Train hard and run fast with our pick of the best 5-inch shorts…

Looking for the best running shorts for men, but not sure what length to go for? Well, 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. The best speedy 5-inch shorts are light and breezy, but they also give you freedom to go all-out and run unrestricted. 

The best 5-inch shorts for running

  1. Inov-8 Race Elite 5-Inch Short ($70 / £55) – Best 5-inch shorts
  2. Satisfy TechSilk 5-Inch Short ($200 / £170) – Best for storage
  3. Brooks Sherpa 5-Inch 2-in-1 Short ($72 / £55) – Best for support
  4. Tracksmith Session 5-Inch Short ($68 / £70) – Best for comfort
  5. New Balance Accelerate 5-Inch Short ($34.99 / £32.50) – Best for stylish milers

Keep reading for our full reviews.

A pair of Inov8 Race Elite

Inov-8 Race Elite 5-Inch Short


$70 / £55,

Comfort: 5/5
Support: 4.5/5
Sweat-wicking: 4/5

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.

While testing, I found the silky soft boxer liners with flat seams enhanced my comfort while perforated panels kept the air flowing and sweat dissipating. Plus, a soft, wide, roll-proof waistband reduced pressure on my tummy. Storage could be better but I found it was enough for a large smartphone or a fistful of gels – as well as a key loop.

A pair of Satisfy TechSilk

Satisfy TechSilk 5-Inch Short


$200 / £170,

Comfort: 5/5
Support: 4.5/5
Sweat-wicking: 4/5

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, which alleviated pressure while I was working out.

I also found that the sweat-wicking and drying abilities were 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.

A man wearing the Brooks Sherpa 5-inch 2-in-1 shorts

Brooks Sherpa 5-Inch 2-in-1 Short


$72 / £55,

Comfort: 5/5
Support: 4.5/5
Sweat-wicking: 4/5
OVERALL: 4.5/5

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. 

I was impressed by the soft, sweat-wicking liner, which has flat seams and hundreds of perforations, making them the coolest and comfiest I’ve ever tested. There are also two large mesh drop-in pockets which took care of storage duties while I exercised, plus a wide, soft waistband which took the pressure off my paunch.

A pair of Tracksmith Session 5-inch shortsMen's Fitness Endorsed badge


Tracksmith Session Short


$68 / £70,

Comfort: 5/5
Support: 4/5
Sweat-wicking: 4/5
OVERALL: 4.5/5

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. While I was testing, the silky-soft, lightweight Veloce stretch-knit fabric felt luxurious against the skin – and it offers UV protection and excellent moisture-wicking. Two pockets offer enough storage for gels, keys and a phone, which gave me every excuse to extend my run sessions.

Man wearing New Balance Accelerate 5-inch short

New Balance Accelerate 5-Inch Short


$34.99 / £32.50,

Comfort: 4/5
Support: 3/5
Sweat-wicking: 4/5

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

Looking for a different length? Check out our roundups of the best 3-inch shorts and best 7-inch shorts

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.