Top 12 Best Men’s & Women’s Triathlon Shorts 2020 Reviews

These days there is an excellent choice of tri shorts available on the market for both men and women. Most shorts, even at the lower price-point, offer high levels of compression, breathability, water wicking, and padding for your rides. They’re also comfortable and come with pockets thrown into the bargain.

Undoubtedly, the best triathlon shorts should have the right combination of these qualities, depending on your needs…

The 12 tri shorts we’re going to review certainly do. So, let’s get to it and take a look at some of the best tri shorts out there and see if we can find the ideal pair for you and your needs…

best triathlon shorts reviews

Best Men’s Triathlon Shorts


Best Women’s Triathlon Shorts


Best Men’s Triathlon Shorts

1 De Soto Forza Tri Short 4-Pocket

These are premium performance triathlon shorts.

They are high quality and well-made and can be worn comfortably with or without a wetsuit. The main body of the shorts is made from a combination of 80% Nylon and 20% Elastane. Additionally, the shorts use a Forza compression fabric to help support the leg muscles and delay the onset of fatigue.

Patented Mobius Compression material…

The shorts are finished off at the knee with a 3” band of their proprietary and patented Mobius Compression material. These help to keep the shorts in place without restricting movement or becoming overly tight.

The De Soto Forza Tri Short has four pockets. The pockets are made from the same Forza Compressor material found on most of the outside of the shorts. They sit flush against the body and won’t create drag when not in use. When you do store your nutrition in them, the pockets will stay in position.

Making them perfect for Iron Man…

Having four pockets is perfect for more extended events such as an Iron Man. They are, of course, also great for shorter races and training too.

Other features of the De Soto Forza Tri Short include a 4mm Clasico integrated pad. It’s there for you on the bike ride when you need it most. However, once you start your run, you won’t even notice it’s there.

Comfortable and fast-drying…

The shorts are cut 1” lower at the waist. This means they sit just below your hip bone. Often this is a more comfortable position. These fast-drying shorts are available in a selection of sizes from Small to XXL. Unfortunately, there are no XS or XXXL sizes to choose from.

De Soto Forza Tri Short 4-Pocket
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • High quality.
  • Integrated 4mm Clasico pad.
  • Four pockets.
  • Forza Compressor material.

Cons

  • Price.
  • Limited sizes.

2 SLS3 Triathlon Shorts Mens

These are affordable men’s triathlon shorts.

The people behind the company are a couple of German professional triathletes. It’s a relatively young company that specializes in bringing affordability and performance together.

Affordable, yes, but let’s confirm performance…

They come in four different colors that are just variations of black and gray. The sizes only go from small to XL. On both scores, we think they could do better.

More positively is the fact that these shorts are very well made and designed. This is most evident in the make-up of the foam-cushioned pad.

Strong, supportive…

Firstly, once out of the water, the pad sheds water very quickly, much like the rest of the shorts. Secondly, despite its very low profile, it’s durable and supportive enough to provide excellent cushioning during your ride. And finally, during your run, it’s small and light enough that it won’t interfere with your pace or cause any chaffing.

The shorts are nicely tailored with a blend of flexible and stretchable fabrics to ensure maximum comfort and drag resistance. They compress the muscles, though not too tightly, to reduce muscle vibration and fatigue.

Good fit…

The SLS3 Triathlon Shorts Mens have a flatlock seam and feature a drawstring waistband to achieve the perfect fit. They also have two pockets at the hips. They’re big enough to securely fit a few energy gels and energy bars for your ride and run.

SLS3 Triathlon Shorts Mens
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Low profile pad.
  • Rapid shedding of water.
  • Two pockets.

Cons

  • Poor color choice.
  • Poor size options.

3 SUGOi – Men’s RPM Tri Short

These shorts have an integrated waistband and a drawstring to achieve the perfect fit. They are stitched with flat seams to reduce the chance of any rubbing or chafing. Plus, they utilize a fabric folded leg band to help keep them in place rather than a silicone band.

