Long trail days often require long inseam coverage – and a bit of carrying capacity doesn’t hurt either.  Pearl Izumi’s Ultra shorts combine lightweight compression with comfort and functionality to venture out beyond your limits.

Pearl Izumi Ultra Running Shorts Features:

  • 8″ liner inseam
  • 7″ shell inseam
  • Liner material: 56% minerale polyester, 33% polyester, 11% elastane
  • Shell material: 84% polyester, 16% elastane
  • 100% polyester mesh
  • Fully-integrated boxer brief with Transfer Dry fabric
  • Gel flask pockets integrated in liner
  • Zippered back pocket
  • Elasticized waistband
  • 2 color options
  • Semi-Form Fit
  • MSRP $80

pearl izumi ultra shorts running

My Experience

Pearl Izumi is a relative newcomer to the ultrarunning scene – having arrived there via cycling and triathlon – but has won over a large number of fans by applying the same innovative approach to high-performance trail shoes and apparel that they employ in their more established product lines.

The Ultra short is a 2-in-1 combination of a compressive boxer brief liner with a thin outer shell that provides storage space for long days on the trail.   The liner provides a longer inseam and very light compression, with the shell giving a more traditional (and for most of us, probably more flattering) look than straight compression shorts offer.  PI also makes a shorter inseam version called the Fly Ultra, but for taller runners like me, anything less than 7” borders on indecent exposure.

8" inseam boxer brief liner

8″ inseam boxer brief liner

Boxer brief liners on shorts sometimes have a nagging tendency to creep upward during long runs, but the lining on the Ultra stayed perfectly in place even after a few hours of constant motion.  The liner is also exceptionally comfortable, with Transfer Dry fabric to wick moisture effectively, and provides great protection against chafing between the legs.  It also utilizes Minerale technology for odor protection, but you’ll still probably want to wash these after outings of an hour or more.

Two integrated gel pockets beside larger zipper pocket

Two integrated gel pockets beside larger zipper pocket

One cool point of innovation is the integration of two gel pockets into the waistband and brief, which sit on either side of a larger center zip pocket.  The gel pockets are comprised of an external mesh layer and the internal brief liner fabric, and they are deep enough and secure enough to keep a gel pack in place without slipping out.  The center pocket is large enough to carry slightly larger items like a phone, gel flask, energy bar, or folded up trail map.  If you’re carrying more gear in a waist pack, the waistband liner is sufficiently soft and comfortable to prevent any hot spots or chafing on the low back.

comfort waistband

Comfort waistband

The external shell is very thin and lightweight, with a high split seam on the lateral side for improved ventilation.  In my testing, the testing tended to migrate towards the inside fairly often; thanks to the boxer brief, this doesn’t pose an issue for chafing, but it does impose the occasionally awkward issue of reaching below your crotch to pull the fabric out.

The Good:

  • Highly comfortable and breathable liner fabric
  • Stretch material allows full range of motion
  • Boxer brief stays in place even with extended activity

The Bad:

  • Shell fabric bunches between legs
  • Liner isn’t a true compressive layer, if that’s what you’re looking for

The Bottom Line

Pearl Izumi’s Ultra shorts are comfortable enough to stay on the trail for hours, and have adequate storage to keep you fueled along the way.  The external layer shifts around more than some may like, but that’s more of a cosmetic issue than a functional one.

Buy Now: Available at Moosejaw.com

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

1 Comment

  1. I really really like these shorts and use them often. My only feedback for design improvement/complaint is that the inner short does not provide much space for the male anatomy. Rather than supporting and accommodating the package it crushes and straps the package down leaving one wondering if the designers ever tried them on. That said the rest of the features, pocketing and fit are dialed.

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