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 2021 Summer Split Shorts Review

By Chief Editor / Founder Matthew Klein

Side profile of Editor Matt Klein in split shorts on a trail.
When it comes to running essentials, the next thing after a good pair of shoes is a good pair of shorts. Different people will be comfortable with different lengths, but the only type I have worn for years have been split shorts. This is likely a product of starting to run in late high school XC/Track, but also from wanting the best range of motion possible. Shorts are different from shirts in that fit is of the utmost importance. 15 miles into a long run, the potential for damage (chaffing) is far greater in a poor fitting pair of shorts than a shirt. Having sensitive skin (and enduring years of thigh chaffing), finding the right clothing can be essential to a good long effort. In this feature, I explored a variety of split shorts available now, looking through the pros and cons of each.

BOA Split Shorts, dark green pair.BOA written on bottom right side

BOA Men 1" Alpaca Elite Split Short | $37.95
Notable Characteristics: 7 Pocket System (6 Gel Pockets + 1 Large Zipper Pocket)
Pros: Durable, Tough, Comfortable, Extensive Pockets, High Split
Cons:
Thicker Mesh Material
Fit:
The BOA men Alpaca Short fits me true to size in my normal men's medium.

BOA has always been a favorite of mine as it is a local Southern California company. Their shorts usually have high splits and are great for running fast. The BOA Alpaca short takes that design and adds an incredible number of pockets. Featuring a huge zipper pocket in the rear with 6 additional gel pockets on each side, this is an incredible short for people not wanting a pack but still wanting split shorts. I have run with 6 gels and my car keys without any trouble as the tough material and drawstring keep the shorts very secure. The split goes very high like most BOA shorts, which provides fantastic range of motion. These are my go to trail and long run shorts. Despite their toughness and ample storage, they have BOA's typical high split and work well for workouts and racing. I typically wear a medium in shorts and this one fits me true to size. The liner is extremely comfortable and I have had no chaffing issues using these up to 17 miles. So for your next long run, ultramarathon, marathon or all day outing, the BOA Alpaca Short should be your go to.


Craft split short. Black edges on left, right and waist with a white body.

Craft Hypervent Split Short | $54.99 (sale $41.99)
Notable Characteristics:
Luxurious, short split short for faster runs
Pros:
Extremely Lightweight, High Split, Short Length, Great Range of Motion
Cons:
Extremely Small Key Pocket
Fit: The Craft Hypervent Split Short fits me true to size in my normal men's medium. 

Despite being a fantastic apparel company, this is the first piece of Craft clothing I have tried. The Craft Hypervent Split Short is their premier racing split short and is one of the shorter length split shorts that I own. The split is high (3/4) and allows for complete range of motion. The material used is extremely lightweight, enough that I honestly forget it is there while running. The inner liner is incredibly comfortable, with no chaffing during long steady state runs, tempos and long runs. The inner liner appeared to be slightly wider than I expected, but is soft and has not caused any issues. This short feels best if you want a very light and minimal short. It has been my go to for all hard workouts. The only drawback is that there is only one storage pocket and it is tiny. The only thing I can fit in there is a house key and I cannot use these when I have my car fob. So for those who want a comfortable, truly elite split short for faster workouts, runs and races when you don't need to carry anything, check out the Craft Hypervent Split Short.


Adidas Saturday split short. A black pair with white stripes. Adidas written on bottom right

Adidas Saturday Split Short | $39.95
Notable Characteristics:
Relaxed and longer split short for easy runs
Pros:
Comfortable, two pockets, more conservative split, longer length, good for casual easy runs
Cons:
Longer/slightly restrictive length, not great for faster workouts
Fit: The Adidas Saturday Split Short fits me slightly large in my normal men's medium. 

I am a big Adidas fan, having collected elite running kits from them for years. The Adidas Saturday Split short was one that looked a little different, but I have had success with Adidas shorts over the years. However, this short is different and while technically a split short, is longer and more conservative than all the others in this review. The length of the short is longer than I expected, which may be ideal for those who want something that covers up more leg/skin. The split is also a little short, only coming up a little from the bottom. The challenge with the longer length and shorter split is that they are only best for easy days. The slight restriction in range of motion at the hip prevents them from allowing the mobility required for fast days or even races. There are two separate key pockets that are large enough for both keys and car fobs. Despite fitting lightly large, these are incredibly comfortable. The liner has not caused any chaffing and I am quite comfortable walking around town in these after a run. Those looking for a comfortable, longer split short that they can do an easy Saturday run with and walk around town in after will enjoy these.

Blackout pair of Nike shorts, with Nike logo on bottom right

Nike Core Fast 2" Short | $34.95
Notable Characteristics:
High level of ventilation, Lightweight, Short Length
Pros:
Highly ventilated, high split, Posterior Lateral Key Pocket.
Cons:
Slightly small fit feels slightly limiting, some chaffing with longer miles
Fit: The Nike Fast 2" Short fits me slightly small in my normal men's medium. 

