No sports bra trumps all others. For female runners, finding a set of sports bras that does the job and fits just right can be even more complicated than finding that magical pair of shoes. If shopping for sports bras is nothing but frustrating, we’re here to help make the process smoother. Canadian Running has spent much of this spring and summer testing approximately 50 bras from the best brands. Each met a different set of criteria so we put them on seven testers are avid runners and seeing as they range from cup sizes AA to D, they all have a completely different set of needs.
Which support level works best for you?
Low: A low support bra is best for women who wear a AA to B cup. The padding that comes with high support bras often feels unnecessary and bulky for runners who don’t need it. If the only purpose it serves is to get drenched and heavy with sweat, cut it out! Low support bras are often the best for feeling completely ventilated out on the run. They are also great for low-impact activities like yoga, hiking or low-key toning sessions.
Medium: Runners who wear a B or C or a smaller D cup may very well find themselves in this camp. A medium support bra is the kind of like the Goldilocks for runners that are neither chesty nor small-breasted– not too much support, not too little. It should fit just right!
High: Athletes who wear cup sizes C and D typically find themselves in this category. You need support and you’re going to notice when adequate support isn’t there. No use in starting into a run if you’re unsure if there’s going to be wobble and bounce. Women who fit in this category might complain about breast pain when running. That can be solved if the bust is locked down.
Extra high: For women who wear a D and beyond.
Caela: “Looks matter to me when it comes to sports bras. I want one that is cute enough to want to wear shirtless, regardless of whether or not I actually plan to. I look for a material that can repel odour (at least for a little bit) as I’m known to wear things numerous time before washing. As a student, price point also matters. I’m unlikely to spend over $50.00. I have difficulty doing up bras that adjust behind the back, so I tend to prefer ones that are over-the-head. I don’t like removable inserts because I lose them in the wash. I would put myself in the medium support camp. I like to feel like nothing is going to be bouncing around, but not as though everything is locked into place.”
Sinead: “I’ve always been a small person but I have a full bust. I wear a 32 band so my issue is finding a sports bra that’s small enough to fit my narrow frame without being too small in the body. When it fits right on the band, it’s often tight everywhere else. I’m the runner who makes a beeline for bras labelled “high support,” and if it’s not adjustable in the band and shoulders, that’s often a deal breaker. Bonus features in a bra are fun prints/ colour and straps that criss-cross because I know they won’t slip off. Straps that fall off under layers of clothing is a major annoyance.”
Dianne: “I’ve got a small build, so support isn’t my number one concern. I look for a bra that repels sweat. Since I’m training for longer distances, I don’t want a bra that feels damp and icky on long runs. I value quality and am willing to spend more if I think a bra fits right and will last for years.”
Kelly: “I like to feel confident and a little feminine. I train with mostly guys, so I don’t want to draw too much attention, but I also don’t want to feel like a 12-year-old boy. I don’t want my sports bra to look like a delicate piece of lingerie. If it falls out of my gym bag, I don’t want the fella walking behind me to blush. I prefer a sports bra that looks just as ‘sporty’ as the rest of my running gear. The inside should be coloured, no white. Cup padding is crucial for modesty.”
Anne: “I guess what it comes down to for me is a sports bra has to have back hooks and adjustable straps, built in cups, soft breathable fabric, full coverage, with colours and patterns that make it look more like a running bra top than just a bra. No white please! I also like to buy on the small side due to stretch from wash and wear.”
Suzanne: “I run for pleasure, fitness and stress-relief. I have a competitive side and enjoy training for 5K races. They’re short and fast! For that, I need a good sports bra that is comfortable, long-lasting, high quality and stylish. When I look for a sports bra, I need for it to have a good shape with cups to give me additional coverage (especially in the cold). I want a bra that’s going to help me avoid chafing.”
Nikki: “I am a triathlete, so I use my bras for both cycling and running–often in the same workout. I run on the road and trails, and have a small bust size. I have had a few moments of bigger chestiness thanks to pregnancies and breast feeding, so support is critical to prevent the dreaded sag!”
The Tenderly Obsessive bra has sculpted cups to take down the jiggle. The straps are thin to minimize the feeling of bulk under clothing. Thin straps can be a deal breaker for runners who find that they dig but others like the minimal feeling. Overall, it feels slick giving runners support without having padding or buckles to get in the way or weigh it down. It comes in many solid colours making it perfect to match with those printed tops or running shorts.
Kelly says: Worked flawlessly in a downpour without becoming too heavy, stretching, or revealing too much.
