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Looking for the perfect sports bra for your next workout? We researched over 50 different styles before choosing 14 of the best for this review. Whether you're looking for something low-impact for yoga, full coverage for inversion training, or highly adjustable with encapsulation support for running, we are sure to have something in our test suite for you. We tested each bra on various bodies through diverse exercises to gain an unbiased opinion of each one's strong suits and weaknesses so that you can make an informed purchase.
This low-impact sports bra is more supportive than advertised. With its decent compression, which is made more effective by sizing down, high neck coverage, and adjustable straps, the Girlfriend Collective Topanga falls in the medium-support range. It is perfect for low-impact exercises like yoga and pilates, but when the straps are tightened efficiently, it works well for higher-impact exercises as long as you don't mind a little bounce. The sternum band is soft and ribbed, offering proper support without overly pinching the midsection. The fabric, made mostly from recycled plastic bottles, is very soft and does not cause chafing or discomfort, even during rapid movement exercises. Some may choose to wear this bra as a minimal crop top — though it may be too minimal for those who prefer more coverage.
While we find this bra to be more supportive than advertised, there is still some movement of the breasts during high-impact exercises. The sizing can also be a little tricky. It is very inclusive, from XXS to 6XL, but the fit depends on your preference. If you have especially large breasts or a wide rib cage, sizing down may not be an option, but if you are between sizes and prefer a tighter fit, sizing down will provide more compression and, therefore, more support. The care instructions call for machine wash in cold water and air drying. These instructions are not difficult to follow, and the bra can surely handle a few cycles through the dryer, but some people prefer lower-maintenance garments. Still, the pros heavily outweigh the cons with the Topanga. The comfort, style, support, and friendly price tag make this sports bra a great choice for those who want a versatile medium-support high-neck bra.
Material: 84% polyester (42% recycled), 16% elastane | Support: Medium
REASONS TO BUY
Wide rib band
REASONS TO AVOID
Must size down for compression support
Limited color options
Somewhat limited sizing
The Vuori Long Line Elevation is made of a polyester-elastane blend that is so incredibly soft you won't be able to keep your hands off it. The softness of this bra is a huge contributor to its comfort, mitigating any rubbing or chafing, but there's more. The wide rib band and extremely stretchy fabric also help contribute to the comfort level of this bra. The stretch mitigates any unnecessary pinching, while the scoop neck provides just enough coverage, helping to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions, even when practicing inversions.
While the extra stretch offers a pinchless experience, it also can negatively affect the support. Because the Elevation is SO stretchy, it doesn't compress larger breasts enough to support them. Compression can be improved by sizing down, but that may not be an option if you have a larger rib cage or struggle with spillage in the armpit or back area. These things aside, if you are in the market for comfort, style, and medium to low-impact support, then the Elevation is a great option.
The Girlfriend Collective Paloma is a longline sports bra that offers decent compression and doubles nicely as a minimal crop top or an undershirt. The soft fabric is made mostly from recycled plastic bottles, making this sports bra valuable to the preservation of the earth and not just a cute addition to your closet. The thick racerback provides additional support and nicely distributes weight across the shoulders. Like most Girlfriend Collective bras, the rib band is just stretchy and soft enough that it doesn't cut into your midsection while offering enough support to keep everything in place.
While Girlfriend Collective's sizing is inclusive, from XXS to 6XL, deciding what size is best for you can be a little difficult. If you have smaller lats and traps, it is best to size down for added compression. That being said, due to that lack of adjustability, you may experience some pinching in the armpit area. The bra can be machine washed in cold water but must be air-dried. It can handle machine-drying a few times, but the elasticity will last much longer if you care for it properly. If you are looking for a longline sports bra as comfortable as it is supportive, the Paloma is an excellent choice.
The smooth outer layer and neutral color options of the Prana Becksa Bralette make it a crowd-pleaser in the style department. It is the perfect blend of Sunday loungewear and low impact yoga top. The inner bra is perforated for breathability and offers plenty of support for low-impact exercises. It can be sized down for additional compression, but you may experience some pinching in the armpits if you size it down too much. The neckline is flattering on a variety of bodies and provides enough coverage that you won't have to worry about your chest popping out in downward dog. The contrast stitching is a nice touch and proves durable even after multiple wash and dry cycles.
