A Shorts Story: Comparing the Oiselle Flyte and Stride Shorts

So, as many of you know I am a brand ambassador for Oiselle, a fabulous women’s  apparel company that shares my passion for fashionable, functional running gear. And that is only one of the many things that makes this little company awesome. In addition, Oiselle is passionately committed to growing a vibrant, diverse sisterhood of women runners, and supporting and advocating for the sport of track and field and its athletes. I could probably gush all day about how great Oiselle is, how inspiring it is to be a part of the amazing community they have created, what an awesome job they have done of building a presence for themselves in the world of elite running, how their visions of combining style and sweat align perfectly with my personal zeal for fitness fashion and the concept for this blog, and  so on, but that is a post for another day. Instead, today’s post is intended to tell a shorts story. So here we go…

Once upon a time, just last week, actually, Oiselle released their new seamless Flyte series. Since that fateful day I have  noticed quite a bit of buzz on the interwebs questioning the differences between the Flyte Short and the tried and true go-to race day Stride Short.  Lucky for all you Oiselle fans out there (but to the great chagrin of my credit card) I have this habit of buying all the new Oiselle stuff as soon as it is available, so it took me no time at all to acquire and wear test the Flyte short. I will spend the next few paragraphs comparing and contrasting it with the Stride Shorts in hopes of giving you the education that you need to choose the Oiselle shorts that will best meet your personal race day needs!

We’ll start with a little comparison of the specs…

Stride Short vs. Flyte Short:

  • Inseam: 4″ for the Stride Short vs. 2″ for the Flyte Short
  • Pockets: 1 front zipper pocket for the Stride Short vs. no pockets for the Flyte Short.
  • Fabric: High compression 90% mircoploy/ 10% spandex blend for the Stride Short vs.  Seamless construction poly/nylon/spandex blend for the Flyte short. (Specific percentages for the Flyte Short blend are not listed on Oiselle’s website.)

*Additionally, Oiselle advertises the Flyte Short as being “wicking and antimicrobial” as well as “no-see-through” weight.

Now that you know a little about the physical differences between these two shorts, I will share with you my personal experiences with each of them, for what its worth. Let’s get this shorts party started with a closer look at the Stride Short…

Behold the no-nonsense full butt coverage sensibility of the Stride Short!

Behold the no-nonsense full butt coverage sensibility of the Stride Short!

What I LOVE About the Stride Short:

The Perfect Blend of No-nonsense Functionality and Optimal Butt Coverage

Perhaps the thing I find the most endearing about the Stride Short is its simplicity. It’s clean, flattering lines and compression-y, ride-up free fabric make it my go-to race day short for all distances from the mile to the marathon. I appreciate how it’s 4 inch inseam falls in a spot that feels short enough to be fast and sporty, but long enough to keep me believing that come what may, be it excessive southern sweatiness,  monsoons, tsunamis, etc, the Stride Short has always got me (and my butt in its entirety) covered. I’m also extra-pumped that the update to the Stride Short for Spring/ Summer 2013 includes a handy little front zipper pocket. It’s new ability to stash energy gels and/or car keys makes it more appealing than ever before for longer training runs and races.

My Personal Challenges with the Stride Short:

Sizing is Everything

It took me a couple of tries to get the sizing right on the Stride Short. As it turns out, even the most compression-y ride-up free fabric WILL ride up if your shorts are too big. Although I do technically fall within the measurements of a small according to Oiselle’s size chart, I must confess that I have a strange, irrational fear of ordering spandex garments in the small size.  At  5′ 6″ and roughly 130 lbs, I consider myself to be of “average” size, at least relative to most of the other female runners I know, and thus I tend to gravitate more towards size medium when it comes to spandex shopping. But when I took my medium Stride Shorts out on one of my final long runs of last fall’s marathon training cycle in hopes that they might win the title of my marathon race day short, I quickly found myself on the Ride-up Express, destination Chaffingville. Fortunately, this issue was resolved with a simple size switch.  As it turned out, my fall marathon got cancelled and I never got to take the Fall 2012 Stride Short out for a 26.2, but I have raced in them at pretty much all distances from 5K to half mary and they have not chaffed me one iota.