For runners who have problems finding sports bras small enough, this could be the solution. The Shapely Shaper will hug curves and not sag. Those who choose this one will love it for it’s cute and athletic look. Looking for a bra to wear on its own? This one begs to be shown off. The fabric is durable and will last long however those who look for silky soft may not like the feel.
Caela says: It seems durable and like it would hold up well through lots of washing.
Zoot Performance Tri Bra
Keyhole cut outs on a racer back bra seems to be a popular trend in running gear. Not only does it look amazing, it’s practical for brands to cut out extra unneeded fabric. By doing this, Zoot ensures optimal ventilation and if that’s not enough, they’ve included mesh panels throughout the bra whenever possible while still considering modesty. The band of this bra is adjustable (the straps are not) so a runner who needs that little extra wiggle room can fix it to fit perfectly. It’s called the Tri Bra likely because when athletes get wet, they need something quick to dry. If that’s a requirement, this is the bra for you.
Hot Shot is a pretty appropriate name for this bra. Gone are the days when “sports bra” was synonymous with “frumpy” or “ugly.” As for the frustrating and famous uni-boob problem, the Hot Shot puts that in the part too. It comes in several colours so if this bra works for you, stock up. (No one will notice… ) Now when it comes to function, wide straps make this baby stand out. No gauging and extra stability. Plus, the straps will sit flat during the workout, no rolling or annoying movement here.
Caela says: Cute turquoise and black colour combo is wear without a shirt worthy. I actually kept this one on under a regular shirt after working out because I liked it so much!
MEC Y Not Bra
A bra that suits a runner’s low impact needs is an essential piece of gear that should be in every woman’s drawer. Even if you’re not typically a low impact kinda girl, it’s not always necessary to be completed buckled into place– think toning work, strength sessions, less vigorous cross-training or a comfy option to change into post-race. The MEC Y Not bra is ULTRA soft on the skin, basic and cute! Cups are removable so runners can adjust it based on their needs (or use the cup slots as pockets. It would look great on it’s own or under a favourite training top for style points.
Moving Comfort Fiona
This is a going to keep fit women feeling trendy during the easy run. Moving Comfort has aimed to give women a bra that is extremely comfortable for lighter exercise. This one will easily become a favourite in that regard. Both the strap and back are adjustable to runners can ensure a custom fit. The shaped cups are lightweight and removable so runners can add extra ventilation if needed.
Anne says: This bra is very comfortable but does not have built in cups therefore it’s less supportive. I would wear this for shorter runs or low impact sports.
Why add heavy padding and air flow restricting fabric when extra support isn’t needed? This is a great choice for runners who wear a smaller cup size. With its seamless design and mesh fabric, this one is the definition of lightweight and chafe-free.
This bra is seamless and soft, a great option for the woman who can go for a lower support option on a run. Moving Comfort has taken the classic sports bra cut but updated it with lightweight fabric, removable cups and added compression. This would be especially ideal for easy runs or strength workouts done outside on the most humid of summer days. Those who suffer from chafing should give this one a try!
Sinead says: When I need a low impact bra, I’ll reach for this one. It hugs my curves perfectly and the material is so light and soft.
Now here’s a classic good ol’ sports bra. Why change the model when it already works? The North Face has taken a timeless racer back bra and added a double layer of sweat-wicking fabric to give a little more support (and insulation in wintertime!) while still feeling comfortable on the skin. The fabric will fit snug so going up a size is an option. This bra isn’t the best when it comes to ventilation so runners should consider whether or not that is needed.
Suzanne says: It doesn’t include cups but the material is thick so it feels like you have more coverage and minimal chafing.
Kelly says: There was no adjustability, but the fit was good, straps were wide and comfortable and the bra stayed put.
Racer backs are always a comfortable way to go. This one comes with cups but those can be removed to add ventilation or to take down the support for women who don’t find it necessary. Removable cups also gives bras a longer life when runners remove them before washing. The band is ribbed making it more comfortable than generic bands. As far as aesthetics go, this moss-green style is a more neutral tone in the sea of pink and neon athletic clothes which is great for women who are not crazy about bright sportswear. The material of this bra is ultra soft meaning runners are less liekly to chafe. The trade-off is that it may not last as long as others in the drawer.
Reebok Hero Push Up
This is a sports bra that comes with push up padding. That may not be first on the checklist for many runners but it’s bound to get style points from women who want the extra lift. A mesh racer back with a keyhole cutout maximizes breathability for sweaty, humid runs. The solid purple is a hue that is easy to match and should stay in style. The band is not adjustable and may be better suited for women who wear a 34 band and above.