Although you have the option to size down for a little more compressive support, the Becksa is not meant for high-impact sports or exercises. If you have larger breasts and want a good running bra, this is simply not the right choice unless you don't mind excessive bouncing. It is also worth noting that this tank only comes in sizes XS to XL. The sizing is rather forgiving, meaning someone who usually wears a medium will fit into a small, but we would like to see Prana offer more inclusive sizing. If you are looking for something low-impact to wear to yoga and then out to coffee after, the Becksa Bralette is the top for you.
Material: 59% nylon, 41% spandex (shell) | Support: High
REASONS TO BUY
Encapsulation-compression is very supportive
REASONS TO AVOID
Stiff at first
Takes time to break-in
This encapsulation-compression sports bra offers ultimate support. The combination support style helps mitigate bouncing no matter how high impact the exercise or how voluptuous the chest. The inclusive sizing and adjustable nature also allow for a versatile fit. Breaking in the Knix Catalyst takes a little patience, but the comfort and support you'll receive are well worth it. The adjustable shoulder straps help ease the break-in period and allow your body shape and weight to fluctuate comfortably. The stiffer material offers a solid structure and is silky soft to the touch. And, from sleek black to gorgeous colors, there is no doubt that you'll find a tone that suits your taste.
While the Catalyst comes in a variety of colors, not everyone likes the look of a highly adjustable encapsulation bra. Everything tucks away neatly, but the clasps are very visible on the back, giving it more of a traditional bra look than a sports bra look. The Catalyst is also a little high maintenance in that it requires a break-in period before it is comfortable and must be air-dried to ensure it keeps its shape, but we still feel it's completely worth the extra effort. This is a great option if you are looking specifically for high encapsulation support and adjustability.
We do our best to test all our sports bras objectively. We begin the process through extensive research, reading user comments and reviews, and weeding through best sellers. We then narrow down our initial selection to the cream of the crop for some hands-on testing. This means that even the lower-scoring options in our test suite are high-performing garments. We then order various sizes of each bra to ensure our hands-on testing is inclusive, evaluate key metrics along the way, and employ the help of other active individuals of varying body types and sizes. We hope our recommendations help you in your search.
Our testing is divided into four key metrics:
Comfort and Fit (40% of overall score weighting)
Support (30% weighting)
Style (15% weighting)
Ease of Care (15% weighting)
This review is brought to you by Hayley Thomas. She has been based out of Denver, Colorado, for the past 15 years but currently lives in her converted sprinter van, traveling North America to climb in places like the Red River Gorge in Kentucky and Saint George, Utah. When she's not climbing, Hayley is hiking around with her dogs, practicing acro yoga with friends, skiing in the winter, and biking in the summer. Leading such an active life, she basically lives in her sports bras. Her body type is curvy and athletic, with a larger chest, so support is key. She brings a wealth of experience to our testing and ensures an unbiased viewpoint.
We pulled in as many friends as possible to help us test and evaluate these high-performing sports bras.
Analysis and Test Results
We assess the performance of the sports bras in this review by testing and rating their comfort and fit, support, style, and ease of care. Below we divulge how each sports bra measures up to its competitors in each of these key metrics.
The pricing of sports bras varies from brand to brand, but that's not the only factor contributing to their value. Typically speaking, bras that offer some level of adjustability and/or support in the form of encapsulation cost more, but they are not for everyone. We assess the value of each sports bra by comparing its performance to its price.
The Girlfriend Collective Topanga and Paloma are two high-performing bras that won't break the bank. They're certainly not the cheapest sports bras on the market, but both are made of stretchy recycled material that is very comfortable and offers enough compression for most exercises — although the Topanga offers a little more support than the Paloma.
While not an inexpensive option, the Knix Catalyst is a high-performing encapsulation bra. It takes a little while to break in, but the adjustable shoulder straps and rib band make it a graceful break-in period. This bra is most valuable for those seeking extra support for larger breasts, although our smaller-chested testers also loved it.
