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Best Women’s Running Shorts with Compression Liner

By Tami Smith, CPT, Nutritionist

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Women’s running shorts have undergone a serious makeover over the past couple of years. Remember when running shorts were tiny, cotton, and uncomfortable?

Today’s running shorts are completely different. And they don’t need to just be used for running. One of the biggest game-changers when it comes to women’s shorts is the inclusion of a compression liner. And I’m not just talking about the little underwear liners (which are great, too), I’m talking about an actual pair of compression shorts underneath the running shorts.

This type of women’s running shorts has been increasingly popular lately, and I am personally a huge fan. However, not every apparel brand makes shorts that are worth it. From a too-tight inner compression liner to a baggy, diaper-esque outer shell, there are some big red flags you’ll want to be aware of.

In this article, I’m sharing my picks for the best women’s running shorts with a compression liner and why I chose them.

Top Picks and Buying Guide

1. Women’s Amplify Short

1st Phorm

2. Women’s Flex Essential 2-in-1 Shorts

Nike

3. Play Up 2-in-1 Shorts

Under Armour

4. Drawstring Contrast Mesh 2-in-1 Shorts

Halara

5. The Vista Short

Vitality

Why Choose Running Shorts With a Compression Liner?

Regular running shorts don’t provide a lot of coverage or support. Usually, they have some bounce and flow to them, which can feel great for some, but frustrating for others.

With an added layer of protection, you can ensure that no one is seeing your underwear, your legs feel supported, keep sweat at bay, and prevent chafing. Essentially, having an inner compression liner in your shorts helps to keep you feeling comfortable and confident, no matter what types of activities you’re enjoying.

What to Look For When Choosing Compression Liner Running Shorts

Below are the criteria that I consider when finding a good pair of compression-lined running shorts. 

Length

Typically, the compression liner will be a tad longer than the outer shell, which is optimal. However, there are plenty of options where the under liner is much longer than the outer shell, which not only gives a weird look but can be uncomfortable. I recommend finding a pair that’s just a hair longer than the actual running shorts or even the size length.

Fit

If you’ve ever tried a pair of ill-fitting running shorts, then you already know that your workout isn't going to be the best, it can be just due to the fact that you’re uncomfortable. Your inner liner should be fitted, but not tight. You also don’t want them to be too loosey-goosey as you won’t have any support whatsoever.

Material

The best compression liners are made from a combination of spandex and nylon, this gives the ultimate fit and sweat-wicking capabilities. A cheap or poorly made material can leave you feeling wet, scratchy, and uncomfortable. You want it to be soft, smooth, and flattering.

Quality

This goes without saying, but quality matters when it comes to your apparel. If you’re purchasing a bunch of random clothes off Amazon, there’s a good chance that you’ll be disappointed with the quality. If you really want to make the most of your shorts, invest in a pair or two that are made incredibly well.

Best Women’s Running Short with Compression Liners

Let’s dive in! Below are my top picks for women’s running shorts that include a compression liner.

1. Women’s Amplify Short - 1st Phorm

Women’s Amplify Short - 1st Phorm

Free shipping with link below!

1st Phorm’s Women’s Amplify Shorts get my top choice as the best overall shorts with a compression liner. I own these shorts in every color and wear them constantly. These shorts are made from a durable, 4-way stretch woven material, feature a casual cut, and offer a relaxed, high-waisted style.

At the top of the comfortable waistband sits an adjustable drawstring that allows you to achieve the perfect fit. There are two zippered side pockets that are sleek and discreet. The inner compression liner is sweat-wicking, comfortable, and doesn’t hang down below the outer shell, which creates such a flattering look. No one knows what’s going on under there!

Pros

  • Super flattering fit (high-waist, modest length)
  • The compression layer is fitted, but comfortable and not too long
  • Drawstring waist adjustability
  • Zippered pockets
  • Multiple color options
  • Works great for all kinds of workouts, from running to lifting
  • Amazing brand to invest in
  • All 5-star reviews thus far

Cons

  • 1st Phorm is newer to the apparel space, so they don’t have a ton of notoriety yet (although they have an amazing reputation for their supplements)
  • The inner liner is shorter than some others and might not suit those who want a longer look

Free shipping with link below!

