5.5 ($45)


shorts

(Courtesy Mizuno)

Michal Kapral, Distance Runner

“I’m a minimalist when it comes to running, and these simple shorts fit the bill. The pocket setup is ideal, with a place for keys in the front and a zippered slot in the back that’s just large enough for a credit card or money. I also really like the mid-length. They’re short enough to allow for easy movement, but not so short that I get self-conscious. They’re my must-have for all training runs.”

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Lululemon Speed Up 2.5 ($58)


shorts

(Courtesy Lululemon)

Kate Courtney, Mountain Biker

“I’m a shorts monogamist,” says professional mountain biker Kate Courtney, who, after her first gym workout in these shorts, went out and bought three more pairs. “They’re light and breathable and have a thick waistband, which makes them sturdy and comfortable for tough workouts. I also love all the color options, which make them fun.”

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Second Skin Quatroflx 5 Compression Shorts ($25)


shorts

(Courtesy Second Skin)

Kaitlyn McElroy, Kayaker

The deal-sealing element of these compressions shorts is their soft but sturdy material, says Kaitlyn McElroy, who has five World Cup medals to her name. “A kayaker needs to be able to slide a bit on the seat while you paddle, and if you’re wearing loose shorts or the wrong material, you get butt cuts,” she says. “Second Skin uses its own special fabric that’s comfortable, thick, and durable. I have a pair that’s lasted a year—a long shelf life for kayak shorts. They’re also tight without being restrictive, don’t ride up when rotating on the seat, and come at a great price point.”

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Cotopaxi Crux Active ($65)


shorts

(Courtesy Cotopaxi)

Chris Brinlee Jr., Mountaineer

These shorts have all the right stuff,” says mountaineer Chris Brinlee Jr., who, along with his climbing partner, completed the first documented traverse of the Canadian Rockies’ Endless Chain Ridge last winter. “A great cut that emphasizes movement, without being out of place around town. Fabric that’s stretchy and durable but also quick-drying. There’s also a clever little zippered pocket hidden inside the main one that’s perfect for carrying an ID and some cash.”

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Filed To: Running / Clothing and Apparel / Gear / Fitness
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