Smartwool is jumping into the running short game in the Spring of 2013. They will be offering a run short which has a 5” inseam as well as a long run short that have a 7” inseam. Smartwool sent me a pair of their Long Run Shorts to test, and over the course of this fall and winter I put them through their paces.
Let’s start with the positives about these shorts. First they are incredibly comfortable. The internal brief is made of merino wool and not only provides excellent support; it is also comfortable and does not chafe or rub in any areas. You runners out there know that there is nothing worse than an uncomfortable pair of shorts. I was sent the Graphite colored shorts and they are quite attractive with a lime colored brief, which provides a great contrast to the gray.
For Smartwool’s first offering they did a great job with a few of the more technical aspects of the shorts. First they managed to put a pocket on the shorts. A zippered back pocket that is just big enough for a set of keys or a gel. For a race day short sure you don’t need a pocket, but for all the runs out your door or those longer runs a little pocket is quite nice. I do most of my weekday runs in the evening. This is when my running partner is available, so I try to take precautions to be safe. Reflectors, lights, etc are a must and the Smartwool shorts have full 360-degree reflectivity plus a reflective logo on the right hem. I think this is great because even if you forget a blinkie you at least have a bit of flash to help make you visible.
Now to move onto a few things that I think could be improved. First up is the drawstring. To get the short sufficiently snug I felt like I really had to crank down on the drawstring, which stretches a lot. I ended up with a lot of excess drawstring and think having a thicker less stretchy drawstring material could help. My next complaint, my last, is more of a preference than a complaint really. I ran cross-country and track in high school and am used to a shorter short. I had a tough time enjoying the length of the long run short. With a 7” inseam they came to my knees, and while I never had an issue with the material grabbing at my thigh, it just wasn’t what I am used to. I suggest going with the regular run short (5” inseam) and not the long version if you are used to shorter shorts. On the flip side of this I am sure there are an equal amount of people who are excited for the long option so they aren’t flashing their thighs to the general public.
Overall I think these shorts are a great addition to Smartwool’s running gear quiver. A merino brief is amazing, and I think with a better drawstring and the regular model these would be a perfect pair of shorts. Get prepared for the Spring Running season and get yourself a pair.
You can find these shorts here and they run $80.