Ahhh a seamless bra. Prone to chafing? Give this one a try. It’s so silky and airy, runners will barely notice it’s on! A firm medium support bra, the Versatility Seamless Bra is also quite meshy with maximum breathability. Need a bra for those sweaty, humid days? Asics has designed one. It’s not adjustable but is reversible. Two styles in one!
Dianne says: I was pleasantly impressed with the support. It’s definitely not high support, but it’s a firm low or medium support, well suited to small and medium sizes.
Zoot Moonlight Bra (low to medium support)
Thick straps, racer back, well ventilated, a strong band and a pocket in the front– the Moonlight Bra has got it all. It will dry quickly and give curves a firm hug when running. In fact its ability to not retain moisture sets it apart from most other bras in this regard. It’s almost bathing suit-like. It doesn’t have any padding nor does it have separate cups however with the right fit, runners will feel firmly in place rather than wobbly. This one comes in vibrant colours perfect to spice up any outfit.
Sinead says: It’s got pockets so I’m on board. I also loved how quick it is to dry. I wore it at the beach and left it on all day.
Zoot Performance Tri Cami Bra (low to medium support)
Petite and active ladies should really give Zoot and try. You want a bra that makes you feel snug as a bug? Well you got it. For a lower impact bra, this still gives solid support. As for the material, Zoot uses only the lightest, quick-dry fabrics. No bulky or zaggy materials that pool sweat. The colours are fun and solid printed meaning it will look hot without stealing the show from the craziest patterned sportswear.
Caela says: This bra should be sized carefully to ensure it is not too small. However, it is fantastic to find something that isn’t too roomy or too padded.
Reebok One Series Run Bra (low to medium support)
When it comes to looks, this one has it all. Reebok has used a flattering series of colours on this running bra. Its strongest feature is the ventilation. The racer back, straps and part of the front are all made of mesh while the rest of it has smooth, soft fabric. Running in it will feel light and airy. The cups offer the coverage and support that those looking for medium support need and the band has adjustable hooks to open it up or make it smaller.
Suzanne says: It was a great fit for me and great support. It was a cool design and great colour choice. I even wore this casually with a tank when I wasn’t running!
Sinead says: I would definitely choose this to wear this on a hot day without a shirt.
It looks more like a regular bra than most so many women are going to prefer to wear it under a shirt. When it comes to wearing a sports bra with an under wire, most runners feel strongly for or against it. Those not keen on the wire will steer towards a more traditional sports bra but those who want a bra with this design, may have a hard time finding one. Enter the Active Flexi Wire. Shock Absorber designs for specific cup sizes rather than small, medium, large– a rarity in the world of sports bras. This one will fit like a regular bra made of softer material and the wide, padded straps ensure a more comfortable fit for vigorous activity.
Shock Absorber Active Zipped Plunge
Let’s face it, many women go shopping for sports bras with style top on their list. For those women, this one stands out. With a bold colour and a zipper right up the middle, this is certainly a hot pick. Runners are sure to be noticed in this eye-catching number. While the zipper may at first seem like an accident waiting to happen, this one has hooks that do up behind the zipper. In case it splits, you’ve got backup! It’s worth noting that Shock Absorber manages to design bras that are supportive without having excess padding to drag runners down. This bra is an example of this. It fits snug like a good sports bra should without being sweat-soaked by the end.
Suzanne says: This is a fun style and colour scheme. The zipper also makes it easy to get on and off.
Sinead says: I was nervous that the zipper would burst open mid-run but the hooks ensure that won’t happen. I was impressed when I noticed this detail.
The Fabulous Framer really is fabulous with its adjustable straps and band and a comfy racer back fit. Women who are tough on running clothes could use this is the drawer– it’s a good quality bra that will stand up to the washing machine. The hidden pocket between the cups is ideal for storing small items (like keys!). It’s a small detail that really makes this bra shine. Another thing to note is that New Balance makes this one with eco-friendly fabric.
Caela says: The eco-friendly fabric really impressed me and I loved the secret pocket.
Soft fabrics are a must for many runners. Discomfort comes with the sport but it’s not OK when our gear is the cause! The Rebound Racer is, well, good enough to race in. Say goodbye to chafe or skin irritation. It’s soft and smooth feeling and holds everything firm because that’s its job. The back strap is also adjustable as are the shoulder straps. The straps are actually adjustable from the front so if things need to be tighter in the middle or a workout, runners can make this adjustment swiftly! This bra has trusty sewn-in cups as opposed to flimsy inserts which don’t always do much. This one comes in a few colours, all of them meet our aesthetic standards too!