I have worn some variation of Nike's 2" split shorts for years. This has been a go to short for me (usually because I found them on sale) and the newest version is even lighter. The key pocket moves a little farther posterior, but continues to have enough room and security for keys and car fobs. The laser cut perforations create a high level of breathability, almost making the short feel like they disappear. The inner liner fits slightly small and while I have not had any issues during workouts and normal length runs, I have experienced some inner thigh chaffing on longer runs over 14-15 miles. This may be due to the slightly smaller fit, which I have also felt restricts just a little bit of hip range of motion. Nothing major, but know if you are between sizes, you should size up. Overall a great short that is an especially good buy when they go on sale.

Dark blue pair of New Balance split shorts. NB written on bottom right.

New Balance Accelerate 3" Split Short | $26.95
Notable Characteristics:
Lightweight, Short Length
Pros:
Good Inner Liner Fit, Lightweight, Minimal
Cons:
Split not truly split, key pocket moves with heavier items
Fit: The New Balance Accelerated 3" Split Short fits me true to size in my normal men's medium.

The New Balance Accelerate 3" Split short is a classic split short. They are very short and work well for almost everything if you are comfortable in them. There is a large split, but it is connected at the bottom. This prevents the split from being extremely loose but still allows decent range of motion. They have a light mesh material with a comfortable liner that fits perfectly. There is a pocket in the front that can fit keys, small gels and car fobs. I would not suggest fobs as it is not very secure and when I carried my car fob it bounced around and caused some irritation. Use wise these shorts have handled every type of workout, long runs and easy runs without issue. This isn't a flashy short, but is a classic and gets the job done.

Blackout pair of Saucony shorts. A light, loose material seen. White Saucony logo on the bottom right.

Saucony Outpace 2.5" Split Short | $35.95
Notable Characteristics:
Secure Waist, high split, zippered rear pocket
Pros:
Good rear zipper pocket, secure waist band, longer length, high split
Cons:
Fits large, feels slightly loose initially
Fit: The Saucony Outpace 2.5" Split Short fit me slightly large in my normal men's medium.

Finding a split short with a zipper pocket can be difficult (although the BOA Alpaca is a massive exception now). The Saucony Outpace 2.5 is one of the rare split shorts that has a solid rear pocket while not being bulky. The Outpace features a full length split, providing full range of motion for the hips. The short length is a bit baggy/long, which provides a bit more coverage with plenty of motion. The liner and short fits me large and I almost considered going down to a small in this short. For those who are between sizes, definitely go down. The material used is very light and comfortable against bare skin. If drenched in sweat however it can get a little more baggy, so not the best choice for humid weather. Use wise this short can do everything. There is plenty of motion for races and speed workouts and it is comfortable enough for long and easy runs. The rear pocket makes this short particularly effective for longer races and workouts where a gel can be carried. Despite the larger fit, the waist band keeps the short secure and despite having a gel and my car fob in the rear pocket, the Outpace stayed put. Overall, those who want more room, a full split and a solid rear zippered pocket should check out the Saucony Outpace 2.5 Split Short.

SUMMARY

Whatever your run needs are, there is a split short for you. Personally, the BOA 1" Alpaca Elite split short is the standout of the summer. The incredible rear pocket, 6 side pockets, high split and tough nature makes this short perfect for any run or race distance. Particularly as my runs are getting longer, having this storage without having to carry a pack is amazing. For those that want the lightest possible short, the Craft Hypervent Split Short is incredibly comfortable, minimal and light. Featuring a high split, this is my go to short for fast runs, workouts and races where I don't need to worry about storage. For a classic split short, the New Balance Accelerate 3" split short is short with a long but conservative split (thanks to the attachment at the bottom). Those that want something dependable and simple should definitely check those out.

The incredible rear pocket, 6 side pockets, high split and tough nature makes the
BOA perfect for any run or race distance.

For a new age, aggressive short, the Nike Core Fast 2" short is a go to. Featuring a high split, ventilation holes and a tight fitting liner, this is a short best for fast workouts and races. For those that want a solid rear pocket, high split and flowing feel, the Saucony Outpace 2.5" Split Short is for you. Providing plenty of room both in the liner and the legs, this split short features a ton of range of motion with plenty of coverage along with a solid rear zipper pocket. Finally, if you want a conservative split short for easy days and are not worried about the best range of motion, the Adidas Saturday Split Short will be a go to. For those that want to go for an easy Saturday run and walk around town for breakfast after, this will be your go to. Split shorts, like all apparel, continue to evolve. These are a go to piece of clothing I use for running and are always a great option for fast days and races. Fit and comfort are key, and the current line of shorts listed are continuing to improve on all fronts.

FURTHER READING

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Mizuno Wave Rebellion Review w/ Podcast  - Mizuno's new performance plated performance trainer, featuring a new Enerzy Lite midsole and upper design for the brand
Asics Dynablast 2 Review - A budget shoe without much sacrifice. Great foam, lots of smart design decisions, and a retune from 12mm to 8mm drop which many will like
Carbon Plated Resource Page - Find all our plated reviews here, updated for 2021!
Skechers Speed Freek Review - Visit Skecher's latest marathon racer

Thanks for reading!

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TESTER PROFILES:


Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything. 


Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shorts were purchased with a discount in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Running Warehouse for working with us.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. For this apparel review, Matt put at least 50 miles on each pair of split shorts prior to review. His testing included at least one long run, 2-3 easy runs, one long and one short workout in each one. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

NEXT: NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM X VONGO V5 REVIEW

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