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Best sports bras for running reviewed

We've put running bras from Brooks, Runderwear and Under Armour to the test to find the best options for small and large chests

best sports bras for running

An oft overlooked but essential piece of kit in any active woman’s wardrobe is the trusty sports bra. But not all are made equal. We’ve tested some of the top brands in the industry over a course of several months to help you make the best decision on which bra is the one for you. 

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All bras on test are made specifically for running and high-impact sport. It’s key that your sports bra offers enough support to help reduce movement and avoid breast tissue damage, particularly for those with larger chests.

With this in mind, we firstly tested the level of support provided and the comfort of the straps, underband and material quality. We then checked out the ease of the fastening systems and how breathable the bras felt in motion, as well as how quick they were to dry.

Value for money was a key concern, with bras on test ranging from £22 to £60. Lastly, we tested bras specifically for larger breasts, as well as those with slightly less support that would be suitable for smaller-chested runners. Here’s what we found…

Best sports bras for runners

Brooks Dare Strappy Run Bra

Tester bra size: 34A/B

Sizes available: A-DD, bands 30-40

Brooks Dare Strappy Run Bra
Credit: Brooks
  • £50

One of our favourite bras on test in terms of design, this stunning arctic blue Dare Strappy Run Bra from Brooks is made both for comfort and style.

The seamless, laser-cut design’s extremely light, with small holes cut into the middle and along the back straps to aid breathability.

We’re a fan of the über-soft and thin, built-in cups; no more having to reposition or hunt for any errant foam inserts after giving your bra a wash! This is a game-changer.

The elasticated band along the bottom is very subtly built into the bra itself and merges with the main body so perfectly that there’s no pressure points or chafing whatsoever. There’s also no fastening system, as you put it on by pulling it over the head. This is no issue for us, but some may find it a faff.

When running, the Dare aims to ‘hold me in’ rather than moving with the breasts. And we found the support to be a step up from the Brooks’ Drive bra (below) thanks to the moulded, integrated cups and seamlessness of the bra build.

Though the perfect size for our tester, the main drawback of this bra is the lack of sizes available – currently only A/B cup size. Our arctic blue bra also faded after a few months wear to more of a grey.

Verdict: Comfy, stylish and sweat-wicking, our great bra choice for smaller chests.

Score: 88%

Brooks Drive Convertible Run Bra

Tester bra size: 34A/B

Sizes available: A-DD, bands 30-40

Brooks Drive Convertible Run Bra
Credit: Brooks
  • £45  

The Drive Convertible Run Bra is designed to be supportive during high-impact activities and has a customisable design on the back. The v-neck bra has mesh panelling along the sides and top to aid breathability and has a double-layer build for maximum coverage.

The bra has a striking scoop back (ideal for tops with low backs), but it also has a clip in-built in the top eyelets, which means that you can join them together to create a racer-back style if you prefer.

The Drive’s fit is described by Brooks as ‘moves with me’ rather than ‘holds me in’, yet also claims to be high-impact support. From this we deduce that it’s more of a personalised fit, that also aims to be supportive. The ‘run-ready compressive support’ aims to reduce bounce on the run without feeling too restrictive.

When put to the test, the drive keeps us feeling supportive and the silky soft fabric feels smooth and comfortable next to our skin. We like the soft, elasticated chest band, which is wide enough not to dig in uncomfortably. Though it’s not the most flattering front shape, the bra comes in multiple colourways and is clearly finished to a high standard.

The Drive’s super lightweight and takes up very little space in our draw when stashed away, yet this also translates to a lower level of support when compared to other bras on test. For A and B cups, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s worth bearing in mind for those with larger chests.

There’s also no foam cup built into the front, but the double-layered fabric’s still designed to provide nipple coverage. Though we didn’t miss the cups, a cold day was enough to prove that nipple coverage was not 100%!

Brooks sizing ranges from A to DD, with band sizes 30 to 40, so it’s worth bearing in mind that these aren’t for those with larger chest sizes. Materials used include polyester, spandex and elastane.

Verdict: Supportive and well-made, but not for larger chests.

Score: 81%

Smartwool Seamless Racerback Bra

Tester bra size: 34A/B

Sizes available: XS – XL (30A – 38C)

Smartwool Seamless Racerback Bra
Credit: Smartwool
  • £59.99

This racerback-style sports bra from Smartwool’s made from ‘seamlessly knit Merino wool’ which aims to provide unparalleled comfort against the skin. It certainly looks cool, with an Aztec-style front pattern and ribbed underband.

The moisture-wicking, stretchy material’s very comfy and soft when on, with the knit geometry proving very breathable during hard efforts.

It’s a pretty simple design, with no back closure system or adjustability, though this wasn’t an issue as the size small fit our tester perfectly. It also comes with foam inserts as cups, which though they provide more shape and a little support, we’re not a great fan of, and after a few months of testing have already lost them in the wash.

For those not in need of a huge level of support, this Smartwool bra does its job and you can rest assured that the materials are good quality. However, we’re dubious that something so similar in style, design and performance as the Sundried bra is worth the £60 price-tag.

Verdict: Comfy, stylish and does the job. But a little over-priced for our tastes.  

Score: 77%

Runderwear Original V5 

Tester bra size: 34A/B

Sizes available: A-D, bands 30-38

Runderwear Original V5 Bra
Credit: Runderwear
  • £50  

This racerback-style sports bra from Runderwear aims to offer ‘the ultimate experience in running comfort’, with soft fabric, mesh panels and a racerback design. And it’s not far off.

This bra has to be one of the most comfortable on test, Runderwear having obviously prioritised practicality and comfort with the Original V5.