Efficient wicking and sunburn protection…

The shorts use a combination of nylon and Spandex. They provide excellent support and wick away water and moisture quickly. The pad is small but provides enough support for your rides and won’t get in the way during your swims and runs.

The SUGOi shorts also have a UPF 50 sun rating, so do you needn’t worry about sunburn. Even on the brightest of days, and even in the water, you’ll be fully protected against sunburn.

But, the pockets could be better placed, in our view…

To keep your gels and snacks, the SUGOi tri shorts have two back pockets. These are great when you’re on your swim and run but won’t help you much on your bike ride. Pockets placed on the hip would have been more useful.

Like a lot of triathlete shorts, there’s very little in the way of color choice. Furthermore, they don’t come in either an XS or XXXL. It would be nice if more companies would think about catering to the extremes. It’s an extreme sport, after all!

SUGOi - Men’s RPM Tri Short
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • Inexpensive.
  • Flat seams.
  • Folded leg band.
  • Supportive.

Cons

  • The positioning of pockets.

4 Blueseventy Core Short

The bright orange and blue graphics on these will make you stand out a mile away. And that’s a good thing. Because these are training shorts, and the graphics serve a useful purpose. The graphics are there to help your coach, while you’re in the pool, to check and identify issues with your hip rotation quickly.

Mimics the feel of a wet suit…

The Blueseventy Core Short is a training aid to help mimic the feeling of wearing a wet suit when you’re doing the swim. Wearing a wet suit increases buoyancy and gives a different swimming experience than when swimming in shorts alone.

The shorts are made from neoprene rubber and help to facilitate frontal buoyancy. They help to improve all swim strokes and allow for natural hip rotation and kicks.

5/3 Construction ratio…

The shorts are made to have material where you need it, and they take away material where you don’t. The Blueseventy Core Short uses a 5/3 construction ratio. That is 5mm of neoprene thickness around the buttocks, groin, and hip areas, but just 3mm around the legs.

Because these are designed just for swim training, they contain no padding at the groin and no pockets…

They come in sizes from XS to XXL and are suitable for both men and women. They just come in one color. However, since there’s no doubt that they look great, it’s something we can overlook in this instance.

Blueseventy Core Short
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • High levels of buoyancy.
  • Excellent design and graphics.
  • Facilitate natural movement.
  • Unisex fit.

Cons

  • These are swim training shorts only.

5 Castelli Men’s Free Tri Short

The cool thing is that Castelli has a long and rich history in the world of cycling. They are one of the most respected names in cycling apparel. Consequently, if it has the Castelli name to it, you can guarantee it will be quality.

Cyclists will love these…

We understand that these are tri shorts, but they have cycling cool DNA running all the way through them. There is a choice of four different colors, and they all look great. What’s more, there are even larger sizes for all the big guys and girls.

The Castelli Men’s Free Tri Shorts are made with Hydrophobic Instadry Speed material. This makes them fast on your swim, helps them quickly shed water for your ride, plus repels moisture and sweat.

Muscle support…

The Castelli shorts are designed to be tight fitting to support your muscles during all three disciplines. The good news is that despite the close fit, and with the help of Castelli’s Giro Air technology, they don’t inhibit your movement in any way. Additionally, the close fit helps the aerodynamics on your bike.

The shorts feature the distinctive Tri Kiss chamois pad. This is a multi-density and low-profile pad. It does a great job of giving you protection on the bike without adding bulk and causing potential chafing on your run. The low profile also doesn’t inhibit you swim.

Overall, these are a great candidate for the best triathlon shorts…

There are two pockets on the hips to keep your gels and energy bars. The pockets are nice and flush, so don’t interfere with the lines or aerodynamics when not in use.

These are a high quality and stylish pair of shorts for a very fair price.

