Train hard and run fast with our pick of the best 5-inch shorts…
There’s a reason the elite speed demons who dominate the track and road marathons opt for shorter shorts. Stripping your running kit down to the bare essentials has some serious performance benefits and that includes your shorts. Speedy five-inch shorts are light and breezy, but they also give you freedom to go all-out and run unrestricted.
The benefits of 5-inch running shorts
If you prefer running shorts that keep things light and minimal but show a little less thigh, 5-inch running shorts are a great way to go. Those extra inches on the inseam provide a touch more coverage, protection and potentially a whole lot more decency on your runs. But you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice performance. They’re often made from the same technical fabrics as the racier 3-inch shorts with the same fast-wicking, quick-drying benefits.
Want shorts for racing? These are the best 3-inch shorts for fast running
They also feature similar design details like side splits to boost your feeling of freedom and range of movement, not to mention airflow. Some but not all 5-inch shorts have built-in liners to keep your package well packaged and these can be briefs, boxers or even hybrid-style baselayers. If you prefer to wear your own favourite baselayer shorts, look out for styles that come without integrated briefs.
How versatile are 5-inch shorts?
The best 5-inch shorts are still an excellent choice for racing, sprinting, high intensity intervals and some longer endurance events. But that extra leg length makes them more versatile for things like gym workouts and longer runs. They’re often more appropriate for your run commute or lounging around at the post-run cafe.
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These lengthier shorts still offer the big benefits of low weight, good ventilation and breathability, plus plenty of freedom to move. The ones with the best liners can also improve comfort, help reduce chafing while preserving your dignity by preventing any accidental exposures.
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You can also expect a bit more storage on 5-inch shorts. Enough room at least for your essential race fuel, phone, keys and other run stash. That makes them more useful than most 3-inch shorts for all-day trail outings or longer endurance races.
If you’re after some minimal shorts for crushing your personal best without going for bold with micro 3-inch shorts, we’ve got you (just about) covered. We hit the pavement, track and treadmill to put eight of the latest 5-inch race shorts to the test to find the best for every run and every runner.
The best 5-inch shorts for running
Inov-8 Race Elite 5-Inch Short ($70 / £55) – Best 5-inch shorts
Satisfy TechSilk 5-Inch Short ($200 / £170) – Best for storage
Brooks Sherpa 5-Inch 2-in-1 Short ($72 / £55) – Best for support
Tracksmith Session 5-Inch Short ($68 / £70) – Best for comfort
New Balance Accelerate 5-Inch Short ($34.99 / £32.50) – Best for stylish milers
Salomon Cross 5-Inch Short ($45 / £35) – Best for off-road racing
Under Armour Run Anywhere 5-Inch Short ($65 / £58) – Best for half marathons
BEST 5-INCH SHORTS
Inov-8 Race Elite 5-Inch Short
BUY IT NOW:
$70 / £55, inov-8.com
Material: Recycled polyester / elastane | Details: Integrated boxer liner / rear zipped pocket with key loop | Sizes: XS to XL | Colours: Black / Navy
The race-ready Inov-8 Race Elite 5-inch is an excellent option for training and competition alike, and strike a balance between that lightweight, barely-there feel and reliable coverage. If you want comfort over big-mileage runs, the Inov-8 short will see you right.
Silky soft boxer liners with flat seams enhance comfort while perforated panels keep the air flowing and sweat dissipating. A soft, wide waistband reduces pressure and won’t roll too. Storage could be better but is enough for a large smartphone or a fistful of gels – as well as a key loop.
Read our full Inov8 Race Elite 5-Inch Short review
BEST 5-INCH SHORTS FOR STORAGE
Satisfy TechSilk 5-Inch Short
BUY IT NOW:
$200 / £170, satisfyrunning.com
Material: 88% polyamide / 12% elastane | Details: UV protection / 4 pockets / carabiner for keys / double waistband / reflective print | Sizes: XS to XL | Colours: Fossil / Black Batik / Black
If you need a short into which you can pack your day’s trail running essentials, look no further than Satisfy. Its TechSilk 5-inch short has four pockets, included two interior sweatproof ones for phones and other valuables. Though it weighs just 120g, it incorporates a hybrid inner design with a silky boxer-style brief and a double waistband to alleviate pressure.
Sweat-wicking and drying is top-notch, making it a good choice for hot, sweaty runs. Premium materials and styling give the TechSilk a hefty price tag but if you do shell out for a pair you’ll reap huge comfort and performance benefits.
