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Born Primitive Versatile Short Review | Best Gym Shorts for Cross-Training?

The Born Primitive Versatile Short is designed to tackle pretty much anything you can throw at them at the gym. This short features a 4-way stretch shell and thick compression liner.

One of my all-time favorite training shorts is the Ten Thousand Interval Short and I was stoked to see how the Born Primitive Versatile Short Compared. After all of my testing, I’ll be rotating both of these shorts heavily and I’ll explain why below.

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If you want training shorts for lifting, CrossFit, and athletic-style sessions and you’re really conscious of the compression liner used in your shorts, then I think you’ll love the Born Primitive Versatile Short.

Born Primitive Versatile Short

$70

Born Primitive Versatile Short Product Shot
4.8
Versatility
4.8
Durability
4.7
Quality
4.8

Best For

  • CrossFit and Cross-Training
  • Lifting
  • Athletic Workouts
  • Sprinting and Short Runs
  • Casual Wear

Falls Short

  • For Breathability

Who Should Buy the Born Primitive Versatile Short?

There are multiple contexts where I see the Born Primitive Versatile Short working really well for certain guys in different training settings.

1. Guys Needing a Short for CrossFit and Cross-Training

If you’re a guy regularly tackling CrossFit and cross-training workouts, then you need a short that offers a wide range of versatility. I think Born Primitive Versatile Short excels in these training contexts for two reasons.

First, the 4-way stretch shell does a good job regarding mobility and durability. This short hasn’t shown any signs of breakdown from things like cleans, burpees, and rope climbs which has been a nice nod to this short’s quality.

Must Read: 10 Best Men’s Workout Shorts | Picks for Lifting, CrossFit, Running, and More

Born Primitive Versatile Short Review

Second, the compression liner in this short feels really good and keeps everything secure. I don’t think you’ll have issues with anything moving when training in these shorts and the liner feels reinforced and it’s held up well.

2. Guys Wanting a Short for Lifting and Daily Wear

Outside of versatile training contexts, I also like the Versatile Short’s performance for lifting and casual use. This is one of the training shorts that can transcend the gym like the Lululemon Pace Breaker Short and look good for daily wear contexts.

Born Primitive Versatile Shorts Review

The pockets are deep enough to keep your valuables secure and they’re big enough to where your wallet and phone shouldn’t poke out a ton which is something that irks me with other training shorts.

For lifting, the thicker waistband is great for security, and once again, the level of compression with the liner is great and the 4-way stretch shell feels good for things like lunges, split squats, and heavy squats.

3. Guys That Pick Shorts Based On Compression Liners

I love a good built-in compression liner and typically gravitate toward shorts that have liners built-in. Fewer articles of clothing are always a good thing for me and if you’re similar then I think you’ll enjoy the Born Primitive Versatile Short.

Born Primitive Versatile Short Compression Liner

When I first put on the Versatile Short I instantly noticed how the liner felt. The liner in this short has a really good feeling to it and it feels like has a higher quality than some of the other premium training shorts I’ve reviewed.

I really enjoy how the end of the liner feels reinforced and I like that this short has two compression liner pockets for your phone. Plus, these compression liner pockets are actually big enough for modern-day phones which is awesome.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Born Primitive Versatile Short?

Overall, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Born Primitive Versatile Short, but there are a couple of contexts where I think these shorts may be a miss for you.

1. Guys That Want Shorts With a Ton of Breathability

If you’re constantly training in hot settings and battling shorts that don’t have the best breathability, then you may want to pass on the Born Primitive Versatile Short.

Born Primitive Versatile Shell Construction

I like the heavier construction of these shorts for lifting and CrossFit, but they’re definitely the lightest or more breathable shorts on the market. If you like wispier shorts that feel super light to wear I don’t think you’ll resonate with them.

This is also why I don’t love these shorts for longer runs. For short runs they’re fine, but if you have a heavy running bias to your training then you’ll want to find a short more dialed for your needs.

2. Guys Who Want Shorts On a Budget

The Born Primitive Versatile Short costs $70 USD which puts them toward the higher end of prices regarding premium training shorts. If you’re on a budget then I could see the price of these shorts being a miss for you.

Born Primitive Versatile Price Breakdown

More specifically, if you’re a beginner in the gym and you want to spend around $50 USD or less on shorts then you could totally find pairs that will likely work well for your needs.

