Athlos Distance Shorts (Men's) Review

Review of Athlos Distance Shorts for Men
Athlos Distance Shorts (Men's) Review

Step into a runner’s wardrobe and you’re greeted with vibrant running shoes flaunting the latest technology, t-shirts in every hue shouting out various running events and funny captions. Yet, among these colors and textures, it is hard to find running shorts. One might ponder, why so? It is talked in hushed tones, if at all, and often relegated to the realm of personal choice.

My quest for the best running shorts is long and hard, for many reasons. Unlike t-shirts, running shorts need to provide comfort to regions of our body that we desperately need. Running shorts are also not something you get handed over free when you register for a marathon. Since we spend, we all expect a return on investment. Amidst all this talk of comfort and investment, running shorts have an important job to do. They need to be functional - it can safely house our car keys without jingling, have pockets that can carry all the gels, salt capsules, or those water flasks.

When Athlos came up with the idea to review their distance running shorts for review, I jumped on the bandwagon immediately. I haven’t owned a pair before, and I was eager to understand how a made in India brand compares to other global brands that I have been using including Nike, Puma, Kalenji, Adidas and New Balance, and my favorite being Nike’s at the moment.

The Fabric and Construction

First thing that I noticed as soon as I touched the shorts was how soft they felt. The secret behind this feel lies in the fabric composition, a blend of 90% recycled polyamide and 10% elastane. Polyamide stands out as a material that is distinctly softer and more flexible compared to its polyester counterparts, which are known to feel stiff against the skin. Adding to this is the inclusion of elastane, also known as spandex, a material renowned for its elasticity. It ensures that the shorts stay snugly in place.

What I described so far is the outer layer fabric. Athlos Distance shorts use a dual-layer construction. The inner layer of the shorts is where the magic truly happens. The elastane mix of this layer is increased to 17% and offers an even higher degree of elasticity compared to the outer layer. The inner layer snugly conforms to your skin, providing a second-skin feel that moves with you. Elastane is the material typically used in compression shorts. Fabric of the inner layer seems to use a different weave pattern, and provides more breathability, compared to the outer layer which seems more tightly woven.

Coming to the waist band, it has three rows of hidden elastic stitched. The middle row has a fabric channel through which a soft and wide elastic strap is inserted, which gives generous ability to adjust the waist comfortably.

I am not an expert on stitching, but the seams are very well stitched across the board, and they are very discrete and haven’t seen any rough edges. Most seams are double stitched to make them durable.

The Fit

Finding the perfect fit of running shorts is a never-ending quest for me. Most international brands in my size are too baggy or loose. However, the Athlos distance shorts have managed to hit that sweet spot, offering what I can confidently describe as the best fit I have experienced in running shorts to date.

I got size SMALL(S), which is my usual go-to. The shorts offer a fit that is neither too skinny nor too baggy. This fit I believe helps runners move with ease and confidence, without any hindrance to their natural stride. But what truly stood out for me was the thoughtful consideration given to the length of the shorts. Featuring a 5-inch inseam, this length is not just aesthetically pleasing but also functionally sound, allowing for a comfortable range of motion without exposing too much, thus catering to those who prefer a bit of modesty in their running attire.

Functional Design

When it comes to selecting the ideal pair of running shorts, especially for long-distance runs, the functionality of the design is the most important to me. Thankfully the designers seem to have taken this into consideration.

One of the standout features is the thoughtful inclusion of three pockets, strategically placed to maximize convenience and utility. The two side pockets, though a bit narrow, are designed with the specific intention of accommodating running gels. Each of these pockets can comfortably house up to three gels, and with a bit of arrangement, it is possible to fit in a fourth gel, making for a total capacity of eight gels, ample storage for a full-distance marathon. These pockets are equipped with a small flap, a detail that aids in securing the gels in place, while still allowing for protrusion of gels if necessary, offering flexibility in usage.

Moving on to the back of the shorts, there is an in-seam pocket that comes with a zipper, a feature that adds an extra layer of security for storing valuable items such as car keys or some cash emergencies during long training runs. You could even use it for storing extra gels if needed. The zipper pull however needs a bit of effort to operate due to its smaller size, a minor hiccup in an otherwise functional design.

The functionality doesn’t end here. The ‘smart’ pocket which is situated in the inner liner, is specifically designed to house your smart phone. This patch styled pocket could accommodate even the largest smart phone I had access to. The presence of a flap adds to the security, preventing the phone from moving around while running. Moreover, the snug fit of the inner layer means that the phone does not dangle, a testament to the thoughtful design.

A strategically placed slit on the outer layer makes it easy to connect earphones to smart phone, while keeping the cable covered. While I don’t listen on the run, this is a bonus for those who likes to listen to music or podcasts on the run.

The Performance

The shorts are designed to offer a high degree of flexibility, allowing for a full range of motion that is essential for an unrestricted running performance. I have used these shorts for short intervals, long tempo runs, and even marathon paced long runs. At no point, I felt any restrictions in movement.

A common issue that plagues many runners is the problem of chafing, which can often turn that long run into a painful ordeal. This is where most polyester running shorts fell short. Even the most premium shorts that I have from Nike are also plagued with chafing issues. However, I never had any issues with chafing with these shorts. It seems as though preventing chafing was a primary focus during the design phase. Kudos to the designers.

Despite the many positives, there were a couple of areas where the shorts fell short of expectations. One such aspect is no provision of crotch space in the inner layer, which occasionally resulted in discomfort during runs. You may not be able to skip wearing underwear though the inner liner could have served that purpose. Hope designers will take notice of this for the next iteration.

Another area where the shorts could see improvement is in the moisture management department. During my runs, I noticed that the outer fabric tended to retain moisture, becoming noticeably heavier as it absorbed sweat. This can be a significant inconvenience, for runners like me who sweat profusely during the run. Inner layer however is fine with sweat wicking. This is not a deal-breaker, but it’s certainly there is room for improvement.

Community Speak

I wore Athlos distance shorts for my most recent full marathon, and I recall carrying eight gels and my phone, thanks to the generous number of pockets and the elasticity therein! The material’s texture, true to size fit, and looks, make it worth the price! On the other hand, during hot and humid long runs, the phone pocket gets soaked in sweat. If the phone pocket remains a selling point, they should consider adding a water-resistant layer.




Final Thoughts

As I reflect on my running with the Athlos distance shorts for over 500 kms, these shorts are undeniably a premium boasting top-notch quality in terms of fabric and fit. The comfort level they offer is unparalleled, even topping the well-established global brands. While the quality and comfort are commendable, the pricing is on the higher side, potentially positioning them as a premium choice. I also need to call out the use of recycled polyamide which echoes the Athlos commitment to sustainability, without compromising on quality.

It is evident that meticulous thought and attention to detail has gone into understanding the functional needs of runners. The Athlos design team has managed to create a product that not only meets but in many aspects exceeds the expectations of long-distance runners. The name ‘distance shorts’ is not just a label, but a good representation of what the shorts are really meant for.

Pros Cons
  • High-quality and durable fabric with soft and comfortable feel, and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Well-designed fit that allows for a full range of motion.
  • Built-in inner layer.
  • Functional design with pockets strategically placed, including a pocket for smart phone.
  • Very effective at preventing chafing.
  • Right in the top when compared to competition in terms of quality and comfort.
  • Premium Pricing
  • The outer fabric tends to retain moisture,which might be inconvenient for individuals who sweat profusely.
  • No specific provision for crotch space in the inner layer.


Aravind is a techie, running geek, and a marathoner. He is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. He loves all things technology and technology in running, with special interest in running form analysis.

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