Castelli Men’s Free Tri Short
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • Hydrophobic Instadry Speed fabric.
  • Tri Kiss chamois.
  • Good quality.
  • Good value.
  • Stylish.
  • Good compression.
  • Have larger sizes.

Cons

  • No XS.

6 Synergy Men’s Tri Shorts

If you like black, you’re in luck.

The Synergy Men’s Tri Shorts only come in black, though you can opt for a pair, still in black, with mesh back pockets if you prefer. The mesh pockets will fit in two 6oz bottles. These are included in the price. So, if you only want gels, bars, or drinks for your run, these aren’t a bad option.

Reflective logos…

Although they only come in black, they do have strategically placed reflective logos on the legs. Since the run is the last discipline, this is a handy safety feature if you’re still slogging on in failing light. Safety first, always.

There’s no doubt that these are a well-made pair of shorts but at an entry price-point. The truth is that for not a lot of money, you get a lot from a well-known brand.

So, let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer…

Firstly, they use flatlock stitching for comfort. Secondly, they use advanced semi-compression nylon and Spandex material to help your muscles through all three disciplines. Plus, they have silicone leg grippers and a drawstring at the waist to ensure the very best custom fit.

We love the NeoGel chamois pad…

If all of that’s not enough, the quick-drying and perforated chamois pad is one of the best you can find. The NeoGel pad performs flawlessly on the bike and stays out of your way on the swim and run. It also has a cleverly thought out modesty panel to keep things that should be private… private!

We’re pretty sure that everyone will like that. We’re also confident that everyone will like the comprehensive choice of sizes.

Synergy Men’s Tri Shorts
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Good compression.
  • NeoGel pad.
  • Reflective logos.
  • Flatlock seams.
  • Modesty panel.
  • Full range of sizes.

Cons

  • They only come in black.

7 PEARL IZUMI Men’s Elite Pursuit Tri Shorts

If you’re looking for men’s triathlon shorts on a budget, these are a good pick. The PEARL IZUMI Men’s Elite Pursuit Tri Shorts are the most affordable men’s tri-shorts on our list. However, they still have plenty to offer.

Let’s see how they stack up considering their low price…

The shorts are made from Elite Transfer R Cooling fabric. This serves three purposes. Firstly, it maintains proper levels of compression to keep the muscles working. Secondly, it pulls moisture away from your skin to aid cooling. Thirdly, it reflects the sun and helps to prevent you from burning as well as facilitating more cooling.

That’s a good start…

To help keep the shorts in place, all of the time, there are silicone elastic leg grippers. What’s more, they also have a drawstring on the waist.

The shorts can be comfortably worn either on their own or with a wet suit. Once out of the water, the shorts quickly disperse water to prepare you for the ride.

Decent chamois padding, but…

When you’re on the bike, the chamois provides decent padding. It’s not as low profile as the chamois on the SLS3 or Tri Kiss chamois on the Castelli shorts. However, it still performs well and doesn’t interfere with your motion while running.

One area that is a little disappointing is the inclusion of only one pocket at the rear. This could be a cost-containment move, as these are very affordable. But honestly, does it really cost that much to put in an extra pocket?

PEARL IZUMI Men’s Elite Pursuit Tri Shorts
Our rating:4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

Pros

  • Inexpensive.
  • Elite Transfer R Cooling material.
  • Easy to get a good fit.
  • Good range of sizes.

Cons

  • Only one pocket.

8 ROKA Men’s Gen II Elite Aero Triathlon Black Sport

ROKA makes quality cycling accessories, including cycling shorts and triathlon shorts.

The importance of aero cycling clothes is often overlooked…

However, good shorts, as well as jerseys, can save a lot of power in the water and on the bike. ROKA understands this only too well and has consequently developed the second generation of their Elite Aero Triathlon Sport Shorts.

These shorts have been thoroughly tested for their aerodynamic capabilities in a wind tunnel, out on the open road, and also in open water. If you want to shave some time off your races, but are still looking to maintain comfort, these are a great option.