For example, the Bear Bottom Base Short is a decent option that costs $50 USD and options like the LRD Athletic Shorts come in around $35 USD and do an okay job, too.

Born Primitive Versatile Short Pros and Cons

Before buying the Born Primitive Versatile Short, it’s a good idea to recognize and keep in mind the pros and cons that come along with these shorts.

Report Card: Get the Quick Facts

Born Primitive Versatile Short

Born Primitive Versatile Short Quick Facts

Price: $70 USD

Inseam: 7″

Available Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL

Built-In Liner: Yes

Pros

  1. For lifting, cross-training, and CrossFit these shorts have been stellar and have a nice blend of mobility and durability for these workout contexts.
  2. If you’re big on the compression liner used in your shorts, then you’ll like these shorts. This short has a higher-quality feeling compression liner that has good security.
  3. These shorts can also work well for daily wear since they have deeper pockets and a pretty aesthetic appearance to them.

Cons

  1. If you want a short that has a high level of breathability then you may want to pass on these shorts.
  2. I could see the thicker waistband bothering some guys who like more minimalist-feeling shorts with slimmer waistbands. This waistband can feel like a lot if you don’t like thicker materials.
  3. These won’t be the best shorts for longer runs so if you’re an endurance-focused guy, then you’ll want to explore shorts that are more specific.

Performance Assessment

To assess the performance of the Born Primitive Versatile Short I trained in multiple contexts in these shorts to see where they excel and fall short. Below I’ll discuss their performance for lifting, cross-training, versatile workouts, short runs, and daily wear.

I wanted to test these shorts in different settings so you can appropriately cross-reference if these shorts align with your style of training.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short for Lifting

For lifting, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Born Primitive Versatile Short and they’ve quickly become one of my go-to workout shorts for lifting and strength-focused sessions.

This short’s 4-way stretch shell does a good job promoting mobility and the crotch of these shorts is built with a stretchier material which is a good touch to give you additional mobility when hitting deep squats.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short for Strength Training

I also appreciate the thicker waistband in these shorts and how secure it feels when training. Outside of squats, this waistband also does a good job promoting security when doing deeper hip hinges in things like Romanian deadlifts.

In my opinion, if you’re a guy that typically looks for heavier yet mobile shorts for lifting and you’re very conscious about the compression liner used in your shorts, then you’ll enjoy these shorts for lifting.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short for Lifting

The only lifting-focused context where I could see these shorts falling short is for guys that like wispier and lighter shorts for lifting. These will definitely feel heavier than something like a Ten Thousand Tactical Short.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short for Versatile Workouts

For versatile workouts, cross-training, and athletic-style sessions I thought the Versatile Short did a really good job. In this training context, I’m concerned with two key performance areas with my shorts.

First, I’m assessing a short’s ability to remain secure and feel “locked down” when jumping, sprinting, and doing power-focused exercises. With the Versatile Short’s thicker waistband and compression liner, this short didn’t move during versatile workouts.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short for Cross Training

To be honest, I don’t think the weight of this short will impact most in this training context and I actually started to enjoy this short’s blend of feeling more “structured” yet mobile for my cross-training sessions.

Second, I’m keeping an eye on a shorts compression liner and how it keeps the valuables secure. This short’s thicker compression liner seams and reinforced stitching lock everything down and the liner doesn’t stretch and move a ton while training.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short for Athletic Workouts

Note, if you’re a guy that prefers shorts without compression liners then you’ll want to pass on these shorts. This short only offers a lined option and I think you’ll find it overbearing if you’re a linerless kind of guy.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short for Short Runs and Daily Wear

For short runs and sprints, the Born Primitive Versatile Short should work well for most guys’ needs. This is a heavier short, but I didn’t mind its feel when tackling runs that were 4 miles or less.

I also appreciate that the compression liner pockets are actually big enough to store modern-day phones. A lot of premium training shorts that have compression liner pockets don’t have pockets that are big enough to accommodate newer phones.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short for Short Runs

For long-distance runs, once again, you’ll want to pass on these shorts and find something more specific for your needs. Much like running shoes, you’ll want something more dialed in for this style of workout.

In a daily wear context, I thought the Versatile Short performed well. The pockets are deep enough to stash your valuables and the appearance of this short looks pretty great, in my opinion.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile for Daily Use

Another subtle perk of this short for daily wear is that it’s comfortable despite having a built-in liner. Not every training short has a liner that works well for casual use but this short is a nice anomaly.