When it comes to sports bras, the best value options we found combine exceptional performance with long-lasting support.
Comfort and Fit
A proper fit — and the comfort that comes with it — can be difficult to achieve because everyone's body is different, and what might be comfortable for one person may not be for another. We ensured that every bra was tested by various body types performing a range of different types and impact-level exercises. During our testing for this metric, we paid particular attention to chafing, pinching, spilling, the softness of the fabric, and whether or not each bra was true to size. The softest fabrics help mitigate any chafing, and the fit affects whether or not there is pinching and spilling.
The Vuori Long Line Elevation is unimaginably soft, made of 86% polyester and 14% elastane. The thick rib band and soft compression help distribute weight evenly across the chest and shoulders, and the extreme stretch also helps mitigate any pinching or spilling.
Both Girlfriend Collective bras, the Topanga and Paloma, have a few things in common. The 79% recycled polyethylene tetraphyte (RPET or recycled plastic bottles) and 21% spandex material is soft to the touch, and the unique rib band fits snugly without pinching. The sizing is very inclusive, but if you are in-between sizes, we recommend sizing down if you prefer your bras tight and sizing up if you prefer less constriction. Luckily, Girlfriend Collective's return/exchange process is very simple if you have to guess and check. The high-neck Topanga also offers adjustable shoulder straps, which gives it a leg up in the fit department. The Paloma falls slightly behind the Topanga due to its lack of adjustability but is still a very comfortable sports bra.
Putting the same bras on women of different sizes and shapes.
Another top contender is the Lululemon Align. It offers thick straps and a wide rib band. The soft material won't chafe, and the stretchy material allows for a versatile fit.
If you're looking for something that offers a casual approach, the Prana Becksa Bralette is very comfy, although it's not very supportive for those with larger breasts.
Sports bras offer support via encapsulation, compression, or a combination of the two. Encapsulation bras use individual cups and generally stiffer material to support each breast separately. Many encapsulation bras offer a higher level of adjustability, but not all. They work nicely for larger-breasted folk and give the chest a more natural shape than compression bras. Sports bras that rely on compression for support smoosh the breasts in a way that restricts them from moving during exercise. Beyond these two components, we focused on stretch and coverage during our support testing. We tested each bra out on various body types during various exercises. We put each bra to the bounce test by completing high-intensity interval training exercises like burpees, jumping jacks, and jump squats. We went on runs, hikes, and even got inverted to ensure that each sports bra could properly support each chest.
The Knix Catalyst is one of the most supportive bras in our test suite, providing said support through the combination of compression and encapsulation. While the Catalyst is somewhat tight and stiff at first, it forms to the body over time. Its adjustable nature helps make the break-in period more bearable, but it does take a moment for the comfort to set in.
Next up, we have our trusty Girlfriend Collective bras. The Topanga and Paloma use compression and a unique ribbed rib band for support. The Topanga is slightly adjustable, and the high neck offers extra coverage, helping to keep everything in place, even in a handstand. The Paloma is a longline bra that works great for longer torsos or those that like a little more midsection coverage. Both can be sized down if you are between sizes or simply want a tighter fit for added compression support.
A few honorable mentions regarding support are the She-Fit Ultimate and the Brooks Drive 3 Pocket Run. The She-Fit has some encapsulation via removable pads, but its claim to fame is its almost unmatched level of adjustability. The shoulder straps and rib band are made completely of velcro, so adjustability isn't limited by notches. The Drive Run bra is not adjustable, but the high neck coverage and intense compression keep everything in place. Be sure to size up; the Drive Run is not true to size.
The Brooks Drive (left) and the She-Fit Ultimate (right) are each supportive in their own ways.
While style may not be as important as comfort, fit, and support, feeling confident in your apparel can change how you carry yourself and affect your performance. Because personal style is in the eye of the beholder, we take a poll from a diverse pool of bra-wearing humans to decipher which styles are most broadly appreciated. During our style testing, we also consider the versatility of each bra. Some of them rock a sportier look, like the Brooks Drive 3 Pocket Run, while others can be worn as crop tops with a cute pair of high-waisted jeans like the Prana Becksa. We also pay attention to the color options that each bra is available in.
