9 Top Sport Bras for Runners

When did buying a jog bra get so complicated? These days, choices run from crop tops to tanks, camis to shimmels.

Then come the options: pockets, zippers, seamless construction, and antimicrobial fabrics. And whichever bra you choose, it needs to provide optimal support and a perfect fit. No wonder most women select the wrong bra.

So we asked Making Strides, an all-women running group in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to put the latest jog bras to the test. These women rated 19 bras in six categories: support, moisture control, chafing, styling, comfort, and features offered. Their nine favorites are on the following two pages.

Along with these reviews, keep the following tips in mind when shopping for a jog bra: Go for impact. Runners need bras designed for high-impact activity. That yoga bra may be adorable, but it probably won't provide the support you need. Look for a bra's activity level on its label or the maker's Web site.

Get more running gear advice from our women's running center.

Send Sweat Packing

Select a jog bra made from technical materials touted to wick moisture away from the skin, such as CoolMax and Drylete. Seams with rolled edges and off-center stitching (to minimize chafing) are preferable.

Try 'em on

One brand's 36C can fit completely differently from another brand's 36C, so bring three bras into the dressing room with you—the cup size you normally wear, a smaller, and a larger one. If the material wrinkles or bunches, the bra is too big. And if there's skin bulging out in spots or if the seams are cutting into you, then it's too small. You should be able to fit two fingers under the straps.

When you find a bra that feels good, run in place for 10 to 15 seconds. The bra should minimize breast movement and not twist while you move.

Make it Last

Wash the bra in cold water with powder detergent, since liquids clog fabric pores, which inhibits moisture wicking. Tumble dry on low or let it air dry to prolong the life of the elastic. After about 72 washes—when the elastic starts to lose resilience—or if your weight changes, you should replace the bra.

Which do you prefer, sports bras or tanks?

REI Cross-Training Bra $24.50

Don't know where to stash your car key during your run? No problem. This bra has a pocket between the shoulder blades, which can be accessed easily by reaching over either shoulder. The fabric is incredibly soft and comfortable, offering support with no chafing. Sizes: S to XL Best if you are: S and M; rei.com; 800-426-4840

Patagonia Pull-On Mesh Sport Top $38

This bra was so comfortable that one tester said, "It was like the bra wasn't even there." The fabric moves moisture, while the mesh panels in the front and back keep air flowing. A higher neck also offers a more modest cut. Sizes: XS to XL Best if you are: XS and S; patagonia.com; 800-638-6464

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