Not too long ago, running shorts came in just one variety: extremely short. Now, there are all sorts to choose from, and anyone who’s developed a painful downstairs chafe midway through a race or training run knows how important it is to get the right pair. We’ve tested running shorts from all the major brands and concluded that these right here – in no particular order – are the very best of the best.

On Hybrid Shorts

As you’ll discover from this list, we’re quite partial to two-in-one shorts, which means that we’re already well disposed towards these hybrid two-layer shorts from On. Both of the standard layers – a snug inner liner and a lightweight outer – are present and correct, but what sets the On shorts apart is that you can wear each layer individually. So for easy runs in hot weather you might view an inner layer as unnecessary, and if you’re an especially confident chap you might only want to only wear that tight inner layer. The inner shorts also have handy pockets that will keep a phone and other essentials trapped tight against your legs so they don’t move about while you’re running. £80, buy on runnersneed.com

Montane Fang Shorts

The two stand-out features of these shorts are how incredibly lightweight they are and the Polygiene-treated inner brief. The benefit of the latter is superlative odour control – you can run in these bad boys every day for a month and not have to worry about washing them (unless of course you fall into a muddy puddle). There are stretchy gel pockets on the back, along with a small zipped pocket, and the whole package dries in a flash. If you’re intending to take these out on the trails then we’d say opt for the Flag Red colour, because they are so bright it will make you very easy to find if you get lost. £50, buy on montane.co.uk

Tribe Sports Running Short

The inner layer on these 2-in-1 shorts is tight – real tight – so look no further if you want compression from your shorts. We recommend making sure everything is arranged comfortably before you begin running because, we say again, the inner layer is tight. The fabric is antibacterial so the shorts don’t get funky even after a couple of runs, and Tribe Sports has been generous with the pockets: there are two regular ones plus two small pouches for gels. (Although these are only big enough for small gels like Gu’s, not isotonic ones like SiS’s.) £57, buy on tribesports.com

Nike Flex Stride 2-in-1

Another excellent pick for fans of two-layer shorts. The inner layer on the Flex Stride is a little looser than full-on compression shorts, but will provide some welcome extra support and help reduce the risk of chafing during long runs. There are a few pocket options, including a zipped pouch that has a vapour barrier to stop sweat drenching whatever you secure in it. £37.95, buy on nike.com

Asics Race 5in Short

A great, affordable option for race day, this lightweight pair has mesh panels up the sides and along the top of the waistband around the back so you’re less likely to overheat – although the internal brief layer somewhat dampens the effect. If you’re taking them out on other days, the zippered bank-card sized pocket on the back and small reflective details on the back and front are welcome, unfussy additions. £32, buy on asics.com

New Balance 7in Shift Short

These featherlight thigh-coverers are our preferred pair when we’re wearing proper running underwear or running tights, since it has no internal brief (pointless if everything’s kept in place already) and the laser-cut ventilation panels on the side help to keep things breezy when upping the tempo. The stand-out feature, though, is the large zipped pocket on the side that fits an iPhone 6 snugly – but you’ll only want to take advantage of this on long easy runs, because the shorts are loose and your smartphone will flap around if you start pushing the pace. £45, buy on newbalance.co.uk

Soar Three Season Shorts

Thanks to the full-length Lycra liner these are just about as comfortable a pair of running shorts as you could hope to find. The liner is flexible enough to allow completely free movement while also supportive enough to keep everything in place. The shorts are also sufficiently breathable to wear in the height of summer even with the liner. £65, buy on soarrunning.com

Adidas ULY RGY Short

These shorts go above and beyond in their efforts to keep your dry. You’d expect running shorts fabric to rapidly wick away sweat, but you probably wouldn’t count on that same fabric also boasting water-repellant properties to fend off showers. There is also a decent-size front pocket for essentials. £43, buy on adidas.co.uk

Lululemon Surge Short

Lululemon offers 3in, 5in and 7in versions (7.6/12.7/17.8cm) of its Surge Shorts, so you can select your favourite based on how revealing you like your bottoms to be when on the run. As with all of Lululemon’s running gear, these shorts are supremely comfortable and there are a few flashy designs to pick between. Well, flashier than the standard black running shorts anyway. £58, buy on lululemon.co.uk

dhb 2-in-1 7″ Run Shorts

Two-layer shorts are always a good bet for running. A tight inner layer keeps everything in its place for maximum comfort and a reduced risk of chafing, while the loose outer layer ensures you’re not inadvertently creating a display. These 2-in-1 shorts are breathable and sweat-wicking so the extra layer of fabric won’t result in you overheating. £28, buy on wiggle.co.uk

UA Launch SW 20cm Shorts

These lightweight shorts with breathable mesh panels are ideal for keeping you cool during any sweaty activity, and the unrestricted fit is especially good for running. There’s a decent-sized pocket too, which is always a bonus. £34, buy on underarmour.co.uk

2XU G2 Pace 5″ Short With Compression

What’s this? Running shorts with not one, but two large pockets?! Incredible scenes. Once you’ve got over the excitement of being able to carry things with you when running, there’s also the excellence of 2XU’s compression liner and its muscle-supporting goodness to enjoy. Despite this double-layer approach, these shorts do a great job of wicking away moisture so all the areas you’re keenest to stay dry will stay dry. £55, buy on 2xu.com

Iffley Road Thompson

Iffley Road Thompson running shorts

This is the pair for you if you deadlift, squat or do any strength training that results in chunky thighs. A wider fit means even those with the most tree trunk-esque legs can run without fear of unfortunate seam tears, or worse, a perpetual semi-wedgie. We used the little zip pocket to hold our house key, but have just discovered it’s also the perfect size for an iPod Nano (though a lack of cable hole means Bluetooth earphones are recommended for ultimate stealthy sleekness). £70, buy on iffleyroad.com

Kalenji Ekiden

Kalenji Ekiden running shorts

Not bothered about flashy names, compression or trying to shave seconds off a PB with drag-reducing design? For a fiver, you can’t go wrong with these light, breathable shorts from European sports superstore Decathlon. We’ve run in ours for a couple of months now and so far they seem just as durable as other brands. No frills. No complaints. A proper bargain. £5, buy on decathlon.co.uk

Brooks Sherpa 5”

Brooks Sherpa 5” running shorts

Most shorts seem to assume all runners are Buddhist monks who’ve got rid of all their worldly possessions. Here, though, the over-the-bum storage is big enough to hold our iPhone 6, while two slimline side pockets can look after keys and gels. Not content with ripping one rulebook up, the Sherpa shorts also add a splash of bold design to a market full of block colours. £25-£38, buy on brooksrunning.com