For the past three years the Under Armour HeatGear Sonic Compression Short has been my go-to running short. After 500+ runs — including my biggest races like Run Rabbit Run 100, the Colorado Marathon, and San Juan Solstice 50 — I feel very confident in writing a long-term review.
I use the Sonic Shorts primarily for:
- Temperatures below 55 degrees, when I find conventional split running shorts too drafty;
- Temperatures below 35 degrees, when beneath my full-length tights I want supportive and thin underwear with mid-thigh coverage; and,
- Any run longer than about 2 hours, when I cannot risk any chafing.
Of the three pairs of Sonic Shorts that I have purchased (with personal funds), two are still fully operational. The first pair no longer provides satisfactory performance due to lost elasticity.
The Sonic Shorts have been discontinued, but are still available on Amazon, for about $20.
A similar-looking product from UA, the HeatGear Armour Compression Shorts, is NOT is suitable replacement for the Sonic Shorts. While both share the same poly/spandex ratio, inseam length, patterning, and seam types, the Armour Compression Shorts are more aptly described as “fitted underwear” than compression shorts. They are too sheer to use as standalone shorts, and they offer inadequate compression and support. More details.
Onto the pros and cons:
At $25 MSRP the Sonic Shorts are attractively priced. But they are very basic: one fabric, simple patterning, and a jockstrap-like waistband. Do not expect a built-in brief or even an accessory pocket.
Sizing and compression
I have a 29- or 30-inch waist, depending on the training cycle and the cut of my jeans. The Sonic Short in size Medium (30”-32”) are true to size. They fit very snugly at first — legitimate “compression” — but they loosen up within a few wears and become comfortable “short tights.”
The Sonic Short is spec’d with a 6-inch inseam. I would have thought this would only be the case with the sample size (normally, Large) but my size Medium have a 6-inch inseam, too.
I think 6 inches is the perfect length. It’s long enough to prevent chafing and to keep my legs warm in brisk temperatures, but not so long that the hemline bothers the tendons above my knee.
The single best feature of the Sonic Shorts is the fabric. It’s a run-of-the-mill 84 percent polyester/16 percent spandex blend, but these shorts are a perfect application for it. It’s:
- Stretchy and conforming, but still adequately supportive; and,
- Thin and cool, but not too sheer or revealing (double-layer construction in the groin helps).
I much prefer the Sonic fabric to that used in the R-Gear SpeedPro Shorts, which is thicker and has 30 percent more spandex (79/21 blend). Those shorts are less supportive (too much stretch), less comfortable in warmer temperatures (too heavy and too much moisture retention), and less long-lasting because the elasticity loses its rebound.
My single gripe of the Sonic Short — and it’s a big one — is its patterning. It seems anatomically oblivious, designed to fit a mannequin, not a male with balls and a penis.
Preferably, I’d like a “pouch” to hold my reproductive organs. But in the Sonic Short, it must be directed to the left or right, possibly across a flatlock seam (which is smoother than other seam types but rougher than plain fabric). Everything is held in place by the stretchy fabric, although occasional adjustment will be necessary depending on the weather and fit.
I have considered wearing underwear beneath the Sonic Short, essentially replicating the UA Run True Half Tight, which has a built-in brief. But I’ve always erred on the side of simplicity and a single lightweight fabric, and can only recall an instance or two when I had some minor chafing.Buy the Sonic Short now from Amazon
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