But that is not the end of my Stride Shorts saga. When spring marathon time rolled around I ordered myself a new pair of updated-with-zipper-pocket size small Stride Shorts for race day. Sure, I already owned a perfectly good pair of Fall 2012 Stride Shorts, but I felt like being able to stash a couple of extra raspberry Hammer Gels in that snazzy new zipper pocket warranted an upgrade. From what I had heard, I would probably be needing those extra gels to get me up and over those Newton hills anyway. I completely disregarded the widely acclaimed marathon race day adage “No new is good new” and kept my new Stride Shorts pristine for race day. Although I can’t find any confirmation of this anywhere on the all-knowing world-wide web, I swear on my Boston Marathon finisher’s medal that the size small Spring 2013 Stride Short is larger than the size small Fall 2012 Stride Short. The photographic evidence below proves this, and sadly, so did the chaffing on my inner thighs after Boston, despite liberal preemptive Body Gliding, just in case.

Obiviously, there is just a little more of the Spring 2013 Stride Short (black, bottom) than there is of the Fall 2012 model (Indigo, top).

Obviously, there is just a little more of the Spring 2013 Stride Short (black, bottom) than there is of the Fall 2012 model (indigo, top).

Despite these sizing struggles, I still think the Stride Short is pretty baller and I would highly recommend an appropriately sized pair to anyone who is seeking a sleek, flattering, full-coverage short tight. Although I personally have not and probably never will come to terms with the notion of purchasing spandex in SIZE XS!!! (Gasp and shutter!!!), you may consider sizing down if you dare.

Now, on to the Flyte Short…

The scrumptiously soft and comfy, super-sporty Flyte Short.

The scrumptiously soft and comfy, super-sporty Flyte Short.

What I Love About the Flyte Short:

Absolutely Delicious Fabric Feel

Holy balls, y’all, this short is almost as comfortable as NOT WEARING PANTS!!! Seriously, it’s soft, seamless, never see-through fabric feels AH-MAZING, and I love it. Thus far, I have found the delightful comfiness of the Flyte Short to be quite magical in both the running gear and sleep wear arenas, and I just can’t say enough about the stellar tactile pleasantness of this piece!

A Few Flyte Short Peculiarities:

I was intrigued to give the Flyte Short a go because (a) Just days before it’s release I got to try on a sample of it at the showing of the 2014 Spring Oiselle line at the store where I work. I thought it felt like a little slice of shorts Nirvana and was reluctant to take it off. And (b) with a race calendar filled with plenty of shorter races and big aspirations of getting faster, I rationalized that now would be a good time to add some shorter, faster shorts to the race day rotation. I thought the Flyte Short’s 2″ inseam sounded short, but not obscene, so I hopped right on the bandwagon and ordered myself a pair post-haste!

WARNING: Some Flyte Short Wearers May Experience Mild Amounts of Lower Butt Area Exposure

I’ve never been one to shy away from spandex. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I regularly embrace it as business casual attire!  (Don’t be frightened by that statement. I am a full-time fitness specialist and a part-time running store employee.) However,  as it turns out the 2″ inseam hits my slightly taller side of average frame in such a way that it ever so subtly reveals my lower butt area (LBA). We all have areas/ parts of our bodies that we do not feel super-great about, and for me, the LBA is one of those places. I totally get that the Flyte Short is intended be shorter and more competition focused than other shorts in Oiselle’s line, and I’ve got nothing but mad respect for all of you pretty young things out there who feel confident letting the I-feel-good-about-my-lower-butt-area flag fly, but for me this is definitely an area in which the Stride Short wins out over the Flyte Short. (Maybe we could throw a 4″ inseam Flyte Short into the Oiselle Spring 2014 line? Pretty please?)

I think we'll all be better off if I just keep my lower butt area to myself.

I think we’ll all be better off if I just keep my lower butt area to myself.

