Since I picked up my first pair of Brooks Element shorts sometime in the Fall of 2006, these shorts have been my favorite. In fact, unless it’s cold enough that I need to wear tights, the Element short is the only thing I’ve worn. Despite one unfortunate chafing incident, these were the best shorts I’d encountered in a decade and a half of running! After a year of running in the 2006 model of these shorts, I’ve now had a chance to run in the 2007-08 model that Brooks provided in response to my feedback on the 2006 model. (Review of Brooks Customer Service)
The following features common to both the 2006 and 2007 models are what make the Element shorts my favorite:
- A great split side design that allows for full range of motion. This minimizes the likelihood that the shorts will ride up.
- Heavy fabric that’s not stiff. This also minimizes the likelihood that the shorts will ride up – a frequent problem with shorts for a stout legged runner like myself.
- A generous key pocket. Why any running shorts wouldn’t have a key pocket is beyond me.
- Two rear, external pockets.
The two small pockets, which open on the outside of each hip with their contents situated towards the rear, are the distinguishing feature of these shorts. I’ve yet to encounter a running-oriented (as opposed to hiking or adventure racing oriented) short that better incorporates external pockets. These pockets which are each big enough to hold two gel packets. Those pockets are quite handy in racing and training for ultramarathons. I imagine the shorts would be ideal for marathons, too.
The biggest improvement between the 2006 version and the 2007 was the a change to the liner. The old liner was mesh, which was great for breathability. However, although very rare, the mesh had the potential to chafe very unpleasantly … and that’s all I’ll say. The new liner is a silky material that still breathes, but with a much lower chafing index.
What do you guys think of the Brooks Element Short? Any suggestions for other split side shorts?