Not so long ago, most sports bras were terrible. They were either too constricting or too loose and they'd sag out after a few wears. No longer. New advances in materials and construction technologies have created terrific support bras for every type of body.
“I’ve been studying sports bras for 30-plus years now,” says LaJean Lawson, a breast researcher and consultant for Champion. “This is definitely the Golden Age in sports-bra history."
Bras now come in more sizes (A to J cups), more styles, and more curves (if you want them), and they're built with high-performance fabrics that are stronger, lighter, smoother and faster-drying. Sure, the market still includes some crappy options, but we no longer live in a one-style-suits-all era. Women now enjoy dozens of great choices from both big and small brands.
Over the past few years, I’ve probably tested 100 different sports bras, and some of my favorites have come from companies you likely have never heard of. Not that the big players don’t make great products (some of them do). But if you’re a woman who hasn’t yet found a sports bra you’d call awesome, you might want to consider one of these fresh names.
Ranked from most supportive to least, these sports bras have become my trusted go-to’s when playing in the mountains.
Anita DynamiX Star ($69)
Lots of sports bras sacrifice breathability for support, but this racerback keeps clamminess at bay with mesh panels on the back and between the breasts. The cups are lined with ultralight terrycloth that mops up sweat as effectively as a bath towel. The ribcage and shoulder straps are both adjustable, and I experience no bounce while running. (I’m a C cup, and even my DD friend also loves this bra’s comfort.)
Adidas Supernova X ($45)
I’ll admit this bra isn’t for everyone, and I have days when I feel like wearing something with less structure. But when I want support for high-impact activities like running, I reach for this crossback. It also does an admirable job of battling sweat: the molded cups actually touch my breastbone, so I don’t get the rivers of perspiration there that I do with most other bras.
The North Face Stow-N-Go IV ($45)
This is a basic pullover tank, with a nifty bonus feature: a little pocket sewn into the space between the breasts holds a single key or gel. As for support and moisture management? It gets the job done.
Zensah Racey ($40)
I love this stretchy racerback for medium-impact sports like mountain biking and hiking. It's especially ideal in hot weather, when the minimal coverage and airy weave keep me cool.
Handful Adjustable ($50)
Marvelously flattering, this bra lets you customize the fit with sliders on the shoulder straps, which permit both straight and cross-back configurations. You can even tie the straps halter-style, behind your neck like a bathing suit. (Which is a handy feature when you lack regulation swimwear for impromptu hot-tub sessions.) It effectively wicks sweat while mountain biking and backcountry skiing, and is comfy enough for all-day wear.
Stonewear Designs Tempo ($44)
My favorite for hiking and yoga, this flattering pullover uses removable cups to avoid uniboob syndrome. I find it a little too hot for high-intensity workouts, but I love its silky-soft comfort during easygoing efforts.