Caela says: Adjustable over-the-shoulder straps are a feature which I’ve never seen before. Super handy! Yellowish-grey print is wear-without-a-shirt worthy too!
This bra is proof that Oakley knows style. It will likely be one of the most attractive bras in the drawer this summer. For runners looking for a medium support bra, this is a good choice. Perhaps the best feature other than style, is the smoothness of the bra– no irritating clasps, sleek seams and wide straps means there is nothing to dig into skin. Kiss red marks and chafing goodbye!
Sinead says: When I’m attending a class and want to look good, this bra is a winner.
Caela says: I love the dark floral print. It’s shaped without removable cups, so it gets lots of points for that from me.
Many runners find that the racer back works best so why change it? This bra is an updated version of the classic running bra that we have counted on for years. Moving Comfort knows women and knows their needs so they’ve added in a seam-free contoured cup increasing the stability factor in this bra while reducing chances of chafe. The neckline gives enough coverage but still have a V plunge which many while find gives a flattering look.
The North Face Stow-n-Go
When designers started adding pockets to the basic summer dress, women praised them. When brands like The
North Face add pockets to the sports bra, they score major point among female runners. The Stow-n-Go is pocketed meaning that runners can pack it with gels, keys, money or even ice during a long, hot race. This bra is stylish in a sport way, snug fitting and not a chafe disaster in the making.
Nikki says: This is the best bra for me and my favorite. This is the bra for all of those ladies who want a good looking, supportive bra with minimal coverage and… pockets!
Adidas Supernova Energy Graphic Bra
This bra stands out in the sea of bras on the rack. It looks trendy and is certainly eye-catching which is a major selling point for a lot of runners. When it comes to support, this style has padded cups to keep things feeling secure. Because of the padding though, it’s best worn during a cooler time of year to keep things feeling dry. Non-adjustable straps makes it a better choice for taller or broad-shouldered runners. Runners who like switching things up to look trendy on the run are sure to reach for this.
Dianne says: It’s somewhat reminiscent in appearance of a push up bra without the wiring, which make is quite appealing.
Kelly says: I’d say this one is fashion over function, but not bad for cooler days.
Nikki says: This is the most stylish of my fuller support bras.
Reebok Crossfit High Impact Bra
The straps on this bra are made from a sleek and softer material than most others. That means they shouldn’t gauge or cause red marks. The bands and straps are both adjustable however those who wear a lower band size may look to go a size smaller. It says high impact in the name, although women who spend a lot of time running might think it fits more into the medium camp. This bra is ventilated throughout with removable cups for super hot days or more low impact activities.
Sinead says: Women with a fuller shape will appreciate the full coverage. This bra is roomy and won’t make you feel squished.
Saucony Athlete Avenger
This medium support bra is sturdy and won’t leave painful red marks. It’s comfortable and hugs curves while
running. Runners will appreciate the mesh back which won’t let sweat build up especially when worn under heavy clothing or backpacks. The inner ribbing on the band will keep this bar more securely in place. Like its cousin bra, the Curve Crusader, it has the nice keyhole detail at the back.
Saucony Curve Crusader
This medium support bra will be the first choice in the gear drawer. Its bright colour will add a pop to any running outfit and is a great pick for wearing on its own. The little keyhole cutout in the back is a nice detail that cuts out unneeded fabric. The bra has thicker straps to eliminate pressure points and painful red marks. It fits true to its sizing and has an adjustable back. All in all, this one is a stable bra choice.
Caela says: This bra fits the bill in all three sports bra priority categories for me: comfort, stability and style.
The support is solid so that runners won’t have to focus on movement when running. 2XU’s claim to fame is designing cream-of-the-crop compression gear so their sports bras are ones you can trust. The material is breathable yet it still has an insulating factor making this a good option when weather starts to get chillier. Women who are narrower in the rib cage will love it. For petite girls who often struggle finding bras that fit snug enough, this one should stay in place. When it comes to quality, 2XU is on point. This one has a long life and won’t lose shape from washing.
Suzanne says: It washes up well. The cups stay firm even after a few washes.
Moving Comfort Urban X (High Support)
This is a great option for runners looking for high support. This model is adjustable in the band and straps— great for the runner who is in between sizes. Criss-cross straps ensure no slippage while running. Count on it to eliminate bounce. The Urban X is a sturdy bra with cups that are anything but flimsy and the mesh panel between cups will reduce potential for sweat buildup. The bold green stripes make it a fun option to wear by itself or to spice up a bland outfit. This one is great for runners who wear a C or D cup or larger. If you want a stable fit, this is a solid contender.
