Compression Shorts for Women: An Overview

The compression gear market is pretty evenly targeted toward males and females, but we are happy to see the options for women’s compression gear perhaps outpacing the market for males.  Like all compression gear ranging from compression socks to shirts, compression shorts can provide women comfort, support, and recovery benefits while participating in a wide range of athletic activities.

Compression shorts provide protection from unpleasant distractions such as rashes and chafing, things that can shorten what would otherwise have been a good workout. Used as a base layer underneath shorts, they give support and comfort when performing many types of activities including running, cycling, aerobics, or working out at the gym.

Today, women have the opportunity to choose from several brands and styles of compression shorts from the top makers, and in many more styles than were available just five years ago. We see compression shorts being used by women for everything from volleyball to yoga to running, just to name a few. Here, we will provide you with an overview of five top varieties of women’s compression shorts.

What Makes a Good Compression Short for Women?

The easy answer is that what makes a good women’s compression short is the same as what makes a good men’s compression short.  We always want to be a minimal amount of seams, strong and smooth seam construction, leg grips that combine firmness with comfort, and a length that suits whatever your intended activity is.  Women’s compression shorts typically come in more color options than those for men, and while many females prefer to use the tried-and-true black, white, or gray models, others appreciate the splash of color that more makers are adding to their shorts.  It is a welcome compression gear trend that I think many are happy about.

How Long Should They Be?

That really depends on your desired use of the shorts.  A pair of compression shorts that will be used for volleyball are often very short — a 3 inch inseam or so. That is quite short, and for those who prefer a little more of a cover-up during their workouts, will probably be too short.

Compression shorts used for other activities like running might be longer, 5 to 7 inches, which tends to be the sweet spot for many activities.  A good pair of cycling shorts are related to but really different from compression shorts altogether, but most cyclist prefer them to be more like 7+ inches to protect them from sun and other trail or road hazards.  A 7-inch inseam for an average-sized female is perhaps the most versatile compression size, if we could only choose just one.

There are long shorts available, but we tend to see those mainly in the cycling world.

Our Recommendations for the Best Women’s Compression Shorts

UA Women’s HeatGear Compression Shorts

UA Authentic Shorts 7
UA HeatGear Shorts just might be the most versatile women’s compression shorts on the market.

With a 7″ inseam and the proven design of an early compression company like UnderArmour, the HeatGear compression shorts provide a very complete package for a wide range of activities.  While they are especially comfortable for running or yoga, the shorts are highly versatile and we like their construction.  The UA shorts are known to do a great job of wicking moisture away from the body, and at 7 inches they are not so short to be limited to activities such as volleyball.  Other touches that we like from UA include a more flexible waist band (for range-of-motion activities like yoga) and a small pocket, which we wish more shorts would include.  You can find them here.

Champion Double Dry Women’s Compression Shorts

These shorts have a 7” inseam, providing an ideal length for many activities such as running, soccer, and cycling. They are constructed of 89% nylon/11% spandex, providing a sleek design which wicks moisture away from the body. The two-needle elastic waistband is smooth and non-binding. The shorts feature double stitching to ensure continued quality even after multiple uses and washings.  Champion makes good workout gear — perhaps not super high-end, but all good quality. Champion’s shorts are available in the following seven colors: navy, royal, scarlet, black, dark green, white, and maroon. They are not expensive and made of high quality.  Find them here.

Women’s Under Armor Authentic 4”  Compression Shorts

We reviewed the 7″ Heatgear shorts up above, but we are also impressed by UAs other popular shorts for women.  The 4″ authentic shorts are advertised as being a volleyball-specific short, but we find them to be much more versatile than just one activity (they make longer shorts too).  From running to general use under another bottom layer, these shorts tend to perform well across the board. The waist cut is non-binding and the shorts provided a high degree of comfort.  Our reviewers appreciated the softness of the short even after a few washes. These shorts are made of 85% nylon/15% elastane, which Under Armor calls their Heatgear fabric. This fabric not only aids in keeping you cool and dry, it is also made with UPF 30+ technology offering protection from the sun as well. The shorts feature flatlock seams, ensuring comfort and ease of movement. Along with comfort, Under Armor’s shorts provide muscle support and increased circulation for optimum performance. They are available in black or navy. The average price for these shorts won’t break the bank, making them even more appealing.  Find here.

Women’s Road Runner Sports High-Speed Compression Shorts

RR high speed shorts
Road Runner’s High Speed shorts come in a 3.5″ inseam if you need something on the shorter side.

These shorts have a 6” and a 3.5″ inseam, making them ideal for a number of activities including softball, running, or aerobics. Constructed of Road Runner’s patented DRYROAD fabric, these shorts move heat and moisture away from the body, keeping you cool and dry. In addition to this, Road Runner’s shorts also provide exceptional muscle support with moderate compression. The shorts feature a hidden inside zipper pocket to keep your keys and/or valuables close at hand. Along with reflective accents for improved visibility, the shorts contain an adjustable inner drawstring. Newer models sport one of the flatter waistbands we have seen, which should add to the comfort for most athletes.  Road Runner’s shorts are available in the following colors: black, grey, or midnight blue. The average price for these shorts is $40.

Nike Women’s Pro Core II Compression Shorts

These shorts have a 2.5” inseam, ideal for those looking for a shorter (as in way shorter) length. They are made with Nike’s patented Dri-Fit fabric, developed to ensure moisture is kept away from the body. The stretch waist and flatlock seams provide a great range of motion. These shorts are light-weight, making them an excellent choice as a base layer.  If you are potentially modest, though, the short inseam might prove to be a bit too short.  Nike’s shorts offer support and comfort. They are available in the following colors: black, carbon heather, red, sunburst, lake blue, pink, green, blue glow, and white. These shorts won’t break the bank.  Find here.

Safe-T-Gard Women’s Compression Shorts

These shorts have a 6” inseam, providing just the right amount of coverage for many different activities. They are constructed of 83% nylon/17% spandex, a moisture wicking fabric which allows comfort and flexibility. Safe-T-Gard’s shorts are custom cut to fit a woman’s body. The wide waistband stays in place without pinching. These shorts lend support to the abdominal, groin, and hamstring areas, reducing muscle fatigue. Safe-T-Gard offers these shorts in black, white, red, or navy. The average price for these shorts is $14.

Keep in mind that compression shorts are different than cycling shorts or tri shorts — each is built-for-purpose with its own unique construction.  If you are looking for cycling or tri products, they are similar to compression shorts and made by many of the same manufacturers, but different enough so you want to be clear about what your needs are.  Like the compression shorts market, some cycling shorts cater to women, such as the Pearl Izumi Sugar Cycling Shorts.  That, however, is a separate topic for a separate post.

The bottom line is that there are a variety of compression shorts available for women to fit an array of specific needs and budgets. By considering functionality, design, and price you can make an informed decision as to which compression shorts are right for you. The products listed above can be found online and in your favorite athletic stores. Compression shorts are an excellent addition to your athletic attire, ensuring comfort and support as you continue your active lifestyle.


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