Our top picks for women runners of all sizes
Photo by Jay Dash.
For most women, few pieces of running gear are as critical as a well-designed sports bra. And, frankly, there are plenty of ways to make a bad sports bra—poor fit, too little support, seams that chafe. Fortunately, more companies than ever are developing better bras for runners of all shapes and sizes, and we couldn’t have been more delighted by the styles we discovered this season.
Stuff Your Bra II
$52 / lululemon.com
BEST FOR: A-D Cups
True to its name, this cleverly designed sports bra has three subtle drop-in pockets along the front to stash energy gels, keys, cash or other small essentials. Though marketed as a medium-impact bra, we found it provided ample support for running, even for C- or D-cup women.
The material is soft against the skin, lightweight and highly breathable—perfect for warm weather. In typical lululemon fashion, this bra also ranks high in the style department, with a sleek criss-cross strap design and tasteful colorways. Available from size 2 (XXS) to 12 (XL).
$64 / skirtsports.com
BEST FOR: B-D+ Cups
Once upon a time, women had to choose between supportive but unflattering bras and flattering but unsupportive ones. While many sports bras boast separate-cup encapsulation—thus doing away with the “uniboob” look—this one walks the walk best of all those we tested, matching an attractive profile with formidable high-impact support.
Additionally, the Kelly offers infinite adjustability to account for minor body fluctuations that can happen over time. The rear hook-and-eye clasp has four different adjustment options for band size, and the straps are infinitely adjustable, thanks to Velcro panels. Lastly, the straps can be interchanged between criss-cross or open-back wear. We found it plenty comfortable, not only for long, hard-charging runs, but also just lounging around in afterward. Available from 32B up to 40DD.
$48 / handful.com
BEST FOR: A-B Cups
With a motto of “Flatter, Not Flatten,” Handful aims to offer A- to B-cup women stylish alternatives to traditional sports bras. Our testers loved the customizable straps—both the adjustable length and the configuration that can be switched between criss-cross and straight, depending on the design of your running top.
This bra also comes with removable pads. One 34A tester appreciated their novelty, though, in practice, she had mixed feelings: “I prefer wearing the bra with the padding inserts, because they offer more support—when I take them out, it is a little too loose—but they also make me feel silly.” Available from XS to L, the Adjustable Bra comes in nearly a dozen cheekily named colorways like “Fifty Shades of Gunmetal Gray” and “Candy Apples Red.”
$70 / icebreaker.com
BEST FOR: A-C Cups
Wool enthusiasts, take note! Even sports bras are now being made with silky, moisture-wicking, odor-free merino wool. The Rush Bra is 92-percent merino, blended with Lycra spandex for stretch and support. Our testers appreciated the easy pullover style and wide racer-back straps, which offer plenty of support without feeling tight or constricting. The Rush Bra excels in both hot and cold weather—no clamminess or chafing whatsoever. We found it supportive enough for runners wearing up to a C cup. Available in sizes XS to XL.
$25 / adidas.com
BEST FOR: A-B Cups
Made with a thin, moisture-wicking polyester-spandex blend and sporting perforated mesh along its wide racerback straps, the Techfit Bra is perfect for hot weather. With no encapsulation, padding or underwire, it’s a no-frills, compression-style bra that testers loved for its simplicity. It’s available in a wealth of colors, and at $25 is a steal. It comes in sizes XS to XL (though we didn’t find this bra supportive enough for larger cup sizes). Note that it runs a tad small.
$48 / brooksrunning.com/moving-comfort-sports-bras
BEST FOR: B-D Cups
Brand new for this season from Moving Comfort, the UpLift Crossback pairs buttery-smooth fabric with encapsulated support and light padding. It features a single, non-adjustable hook-and-eye closure in the rear that makes taking it off at the end of a sweaty run a cinch.
It’s charming enough to be a swimsuit top, yet doesn’t sacrifice any of the high-impact support that’s made Moving Comfort a perennial favorite among B- to D-cup women. Our testers loved everything from the slight scoop-neck hem to the wide, chafe-free, criss-cross straps. Available in XS (30CD-32C) to XL (38CD-40C).
American Sports Bra
Original Sports Bra
$60 / americansportsbra.com
BEST FOR: C-D+ Cups
This bra takes the cake for most innovative design—as well as best support for DD+ women—essentially encompassing two bras in one. The featherweight “under bra” comes outfitted with molded underwire cups, while an outer sports bra locks everything into place to reduce bouncing. Though learning how to put it on takes some practice, both bras feature front closures for contortion-free on and off. The support this bra offers is undeniable, but we wished the fabric did a better job wicking sweat on hot days. Available in white or black, from 34B up to 42DD.
Sturdy Girl Sports
Las Vegas Bra
$64 / sturdygirlsports.com
BEST FOR: C-D+ Cups
If you’ve ever felt the need to don two sports bras to avoid unwanted bounce during a run, this sleek, scoop-neck bra is for you! With its patented multi-layer, encapsulated-cup design, it received high marks from wear testers on everything from support to comfort to appearance. In the words of one 34DD tester, “This is the first bra I’ve ever owned where I didn’t once worry about bouncing around while on my run.” (Notably, 34DD is SturdyGirl’s best-selling size.)
The thick, padded material runs a tad warm, but few bras feel as comfortable for long runs as the plush, chafe-free, stretch fabric the Las Vegas boasts. Available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, from 34C up to 38DD. It fits snug, so don’t size down.
This article originally appeared in our September 2015 issue.