Brooks Element Shorts Review

Brooks Element short menSince 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.

Brooks Element short womenThe 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.

All in all, the Brooks Element Short is a great pair of running shorts!

What do you guys think of the Brooks Element Short? Any suggestions for other split side shorts?

You can get the Brooks Element Short (Men’sBrook's Element Men's Short or Women’sBrooks Element Women's Short) from

There are 4 comments

  1. solarweasel

    i just started running marathons last year, and will be running an ultra in a little over a month. the much increased distance of my training runs has encouraged me to reconsider the comfort of a lot of my gear. while i have found some equipment that i absolutely love, i'm still in limbo as far as shorts are concerned.i like shorter in-seam (3-4") with a liner that does not "wedgie" or cause any "embarrassing chafing" and i strongly prefer "gel-sized" pockets on the back (as opposed to the sides or not at all).i'd like to give these brooks shorts a try, but can anyone suggest any other shorts that may be worth my consideration?thanks for the review, trail goat!

  2. Trail Goat

    Sunnyferret,Glad you found the review useful. Great question about other similar shorts, I'll add it to the main post. While it's great to have a favorite this or that, it's always good to try new things. You never know when you'll find something you like better or, more importantly, when ae manufacturer negatively modifies or stops making altogether your favorite product and your left in limboFor instance, I absolutely loved the Adidas Boston Short and ran in only those shorts for years. When Adidas majorly modified the design (thinner fabric = rode up), I was stuck with no new shorts until I found the Brooks Element Short. You still might want to check out the Boston Short – I haven't tried it in years.Best of luck in your first ultra and with your studies!

  3. Grae Van Hooser

    Weez, if your looking for a pair of shorts with a short inseam and pockets, you might like to check out the Race Ready line. They are the original shorts with pockets, they have been very popular over the years despite the fact that a number of manufacturers have attempted to copy them. They have several styles and inseam length's to choose from.

  4. Anonymous

    I just started running this summer and the Element shorts were my first pair of real deal running shorts. I just love them. I refuse to wear shorts with a big baggy butt that looks like I dropped a load or have no bum at all, even if I am running. I have tried on just about every other pair out there and nothing comes close to the fit that these have.

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