Best Hiking Bras of 2019 – Medium Support


Champion Curvy Show-Off Sports Bra

Champion Curvy Show-Off Sports Bra

While hiking, mountaineering and climbing can be extremely physically demanding accomplishments, they are merely low to medium-impact activities in terms of the strain/bounce they expose your chest to (depending on the terrain and your tempo). This may cause some to opt out of the traditional sports bra which is more meant for short-time high-impact activities (running, martial arts, aerobics etc.) and thus can feel too constricting when you are hiking for several hours – or days. Your everyday bra is, however, often a poor solution as it might not be adequately supportive and without moisture-wicking properties. In the following we are reviewing the best five hiking bras which are most suitable for low to medium-impact activities. In our search for medium support bras for hiking we have scoured brands which specialize in hiking clothing as well as traditional sports brands and lingerie manufacturers. A similar amount of support can be achieved by wearing a tank top with a built-in sports bra; you can check out our review of such tops here. If you are looking for more support you might find something that suits you in our selection of the best high-impact sports bras.

We regularly update our reviews and selections to always recommend you the best products on the market.

1. Buying a Medium Support Hiking Bra – What is important?

Type:

The prototype for the first proper sports bra, the Jogbra, was created in 1977 by three women by combining two jockstraps as they envisioned that the same type of support for bouncing body parts should be available for women when doing sports activities. Most sports bras today utilize the same method of support by having a tight-fitting elastic top pressing your breasts against your chest wall (compression), but there are also models – especially with larger-chested women in mind – which use the method of encapsulating each breast to inhibit bounce. Finally there are bras which combine the two methods.

Design:

The support of a sports bra comes from three different parts in its structure: the straps, the cups and the band (including the side panels). The most important is the band which should be relatively wide (at least 2 cm) and fit very snugly under your breasts as it provides as much as 70% of a bra’s support for your chest. Sports bras usually have either a full racer back (sometimes with cut-outs for ventilation) or straps running straight down (sometimes crisscrossing) – almost like on a normal bra. The racer back is a very popular feature as the straps will not fall down over shoulders as you are moving. The cinching in the back also entails that the straps press the bra closer to the body and thus offer more support. On the other hand, the racer back can be annoying to some if they feel as though too much weight is being carried on the trapezius muscle rather than further out on the clavicle. Adjustable straps on a sports bra can both be a blessing and a curse; they tend to be thinner than non-adjustable straps (thus causing a poorer division of weight) and the very hardware which make adjusting possible can rub against your skin and cause irritation and redness – but it is also nice to be able to adjust the length of the straps; not least after a period of use where the elasticity in thinner straps might have become weaker.

Sizing:

A lot of women wear wrong bra-sizes for the majority of their life which is not hard to understand due to the many sizes available and the variation from brand to brand – or even from model to model. Usually women tend to wear too big a circumference and too small a cup (this writer for example wore a B75 for years before realizing that C70 was a better fit). You might get away with that for a normal bra, but if you are looking for a sports bra for hiking, you should be extra aware of getting the correct circumference as you will otherwise not get the needed support. Many (compression) sports bras are categorized by “regular” sizes such as S, M, L etc. rather than cup sizes, but that does not necessarily make sizing much easier. If you are buying a sports bra online, do yourself a favor and measure the width of your chest at its widest (as well as your circumference just below it) and familiarize yourself with the sizing scale of the brand and model you have in mind in order to optimize your chances of making a great – and great-fitting purchase. We have done the footwork for you by listing under each product which cup sizes or circumference (of the chest at its widest) the selected models cover respectively according to the official brand websites.

Coverage:

Here we are not just talking about how much of your breast is exposed, but also if the shape of your nipples can be spotted through the fabric at any time – the so-called “headlights” or “doorbell” syndrome. If you are very prone to stiff nipples whether due to temperature or sensation, you might feel less self-conscious wearing something padded or with cups if you are only dressed in thin layers over your sports bra. However, padding or cup inserts can feel annoying to some women, so the choice is yours.