Sinead says: I hate leaving the house and feeling uncomfortable bounce first thing. This bra ensures that won’t happen. I often reach for it first.
Shock Absorber has created an extra high support bra. It’s not heavy on the padding, extremely ventilated and does up at the mid and upper back distributing the weight in two places. While it’s extra high support, the design is sleek rather than frumpy. In fact, it’s sporty and good looking enough to wear on its own in summer. This is perfect for the runner who struggles finding enough support in a bra. And the material feels like silk!
Sinead says: In over a decade of trying new sports bras, this is hands-down one of the best ones I’ve ever owned.
Anne says: By far the best! It’s so comfortable, I hardly felt like I was wearing a bra.
Reebok RCF Skinny
Comfortable full support bras can be hard to find but Reebok has designed one that will satisfy. This sports bra has a clasp like a regular bra and criss-cross straps so everything will stay perfectly secure doing your workout. Thicker straps are a factor that many women look for and this model has that. Women who opt for medium coverage in sports bras will like this one.
Nikki says: A little tricky to get on but once in place, it keeps the girls in perfect position.
Women with a fuller shape will love this bra as it offers support and full coverage without the bulky padding that can make for sweaty runs. It’s adjustable both in the straps and band and that’s enough to seal the deal for many runners. New Balance has included soft grips on the band– a nice touch to ward off chafing. Its solid colour makes it easy to match with lots of tops in the drawer.
Sinead says: I love that this bra gives me full coverage while still looking stylish. The strap adjustments are Velcro but they don’t come undone.
Women in need of a practical high support bra that still scores in the looks department should try the Maia. It gives full coverage without feeling extra sweaty. That’s because it’s built with sturdy cups encompassed by a thin outer layer. Because the outside layer is thin, this bra is breathable and moisture-wicking. The straps are anything but flimsy. Not only are they wide, but they are also cushioned in the most high-pressure spots. The solid band is made partially of mesh to keep runners cool as a cucumber! All in all, a smart choice for those who wear a D or DD.
Adidas Maximum Support Energy Bra
Support cups, back clasp, adjustable straps– this bra has the best features of a regular bra while performing like a reliable high impact sports bra. This bra is adjustable in the straps and band as well as sweat-wicking. Those two factors alone make it a go-to style for those seeking high support. This model has a sleek fit and lightweight material making it suitable especially for humid days.
Adidas designed it with a bit of a plunge meaning it won’t be visible over exercise tops. Adidas deserves props for modifying the design for the larger sizes showing that they understand that women who wear larger cup sizes simply need more support. With sizes D and beyond, Adidas has added coverage, improved support in the cups and added in an underwire with spongy padding so runners won’t feel feel irritated by it. Well done.
Sinead says: I’ve worn this again and again and never felt discomfort. I’d recommend wearing this for your toughest race.
Shock Absorber Ultimate Gym Bra
As one of our testers says, this is like a luxury sports bra. It’s sharp and trendy looking while checking off all the boxes when it comes to quality. Listen to music when running? This one even has a little holder for headphones. The staps stay firmly in place meaning women can depend on it for race day. It’s got an overall sporty look too meaning it will have you standing out on the track.
Kelly says: Wearing it makes me feel like a pro. This bra is a clear winner.
Moving Comfort Juno
Moving Comfort gets women to test all these products and it pays off! The Juno bra has nailed it in the support category. This one won’t let you down on the long run. No need to second guess yourself one kilometre into the run. This trustworthy number also wins in the style department. With more than adequate support and a fun look, what else do you really need? The Juno will easily become one of your favourites. Go ahead, put lots of mileage on it, it can take it.
Anne says: This is one of my favourites. It has great built in cups and works quite well as a running top. I did find the material a little stiff under the arms.
Simply put, the Contour Support Bra is a no-nonsense quality sports bra. This bra flatters curves like a regular bra does but eliminates bounce like a sports bra should. This one is suitable for women of all sizes and can be converted into a racer back by clipping straps together with a j-hook– perfect for the athlete with narrow shoulders. This bra is so comfortable and definitely offers support that women can depend on. Mesh in the back and between cups increase ventilation to keep runners dry. Runners who are in between sizes should opt to go for the smaller size.
Sinead says: It will keep you locked down. This one has so much extra detailing. The quality definitely shows through.