Booty Found: Mountain Hardwear Pacer Advance Short Review

If you’ve been a runner for a while, you’ve likely become accustomed to wearing traditional, elastic waisted nylon running shorts. Over the years, you may have sampled the models of multiple manufacturers, settling on your favorite. Now you own ten pairs of those shorts, probably in each color of the maker’s production palette. If this sounds like you, then you might be stuck in a running short rut. About six months ago, I was stuck in the same place! No new running short model caught my eye enough to deviate from tradition until I met the Mountain Hardwear Pacer Advance Short, or what I’ve come to call the “booty” short. Let me introduce the short that will break your running short rut in more ways than one.

Mountain Hardwear’s Pacer Advance Short in Black.
(The short is also available in Blue River, Chica (salmony), and Titanium.)

Almost every element of the Pacer Advance Short is unique; let’s start from the top. First, the waistband is wide, fitted, and made of a material that feels like a wicking jersey knit. Hidden in the waistband is a drawstring if you need to put the cinch down. The shorts sit low on your hips, the drawstring falling at your hip bones. (Countless women, including me, have folded over the waistbands of our favored running shorts so they sit in this very same sweet spot!) These low riders don’t overlap with hydration/running packs, thus reducing the chance of chafing. Finally, three small, hidden, fold-over pockets are built into the back waistband and are perfect for gels or a small pair of gloves.

The outer short is composed of a thin nylon/elastine/polyester interbreed, and the result is a genetic freak of soft, stretchy, wicking goodness. Because of the stretch factor and the addition of side seam slits that provide for any movement a runner might make, the shorts take a narrow line against the thighs. These aren’t compression shorts, but they do hover nearby your skin. On the right hip lies a small, angled, zipper pocket. If you’ve got something important like your car key, iPod, or a fiver for coffee afterward, this is the place to keep it. The inner brief has a nice cut that hugs itself gently into the crease between your butt and your thigh enough to stay there, but not so much as to let others know where that crease precisely is.

There’s only one change I’d like to see in the Pacer Advance Short: the drawstring is way too short! While my shorts fit nicely everywhere else, I can only get a small, unsupportive tie in the string. As a result, it’s dangerous for me to fill the back pockets with more than 3 gels lest I leave my drawers on the trail. With a longer drawstring, I could make a pants-saving cinch.

You’re probably still wondering why I’ve coined these the “booty” shorts. Think for a moment about your favorite pair of nylon running shorts: there is ample fabric everywhere that emerges from the elastic waistband. Running shorts nylon isn’t traditionally stretchy, so short makers add enough fabric for runners to move their legs within said shorts. By using a nylon/elastine interbreed, Mountain Hardwear removes this bulk and a runner’s range of motion is accommodated not by more material, but by stretching. Because of this, there is no booty hiding here; the treasured results of your hard training are well displayed in the Pacer Advance Short.

MH running in her MH Pacer Advance “Booty” Shorts through Zion National Park

So, break out from your running short rut and pirate yourself a pair of Mountain Hardwear’s Pacer Advance Shorts. You (and the people you pass on trail) will be glad you did.

[Trail Goat Note: I’ve been wearing Mountain Hardwear’s similar, but not equivalent for men’s Refueler Short. [The Refueler Advance is the direct equivalent. The non-“Advance” has a more traditional waist band.] I normally prefer traditional split-side road running shorts to more lengthy trail options, but I’ve been enjoying my runs in the Refueler.]

[Disclosure: Mountain Hardwear provided a free sample pair of both the women’s Pacer Advance Short and men’s Refueler Short. Also, links to Amazon in this post are part of an affiliate program that helps support iRunFar.com.]

Meghan Hicks

is the Managing Editor of iRunFar and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.