People love Soffe Men’s Running Shorts, a.k.a. Ranger Panties. That is evidenced in their 1,250 Amazon reviews, the vast majority of which are five stars. People even like to include images of themselves wearing the comically tiny shorts, bragging about how close to exposed your penis is while flopping around on a jog.

I was inspired to buy and test the shorts, and can confirm: It is very close. But that’s not why people love them! I bought them because the silky soft Soffes are a very comfortable, ultra affordable, and wonderfully lightweight pair of running shorts. They’re also the very same pair of running shorts regularly issued by the military, namely the United States Marine Corps.

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Soffe has an entire section of its website devoted to military clothing. But I’m not sure why you’d need anything besides these shorts, which the Marines fondly refer to as “silkies.” One reviewer likens the experience of running in Ranger Panties to “wearing a bald eagle wrapped in an American flag.” Another said he “was emboldened by the daisy dukes of freedom to take to the Earth and rid it of all evil.”

Clearly all you need is a fresh pair of Ranger Panties and a patriotic spirit and you’re ready to take on the world.

How I Found My Ranger Panties

I’m kind of picky about my clothing, especially workout gear. Basically, I like to keep things simple. I’m not into stripes or patterns or logos of 5Ks gone past. Just all black is fine with me. So I took to Amazon to find the best, most simple black shorts in the world.

Shopping for clothes on Amazon is like watching bad satellite television. There are way more options than you need, and the signal-to-noise ratio can be terribly temperamental. So when I recently went to buy my shorts, I did the best thing you can do: I read the reviews and I read a lot of them. I did not expect them to point me towards a comically small $9 pair of Ranger Panties.

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That said, it’s hard to sum up the enthusiasm for Soffe running shorts—especially the brand of it found in reviews on the internet:

That’s the review that made me buy the shorts, by the way. Why yes, I would like my bits and pieces to be gently cradled by justice-inducing booty shorts. Yes, I would. I bought them in black, size medium.

What I Love About My Ranger Panties

Indeed, the Ranger Panties are silky smooth. The nylon tricot fabric is slightly stretchy and literally as soft as silk. Unlike real silk, the lightweight fabric is extremely breathable. The shorts are also extremely short with just a 2-inch inseam. So just as I’d read online, wearing the just shorts felt like wearing nothing at all. And from certain angles, it looks like that, too! When running, they felt liberating, and the high performance fabric enabled the Ranger Panties to dry fast and stay clean.

These aren’t just great shorts for running, either. Several Amazon reviewers suggested wearing them as underwear instead of boxer briefs. This idea didn’t appeal to me personally, but I could see the utility. I mostly enjoyed the shorts for lounging around the house on the weekends. Heck, Ranger Panties are great for doing all kinds of activities. Trying to kick back after a tough workout? Try enjoying a cold one and playing some cornhole in your Ranger Panties.

Feeling more productive? Maybe you’d want want to do a little cleaning or move some furniture. No problem! Wearing my Ranger Panties I enjoyed great mobility and an airy sense of freedom. Just like the reviewers said!

The Danger of Ranger Panties

Ranger Panties are inappropriately short for many social engagements. I wanted to test the shorts in as many different environments as possible but was largely unable to do so, because my girlfriend would not let me leave the house while wearing them. (She did not specify a reason.)

Nevertheless, I was able to try my Ranger Panties out in various athletic environments. While the shorts are ideal for running, they’re less than ideal for a crowded yoga class. Just as I’d read on Amazon, the inner liner is a thin shield between being appropriately clothed and “[wanting] the world to see your twig and berries.” I appreciated the presence of the lining in my first yoga class, but I definitely double bagged it in public after a few close calls there.

The inner liner is problematic in a couple of other ways. It’s nice to have it due to the aforementioned “twig and berries” issue, but the liner fits too loosely to be really useful. While the free feeling is nice when you’re jogging and enjoying the breeze, it’s a little unnerving when you get out of a swimming pool, unsure of what’s where. I found out the hard way that the shorts and liner are very clinging when wet, so unless you want to present the world with a nylon-wrapped sculpture of your junk, you’d better keep them dry.

Should You Buy Your Own Ranger Panties?

Yes! Ranger Panties cost $9 on Amazon. Certain sizes and color choices might inch that price up to about $16, but that’s still half the price of a comparable pair of Nike running shorts. At that price, why not buy two pairs of Ranger Panties in two different colors. I’d suggest black and gunmetal.

The shorts don’t feel cheap, either. Ranger Panties feel like a high performance piece of athletic apparel, which is probably why various branches of the military decided to issue them to soldiers and sailors.

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Unfortunately, Soffe does not make an equivalent pair of women’s running shorts, a wrong that should be righted. Though, there’s nothing to prevent women from wearing the men’s Ranger Panties. Soffe is most famous for making its Juniors Authentic Short for women. These are the all-cotton short shorts favored by cheerleading squads across America. The mesh Junior Teeny Tiny is another alternative.

What a weird world. I never knew that the same company that makes cheerleader shorts also makes military shorts with something of a cult following. But they are great shorts. So if you need some shorts that will make you feel things, go for the Soffe Ranger Panties. America will thank you.

All photos by Michael Hession


Contact the author at adam@gizmodo.com.
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