The legs have fewer seam lines to reduce drag…

The legs are also laser cut and feature their latest double-knit fabric. The strategic laser print helps to eliminate sausage leg, allows for excellent compression, and further serves to reduce drag.

The pad is streamlined yet still gives sufficient support over long rides. It’s comfortable on the bike, yet doesn’t restrict movement in the water, or during your run. Furthermore, the chamois quickly sheds water after the swim.

Increased thermoregulation…

The front of the shorts has a high-grade Schoeller Eschler carbon knit front panel. This helps to increase thermoregulation and also facilitated additional core support.

The ROKA Men’s Gen II Elite Aero Triathlon Black Sport Shorts are a good option for any triathlete looking for quality tri shorts. The only negatives are that they don’t have any pockets and also have an abysmal selection of sizes.

ROKA Men’s Gen II Elite Aero Triathlon Black Sport
Our rating:4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

Pros

  • Aerodynamic.
  • Excellent compression.
  • Slimline chamois.
  • Carbon knit front panel.

Cons

  • No pockets.
  • Only small sizes.

Best Women’s Triathlon Shorts

1 TYR Women’s 6” Competitor Tri Short

TYR comes from a swimming background, and you can see that in the styling of their shorts.

Thankfully, this is a good thing…

Compared to the men’s tri-shorts we’ve just reviewed, the TYR shorts are streets ahead for design. All four of the color choices look superb. This is certainly a good start.

The TYR shorts have a high level of compression. They use a combination of specialized webbing to maximize blood flow and increase muscular performance. The shorts also have a large polyester content that works effectively in giving support.

Highly affordable, very comfortable…

There is a question mark over their longevity. Compared to traditional tri shorts, that contain a high percentage of nylon, these are likely to wear quicker. On the plus side, though, this is very much reflected in their price. These shorts are one of the most affordable we’ve reviewed. Based on their overall quality and finish, they represent excellent value for money.

The TYR Women’s 6” Competitor Tri Short uses an advanced triple-density foam on the chamois pad. It gives excellent comfort on the bike. Off the bike, its small and low-profile design makes it almost disappear during the swim and run.

If you have larger legs…

The legs and leg bands may prove too small for some. For any athletes with larger legs, we’d recommend going one size up to avoid sausage legs. The good news, though, is that they have plenty of larger sizes so that shouldn’t be a problem.

One small moan to finish with is that the TYR Women’s 6” Competitor Tri Short only has one pocket.

TYR Women’s 6” Competitor Tri Short
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Great styling.
  • Triple density chamois.
  • Specialized webbing material.

Cons

  • Questionable durability.
  • Tight fit on the legs.

2 MooMotion Womens Triathlon Shorts

The MooMotion Womens Triathlon Shorts are made from a combination of Lycra and Spandex. Because of this, they may at first feel a little tighter than a traditional nylon/Lycra combination. However, they don’t feel overly tight or uncomfortable.

Good fit…

The sizes fit very much true to size. There is plenty of room in the legs too. Additionally, there are no silicone leg grippers, so your legs won’t feel like they’re being squeezed.

The materials used give good levels of compression for your muscles. Together with the moisture-wicking fabric, this all helps the wearer stay comfortable while still being able to maintain a full degree of motion and rotation.

Great pocket placement…

The shorts have flat seams and are very well put together. The pockets on the side of the shorts are beautifully integrated and a clear indication of the quality of these shorts. We’re sure you’ll agree that it’s also nice to see pockets on the side of tri-shorts rather than at the rear.

Breathable multi-density fabric…

The padding on the groin is breathable and is made from multi-density fabric. It’s also stretchable 4-ways. Although it doesn’t have the smallest profile, it doesn’t impede movement off the bike.

The shorts have a UPF factor of 50+ to prevent sunburn. They also have a reflective strip on the legs to help you be seen in poor light. The reflective strip is a helpful design cue from their jerseys, which are also worth checking out too.

