Lined vs. Unlined Shorts: Which are Better?

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Having a good, comfortable pair of running shorts is crucial to having a good running experience every time you go out for a run. Most amateur runners find the concept of lined and unlined running shorts confusing, and most struggle to understand the difference between the two.

Everything You Need To Know About Running Shorts

While any running enthusiast or athlete could wear any old pair of comfy shorts, there are specific pairs of shorts that are explicitly designed to be worn when running. There are also various types of running shorts that are suited to different needs and preferences, so finding the right pair for you is essential.

These preferences generally depend on the way that the running shorts look, feel, and perform when running. It is essential to have at least some basic knowledge regarding running shorts before you go out and buy a pair.

Running shorts are a specialized kind of short that is worn by, as the name suggests, runners. They are specifically designed to facilitate free movement and improve comfort while running and during various other exercises.

Whether you plan on wearing your running shorts to compete in sporting events, for training or for simple decompression and relaxation, a good pair of running shorts should be practically designed, and also comfortable to wear. Finding the correct fit will help prevent chafing, bouncing, and several other distractions that can hinder you from enjoying your run.

A well-made pair of running shorts will not cause the runner any itching when they become wet and also allow for freer movement when running. Most running shorts have seams that are cut up near the outer side of both legs to allow for a more free range of motion.

The materials that are used when creating running shorts are lightweight and durable. Most running short brands feature an inner lining that acts as a sort of underwear.

Wearing underwear is not usually necessary with these types of running shorts, as the compression liner negates the need for them. Polyester is one of the most common fabrics used in the production of running shorts, which is also what most brands of underwear are made from.

Lined Or Unlined?

The lining that is found in most pairs of running shorts exists to provide a kind of moisture management that helps to keep your body cool, dry, and, most importantly, comfortable. Generally, one does not wear any underwear underneath running shorts that have a liner, because an extra layer of fabric can cause irritation, chafing, and overall discomfort.

Liners can also provide some muscle compression and support to make running more comfortable and more productive. Most people prefer to use lined shorts because it saves them having to wear an extra layer, and because of muscle support and compression.

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Lined shorts: Notice the compression shorts or liner inside the V-notch shorts

On the other hand, some people prefer not to wear lined shorts, and instead wear running shorts that are not lined. This is generally because finding a pair of lined shorts that fit you properly can be quite challenging, and wearing an ill-fitting pair of lined shorts can increase your chances of becoming irritated and experiencing chafing.

Also, unlined running shorts can be worn a couple of times before needing a wash, as the extra layer provided by your underwear prevents sweat from reaching them, thus causing them to become dirty less frequently. Even so, it would be best if you still wash your shorts after every run.

Types Of Running Shorts

As we mentioned earlier, there are numerous types of running shorts, all of which fall into three main categories: split shorts, compression shorts, and V-notch shorts.

Split shorts

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Unlined Split Shorts

The shape of split shorts is such that there is a panel in the front that overlaps a panel in the back. Divided shorts tend to have a V-cutout at the bottom, as well as a loose fit overall. Split running shorts are the most performance-based style, as they offer the broadest range of motion to runners.

The inseams of split shorts are often shorter, starting at around 1 inch for men and women.

Compression shorts

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Compression shorts

Compression shorts are tight-fitting and hug the body. They are almost identical to cycling shorts but differ in that they include extra padding.

Compression shorts are far warmer than most pairs of running shorts and also provide much more muscle support, because of their tight fit around the body. They are also the type of running shorts that prevent friction and chafing the most.

The superior stretch that they provide allows for maximum flexibility, and are widely considered the most comfortable shorts out there by many athletes. The length of compression shorts generally varies for men and women’s styles, with women’s styles usually being around an inch shorter than men’s.

Also, check out our Neleus Compression shorts review.

V-notch shorts

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Unlined V-Notch Shorts

These are the most popular style of running shorts and get their name from the V-shaped cutout that can be found on the outer leg seams. This cutout offers more range of movement than what would be available if the seams were stitched all the way down the leg.

These shorts provide a much looser fit in comparison to compression shorts, but, like compression shorts, they tend to be shorter in women’s styles than in men’s.

Choosing A Pair Of Running Shorts

There is no one pair of running shorts that is right for everyone. Different types of shorts fulfill various needs and satisfy different preferences, so anyone who tells you that one pair beats them all has likely missed the point entirely.

Those who are new to running will probably find V-notch shorts the most useful, as they are super comfortable and allow for a wide range of movement, without being as ‘complex’ as other types of running shorts.

The more experienced runner will find the most benefit from a pair of compression shorts or split shorts, especially when competing professionally or in sporting events.


In truth, whether or not you choose a pair of lined or unlined shorts will most likely come down to a matter of preference, as both styles cater to different needs. Find what works for you, or talk to a more experienced runner if you still need some guidance.

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