Material:

It is important that your hiking bra is made of a fabric which is breathable, moisture-wicking and preferably quick-drying if it should get wet – which are all criteria that most everyday bras cannot live up to. As the skin on the chest and around your armpits can be quite sensitive, it is also important that the fabric feels smooth and comfortable.

Care:

All the sports bras reviewed below, except the Playtex Outgoer, can be machine-washed at low temperatures as long as you steer clear of softeners and avoid tumble-drying them afterwards – otherwise you might decrease the lifespan of your sports bra.

Expert Selections
We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.
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2. The Best Hiking Bras – Medium Support Review

Best Hiking Bras - Medium Support

Best Hiking Bras – Medium Support

The Best Hiking Bras – List

  1. Champion Curvy Show-Off Sports Bra
  2. SmartWool PhD Seamless Racerback Bra
  3. Maidenform Ultimate Underwire Sports Bra
  4. Under Armour Eclipse Sports Bra
  5. Icebreaker Sprite Sports Bra

Comparison

Feature/Product Champion Curvy Show-Off Sports BraSmartWool PhD Maidenform Ultimate Underwire Sports BraUnder Armour Eclipse Sports BraIcebreaker Sprite Sports Bra
Material88% Polyester, 12% SpandexShell - 34% Nylon, 38% Merino Wool, 16% Polyester, 12% Elastane; Inner - 68% Merino Wool, 21% Nylon, 11% ElastaneBody: 82% Nylon/18% Spandex; Mesh: 72% Nylon/28% Spandex89% Nylon, 11% Elastane96% Merino, 4% Lycra
SizesS-XLXS-XL34A-DD, 36A-DD, 38B-DDXS-XLXS-XL
CupsYesNoYes, paddedYes No
Adjustable strapsNoNoYes Yes No
How to put onPull-onPull-onHookPull-onPull-on
Champion Curvy Show-Off Sports Bra

Champion Curvy Show-Off Sports Bra

1. Champion Curvy Show-Off Sports Bra

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking

Champion was established in America almost a century ago and while many might primarily associate it with basketball (and thus hiphop) jerseys in the 1990’s, the brand has produced many kick-ass sports bras in the recent years. Therefore it wasn’t hard to decide that the Champion Curvy Show-Off sports bra had to be included in our selection of the best hiking bras. Not only does it feature power mesh panels for ventilation, a wide bottom band for added support and molded foam cups for modesty and shape – it has a flattering and feminine design without compromising its functionality in offering medium support. The Curvy Show-Off bra comes in various bright color combinations and in four sizes; S covers cup sizes 32-34A/B/C, size M covers 34-36A/B/C, size M covers 38A;36-38B/C; 34D while XL covers cup sizes 40B; 38-40C; 36-38D according to the Champion’s official size guide. There have, however, also been satisfied reviews from buyers with DD-cups and above.

 

Pros:

  • Feminine design
  • Elastic racerback
  • Wide bottomband

Cons:

  • /

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Video

SmartWool PhD Seamless Bra

SmartWool PhD Seamless Bra

2. SmartWool PhD Seamless Racerback Bra

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

It does not get much more comfy than the SmartWool PhD Seamless Racerback bra! The cut and material of this Merino sports bra makes it a lot more comfortable than other compression sports bras, but also prevents it from offering maximum support. SmartWool discloses that this bra will provide medium support for A and B cups, but only support for C cups for low-impact activities. The hybrid fabric combines the best of both worlds by mixing Merino wool (breathability, softness and odor-control) with light-weight Elastane and Nylon for fit, stretch and support in two layers. The innermost layer contains more than two thirds of Merino wool fibers for optimal comfort on your skin. The SmartWool PhD Seamless Racerback Bra is available in four grey mélange/color combinations. With regards to sizing the brand recognizes that more than one size might be suitable for your cup size depending on your preferences and thus state that size XS is meant for cup sizes 30A-C and 32A-B; size S for 32A-C and 34A-B; size M for cup sizes 34A-C and 36A-B; size L for 36A-C and 38A-B and finally size XL for cup sizes 38A-C.

