Bras for Running: 6 Runner-Tested Favorites for Performance

Choosing some apparel for running, like socks and shirts, is usually a simple process. 

👩 But bras for running? Not so much.

Maybe finding your best-fitting sports bras comes in second to finding your best-performing running shoe. 

Like fingerprints, no two boobs (possibly even those on the same person!) are created equal.

So I present this list of “Best Running Bras...”

With the caveat that...

  • My boobs are tiny, upper back wide, and preferences lean toward simple, basic designs.
  • I don’t like cropped bras, high-neck bras, hardware like clasps and hooks, molded cups, phone pockets or excessive straps. 

👉What you’ll find in the list are classically-designed running sports bras that work for small boobs and possibly medium and big boobs, too (let me know!). 

🌦Testing bras for running in every weather condition

🏃‍♀️The bras featured in this list have gone through:

  • Year-round, all-season, testing
  • Temperatures ranging from single digits to the high 90s
  • A wide range of conditions, including torrential downpours, steady rains, heat, humidity, drought, sleet, snow, ice, wind and fog. 

 🏃‍♀️These bras for running have also endured:

  • Single digit to 32 mile-runs
  • Running 15 to 40 miles per week, usually averaging 25 to 30
  • Plus mountain biking, backpacking, skiing, kayaking and rock climbing.

For assistance in determining your own size, here are the female wear tester’s measurements:

🏃‍♀️The Running Sports Bras Line-Up

  1. Favorite for Winter & Layering: Icebreaker Merino Sprite Racerback Bra
  2. Cutest: Nike Dri-FIT Indy Sports Bra
  3. Best High Impact & Compression: Oiselle Lesko Bra
  4. Best Overall: Patagonia Switchback Bra
  5. Softest & Best Merino Wool: Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Racerback Bra
  6. Most Affordable: Under Armour Mid Crossback Sports Bra

❄1. Favorite for Winter & Layering

Icebreaker Merino Sprite Racerback Bra, size S, front view (Photo/Eric Harder)
Icebreaker Merino Sprite Racerback Bra, size S, back view (Photo/Eric Harder)

Here are FOUR of my favorite things about the Icebreaker Merino Sprite Racerback Bra, which I wear in size small: 

  1. The fact that it is mostly made of merino wool (83 percent merino wool, 12 percent nylon, 5 percent elastane) 
  2. It has a narrow, between-the-shoulder-blades back strap
  3. It comes with zero padding but can accommodate inserts if desired (I wear it without)
  4. The simple, low-cut, minimal coverage of the boob area 

Because the Sprite is merino wool and does not have cups...

  • I like to wear it in the wintertime when I’m wearing multiple layers.
  • Usually a jacket, diminishing any self-consciousness about zero modesty cups. 

The Sprite is not compressive...

  • Instead, it has a low-to-medium-impact feel, holding the boobs rather than pressing them. 
  • For this reason, I choose the Sprite for easy runs and long days in the woods, never for hard efforts, workouts or races. 

TIP: Like I do with all my wool gear, I hang this bra up to dry after using it, even if it is sopping wet with sweat. Then it's dry and ready to wear again by the time I put it on 16-24 hours later, making it an optimal choice when traveling or camping.

😃2. Cutest Design

Nike Dri-FIT Indy Sports Bra, size S, front view (Photo/Eric Harder)
Nike Dri-FIT Indy Sports Bra, size S, back view (Photo/Eric Harder)

What I like most about the Nike Dri-FIT Indy Sports Bra, which I wear in size small, is the way it looks.

It’s cute! Silly, yes, but I like the:

  • Scooped, slight V-neck front
  • And the mesh between the boobs, allowing for optimal airflow. 

A few other things I like about the Nike Dri-FIT Indy Sports Bra 

  • The modesty cups are sturdy and don’t bunch up or come out in the wash.
  • Though sometimes they peek out of the top, which is where they are inserted, unlike most, which are inserted on the sides. 
  • I like the skinny straps, which are difficult to find in sports bras.
  • I use this bra mostly for runs that last about an hour, though I have run for several hours in it, up to 16 to 18 miles.