First off, it’s not the prettiest bra on test, but this hardly affects performance. There’s a dual fabric layering and mesh panels on the front, though we’re not sure this helps much with breathability (and we have attractive sweat patches in race photos to prove it).

The wide, elasticated band is comfortable across the ribs and the lack of cup or underwiring makes the material mould to the chest. However, the lack of moulded cup means that there’s less nipple coverage in colder climes and less shaping to the look of the bra.

Fastening system’s via a classic double eyelet clasp, which we found didn’t make much difference as the racerback already closes at the back. The two straps are adjustable and wide enough not to dig in.

Sizing’s also one to note here, make sure that you follow ‘Runderwear Bra Sizer’ to a T as we found Runderwear to run one to two sizes larger than what we’d normally wear. As an example, our tester is normally a 34A and the chart put us as a 34C, which fit perfectly.

All in all, we found ourselves reaching for this Runderwear bra the most when choosing what to wear for our runs and endurance sets where comfort was paramount; we even ran the London Marathon in it!

Perhaps this is why after around six months of wear, the Runderwear detailing along the front band has almost completely worn off and it’s starting to look a little tired.

Verdict: One of the most practical and comfy bras on test, but not the most flattering.

Score: 86%

Buy from Runderwear

Best sports bras for big boobs

Sundried Power Sports Bra

Tester bra size: 38D

Sizes available: S – XL

Sundried Power Bra
Credit: Sundried
  • £22

The most affordable bra on test, we’re pleasantly surprised by the quality and value of Sundried’s Power Sports Bra.

Sundried says that the Power offers medium to high support, which we found to be correct when testing. Our 38D tester had enough support when running or walking, despite the Power having a stretch design with no fastening system or adjustability in the straps.

However, the simplicity of the Power is a plus; simply slip it on and get going, with no faff trying to locate eyelet clips and change strap length.

We like the laser-cut ventilation sections on the front, with the mesh along the straps helping with breathability and quick-drying potential.

Though the material is soft and we like the wide straps, the Power felt tight in the body, so much so that we felt ‘squeezed-in’ (think tube of toothpaste) and uncomfortable. For us, the ‘snug, locked-in feel’ that Sundried’s aiming for hit a little too close to the mark, but we admit it does give that secure feeling.

Overall, the Power offers the best value for money on test, but if you’re doing a lot of running, you may want to invest in a higher price-range because the fit for larger-chested women wasn’t quite as good as competitors.

Verdict: Great value for money, but if doing a lot of exercise, we’d go for a comfier fit.

Score: 77%

Under Armour Rush High Bra

Tester bra size: 38D

Sizes available: A to DD, bands 32-38

UA Rush High Bra
Credit: Under Armour
  • £60

Primed for extreme support during intense training sessions, the Rush is formed from smooth, mineral-infused fabric that claims to improve endurance. Mesh ventilation panels and an open back cross-over design should also keep you cool.

On test, the bra’s very supportive for walking and running, and remains in place during all-day activity. There’s a good level of comfort thanks to the in-built moulded cups, a wide chest band, and relatively wide straps, which means there’s no chafing of digging in.

This is also the only bra on test to have breathable holes set under the breasts (the area with the most sweat when exercising), as well as a mesh layer in between, which is great for staying cool during high-octane activities.

The main issue that we found with this bra was that it’s very difficult and awkward to do up at the back, this is because the cross-back design means you can’t do it up at the front and simply swivel the bra 180°.

Though this sounds like a minor issue, it’s a huge con to the bra, making it extremely frustrating and time-consuming to put on. Our tester also found the cross back to be less comfortable that others on test due to it feeling restrictive, despite being adjustable.

When compared to the Sundried bra, the Rush has a more natural geometry, but for three times the price we’re not sure it’s worth it.

Over the period of a few months testing, the back band has started to bobble slightly, though this doesn’t impede performance.

Lastly, in terms of aesthetics, we like the laser-cut design and ‘sporty style’ of the cross-back, even if it’s not so practical in use. While the front design is quite rectangular in shape, which may cause a ‘uni-boob’ effect when wearing. This didn’t bother us at all, but may be something to consider.

Verdict: Looks sporty and well-made, but let down by being a faff to put on and is most expensive on test. 

Score: 76%

Runderwear Easy-On Bra

Tester bra size: 38D

Sizes available: D – F

Runderwear Easy On Bra
Credit: Runderwear
  • £55

Designed for bigger breasted women, our tester found this to be the most comfortable bra on test for sizes D+. Unlike others on test which have a wide range of sizes, the Easy-on’s geometry is actually designed for the larger chest and aims to offer ‘greater levels of support and control’.

As the name suggests, this bra is extremely easy to put on, which sounds like a minor point but is very important when choosing the right bra for you (see our concerns on the UA Rush High).

Feeling like a second skin, the Easy-on is hugely comfortable and supportive, with a sense of security in motion further increased thanks to the dual closure system at the back. This means that the bra feels supportive as a whole, all the way from the front, round the back, and along the adjustable, wide straps.

Made with unwired, moulded cups which are built into the design, we’re happy to report there’s no sign of misshapen foam inserts after a wash. Everything stays exactly where it’s supposed to.

The Easy-on has been tested over a period of several months, with no stretching or bobbling occurring.

Though the breathability’s slightly less than others on test, with many other options coming with mesh or aeriated materials, this isn’t hugely noticeable and comfort more than made up for it.

Verdict: The most comfortable sports bra our tester has ever used, designed specifically for larger chested runners.

Score: 89%

Buy from Runderwear

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