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Best Short Shorts for Men 2021: Top Brands, Why 5-Inch Inseam is Best

Shorts have a clear goal: keep our legs cool and comfortable. The best short shorts for men might do that better than the longer shorts we’re used to buying.

By most standards, short shorts are anything with an inseam measuring five inches or less. This usually places the hem around mid-thigh, providing maximum mobility and plenty of airiness. As any runner knows, short shorts are the best choice for prolonged exercise where extra fabric coverage is superfluous.

But the best short shorts aren’t just for exercise. Men have been grabbing thigh-high shorts as a fashion statement since the Sixties, showing some skin and upgrading off-duty relaxation in the process. Today, as wardrobes get more casual, men are breaking out short shorts of all flavors for relaxation and style, as well as exercise.

Whether you’re stocking up for an end-of-summer vacation or looking to upgrade your stay-at-home clothing, we’ve got you covered (or, rather, uncovered). Below are some of the best short shorts for men, including picks for working out to stylish, street-ready short shorts.

1. Outdoor Voices High Stride 5-Inch Short

short shorts mens blue

Courtesy Outdoor Voices

These High Stride shorts from Outdoor Voices are exactly what we want on a hot day. They’re made of a stretchy, ultra-lightweight recycled polyester for handling sweat — be it from working out or sitting in the car. With a five-inch inseam, they’re definitely short, but a built-in liner keeps things secure while moving around. Plus, the short shorts feature a hidden pocket for your smartphone. Throw them on with a light T-shirt while lounging at home, heading to yoga or going on a run.

Outdoor Voices High Stride Short

2. Ten Thousand Session Short

black short shorts mens

Courtesy Ten Thousand

If you plan on working out in your short shorts, these Ten Thousand Sessions are probably your best bet. Boasting a minimalist design and optional five-inch inseam, the shorts are made to stay out of the way while exercising. Throughout the parred-down shorts are vents and perforation that further upgrade the breathable, lightweight feel. Thanks to Ten Thousand’s clever pocket system, the shorts can securely carry your phone, keys and wallet — even while running. Add an optional anti-odor, anti-chafe boxer liner and you’ve got shorts that can handle almost anything. Multiple colors available.

Ten Thousand Session Short

3. J. Crew 5-Inch Stretch Chino Short

mens short shorts chino

Courtesy J. Crew

Great non-athletic-looking short shorts can be difficult to come by, which is why we love these chino shorts from J. Crew. Although they’re styled like classic chino shorts, they feature a stretch fabric to compete with activewear. That means you can comfortably walk the streets on a hot day, navigate airports or even play a few sets of tennis before hitting a restaurant. Pair them with a tee and sneakers during the day or an oxford shirt and loafers on summer evenings.

J. Crew Stretch Chino Short

4. Patagonia Baggies 5-Inch Short

patagonia baggies shorts mens 5 inch

Courtesy Backcountry

Patagonia Baggies have monopolized shorts, appearing on streets, trails and beaches (and the legs of celebrities like Kanye West). Once you try on a pair of the water-resistant nylon shorts, it’s easy to understand why they’ve become so popular. They’re very comfortable — especially with a five-inch inseam — and ridiculously durable thanks to the nylon material.

With extra-deep pockets, you’ve got enough room to stash your water bottle, phone, keys and wallet. Since they’re water-resistant, the shorts are also ready for an impromptu swim at any time. Wear them with sandals and no top while lounging by the pool, or go streetstyle with expensive sneakers and a logo T-shirt.

Patagonia Baggies Short

5. Tracksmith Twilight Short

running shorts mens vintage

Courtesy Tracksmith

Running brand Tracksmith has caught out attention recently with its blend of modern utility and vintage style. These Twilight Shorts, one of our favorites from the New England brand, are engineered with modern fabrics that can handle a marathon, but they’re stylish enough to wear around town. The shell is made of an ultra-lightweight polyester-elastane fabric and a built-in liner is made of Polygiene. Take them on morning runs and then keep them on for the rest of the day while doing chores and binging TV shows.

Tracksmith Twilight Short

6. Urban Outfitters Katin Isiah Local Linen Short

mens shorts linen

Courtesy Urban Outfitters

Linen is arguably the ultimate warm weather material, and it’s just as good in these Urban Outfitters Katin Isiah shorts as it is in shirts or bed sheets. The fabric, which is actually a linen-cotton blend for durability, lends serious breathability for casual outings in the heat. An adjustable drawstring waistband is also very welcome, reducing bulk and eliminating the need for a belt. Rock these with fresh sneakers or sandals and a logo tee or polo shirt while enjoying the nice weather.

Katin Isiah Local Linen Short

7. Nike Dri-FIT Flex Stride

short shorts nike mens

Courtesy Nike

If you’re hitting the trails (or just looking for some technical, outdoor-style shorts) grab a pair of these Nike Dri-FIT Flex Strides. They’re designed for wilderness activity with targeted perforation and plenty of storage for snacks, essentials and even an extra layer. You also get Nike’s famous sweat-wicking technology, Dri-FIT, as well as 20% spandex in the fabric for mobility and lightweight comfort.

Nike Dri-FIT Flex Stride

8. Casablanca Equipment Track Short

short shorts mens designer

Courtesy East Dane

These Casablanca tack shorts inject some designer-level quality and style into the casual staple. With a 100% polyester build, they’re ready for activities such as tennis, jogging or long walks. However, we think the fresh white color, side striping and retro Equipement Sportif graphic on the thigh makes the shorts best as a preppy fashion statement. Wear them with eye-catching sneakers and a designer T-shirt when lounging at the hotel or hitting a casual bar.

Buy: Casablanca Equipment Track Short at $265

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