 

Pros:

  • Softness and breathability from Merino wool
  • Stretch and durability from synthetic fibers
  • Knit cups provide shape and lift

Cons:

  • No padding for modesty
  • Limited support for larger chests

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Maidenform Ultimate Underwire Sports Bra

Maidenform Ultimate Underwire Sports Bra

3. Maidenform Ultimate Underwire Sports Bra

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

The Maidenform Sport Ultimate Underwire bra is the only bra on this list which comes in actual cup sizes like normal bras – which is great for those who know their size and want a sports bra which will encapsulate each breast properly. It comes in sizes 34A-DD, 36A-DD and 38B-DD. The higher sides of the bra prevent “spilling over” and sideboob, while the padded cups take care of coverage, shape and support with motion control technology to help minimize bounce. The lightweight foam cups are covered by a wicking liner. The adjustable straps are quite broad and thus give a better weight distribution on the shoulders (vital for those with larger chests) and are adjustable in the front rather than in the back for convenience. The straps crisscross in the back, giving the Maidenform sports bra a sort of racer back which is closed by a hook-and-eye closure.

 

Pros:

  • Cup sizes
  • Hook closure
  • Adjustable straps

Cons:

  • Handwash
  • Padding is not removable

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UnderArmour Eclipse Mid

UnderArmour Eclipse Mid

4. Under Armour Eclipse Sports Bra

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking

The Under Armour Eclipse sports bra offer a bit more support (mid-impact) than the Seamless Essentials model (low-impact) we recommended in our list of the 10 best gifts for female hikers as its material contains more Elastane for support and compression. Both bras feature Under Armour’s Signature Transport System to wick away sweat and keep you cool and dry. However, the Eclipse model also has breathable cup inserts for coverage as well as a unique sexy back with quite some skin left bare by the crossed adjustable straps. Unlike the Ibex Balance Bra, the straps of the Eclipse cannot be unhooked and adjusted to run straight down in the back instead of crisscrossing. The Under Armour Eclipse bra comes both in solid colors as well as various prints and is available in five sizes; the XS should be suitable for busts (measured at the widest) around 28 inches wide in circumference, size S for busts measuring between 30 and 32 inches, M for busts between 34 and 36 inches, L for busts measuring between 36 and 38 inches and finally XL which should fit busts around 38 to 40 inches wide in circumference.

Pros:

  • Wide adjustable straps
  • Soft material
  • Breathable cups for extra coverage and shape
  • Sexy back

Cons:

  • Straps cannot be adjusted to run straight

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Video

Icebreaker Sprite Sports Bra

Icebreaker Sprite Sports Bra

5. Icebreaker Sprite Sports Bra

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

The Icebreaker Sprite sports bra has the classic cut of a compression sports bra with a racer back. But rather than being made of synthetic materials which may or may not be breathable and moisture-wicking, the bra is made of 96% Merino wool with only a touch of LYCRA for support and fit. The Merino used in this top weighs a mere 150g/m2 so it performs well in all seasons of the year, both in terms of keeping your natural body temperature and being odor-resistant. The light fabric can, however, not compress as efficiently as thicker fabrics (with more stretchy synthetic fibers), which means that the Icebreaker Sprite can only offer limited support for larger chests. The sports bra is available in five sizes; the XS should be suitable for busts (measured at the widest) around 32 inches wide in circumference, size S for busts measuring approximately 34 inches wide, M for busts around 37 inches in circumference, L for busts measuring around 39.5 inches and finally XL which should fit busts with a width around 42 inches. The Icebreaker Sprite is available in some of the same color combinations as the Icebreaker Sprite hipsters – featured in our list of the best hiking underwear for women.

 

Pros:

  • Ultra-light and soft material
  • Breathable and moisture-wicking

Cons:

  • No padding for modesty
  • Limited support for larger chests

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Post Author

Post Author

Laura P.

I loved to climb trees when I was a child – as an adult I use these skills for climbing and scrambling up mountain sides! I always wear a Merino baselayer, sunscreen and my hair tousled.

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