Athleta’s New Running Line Are Some of the Best Shorts We’ve Run In

The new Athleta running shorts and tights were tested by our writer on her runs.
Gabrielle Hondorp

Most female runners know the struggle of finding a great pair of running shorts and tights. They usually bunch or ride up or don’t fit properly on both your hips and waist — and rarely do they actually stay up, mile after mile. These parameters are even more crucial when looking for great half marathon gear.

So when Athleta, an apparel brand known for making quality workout gear for a diverse range of female body types, announced it was launching a line of running bottoms, we had high hopes.

The collection, released on April 16, features just five bottoms. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair of shorts and tights beforehand. I put them to the test to see how they performed on the pavement. 

How I Tested the Gear

As I have competed as a collegiate runner, worked in running retail for the past seven years, and been a running journalist since 2019, I’ve tested my fair share of gear on the move. Here, I tested Athleta’s new shorts and tights on runs both inside and outside. I wanted to determine if they would stay in place, cause any irritation, were breathable and more. 

How the Athleta Run Shorts + Tights Performed

After miles of testing, overall, I found both Athleta’s tights and shorts to be comfortable, functional, and well-fitting. Though they aren’t considered a purchase for budget running, the quality of materials is excellent. I’d argue that they perform just as well — if not better — than similarly-priced items from brands like Lululemon, Tracksmith, and Nike.  

Pacesetter Tights 

The writer running in the Athleta Pacesetter tights.
Gabrielle Hondorp

The first thing I noticed about these tights is how incredibly high-waisted they are. I am 5’7”, so while I’m not necessarily going to be recruited for the WNBA anytime soon, I’m not exactly short. Most high-waisted tights hit me just below the belly button. Because of this, I often struggle with them falling down. 

The Pacesetters, however, hit almost to the bottom of my ribs. What’s more, not only did they define my waist, but they did not budge while I was running. 

Last year, I ran a marathon geared in Athleta’s Ultimate Stash High Rise Shorts, so I already knew I liked the brand’s materials. The new collection tights seem to have improved on an already-good thing. 

The material of the Pacesetters is thicker than most brands seem to opt for; in my experience, Lululemon and Nike’s leggings tend to lean toward the thinner side. With the Pace Setters, this makes them more durable and less prone to pilling. But they still felt breathable and stretched with my body as I moved. 

The Athleta Pacesetter tights have a drawstring waistband for a comfortable fit.
Gabrielle Hondorp

I also love the cut of the ankle on these tights — the slight curve to the hem is flattering and serves the purpose of keeping the achilles free so as not to impede full range of motion. 

While the Pacesetters aren’t seamless, Athleta did opt for minimal seams. This helps retain full range of motion and prevent chafing or discomfort from abrasive textures. 

The place I think these tights are slightly lacking is in the pockets. There is only one zippered pocket on the back and a small, open pocket on the front of the waistband. With a waistband so thick, I wish the tights had a slightly larger pocket that could more comfortably fit a phone. But, I’ll admit, it is still large enough for keys, cards, and a couple gels.

The Athleta Pacesetter Tights have a pocket in the back for essentials.
Gabrielle Hondorp

The Pacesetters are listed at $99, which may seem steep, but with brands like Lululemon nearing the $200 range, these tights are actually well-priced for equivalent, if not superior, quality.  

Check them out: Athleta

Fast Route Mid-Rise Run Short

The writer running in Athleta run shorts, the Fast Route.
Gabrielle Hondorp

Shorts have been my running arch-nemesis since I started the sport. They are either too long, too short, have too much fabric and bunch, or have too little fabric and cause chafing. In other words: I’m hard to please when it comes to this particular garment. 

But Athleta’s Fast Route left me pleasantly surprised. These running shorts are incredibly lightweight and breathable. 

They run a tad on the large side; if you have more of an hourglass shape, it’s best to size down as I found they were quite baggy at the waist. Thankfully, these run short have an adjustable elastic drawstring so I was able to cinch them tight — and I love that it’s endless so the cord won’t get lost in the wash. The waistband is made of a more typical athletic knit, which gives the shorts structure to prevent them from falling. They also have a stash pocket.

The writer running in Athleta run shorts, the Fast Route.
Gabrielle Hondorp

The shorts have a zippered back pocket on the waist as well as side slits that allow for full range of movement of your legs. I love that all of Athleta’s shorts also come in multiple waist heights, so you can go with a lower rise for a cooler feel or higher for more coverage.

The material of these shorts is incredibly light and has a slight stretch, which allows for even more flexibility. Paired with the split sides, it’s almost impossible to feel any resistance when running in them. 

What I loved most about the Fast Route shorts was the versatility. They are practical enough for everyday use but also so feather-light that they won’t distract or wear you down on race day. 

At $69, compared to other brands that provide a similar product — like Tracksmith or Bandit — these running shorts ring up anywhere from $5 to $20 cheaper without slacking on quality. 

Check them out: Athleta

Other Shorts in the Collection

Athleta spring 2024 run collection

The new Athleta running line is on the smaller side: It features the Pace Setter tights and four run shorts aimed at performing at different speeds and distances. 

But it’s obvious that careful thought and consideration was put into each product in the collection. And frankly, I’d rather have an intentionally designed micro-collection than one with endless (but less functional) options. 

Here’s the low-down on the other offerings of the collection:

Mesh Racer Short

The Mesh Racers are designed for everyday training. These shorts have mesh panels at the hem that not only add to design but help with ventilation. The gathered waistband helps to keep them in place and prevent slipping. A zippered pocket as well as front key pocket give you ample storage for necessities. The 4-inch inseam is also perfect for those that want coverage without excessive fabric. 

Check them out: Athleta

Crossover Short 

Many of us run into the issue of compression shorts being too revealing as well as a traditional running short bunching and riding up. The Crossovers give you the positives of both; it features a compression liner that prevents chafing and moves with the body and a floaty outer layer that gives some extra coverage without adding weight or warmth. These shorts also have the benefit of two side-pockets on the inner shorts which are great for holding cards, keys, and even a cell phone. 

Check them out: Athleta

Weekender Short

More for running errands than workouts, the Weekender is super lightweight and ready to help you transition from a recovery run to a casual stroll. It has built-in briefs so you are well-covered if you do decide to work out in them, but it also has large side pockets for stashing essentials and a zip pocket for your keys or card. The combination of gathered and adjustable waistband also keeps the shorts in place even when you fill the pockets. 

Check them out: Athleta

Everything featured on Half Marathon Guide is independently selected. We may receive a small commission on purchases made from some of our links. 

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