Some days, I wish I were the type of runner who enjoys the meditative silence of running without music and doesn’t need technology more advanced than a Timex stopwatch. But the reality is that I need a good beat to get me going (lately Spotify’s Throwback Workout playlist has been hitting the spot), and that I need to log my runs in my Nike Run Club app or they may as well not have happened. Which, despite my idyllic fantasies, means I need to run with my phone.
This isn’t a problem in the colder months, when I can wear running tights (and jackets and outer layers) with pockets that can fit my iPhone 6 in its case. But my minimal summer running clothes offer very limited storage. To get around this, I used to use a SpiBelt (basically a slimmed down fanny pack), but over time it stretched out, causing my phone to bounce around and distract me. So I recently went on a quest to replace my older running shorts (which are mostly Nike Tempos with very small pockets that I bought before I owned a smartphone) with shorts that could actually hold a phone. Because I’m used to looser fitting shorts — and many of the ones with phone pockets are tighter-fitting — I started by buying one pair to test the waters. I wound up liking them so much that I went on a bit of a binge, stocking up on a bunch of pocketed styles. Below are some of the best pairs I’ve found, along with some others I’m looking to add to my collection.
Running shorts with pockets I’ve bought
Lululemon’s Fast and Free running tights are one of my favorite workout bottoms. Lightweight and stretchy, they feel like a second skin while I’m running. So I was very excited to see that they makes a shorts version. I bought a pair in black (but I’m eyeing this gray camo print), and they’re just as good as the tights. There are deep pockets on both sides, as well as a pocket in the back of the waistband. The material is thin enough to keep me cool on hot days, but not so thin that it’s see-through.
Everything I own from Tracksmith — like buttery-soft merino-wool base layers and seamless tights — feels thoughtfully designed with runners’ needs in mind. These shorts are no exception. With five pockets, they have more than enough room for my keys, phone, and even energy gels for a longer run or race. Aside from the ample pocket space, one of my other favorite features of these shorts is the grippy silicone lining on the hem of each leg, which ensures they don’t ride up.
The Seattle-based, female-led brand Oiselle wasn’t kidding when they named these shorts the “pocket joggers.” They feature five generously-sized pockets that could probably accommodate phones even larger than mine. These are the thickest shorts on the list, but I’ve worn them on some pretty hot days this summer and wasn’t really bothered by their weight. I’m thinking about buying the brand’s capris for fall.
While fitted shorts seem to offer the best pocket options, two-in-ones (with a fitted liner and loose-fitting outer short) aren’t far behind. I love that the stretchy lining of these shorts has a phone-sized pocket hidden on the side. And even with two layers, they still feel light and airy.
Janji sent me a pair of these shorts to test a while back, and I actually had been running in them for a few months before I realized they had a phone-sized pocket in the inner liner. I was already a fan of their color, pattern, and soft feel, so the pocket just made me love them even more.
Running shorts with pockets I want to buy
Since I normally like a looser-fitting short, I want to give these a try. They’ve got a big zipper pocket in back for a phone, and two smaller pockets in the front waistband for keys or gels. The white camo print is pretty cool, too.
These shorts have four pockets along the waistband (for easily accessing gels) and a zippered pocket in the back that fits a phone. Somehow, even with all that storage, they still look streamlined, which I like.
I’ve never worn running gear from Altra (the brand is best known for their wide-fitting shoes), and I’m curious what these shorts are like. The thick waistband looks comfortable and supportive, and the shorts themselves look light and breezy. An Amazon reviewer says the pockets hold gels, keys, and an iPhone, which is promising.
An upgrade of my beloved Tempo shorts, these have a wide waistband, perforations for staying cool, and a big pocket. I especially like the terracotta color. It feels unexpected for workout gear.
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