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]

Meghan Hicks

is's Managing Editor 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.

There are 9 comments

  1. mariko

    I've been looking at these shorts for some time, and now, thanks to your excellent review, I will look more actively! What's the sizing like? Guess I'd better work on my booty a bit before I actually buy the things, though.

  2. saschasdad

    I was hoping this was going to be a write-up about Meghan's booty.Note: the men's equivalent is the Refueler Advance Short, different from the Refueler Short.

  3. Meghan

    Mariko- I'm usually a solid "size small" person, so that's the size I ordered. When I first pulled them on, I thought they were too small. But then I realized that the fit of the shorts is just so different from a typical running short that the sleek, close fit was how it was supposed to be. Thus, I'd say they run true to size. Have fun showing off your hard training results! :) Saschasdad- Ahem, I've been asked by my iRunFar boss to make a snide, biting remark about the size of The Meissner Booty in response, but I think I'll refrain. Nope, this is a story about treasured running apparel, my dear! See you soon!

  4. Bryon Powell

    Sean,I'll step in with the snide, biting remark… I'd love to see a write-up about your booty, but if a picture's worth a thousand words, I'd be up all night writing in the neighborhood of 10,000 words.Ps. Thanks for the correction about Refueler vs. Refueler Advance. I've got the former.

  5. Danni

    I have these shorts and use one of those cord-stopper plastic thingies for the draw-string and it works perfectly.Mine are saggy in the butt though.

  6. Gretchen

    If my butt will look as good as yours did in those shorts, then I definitely want some. Yeah, I spent a lot of hours looking at your butt in Zion, Meghan, and I think I definitely like the shorts. I have some better photos of your butt though if you want to post them on the review. ;)Really though thanks for the review. I think these sound awesome. (What? No irf giveaway this time?)

  7. Meghan

    Sean- That is kinda creepy, isn't it? Let us hope he was just joking! ;)Danni- Hey, that's a great idea, the cord-stopper plastic thing-y for the drawstring! I, too, will get one of these! Mountain Hardwear, are you listening? This is a great idea! I dunno why your shorts' butt is saggy, though, maybe you have shorts that are too big? When I put on my shorts, they are at first pretty tight. 30 minutes later, they've stretched to the perfect size. Thanks for your thoughts!Gretchen- Thanks, girl! I was kind of afraid of which picture Bryon would put up with this review. I'm glad he chose one that wasn't a total arse shot. I think you and your longlong, fast legs will love these shorts!

  8. Heidi

    I have these shorts (recommended by Mr. Meissner and Mr. Hart) and for the most part, I've loved them….super comfy.Two cons though: the drawstring broke after a few months of wearing them. I can't wear them for running without it. And second, I wish they were a tiny bit longer. I wear size small but I have really long legs (I'm 5'11") and I'd love an extra inch.That said, they're still among the most comfortable running shorts I've tried. And I love the pockets.

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