MooMotion Womens Triathlon Shorts
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • Good quality.
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Integrated side pockets.
  • Flat seams.
  • Reflective side strips.

Cons

  • No waist drawstring.

3 CANARI Women’s Triathlon/Spinning Shorts

These are super affordable women’s tri shorts.

Canari is better known for its cycling apparel, but they also make triathlon clothing. The clothing they make is every bit as good as their cycling clothing, though very inexpensive. CANARI Women’s Triathlon/Spinning Shorts are the least expensive we could find anywhere.

Never the less, you still got a lot of features, for not a lot of money…

The shorts are flat stitched to reduce drag and chafing. They are also made out of durable materials. The bulk of the shorts are made from Nylon and Spandex. This means that, despite their affordability, you’re likely to get a decent amount of wear from them. You also get great compression qualities from this fabric combination.

No sausage legs here…

The legs use soft-touch grippers at the knees. They’re not too tight. Plus, the size at the legs is sufficient to not constrict the thighs and cause sausage legs. To further ensure a good fit and comfort, the shorts have a drawstring at the waist.

The shorts have excellent water repellant properties too. After the swim, or when sweating, the material works well to shed water and perspiration to leave you feeling dry and comfortable.

We appreciate the discrete, seamless pad too…

The micro-fleece seamless pad is cushioned enough to give you a comfortable ride. Additionally, it’s thin enough to hardly be noticed during your swim and run.

The negatives are the lack of color choices and the poor choice of sizes. Also, there are no pockets. Honestly, these are all nice features, but given their price-point, we can’t criticize them too harshly.

CANARI Women’s Triathlon/Spinning Shorts
Our rating:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Pros

  • Highly affordable.
  • Nylon/Spandex mix.
  • Soft-touch leg grippers.
  • Waist drawstring.

Cons

  • Only available in black.
  • Poor size choice.
  • No pockets.

4 Zone3 Women’s Aquaflo Plus Shorts

These are high-quality women’s tri-shorts.

They are the second generation of an award-winning pair of triathlon shorts. Zone 3 shorts have been voted as the best triathlon shorts for women multiple times. This includes accolades and best buy recommendations from 220 Triathlon magazine.

The quality of these premium Zone 3’s is easy to see…

There’s great attention to detail in the stitching and clever use of high-grade materials. Zone 3 shorts have a new and improved fit for comfort. Additionally, they have highly breathable fabric for ventilation and comfort.

The shorts combine a soft and flexible mesh with a high water repellent, high-tech Aquaflo material. This combination makes the shorts comfortable when competing across all three disciplines. Coupled with water shedding abilities of the thin profile chamois, it’s easy to see why these shorts are so popular.

Yay! Four pockets… and there’s more…

As well as performing to the very highest level, the Zone3 Women’s Aquaflo Plus Shorts also look stylish in the process. The distinctive wide and colorful Italian leg grippers, together with thigh stripes, are hard to ignore.

Yay! Four pockets… and there’s more…

Other features we like are the inclusion of four pockets. These are nicely integrated and large enough to store a good quantity of snacks and gels for longer events. The pockets are also fitted smoothly into the lines of the shorts to minimize drag in the water and on the bike.

Included in the pockets is a zipped pocket right at the front. It’s neatly hidden away and a very welcome inclusion. These are the only shorts we’ve featured to include a front zipped pocket.

Zone3 Women’s Aquaflo Plus Shorts
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • Multi-award winning.
  • Great value.
  • Four pockets.
  • Zip pocket to the front.
  • Aquaflo water-repellent material.
  • Stylish.

Cons

  • Poor size choice.

Best Triathlon Shorts Buying Guide

Materials

Nylon, Lycra, Polyester, and Spandex are the four most popular materials used in the main body of tri shorts. These are the best materials to provide breathability, compression, and assist with water wicking.