Born Primitive Versatile Short Product Shot

Born Primitive Versatile Short

Pros: Liner, Material Quality
Cons: Breathabiliy
Size/Fit: True to Size
Lifting Threshold: Good for Lifting
Mileage Threshold: <4 miles
Material Quality: Great
Price: $70
TF2 Rating: 4.8
Ten Thousand Interval Short (2)

Ten Thousand Interval Short

Pros: Versatility, Breathable
Cons: Zipper Durability
Size/Fit: True to Size
Lifting Threshold: Great for Lifting
Mileage Threshold: <5 miles
Material Quality: Solid
Price: $68
TF2 Rating: 4.8

Born Primitive Versatile Short Sizing

For the Born Primitive Versatile Short, I think most guys should be safe going true to size. I found this short to fit true and walk a fine line between being snug enough without being overbearing.

My waist sits right around 32″ and this short’s waistband hugged really nicely and I don’t have to crank the drawstring super tight to get them secure for training which I appreciate.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short Sizing and Fit

I think if you’re in-between sizes, then you’ll want to go up or down based on your thigh measurements. These shorts work well for thicker and more muscular legs so size your shorts based on your thigh circumference and fit preferences (snugger or looser fit).

I went with a Medium in the Versatile Short and I’m going to provide my dimensions below so you can hopefully draw a reference on my dimensions and how these shorts fit on me for your needs.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short Sizing

  • Height: 6′ 0″
  • Weight179 lbs
  • Waist: 32″
  • Hip (circumference around butt): 40″
  • Mid-Thigh: 23.5″-24″

If you have additional sizing and fit questions about the Born Primitive Versatile Short, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally and I can try to help you out.

Price Breakdown

For the Born Primitive Versatile Short, you can expect to pay $70 USD. This places these shorts in the middle to higher-end of prices for premium training shorts.

I personally think these shorts are worth their price especially if you align with the thicker waistband and compression liner that comes with these shorts.

Testing the Born Primitive Versatile Short for Runs

I also see these shorts as being worth it for athletes and lifters wanting something consistent for lifting and CrossFit. These shorts have rivaled my Interval Short and Indestructible Short for these workout contexts.

On the note of price, I’ve also heard good things about Born Primitive’s customer support and replacing defective shorts which could be a good thing for anyone who’s on the fence about investing in these.

Born Primitive Versatile Short

$70

Born Primitive Versatile Short Product Shot
4.8
Versatility
4.8
Durability
4.7
Quality
4.8

Best For

  • CrossFit and Cross-Training
  • Lifting
  • Athletic Workouts
  • Sprinting and Short Runs
  • Casual Wear

Falls Short

  • For Breathability

Construction Details

The Born Primitive Versatile Short delivers a lot of the construction details that you want with your training shorts. Below are some of the key details to note about this short before investing in them.

Born Primitive Versatile Short Compression Liner Pockets

  • Inseam Options: 7”
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
  • Built-In Liner: Yes
  • 4-Way Stretch Shell
  • 100% Polyester Premium Fabric
  • Internal Drawstring
  • Thicker Waistband
  • Compression Liner With Reinforced Stitching
  • 2 Built-In Compression Liner Pockets
  • 2 Deep Left and Right Pockets
  • 1 Posterior Zip Pocket

If you need further clarification about the construction of the Versatile Short, drop a comment below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
How should I clean my Born Primitive shorts?

A:
Born Primitive suggests washing your shorts on cool with like colors, then letting them hang and air dry. I'd suggest doing this if you want your shorts to last longer.

Q:
Are the Born Primitive Versatile Short good for CrossFit?

A:
For CrossFit, the Versatile Short have performed exceptionally well. The shell stretches well for different movements and it's done a good job with overall durability.

Q:
Can I run in the Born Primitive Versatile Short?

A:
You can use the Born Primitive Versatile Short for short runs under 4 miles and for sprints. For long runs, you'll want to explore running-focused workout shorts.

Takeaway Thoughts

The Born Primitive Versatile Short has been a stellar training short for lifting and cross-training. This short has quickly become one of my favorite shorts to train in and it’s heavily in my current training shorts rotation.

The biggest perks of this short revolve around its compression liner and how it has a more premium feel compared to other shorts that have similar price points.

If you have additional questions about the Born Primitive Versatile Short, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

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