The Topanga is an absolute crowd-pleaser. The high neck gracefully frames your shoulders, and the thin adjustable crisscross straps elegantly cross the middle of the back. The Paloma is another option that everyone in our poll enjoyed, and the longline fit doubles nicely as a spicy crop top. Both Girlfriend Collective bras come in a wide range of colors, from neutrals to brights, and limited-edition colors are released from time to time.
A sports bra that doubles as a crop top? Yes, please! Pictured are the Topanga (left) and Paloma (right).
The Vuori Long Line Elevation is another favorite. It is not available in an abundance of colors like the Girlfriend Collective bras, but the colors that Vuori offers are fun and versatile. The soft appearance, thick rib band, and gorgeous low-back crisscross details work together to create an all-around elegant sports bra.
If you are looking for something that is truly meant to be worn as a crop top, the Becksa is a top recommendation. This racerback bra top by Prana comes in a few neutral colors, and the breathable, supportive bra layer is hidden underneath a gorgeous ribbed outer layer. The only folks who didn't love this top are those that seek more support, but style-wise, it's a winner.
The Brooks Drive is a gorgeous high-neck compression sports bra with a subtle color-blocking look with both fun and neutral colors. It looks great on many different body types, but be sure to size up one, if not two, sizes because it runs very small.
The Beyond Yoga Spacedye Lift Your Spirits and Lululemon Align are also stylish options. The Beyond Yoga Spacedye is soft and form-fitting. It's perfect for those who like to show off their curves a little or who want to catch a tan on their hike. The Align offers a low cut in the back to show off your strong shoulders and back muscles. It comes in a few colors, both neutral and bright.
We like the looks of the Beyond Yoga Spacedye (left) and Lululemon Align (right).
Ease of Care
Different fabrics and bra types require various levels of care, and caring for them properly will help ensure longevity. The amount of effort you are willing to put into washing your clothing is completely up to you, so take this category with a grain of salt. We use this metric to delve into the level of care each bra requires and the general durability of its construction. We begin by caring for each bra according to its instructions to see how cumbersome the process is. Then we get lazy and throw every bra through an average wash and dry cycle to see how it holds up.
The Vuori Elevation, Prana Becksa, Lululemon Align , Beyond Spacedye, Champion Spot Comfort Full Support, and Nike Swoosh Padded are very easy to care for. Simply wash them in cold water with like colors, tumble dry, and you're good to go. As with most activewear, if you can lay these garments flat to dry, they may keep their elasticity a little longer. The Elevation sports bra gets softer with every wash. It is very durable with solid stitching, although the soft, thin fabric feels as though it may pill after extended wear.
The Topanga, Paloma, Under Armour UA Infinity Mid, and Patagonia Active Mesh can also be washed on a regular cold spin cycle but should not be dried. If you're in a pinch, all of these bras can be tumble dried, but they will wear faster if you do this regularly.
Many sports bras should not be machine dried (or only very infrequently when you're in a rush) to help their elastic last longer and retain its elasticity. Pictured here are the Under Armour UA Infinity (left) and the Patagonia Active Mesh (right).
It is important to note that it shouldn't be a dealbreaker if a bra requires more care. Bras like the Brooks Drive 3 Pocket Run, She-Fit Ultimate, and Knix Catalyst require a little extra care, but they are very durable and great options, especially if added support is needed.
Going to the gym is hard enough. Why make it more difficult with ill-fitting or uncomfortable apparel? There is nothing quite like a cute, form-fitting, and supportive sports bra to instill the confidence you need to get you through a challenging hike, HIIT cardio workout, or a restorative yoga session. We bought multiple sizes of each bra in our test suite and put them to the test on different body types through various exercises to ensure a well-rounded evaluation of each one. We hope that our side-by-side comparisons help take the guessing out of your shopping experience.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.