Usually, tri shorts feature a combination of these materials, with the most popular being a Nylon/Lycra combo. In this instance, nylon makes up the majority of the material.

best triathlon shorts

This combination provides high levels of compression and water wicking. But, possibly just as importantly, it also appears to offer the highest level of durability. Shorts such as the De Soto Forza and The MooMotion Womens Triathlon Shorts are hard-wearing and deliver this combination.

Pads

The size of the pad, or chamois, is substantially smaller in a pair of tri-shorts when compared to a pair of cycling shorts. In fact, wearing a pair of cycling shorts can feel like you’re wearing a nappy once you’ve got used to wearing tri-shorts.

It’s about finding a balance…

This is because a pair of tri-shorts have to provide a lot of freedom of movement for the swim and the run. Manufacturing tri shorts is, therefore, more of a challenge since they must give this freedom of movement, but they also have to provide adequate padding to prevent soreness on the bike.

The consequence of this is much thinner profile chamois padding but with high performing properties.

The De Soto Forza and Castelli shorts are examples of premium triathlon shorts that tread this line perfectly. They also throw excellent water shedding properties into the bargain.

Leg Grips

Leg grips serve the purpose of preventing the shorts from riding up too high on the thigh. They will, therefore, help to maintain compression and comfort. Leg Grips will also prevent chafing and potential sunburn.

Leg grips should never be too tight to feel uncomfortable, or too loose to slip. Better quality shorts like Castelli and ROKA have good quality leg grips that are durable and likely to withstand a lot of use.

triathlon shorts

Drawstrings

Not all tri shorts have a drawstring, but we would strongly recommend that you buy a pair that has. The drawstring will help to keep your shorts in an optimum position during all three disciplines.

This will afford you maximum comfort…

Also, during the transition from the water to the bike, a drawstring can prove invaluable if you’re wearing a wetsuit. You might encounter a rather embarrassing situation as you try to yank it off before your ride. Having the drawstring firmly tied could save you from showing a little more skin than you had intended!

Pockets

Most tri shorts will have at least one pocket. There are shorts like the women’s CANARI shorts that have none at all, though these are the exception. We favor shorts with at least two pockets. We prefer pockets on the side though there are plenty of excellent alternatives with pockets at the rear. Such as found on the Synergy men’s tri shorts.

The pockets should have enough room to store your snacks and gels…

Of course, they should also be designed so as not to impede your movement, and should also be as aero as possible.

If you need a lot of pocket space, you should check out the men’s De Soto Forza Tri Short or the Zone3 Women’s Aquaflo Plus Shorts. Both have four pockets that are nicely integrated into the shorts.

Before We Announce Our Top Pick

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you may be interested in our reviews for the Best Triathlon Helmets, the Best Triathlon Watches, the Best Triathlon Saddles, the Best Aero Bars, the Best Cycling Sunglasses, and the Best Cycling Heart Rate Monitors on the market.

If you travel far to get to your triathlons, head to reviews for the Best Trunk Mount Bike Racks, the Best 3 Bike Car Racks, the Best 4 Bike Car Racks, the Best Bike Travel Cases, the Best Bicycle GPS Trackers, and the Best Bike Locks, currently available.

Right, back to triathlon shorts…

Final Thoughts on The Best Triathlon Shorts

So, there you have it. A good selection of triathlon shorts for men and women of all levels, and catering to all budgets.

The good news is that the ideal triathlon shorts need not necessarily break the bank. Although we were undoubtedly impressed with some of the premium tri shorts, the… Synergy Men’s Tri Shorts

… impressed us even more with their solid quality at a reasonable price. The Synergy shorts are, therefore, our top pick.

We also liked these shorts because of their high levels of compression and the excellent level of padding from the NeoGel chamois. They also feature beautiful Flatlock seams and highly visible reflective logos. Plus, we’re quite keen on the modesty panel too!

Enjoy your swims, rides, and runs.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply