FitNess: The Best Sports Bras for Running

Running is different for everyone. For some, you’ve got to have the perfect headphones. For others, it might be a top-notch fitness tracker. Chances are, though, there is something that you’re super particular about.

Before we get into that, a few years ago I asked if Fabletics was a score… or a scam. These days, I skip most months, but will casually look every now and then. Then, I fell in love with the Trinity High-Waisted Utility Legging ($70). The pockets are perfect for running and doing weights. They’re deep enough that your phone won’t budge, even if you’re doing high impact movement. So after I bought a pair in maroon, I saw a bundle that had not one, but two versions, a top and a bra for $100. So, I bought the bundle.

And that’s when I was introduced to my-perfect-something-I’m-particular-about. Behold: the Trinity High Impact Sports Bra ($50). This bra keeps you feeling completely covered and secure, but what’s more: it has pockets. Pockets! And you know how much I love pockets.

This is the perfect way to keep my phone tucked away (and free up my pockets for keys or energy chews), while still feeling completely supported. It also falls lower on the waist, so I could wear it without a top while running without feeling too exposed. The only downside is it is meant for high impact, so you are locked in pretty tight. That said, taking it off can be a bit of a struggle after a long run.

These days it’s the first sports bra I grab given a choice. But when you’re running 4-5 days a week, it’s easy to go through your stash pretty quickly. This is why I thought I’d share some of my favorite (and not so favorite) sports bras. Unlike other purchases, I’m not particularly loyal to just one brand. Here are some of the candidates:

And, I also use past season selects from Liquido, Victoria’s Secret and Target.

The Reviews

The Nike Swoosh was probably one of my first bras and for good reason. It’s a popular hit and, to this day, receives rave reviews online. It’s usually rated 4/5 stars or above and comes in virtually every color you can imagine. It’s comfortable and it stays put. But this staple isn’t my go-to. Far from it. And if you’re looking for more coverage, I would reach for another style instead. The extra support and padding from the Nike seamless and dri-fit sports bras aren’t just more flattering overall, they hug you just a little bit more if you know what I mean. But that’s not to say the other Nike bras I mention are necessarily better. The strappy designs are both super cute, but they both run small. So you’ll want to size up in both of them. And, if you do get the wrong size, it fits a little awkwardly. So it can be easy to miss the mark with these more supportive options.

Previous purchases from Target and Liquido’s lines fall short for similar reasons. The Target purchases (which are in fact Champion) are comparable to the Champion brand you can now get online directly from Champion or Amazon. It would be comparable to today’s Infinity Racerback Sports Bra ($18) or the Spot Comfort Sports Bra ($30). They are basic sports bras but don’t really stand out for one reason or another. They’re great for everyday use, but they are exactly that. I’d save your money and invest in something more substantial.

Now. Victoria’s Secret, on the other hand, knows coverage. And these sexy styles do not scream everyday use. So why oh why are they the least rated out of all of these on their website, averaging around 3/5 stars. Well, words that seem to come up frequently include “feels stiff” and “runs small.” And you know what? It’s true! I love the style of the two versions I have, but ultimately, they just aren’t as comfortable.

My Favorites

My favorite (other than Trinity) is the Under Armour sports bra. (Yes, even over the other Fabletics selects.) Not only does it fit, but it also doesn’t cause chafing when running, and the material feels breathable and lightweight. It’s easy to take off, and I can wear it on non-run days too. Another plus? I love the playful colors. I’d also suggest the Under Armour Infinity High Sports Bra ($60). This brand shows you can be comfortable, and well supported.

Fabletic’s other sports bra, Mila, falls directly in the middle. It has a pocket, which is why Trinity is ranked so highly, but it doesn’t have the same type of support. It’s flimsier, and the detailing on the back makes it less comfortable as well. But, that said, it still ranks better than a majority of the others. It just has big shoes to fill and doesn’t quite add up.

In the spirit of a good review, I’ll mention the areas I can’t cover. There are several other brands that will use sturdier underwire, velcro adjustable straps, and zippers along the front to keep your ladies in place. However, I don’t need that much coverage. If you’re looking for that kind of sports bra, I’d suggest Sweaty Betty, like the Ultra Run Sports Bra ($65), and Lululemon’s Enlite Bra Zip Front High Support ($108). Likewise, I need enough coverage that I’m not looking at low impact bras either. Which is why Liquido, which has the most luscious, buttery soft leggings for yoga, didn’t make the cut.

Looking through all of my bras, I think it’s safe to say that it’s worth investing in a better quality fit and brand than grabbing something on a whim. Even though they’re perfectly fine for low impact exercises or even your daily routine, it’s just not going to cut it when you’re running for miles. There is something to be said about feeling comfortable and supported.

And it’s also important to know what you need and value. (Even if it’s pockets.)