TIP: My favorite time to rock the Indy is shirtless in the summertime!

✅3. Best High Impact & Compression

Oiselle Lesko Bra, size 4, front view (Photo/Eric Harder)
Oiselle Lesko Bra, size 4, back view (Photo/Eric Harder)

The Oiselle Lesko Bra, which I wear in size 4, is a dream when it comes to a sports bra-touting compression. It's...

  • Super secure, allowing zero boob bounce
  • Ready for the gnarliest adventures and runs. 

I grab this one for :

  • Races
  • Workouts
  • Long runs
  • And anytime I’m wearing a tank top or t-shirt. In other words, the Lesko means business.

A few more things I like about this running bra:

  • The modesty pads are barely noticeable to the wearer
  • The criss-cross back straps provide extra lift and oomph to the front side. 
  • For those who love a classic, racerback, compression bra, the Lesko is the way to go. 

Bonus: My husband compliments me when I’m wearing this one. Maybe it’s the subtle bird print? 

👍4. Best Overall

Patagonia Switchback Bra, size S, front view (Photo/Eric Harder)
Patagonia Switchback Bra, size S, back view (Photo/Eric Harder)

The Patagonia Switchback Bra, which I wear in size small, is right up there with the Oiselle Lesko, in my opinion. 

  • This bra has much skinnier straps and a narrower back band
  • The design makes the back, obviously, more open. 
  • I LOVE the minimal amount of fabric on the back.
  • Why? It feels awesome when running without a shirt or mountain biking sans a top on the hottest days of summer. 

A few more things I like about this running bra:

  • The front provides a bit more coverage than some of the other bras on this list.
  • It’s fitted enough not to feel like my boobs are floating around in empty space. 
  • It is super lightweight and offers compression, but not too much, so I like it for my longest runs. 

TIP: Too much compression over long runs that last for more than three hours starts to irritate me, and the Switchback offers the perfect amount for marathon to ultra distances.  

Like the Oiselle Lesko, the Patagonia Switchback is a tried and true staple for running. 

🐑5. Softest & Best Merino Wool

Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Racerback Bra, size S, front view (Photo/Eric Harder)
Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Racerback Bra, size S, back view (Photo/Eric Harder)

Any Smartwool fans out there?

I sure am! So, when I bought the Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Racerback Bra, which I wear in size small, I expected nothing less than the best, and that's been my experience so far.

  • It is the most buttery soft bra on this list...
  • One that I could wear all day without noticing, just like their underwear, which I also love for running. 

A few more things I like about this running bra:

  • I love its plain and simple design, which can be difficult to find in a bra these days. 
  • The inserted molded cups keep their shape. One sneaks into the other side during the wash, but it's easy to fix. 
  • One key feature is that it seems to dry more quickly than the others.
  • I don’t feel like I need to rip it off my body immediately after I run like I do with most other bras.  For this reason, I always select it for backpacking and camping trips that involve running and other high-output sports.

💲6. Most Affordable

Under Armour Mid Crossback Sports Bra, size S, front view (Photo/ Eric Harder)
Under Armour Mid Crossback Sports Bra, size S, back view (Photo/ Eric Harder)

The Under Armour Mid Crossback Sports Bra, which I wear in size small, has been around for years, and I’ve had several for quite a while, longer than any other bra. 

  • It is a no-fail choice, with molded cups that stay put.
  • It has a sleek outer material that allows shirts to hang nicely.
  • There's plenty of support to feel confident and stable throughout runs of all distances and durations, two to 32 miles, 10 minutes to six hours. 

Plus, it’s the most affordable bra on this list...

And comes in solid colors like the purple pictured above. I also have one in black and one in gray. 

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Brynn Cunningham
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Trail runner, ultrarunner, white water boater, cyclist (mostly MTB), swimmer, triathlete, cross country and backcountry skier...

Comments

Marci McGuinness Great article!! Bras can be an annoying issue. Thanks!! Lol

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