Long-term Review || Running favorite: Under Armour HeatGear Sonic Compression Shorts

For long runs when I cannot risk chafing, and for runs in temperatures colder than about 55 degrees, my go-to has been the Under Armour Sonic Compression Short. Left: Run Rabbit Run 100, a 20-hour ultra. Right: Colorado Marathon in temps just above freezing.

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.

The Sonic Shorts are more “tight shorts” than “compression shorts,” especially after a few wears. I find them comfortable and supportive enough for multi-hour runs.

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.

Fabric thickness

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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Posted in , on February 24, 2017


  1. Ben on February 24, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Under Armour is a big Trump supporter. I can’t support getting rid of the EPA.

    • Andrew Skurka on February 24, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      I don’t want to turn this review into a political conversation, but in fairness to UA I think that you’re overstating its support of Trump. The CEO saying that having a more pro-business President is an asset for the country is a far cry from endorsing any number of off-putting policy positions or making donations to the candidate. Plus, he was pretty quick to clarify his comments, http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/15/investing/under-armour-ceo-kevin-plank-donald-trump/, and he’s certainly not alone in this belief, based on recent stock market performance and business & consumer optimism indices.

      • Mordecai on August 14, 2017 at 7:45 pm

        Despite all those good $$$ incentives, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has left Trump’s Manufacturing Council.

        Schlong shorts for everybody!

        (Forgive me, I had to. The Trump sympathy earns you a light smack. That’s two today for me. I promise to give it a rest. Feel free to edit as you see fit.)

  2. Cody C on March 1, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    These are the best compression shorts for running IMO. I have worn them in every ultra I have run and never had chafing issues.

    • Andrew Skurka on March 1, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      I am sure that someone will not have the experience that we have had, but I am glad that my opinion is shared by at least one other. It is nice to find clothing equipment that reliably performs as you hoped, so that you can focus on things that matter more, like racing.

  3. Aaron on May 15, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Curious what you’re running in now. I’m looking for some short tights for my long runs and marathon to prevent chafing. So far I’ve always run in lined shorts w/ tight boxer-briefs underneath but I think I need something tighter.

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