Unconventional Inseam to Waistband Height Ratio 

Despite my feelings of hesitation at the lack coverage of the Flyte Short’s shorter inseam, the second thing I find peculiar about this piece is its higher rise about the waist. I feel like we are living in a fashion world that is dominated by low-rise hip hugging everything, and yet the waistband of the Flyte Short oddly comes all the way up to my bellybutton. I suppose that isn’t necessarily a bad or uncomfortable thing, but for whatever reason, I just feel very aware of the higher waistband. I suppose it is possible that it may serve some sort of functional purpose (control top race shorts, perhaps?), and I have found that it can easily be addressed with a simple waist band fold-down, but at the end of the day I think this piece would just feel a little more natural to me if it had more fabric at the bottom and less at top. All things considered, it’s still a fantastically comfortable short and that’s what really matters, but I cannot deny that I am just ever so slightly perturbed and befuddled by its mild disproportionallity.

The Flyte Short is just ever so slightly oddly high-waisted in my humble opinion.

The Flyte Short is just ever so slightly oddly high-waisted in my humble opinion.

Mediocre Southern Summer Humidity Performance Rating

For all you sisters out there who are sweating it out in the south with me this summer, I think it is important to point out that the luxuriously soft fabric of the Flyte short is sadly noticeably more absorbent than the more traditionally spandexy fabric of the Stride Short. Not only have I observed that they Flyte Short seems much quicker to become completely saturated by my copious amounts of southern summer sweat, it is also dramatically more inclined than the Stride Short to stretch and expand upon reaching the point of saturation.  But there is a silver lining to the high absorbency and expansion properties of the Flyte Short: Its coverage of the lower butt area improves tremendously the more you sweat on it! Even so, I still have to give the higher southern summer humidity performance rating to the Stride Short.

In the end, the Flyte Short remains the most deliciously comfortable of all the running shorts in my vast collection, and I highly recommend it for shorter, faster races and workouts where feeling as speedy as possible is important. I also especially recommend the Flyte Short for women who feel good about their lower butt areas and live in arid climates. But if you are someone more like myself who prefers to keep your LBA to yourself and must endure heat humidity of the southern summer, then the Stride Short may be a better bet for maximizing LBA coverage and moisture management.

Let’s revisit the key differences between the Stride Short and the Flyte Short with a little side-by-side comparison photo essay re-cap…

A general rear view side-by-side comparison.

A general rear view side-by-side comparison.

Note the difference in the length of the Stride Short's 4" inseam (left) & the Flyte Short;s 2" inseam (Right) while you become better acquainted with my backside.

Note the difference in the length of the Stride Short’s 4″ inseam (left) & the Flyte Short;s 2″ inseam (Right) while you become better acquainted with my backside.

Note the lower waistband rise of the Stride Short (left) vs the all-the-way-to-the-bellybutton rise of the Flyte Short (right).

Note the lower waistband rise of the Stride Short (left) vs the all-the-way-to-the-bellybutton rise of the Flyte Short (right).

In conclusion, I think that the Stride Short is still the short that best aligns with my personal training and racing needs as well as my LBA comfort level, despite the OMG-I-never-want-to-take-these-off comfiness of the Flyte Short. But we must remember that there are many different fabulous women runners out there in many different shapes and sizes, with many different feelings about their lower butt areas. We all have unique shorts needs and preferences and that is why it is super-cool that Oiselle makes a great variety functional, flattering, fashionable shorts to accommodate a wide range of tastes and body types. I hope my little shorts story has been useful in helping you zero in on which of these fast, fabulous short options best suits you and your training and racing needs.  (And if spandex is not your thing the Roga Short and the Distance Short are great non-spandex Oiselle options!)

So cheers to Oiselle and to awesome shorts for all! I would also like to throw out an extra big shout out to my fantastic running bud Kara for helping make this post possible by graciously taking about a million close-up photos of my butt. (All in the name of consumer research, of course!) Friends like that just don’t come along everyday, y’all. And as always, many thanks to all of you for reading!

What’s your favorite race day short and why?

*Please note that all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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