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brooks running bras hero
Brooks

Aside from sneakers, the most crucial piece of running gear is the sports bra, at least for us women. Flimsy straps or an unfortunate lack of support can leave you feeling really uncomfortable—and add minutes to your time. No, really. A survey in the British Medical Journal of nearly 1,400 women who ran the 2012 London Marathon found that uncontrolled breast movement resulted in a four-centimeter reduction in stride with every step. That’s equal to the loss of one full mile over the course of a marathon due to a shortened stride. We don’t know about you, but we don’t want to unknowingly run the equivalent of 27.2 miles while striving to beat our personal best. 

Running sneaker and apparel brand Brooks took those concerns to the lab and developed a range of jog-friendly bras that would solve the problem of the missing extra mile. Over the course of more than eight years of research, the brand tested prototypes on more than a thousand female runners of various body shapes. Named the Dare Run Bras, the collection comprises six different sports bras that range in sizes from 30A/B (XS) to 40E (XXL), all of which are meant to diminish bounce and increase support to help decrease run times. From zip fronts, high necks and racer backs that offer lots of support for big busts, to cross back and strappy options for smaller busts, Brooks took plenty of body types into consideration for this line.

Naturally, we jumped at the chance to put them to the test on runners of all different skill levels, from casual joggers to two-time marathoners. Each reviewer was asked to wear the bra on their normal running schedule over the course of two weeks. Afterward, we had them rank their bra from one to five in terms of support, comfort, fit, bounce control, style and range of motion. And to be honest, the results were kind of surprising.

RELATED: The 3 Best Running Shoes, According to a Podiatrist

Courtesy of Brooks

1. Dare Crossback Run Bra

Tester: Katherine
Usual Size: 30DD/Small
Size Tested: 32C/D
Usual Workout & Intensity: Sporadic runner; one or two 10+ mile runs per week 

The First Impression: “The Dare Crossback Run Bra was a perfect fit in the band department, but the damn perma-cups were too small! As a person with a bigger bust-to-rib cage ratio, I found this frustrating, and if the cups had been removable, I would've been happier. It was very comfortable (no chafing or suffocation), but it held on to sweat and didn't really control bounce like I would've hoped.”

The Final Takeaway: “To be honest, it wasn’t any better than the non-running-specific sports bra I usually wear for running. I like to keep track of how long my route took overall, and sadly, the bra didn’t affect my mile time..”

The Ranking:
Support: 3
Comfort: 4
Fit: 2
Bounce Control: 3
Style: 4
Range of Motion: 5 

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Buy It ($60)

Courtesy of Brooks

2. Dare High-Neck Run Bra

Tester: Jenny
Usual Size: 34C
Size Tested: Large
Usual Workout & Intensity: Marathon runner; four or five days per week while training; two or three days otherwise 

The First Impression: “Overall, the Dare High-Neck Run Bra was very comfortable. I particularly liked the material, which was less constricting than many others I’ve tried in the past. Even with the softer material, I still felt a good amount of support during my runs. I also wore it during a dance class and a spin session and was happy with the way it held me in.”

The Final Takeaway: “The only real issue I had with the fit was the straps, which weren’t completely flush with my skin, but that might be more of an aesthetic issue than a performance one. I wish it shaved time off my runs! Though I think my time has more to do with me falling behind on my training in general and less to do with what apparel I’m wearing.”

The Ranking:
Support: 4
Comfort: 4
Fit: 3.5
Bounce Control: 4
Style: 3
Range of Motion: 4 

Overall Rating: 3.75/5

Buy It ($65)

Courtesy of Brooks

3. Dare Strappy Run Bra

Tester: Brianna
Usual Size: 32B
Size Tested: 32A/B
Usual Workout & Intensity: Casual jogger; three to four miles, one or two days per week 

The First Impression: “OK, I feel kind of embarrassed that I’ve never tailored my sports bra to my workout. I guess that’s one of the perks of having a smaller chest—I don’t usually have to think about it. But this bra opened my eyes to a whole new world. The material feels almost scuba-like, so it’s really soft and seamless and doesn’t cut in anywhere. I also love that it doesn’t come with removable cups, because those always seem to just get annoyingly bunched up after washing.”

The Final Takeaway: “I felt so supported that it felt like my posture was better while running, which is a huge plus for alignment. I don’t keep track of my run times, but I did feel so good in this bra that I jogged for an extra mile for the fun of it. The only downside: It held on to sweat a bit more than my other bras do, because of the material.”

The Ranking:
Support: 5
Comfort: 5
Fit: 5
Bounce Control: 4
Style: 4
Range of Motion: 5 

Overall Rating: 4.7/5

Buy It ($60)

Courtesy of Brooks

4. Dare Zip Run Bra

Tester: Corley
Usual Size: 34D-36D
Size Tested: 38C
Usual Workout & Intensity: Casual runner; half hour, three days per week 

The First Impression: “I’ve worn the Dare Zip Run Bra three times (hot rowing class, dance cardio class, gym session composed of a 30-minute run and 30 minutes of lifting), and I’ve honestly really enjoyed it. My size is usually anywhere between a 34D and 36D, so wearing this 38C was interesting. It almost seemed like it’d be my size and fit, which leads me to believe their stuff runs small, in both band and cup size.”

The Final Takeaway: “Because I’m usually just slogging away on the treadmill, I don’t time my runs. That being said, I did feel more supported during my normal 30-minute jog. It was more comfortable than a regular underwire bra, but had the same sense of support and lift. The only thing that was a bit tricky was actually putting it on. You have to close a clasp and then a zipper directly over your chest, which took a bit of muscle. An unexpected warm-up, if you will.”

The Ranking:
Support: 4
Comfort: 4
Fit: 3
Bounce Control: 4.5
Style: 5
Range of motion: 5 

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Buy It ($70)

Courtesy of Brooks

5. Dare Racerback Run Bra

Tester: Kara
Usual Size: 34D
Size Tested: 34D
Usual Workout & Intensity: Consistent runner; training for a half marathon three or four days per week 

The First Impression: “When I first put this bra on, I had mixed feelings. I immediately noticed that the mesh material cut into my armpits, which was uncomfortable and not cute. But once I adjusted the straps and threw my T-shirt over the top, I was impressed with how lifted and just overall good my boobs looked. Gone was the flattened uni-boob I’m used to seeing when I wear a sports bra.”

The Final Takeaway:“On the actual run, I was a little disappointed. I could definitely feel the mesh digging into my underarms again, and this bra lacked the bounce control that I’m used to from other medium- to high-support sports bras. Eventually, I got used to it, but I was hoping for more support since this otherwise looks like a pretty heavy-duty sports bra. However, I did notice that I was able to run farther than I usually do. Who knows, maybe it was the bra, or maybe it was the 50-degree January day.”

The Ranking:
Support: 4
Comfort: 3
Fit: 3
Bounce Control: 2
Style: 5
Range of Motion: 4 

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Buy It ($75)

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