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Apparel & Accessories

Reviewed: $140 Running Shorts

Does $100 for running shorts seem ridiculous? Add another $40, and you’ve got the Lagsm shorts from German brand, Maloja. We put these wallet-breakers through a five-hour chafe challenge.

Every runner can agree that shorts are important, and the longer you go, the more important their comfort becomes. Will it be hot and sweaty? Comfort’s even more important. Is rain involved? Again, important there too. While chafing is the arch-nemesis of every runner (along with its yucky partner-in-crime, blisters), can you actually put a price tag on comfort? Where is that intersection between the importance of comfort and the reality of paying your mortgage?

I used to think brands like Tracksmith — the Rapha of running — butted up against that upper ceiling of reasonable running clothing costs, beyond which almost nothing existed. I thought $70 for a pair of shorts was luxurious, extravagant, almost decadent. Sure, I still wear those shorts, but no, to answer the obvious question, they don’t run for me.

But then those two familiar feelings that have sadly lived in tandem in our collective psyche over the last year or so quickly returned — a combination of horror and grotesque curiosity — when I learned that German brand Maloja made a pair of running shorts that blew the axes off my comfort/price graph: The $140USD Lagsm.

Maloja Lagsm Running Shorts: What in the Actual…

As the warm, numbing sensation of extreme sticker shock starts to wash over you, first, it’s important to put these shorts in context. A quick rundown of a few ultra-premium running shorts as a reference:

  • Tracksmith Commute Shorts – $98 (Tracksmith also makes a pair of $130 and $140 shorts, but they fall into the run/casual category)
  • Nike 3-in-1 Running – $100 (though these come with a detachable fanny pack…)
  • Salomon S/Lab Sense 6” – $120

While my internet sleuthing did stumble upon a ridiculous brand with $250 running shorts, their website also showed video of their shorts being held up by drones, so it’s entirely possible that they’re just trolling us. Maloja, on the other hand, is very real, and the small, German brand makes clothing for cycling, hiking, yoga, casual, and running. The 18-year-old brand may not have much of a following in the U.S., but their ethos is decidedly about “being in the woods,” and exploring nature. And making expensive shorts.

Maloja Lagsm Running Shorts: The Basics

A look at the Maloja Lagsm Running Shorts after our test.
Clockwise from top left: Unglamorous post-test shot of the rear of the shorts; Mesh pocket on rear; One of two small side hip pockets with security loop; Compression shorts inside shell with mesh crotch panel

Much of Maloja’s clothing isn’t decidedly “stupor-premium” like their shorts (you can still find shirts at the bargain price of $90), so the shorts stand out even more. But for $140 you get a pair of shorts with an embarrassment of features like a separate compression liner attached to the super lightweight/soft shell, side, key-sized pockets with security loops, a larger mesh rear pocket with a fabric chain and tab, a mesh crotch panel, a bonded hem, and a 6.5-inch inseam (that seems smaller than that). The outer shell is a very lightweight and slightly stretchy poly/spandex blend, while the 5.5-inch inseam compression liner is a soft spandex/nylon blend. As a runner with a 32-inch waist, but “beefier” thighs than some, I wore a large, but I could have fit an extra large.

Maloja Lagsm Running Shorts: The Test

The author testing the Maloja Lagsm Running Shorts.
The author running through the clouds of Catalina, mid test.

Because $140 is an extreme amount of cash for a pair of running shorts, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and put these to an extreme test. After doing one 5-mile run to make sure they didn’t literally fall off my body, I took them on a 21-mile run on Catalina Island, from Avalon to Two Harbors, off the coast of L.A. Known for savage climbs, quick-changing weather, very little water, and almost no chance of assistance once you get going, it’s the perfect place to throw some pricey clothing into the grinder without a safety net. And since I had barely worn the shorts before, any issues would be amplified tenfold over the course of 4,000 feet of climbing with a heavy, water-filled running backpack and weather that eventually turned sour.

Maloja Lagsm Running Shorts: The Good

Maloja shorts on the ground
The separate shell shed water and prevented chafing.

As advertised, Catalina didn’t disappoint with brutal ups and downs that caused extreme sweat, followed by coldness, followed by rain, followed by waiting around for the boat. Yet, in all of the five hours the run took, the shorts barely retained any water or soaked through, despite the perspiration-inducing backpack and climbs. The shell stayed separate and dried quickly—thanks to the fact that it is not attached entirely around the waist, but almost “floats” at sections. This meant less water in the nether regions and absolutely no chafing all day. As far as compression shorts-plus-running shorts go, they still felt light and not particularly warm — for better or for worse. The pockets on the sides and rear were fine, but nothing necessarily special.

Maloja Lagsm Running Shorts: The OK

Man running along a coastal cliff
The author’s exposed thighs, glowing as a beacon for wayward ships.

Though the materials and the features are all either excellent or decent, the fit of these running shorts is a little odd. Pretty much all day, they felt like they were riding up, and I always felt like I had a size too small. Even though a 6-inch inseam should feel like good coverage, something about the cut itself made them feel more like a 4-inch inseam, which is not something I’d look to bring on a long training run like this. That said, the only people we saw out on the run were Navy corpsmen and a roaming buffalo, so my thighs were free to roam, unexposed and unashamed.

The only other little picky detail on these shorts—and yes, I can be picky because they cost $140, in case you forgot—is the giant logo all across the back. I really liked their simple forest design graphic on the front, but having the word “MALOJA” splashed across my butt made me feel even more self-conscious of my legs/butt. But maybe that’s just a personal problem I need to work out myself; your mileage may vary.

Maloja Lagsm Running Shorts: Conclusions

Without beating this dead horse into dust, $140 is a lot for running shorts. Have I spent less on shorts that were just as good? Yes. Have I spent less on shorts that were better? No. For reference, I have done that same run across Catalina with other pairs of premium shorts and come back pretty wrecked, so I’m definitely not complaining about my un-chafed underparts. If I had a big, 50-mile race coming up, I couldn’t change shorts during it, and I wanted to guarantee—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that I could minimize chafing without question, I would probably get these. But I probably also wouldn’t tell anyone how much I paid.



From Triathlete