Read our full Satisfy TechSilk 5-Inch Short review
BEST 5-INCH SHORTS FOR SUPPORT
Brooks Sherpa 5-Inch 2-in-1 Short
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$72 / £55, brooksrunning.com
Details: Integrated boxer liner / flat waistband / 4-way stretch fabric / 3 pockets with key loop | Sizes: XS to XXL | Colours: 10 colours available
A longer, 5-inch version of Brooks’ classic race-fit Sherpa 3-inch split short, it pairs the same silky, lightweight four-way stretchy shell outer with a perforated inner short that drops lower down the leg.
Its soft, sweat-wicking liner has flat seams and hundreds of perforations, making them the coolest and comfiest on test. Two large mesh drop-in pockets take care of storage duties, while a wide, soft waistband takes the pressure off your paunch.
Read our full Brooks Sherpa 5-Inch 2-in-1 Short review
BEST 5-INCH SHORTS FOR COMFORT
Tracksmith Session Short
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$68 / £70, tracksmith.com
Material: 86% nylon / 14% elastane | Details: UV protection / anti-microbial inner / internal drawcord / zippered back pocket | Sizes: XS to XXL | Colours: 7 colours available
It’s hard to put on a pair of Tracksmith’s 5-inch retro-styled speedsters without hearing the theme music to Chariots of Fire. The striking design and gloriously vintage colours are just so reminiscent of the golden age of track racing.
Fabric and design are definitely 21st century though. The silky-soft, lightweight Veloce stretch-knit fabric feels luxurious against the skin and offers UV protection and excellent moisture-wicking. Two pockets offer enough storage for gels, keys and a phone, giving you every excuse to extend your run sessions.
Read our full Tracksmith Session 5-Inch Short review
BEST 5-INCH SHORTS FOR STYLISH MILERS
New Balance Accelerate 5-Inch Short
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$34.99 / £32.50, newbalance.co.uk
Material: 55% recycled polyester / 45% polyester | Details: Drop-in hip pockets and hand pockets / reflective detail / crepe brief liner | Sizes: XS to 2XL | Colours: Thunder / Black / Camo Green
The New Balance Accelerate is another 5-inch version of a fast 3-inch race short. Expanding the coverage of the Accelerate 3-inch short, this 5-incher is made from the same recycled woven fabric for a lightweight but structured feel, with new and eye-catching colourways.
You can be confident you’ll stay dry and sweat-free with the short’s vented mesh split sides, which help to increase mobility too. Secure storage can only be found with one internal drop-in pocket, but to get the best from this short you don’t want to overload it. It excels during fast, unencumbered runs, when comfort and low weight are key.
Read our full New Balance Accelerate 5-Inch Short review
BEST 5-INCH SHORTS FOR OFF-ROAD RACING
Salomon Cross 5-Inch Short
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$45 / £35, salomon.com
Material: 100% polyester | Details: Rear zippered pocket / adjustable internal waistband / reflective detail | Sizes: XS to 2XL | Colours: 6 colours available
At just 96g, Salomon’s slim-fitting Cross 5 is impressively light for a 5-inch short. Its AdvancedSkin ActiveDry fabric has a minimal cut for that race-friendly feel with small side splits that add a touch more freedom to move.
The integrated mesh brief liner is minimal too, with flat seams to help prevent unwanted friction. There’s one big zippered rear pocket with room for a larger smartphone and a gel or two and a classic drawstring to tweak the fit. There are eight bright colour options too.
Read our full Salomon Cross 5-Inch Short review
BEST 5-INCH SHORTS FOR HALF MARATHONS
Under Armour Run Anywhere
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$65 / £58, underarmour.co.uk
Material: 100% polyester | Details: Open hand pockets / zippered back pocket / 4-way stretch material / reflective details | Sizes: Small to 3XL | Colours: Grey Mist and Lime Surge / Still Water and Rebel Pink
Suitable for churning out road miles and cross training sessions, as well as leg drills and lifting, the Under Armour Run Anywhere is a functional and flexible short. Its soft fabric shifts moisture effectively, so the outers stay light even when you’re getting wet or sweaty. They also dry double quick.
The lack of integrated briefs means they’re ideal for wearing over compression or baselayer shorts, and decent storage options and continued comfort over long distances mean this could well be the short for your next half-marathon.