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Is it Better to Run with Long Pants or Shorts? A Detailed Exploration Is it Better to Run with Long Pants or Shorts? A Detailed Exploration

Running Shorts: Ultimate Buying Guide

Is it Better to Run with Long Pants or Shorts? A Detailed Exploration

Explore the pros and cons of running with long pants or shorts. Take a detailed exploration into the factors to consider when deciding between long pants and shorts for running, including weather conditions, personal preference, and performance needs. Learn about the advantages of running in shorts, such as increased freedom of movement and improved breathability, as well as the benefits of running in long pants, such as added warmth and protection. Gain insights into different scenarios where each option may be more suitable, helping you make an informed decision about whether to run with long pants or shorts based on your specific circumstances and preferences.

Every runner understands the importance of choosing the right gear for their run. It’s not just about comfort, but performance, safety, and injury prevention as well. When it comes to lower-body apparel, runners often wonder whether it’s better to run with long pants or shorts. Both have their unique benefits and potential downsides, and the best choice can depend on several factors.

Understanding the Pros and Cons of Running in Shorts

Running in shorts is the default choice for many runners, particularly in warmer climates. Here’s a look at the reasons why, along with some potential drawbacks.

Pros of Running in Shorts

  • Breathability: Shorts generally offer better ventilation than long pants, helping to keep you cool during your run. This makes them particularly well-suited for hot weather.
  • Freedom of Movement: Shorts, especially those specifically designed for running such as split shorts or V-notch shorts, tend to allow a greater range of movement, making your run more comfortable and efficient.
  • Less Weight: Shorts are lighter than long pants. This lack of weight can make a surprising difference in comfort and performance over long distances.

Cons of Running in Shorts

  • Less Protection: Shorts offer less protection against the elements. This can be a disadvantage in colder weather or rough terrain where your legs may be scratched or injured.
  • Potentially More Sun Exposure: If you’re running in strong sunlight, shorts will expose more of your skin to harmful UV rays, unless you take precautions like using a high-SPF sunscreen.

Understanding the Pros and Cons of Running in Long Pants

While shorts are popular among runners, long pants also have their place. They can offer benefits in certain situations, but they also have some potential downsides.

Pros of Running in Long Pants

  • Protection: Long pants provide more protection against the elements. They shield your legs from cold winds in winter and offer a barrier against underbrush or insects on trail runs.
  • Compression Benefits: Many running pants offer a degree of compression, which can enhance blood flow and aid performance and recovery.
  • Sun Protection: Long pants can protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and long-term skin damage.

Cons of Running in Long Pants

  • Potential Overheating: In hot weather, long pants can trap heat against your body, potentially leading to overheating.
  • Less Freedom of Movement: Depending on the style and material, long pants can restrict your movement more than shorts.

Which is Better for Running – Long Pants or Shorts?

The answer to whether long pants or shorts are better for running is not a simple one. It depends on several factors, including:

  • Weather: In hot, dry conditions, shorts are usually the better option due to their breathability. In contrast, in cold weather, long pants can keep you warmer.
  • Sun Protection Needs: If you’re running under a scorching sun, you might want to consider long pants for their sun protection.
  • Terrain: If you’re trail running in areas with lots of underbrush, long pants can offer more protection.
  • Personal Preference: Some runners simply feel more comfortable in shorts, while others prefer the feel and compression benefits of long pants.
Man and Woman in Running Pants and Shorts

Image from Adobe


Choosing between long pants and shorts for running is a matter of personal preference, running conditions, and what you feel most comfortable in. While shorts might be the go-to for many, particularly in hot weather, long pants offer benefits like protection from the elements and potentially enhanced performance from compression. Ultimately, the best running outfit is the one that makes you feel comfortable and ready to tackle your route.


Are there specific types of long pants best for running?

Yes, there are long pants specifically designed for running. They’re made with breathable, lightweight materials and often include features like compression, adjustable waists, and reflective details for safety.

Can I wear shorts for winter running?

Yes, but it depends on how cold it is and how well you handle the cold. In milder winter conditions, shorts may be fine, but in very cold weather, long pants are usually better.

What materials should I look for in running shorts and long pants?

Look for breathable, moisture-wicking materials that will help to keep you dry and comfortable. Polyester and nylon are common choices.

Do long pants slow you down when running?

No, long pants shouldn’t slow you down when running. The key is to choose pants designed for running, which will be lightweight and promote freedom of movement.

Are there times when I should definitely choose shorts over long pants for running, or vice versa?

In extremely hot weather, shorts are generally a better choice because they allow for better ventilation. Conversely, in very cold or windy conditions, long pants can provide more protection and warmth.