2. Women’s Flex Essential 2-in-1 Shorts - Nike

Women’s Flex Essential 2-in-1 Shorts - Nike

Nike’s Women’s Flex Essential Shorts are a great option for those looking for a reliable pair of shorts from a brand that’s been in the game for a long time. These 2-in-1 shorts feature a loose outer layer and a tight, fitted compression layer underneath. This pair of running shorts have a compression layer slightly longer than the outer layer, with the outer layer being cut in a way that shows off the compression.

The Flex Essential shorts have a waist that’s between low and high, hitting just below the belly button. There’s a drawstring located at the top for adjustability and the material is sweat-wicking. The fit is comfortable and soft, making these great for all kinds of workout modalities.

Pros

  • Flattering cut
  • Comfortable fit
  • Multiple color choices
  • Established sports apparel brand

Cons

  • Lots of reviewers saying the quality is subpar (i.e. shorts unravel after a couple of washes)
  • Not high-waisted
  • No pockets

3. Play Up 2-in-1 Shorts - Under Armour

Play Up 2-in-1 Shorts - Under Armour

The Play Up 2-in-1 Shorts from Under Armour are a classic, go-to pair of shorts for those who want the comfort and compression of a 2-in-1 running short. With light, soft material and awesome breathability, these are easy to grab and go no matter what you’re up to.

The under compression layer is slightly longer than the top shorts layer, which some people love for coverage and protection (hello, no thigh rubbage). There’s a thick, but soft waistband that hits just below the navel, so not really high-waisted. However, the waistband is stretchy and comfortable and can be pulled up higher if you like a higher fit.

Pros

  • Reputable brand
  • Soft, comfortable material
  • Sweat-wicking
  • Anti-odor technology
  • Multiple colors to choose from
  • Thick waistband

Cons

  • They have a lot of branding on them
  • No drawstring to adjust the waist and not high-waisted
  • No pockets

4. Drawstring Contrast Mesh 2-in-1 Shorts - Halara

Drawstring Contrast Mesh 2-in-1 Shorts - Halara

Halara’s 2-in-1 Contrast Mesh shorts are a very popular pick. These shorts come in tons of solid color options, are affordable, and there are plenty of reviews that support comfort and fit.

These shorts have a shorter inseam, with the inner compression layer hanging out right around the same length as the running shorts on top. These shorts have a high waist, a thick, comfortable waistband, and include a drawstring so that you can adjust the waist for the best fit.

Pros

  • Lightweight and soft
  • Cute mesh design and flattering cut
  • The compression layer doesn’t stretch too long
  • Lots of positive reviews from customers
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • It’s a cheaper brand that doesn’t use the highest quality materials (so don’t have too high of expectations for them lasting forever)
  • The inseam is a little short for some

5. The Vista Short - Vitality (Formerly Balance Athletica)

The Vista Short - Vitality

The Vista Short by Vitality has become super popular with fitness influencers lately, that’s because they tick all the boxes when it comes to comfort and style. These shorts have a high waist, and a thick, comfortable waistband, and include a soft biker short compression layer underneath the top shorts shell.

With a ton of colors to choose from, both solid and patterned, you can easily grab multiple pairs and wear these shorts out for all kinds of workouts and activities. Plus, the tulip hem makes them super flattering and trendy.

Pros

  • Super soft material
  • Flattering cut
  • Proportional inner and outer shorts
  • Lots of color options
  • Tons of positive reviews

Cons

  • These are the priciest option on the list
  • No drawstring for adjusting the waist size
  • No pockets

Wrapping Up

If you’re looking for a great pair of women’s running shorts with a compression liner for the ultimate in comfort and protection, the options that made our list will all get the job done. I like some more than others, it’s hard for a single pair to check everything off my wish list, but these are as close as I think we’ll get.

Remember, investing in a high-quality pair of shorts (or any type of apparel for that matter) is of the utmost importance. Unless, of course, you want to be constantly buying new apparel…

Find the pair that fits and flatters you the best and then buy them in multiple colors! There’s nothing better than feeling confident and comfortable, whether you’re in the gym, running errands, or playing with your kiddos!

About the author 

Tami Smith, CPT, Nutritionist

Tami Smith is a certified Nutritionist and an ACE certified fitness trainer, specializing in pre and post-natal fitness. She studied business and earned her bachelor's degree in Business Economics. Tami is a mom of two and women's health advocate. Her passion is to help people live a fit, healthy life through proper nutrition and exercise!

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