Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ultra (pocketed) shorts

Sometimes I do feel like I'm wearing the running equivalent of cargo pants, but if you can put gloves, arm warmers and half a pound of candy in your pockets, why wouldn't you!?

For the last year I've primarily been switching between two pairs of shorts for long runs: Patagonia Strider Pro and The North Face Better Than Naked Long Haul. Now we've got a third wheel: Pearl Izumi Ultra Split.

All the specifications can be found on the manufacturers' links above, so I'll just highlight a few things on each pair that may be useful if you're looking at any of these shorts.

The North Face Better Than Naked Long Haul
Three small pockets, the top elastic on the two rear-side pockets could be a little tighter.
Pockets sewn into the boxer-brief liner; I don't think I've ever used them? I do like the rubber grippers inside though!
  • Durability: I had to return my first pair after less than 200 miles as the groin seams had come undone. My replacement pair quickly is losing its TNF logo on the front. 
  • Fit: true to size and the rubber grippers on the inner shorts are a nice touch.
  • Key features: technically they have the most pockets, but I find the ones on the liner are not intuitive to use.

Patagonia Strider Pro
Five pockets from hip-to-hip across the back; small zippered pocket, but the stretchy envelope pockets are great.
I cut out the bikini liner as it was uncomfortable; these groin seams are coming out on the outside,
but the inner ones still are intact.

  • Key features: drawstring is on the outside of the short! Pockets are super stretchy, easy to use and I don't worry about things falling out. 
  • Durability: a little worried about the seams in the groin, but maybe that's a statement on my thighs...also cut out the liner and wear these with boxer-brief sport underwear.
  • Fit: true to size, also the "least expensive" option at $59 MSRP.

Pearl Izumi Ultra Split
Two flask pockets on the hips, huge zippered pocket.

  • Key features: fewest pockets, but has the largest main pocket. "Flask" pockets are nice and deep but I wish a little wider, though they are very stretchy. 
  • Fit: small! I wear a small in everything but the shorts/tights in the Pearl Izumi Ultra line: these are size medium. They still fit snug though which keeps any items in the pockets from bouncing.
  • Other: only 30 miles on them so far, basically still new. I did not cut out this liner as I feel like I probably can wear them for long runs without chafing (rarity for me with a bikini liner). I think these have the nicest outer shell material of the three.  

Last weekend was a sufferfest on Chuckanut with the bad weather...looking forward to a window this weekend to get back in the mountains.


  1. Those PI shorts look pretty sweet. Are the flask pockets large enough to hold a medium size smartphone? I've heard good things about the 1st version of the Strider pro shorts, but I've heard the liner is too short and the pockets don't hold items as tight against the body on this latest version. I've been looking for that perfect short that doesn't break the bank, has tons of tight pockets, has at least a 5-6" inseam (my legs and the sun don't go together very well) and are lightweight. I usually stick with the RaceReady LD Sixer, but they just don't ever "look good" on anyone: http://www.raceready.com/product/mens-active-ld-sixer-short/

  2. Agreed on Patagonia crotch issues. That has been as issue for me with both versions. I do like how expandable the pockets are, though. 

    I dig the Pearls big back pocket. Being able to hold a smartphone, or just plenty of stuff, is rare/nice. 

    I like that I can fit my Nuun containers in the pockets of all the shorts above.