Review: UA HeatGear Armour Compression Shorts || More realistically, “fitted underwear”

The UA HeatGear Armour Compression Shorts (left) look very similar to my trusted UA Sonic Shorts (right), but they are NOT a worthy substitute.

For several years my go-to short for long runs and cool temperatures as been the Under Armour HeatGear Sonic Compression Short. Read my long-term review.

Unfortunately, the Sonic Short was discontinued a few years back, and leftover inventory is just about gone. I was hopeful that a similarly spec’d model, the Under Armour HeatGear Armour Compression Short — which also features a 6-inch inseam, simple design, and 84/16 polyester/spandex fabric — would be a one-to-one replacement.

It’s not. It’s not even close.

The Armour Compression Short is not worthy of the name. It offers no compression or support, and the fabric is too sheer and revealing for a standalone short. Let’s be honest about what they are: fitted underwear.

Sadly, they’re not very good underwear either. The Jockey Men’s Sport Mesh Midway Brief are $5-10 less and more supportive, and have high-airflow panels in the most sweat-prone areas. And the Saxx Mens Kinetic Boxer Briefs cost a bit more, but redefine “support.”

Bottom line: Avoid the Armour Shorts.

Oh, and avoid the Nike Hypercool Compression Short, too, for many of the same reasons. If you have a pair of beloved running tight shorts, please share — I’m getting desperate.

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Posted in , on April 5, 2017


  1. Brian on April 6, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    I have the UA compression shorts as well, and I wear them mostly under tights for running or xc skiing and things like that. For me, they definitely seem too much like underwear to wear alone.

    Lately I have been running in these super simple Nike half tights:

    They are not nearly as tight and compressiony as the UA shorts, but they are very comfortable. I never think of them while I’m running in them. In inseam says 9″; however, I think they wear a bit more like a 7″ short (I’m 6’1″ and 160 lbs if that helps, and I’ve been wearing a medium).

    As a bonus, they have a super sleek zip-pocket in the back of the waist band. I like it more than I thought I would.

    • Brian on April 6, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Spoke too soon, perhaps. The pairs I have (which I got in December) have a waist pocket. This version does not appear to.

  2. Russ Bailey on April 6, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    I buy bikini briefs from Aliexpress (china) – I do not like the extra material rubbing between my thighs – especially when sweating – the salty material can rub things raw. The prices are reasonable at a couple of bucks a pair rather than the banditry of Under Armour and others.

  3. jesse on April 7, 2017 at 3:53 am

    I’d suggest checking out Patagonia’s Nine Trails short-the 8″ version. It has a built in compression short/liner. I’ve had good experience with them. They run about $65 dollars. Worth a look IMO.

    • Nat on August 30, 2018 at 10:14 am

      I also have a pair of those. The discontinued grey version. Very good shorts.

  4. Mark on April 7, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Compression shorts. “First world” problem. (Just kidding, folks. Relax)

  5. Joe on April 30, 2017 at 3:43 am

    Skins A400 for max support. Sizing, strength and compression are heads above UA, Nike or Reebok (tried them all).

    • Andrew Skurka on April 30, 2017 at 7:15 am

      Based on the product description I am imagining a thicker fabric (warmer + more moisture retention) that squeezes so much as to be restrictive. Right or wrong?

      • Joe on April 30, 2017 at 7:20 am

        Yes. DNA model is much lighter model. They have or used to have A200 series, which was also a lighter model. You can find really good deals on Amazon US for Skins occasionally if you want to try them on.

        • Andrew Skurka on April 30, 2017 at 8:59 am

          I’m thinking about pulling the trigger on these, They are the only pair in the lighter fabric you mentioned and that have a shorter inseam (I don’t like shorts that go down to my knees). Just to be clear: These will be thin enough so as to not be hot, but not so thin that they need shorts over them, right? I’m still a little nervous about how much spandex they have in them, 25 percent — that means they will hold onto a lot of moisture, and they will lose their shape over time.

  6. Dag Andersen on May 23, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I have bought a pair of The Armour Compression Short, and I agree that they do not offer compression. They are soft and lovely to wear, they stay up and I can hardly feel them on. Yes, they are a bit sheer, but I wear them anyway without underwear for running and hiking on the mountains. No problem actually if you are not too shy.

  7. Frances Sun on October 11, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    I wear the Brooks Greenlight 7″ short which have a similar fabric content (81%poly 19%spandex) to the UA sonic shorts. It is *not* see through, but the material is not excessively thick. Unfortunately, the men’s only comes in a 9″ length which may be too long for your requirements. However, the leg band (at least on the womens’ version) looks like it would be easy to tailor to be shorter (It’s just a rolled and serged hem, not laser-cut or anything).

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure if simply wearing the womens’ shorts would fit you, as it definitely has a high-waisted fit.

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