I am very particular about sports bras, sacrificing cuteness for substance every single time. As a well-endowed woman (D, sometimes DD) who is also a long-distance runner, I need something that is going to actually support me over the miles. Bouncing breasts on a run is no fun—plus it’s not good for you. “A poor fitting sports bras can exacerbate fibrocystic changes, causing breast pain,” Erin Bowman, MD, FACS, a breast surgeon in Atlanta, Georgia, tells SELF. “Additionally, one that does not wick sweat properly can up your risk for infection.” What’s more, a British Medical Journal survey of over 1,3000 women who ran the 2012 London Marathon found that ill-fitting bras compromised their stride by up to four centimeters. All of that to say, I take sports bra testing very seriously.
I call it kismet that I was assigned to test the Brooks Dare Racerback Bra for the 2020 SELF Certified Sports Bras, Leggings, and Shorts Awards. I’ve always loved Brooks bras. Within the past year, Brooks overhauled its line, giving my favorite Juno bra, which has been a staple for years, the boot. I was excited to see what this style had to offer. When I slipped it on, I said to myself, “Nice,” so I knew we were off to a great start.
How I Tested the Brooks Dare Racerback Sports Bra
When testing sports bras for our awards, I used SELF’s criteria for buying the best sports bras. Before running I did a few in-apartment tests—jumping jacks, stretching my arms over my head and to the sides, twisting my torso, forward folds—looking for signs of pinching, puckering, poking, squeezing, or rubbing. Once the Brooks Dare Racerback passed my gymnastics routine, I headed out.
I initially tested it on a four-mile run along New York City’s West Side Highway running path—which is pretty flat. Post run I walked a couple of miles more, bringing my time in the bra to over an hour. Since then, I’ve logged many more runs.
I immediately felt supported when I put on this high-impact bra, and that didn’t change during my run or after a stint in the washer and dryer. No bounce at all.
I am a D, sometimes DD, and this bra runs true to size. It is snug but not tight. And the fit didn’t suddenly get wonky when I started sweating, keeping its shape the entire run. Despite experiencing back chafing from another bra I’d tested the day before this one, I didn’t have any additional rubbing or chafing.
This is a full-coverage, scoop-front bra, which I tend to favor. I like how the encapsulated cups support each breast individually. Plus I don’t get that squished uniboob, a hallmark of compression styles. I’m also just partial to sports bras modeled after traditional ones (adjustable straps, hook-and-eye closures, etc.). For me they feel more solidly constructed.
These straps, which have a satiny finish, are nice and thick. They stay put and feel smooth against my skin. I only had to adjust them prior to putting the bra on.
I typically hate racerbacks because they often leave me with headaches. (This one did not.) But I also tend to avoid racerbacks because I like to hook my bra in the front and then spin it around, and with a racerback you can’t do that. This one took some maneuvering, although the struggle to fasten the three-prong hook and eye behind my back was minimal. Getting it off was much easier—I simply unhooked the bra.
Mesh paneling runs along the top of the bra and down the middle of the back, making it super breathable. It also pulls moisture away from the body. I didn’t feel wet while running or on my post-run walk, but the bra was wet to the touch when I peeled it off.
The fabric is a nylon-spandex-polyester-knit blend that feels luxuriously soft and more upscale than typical sports bras I’ve tried.
The Bottom Line
For me a good sports bra is one I don’t notice, one that unassumingly but spectacularly does its job. The Brooks Dare Racerback did just that—10/10 indeed.