A tank top with a built-in bra is perfect for hiking or mountaineering, both as a base layer under warmer clothing or when the temperature is high and you don’t feel like wearing much more than one layer. The brave (and impervious to cold) can of course flaunt a normal cropped sports bra, but we recommend keeping your obliques warm in a tank with a built-in sports bra. Hiking, climbing and mountaineering require some support for your chest as they are low to medium-impact activities and this is exactly the level of support a built-in bra in a tank top can provide. Still fewer high-quality brands make such tank tops, but here we have listed some of those which are suitable for outdoor aerobic activities. Depending on your style, some of them are also great for everyday use. On the trails, just remember to bring sunscreen and one or two extra layers in case of weather surprises – such as rain, wind or thunder storms.
1. Buying a Tank Top with Built-In Bra – What is important?
Sizing and Support:
The built-in bras in tank tops for hiking and other sporty activities are usually of the type called a shelf bra or a bra liner, where an extra layer of tight-fitting elastic fabric over the breasts along with a thick elastic under the breasts give you support by compressing your breasts towards the chest wall. The tighter the band, the more support you will get, but you still have to be able to get in and out of the top! Tank tops with a built-in bra are usually sized like clothing (S, M, L etc.) rather than by cup size and circumference like bras, but that does not necessarily make picking the right size any easier. In our comparison table below, we have entered the sizes of the respective models and the chest circumference (at its fullest) or cup size they correspond to according to the manufacturer’s website.
However, if you want more or less support for your breasts you might want to pick a slightly smaller or larger size than the one which corresponds to the circumference of your chest. If you choose a slightly larger size, you should be all-right for low intensity activities while a smaller size will almost certainly provide you with medium support – or even enough support for high impact work outs (running, aerobics etc.) if you have a small elfin bosom. Women with very large breasts will usually (even if wearing a much smaller size) only get support for low impact activities out of a tank top with built-in bra, but you also don’t need much more for hiking or mountaineering. To get better support, large-busted women will have to get an encapsulation sports bra for high-impact activities. You can read more about how to choose a sports bra for hiking and (trail) running in our article here.
As a tank top goes on your bare skin, the fabric used should feel soft and smooth to touch besides being breathable and moisture-wicking. Clothes for outdoor aerobic activities should NOT be made of cotton as this material is neither moisture-wicking not quick-drying, which means that you will probably get cold when you start sweating. The tank tops with built-bra listed below are made out of synthetic materials or natural materials like Merino wool and Tencel.
All the tank tops mentioned in this reviewed can be machine-washed at low temperatures; just steer clear of bleach, softeners etc. and avoid tumble-drying if possible, as it can take a toll on the sophisticated materials used for sports and hiking clothing.
Comfort When Carrying a Backpack:
Most tank tops with built-in bra for hiking or other activities feature some sort of racerback to ensure absolute freedom of movement. However, this leaves quite some skin bare – which means that such tops might not work as well as a standalone piece if you are planning to carry a (heavy) backpack. If the backpanel and shoulder straps of your backpack are well-padded, it shouldn’t cause too much discomfort, but if they aren’t they will quickly start to rub against your bare skin and cause irritation. Besides getting a good backpack (which is in any case a vital piece of equipment), we recommend that you might wear some sort of light top with sleeves over your tank top to prevent chafing and irritation when you are carrying a heavy load. If you love going for shorter hikes, a lumbar waist pack can easily replace a backpack, and you can enjoy having bare unburdened shoulders.
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 Tank Tops with Built-In Bra Review
The Best Tank Tops with Built-In Bra – List
- Prana Becksa Tank Top
- Black Diamond Six Shooter Top
- Patagonia Mibra Top
- FreeReign Style Everyday Tank Top
- Ibex Balance Merino Tank Top
|Feature/Product||Prana Becksa||Black Diamond Six Shooter||Patagonia Mibra||FreeReign Everyday||Ibex Merino Balance|
|Material||42% Recycled Polyester, 42% Polyester, 16% Spandex||Polyester Stretch Jersey (93% Polyester, 7% Elastane)||Body: 89% recycled polyester, 11% spandex jersey|
Shelf bra: 73% nylon, 27% spandex power mesh and 100% polyester jersey Cups: 100% polyester
|Body: 73% TENCEL Lyocell, 23% nylon, 4% spandex|
Bra Liner: 84% TENCEL Modal, 16% spandex
Cups: 100% polyester
|72 % Merino wool, 22 % polyester, 6 % spandex|
|Built-in Bra Type||Shelf bra/liner bra (compression)||Shelf bra/liner bra (compression)||Shelf bra/liner bra (compression)||Molded foam front (encapsulation)||Shelf bra/liner bra (compression)|
|Removeable modesty pads||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (not removeable)||No|
|Fits busts (measured at the fullest):|
*according to brand website
XL= 40´´- 42´´
1. Prana Becksa
- Everyday Life
Prana specializes in eco-friendly and comfortable performance clothes for holistic activities such as yoga, trekking and climbing, and thus it is no surprise that the brand regularly comes up with new snug tank tops with a built-in bra. For this list we chose a style with a slightly more covered back – the Prana Becksa top – in case you are carrying a backpack on your outdoor adventures. The Prana Becksa tank is made of a UPF50-rated polyester blend (half of the polyester is recycled) with 1×1 compression stretch rib, meaning that it is very elastic and always keeps its shape and structure. It is made with flatlock seams and the built-in bra features a mesh lining, removable modesty cups and plush elastic to keep you comfortable and supported. The Prana Becksa top is available in several muted colors, and also comes in plus sizes, as well as a cropped version.
2. Black Diamond Six Shooter Top
The Black Diamond Six Shooter tank top is named after the striking sandstone summits in Utah, and indeed the top is designed with climbing in mind. The Black Diamond tank top is constructed with thin double straps set slightly apart so they mimic the support of wider straps, which line up closer to the neck and then join one another on the back in a minimalistic racerback design. The effect is almost sculptural, but also functional as it provides full freedom of movement. The main fabric is a breathable and soft polyester stretch jersey, while the internal shelf bra is made of a stretch mesh for support and airflow. Included are removeable modesty pads for extra shape and coverage. The Black Diamond Six Shooter tank top is made with flatlock seams but has ruched side seams which are both flattering and comfortable. This tank top with built-in bra comes in several soft heathered color options.
3. Patagonia Mibra Top
The Patagonia Mibra is the top on this list which shows the most skin on the back as the thin straps on the back crisscross and make up a beautiful triangular pattern. This means that it might not work as well as a standalone piece if you are planning to carry a (heavy) backpack. Like the Prana top, the Patagonia Mibra contains a very high amount of recycled polyester (89% in the main fabric and 70 % in the shelf bra material, which isn’t mesh) and is Fair Trade Sewn. It also goes quite high in sizing, but as mentioned above you cannot expect the same support level for larger busts – even if the tank top otherwise fits you. The Patagonia Mibra was designed in cooperation with female climbers, and thus the low, but contoured armholes provide coverage without limiting movement. As the only top here, it is also available in prints rather than just solid colors.
- Soft and breathable fabric with high percentage of recycled polyester
- Shelf bra has antimicrobial treatment to prevent odor
- Removeable modesty cups for coverage and support
- Fair Trade Certified Sewn
- Construction with thin straps might affect support
4. FreeReign Style Everyday Tank
- Everyday use
Unlike the previously mentioned tank tops with built-in bra, the FreeReign Everyday tank is not made of synthetic materials but consists mainly of sustainable Tencel materials, which are made from tree pulp. If you are not familiar with Tencel, it is worth noting that it is soft, breathable and moisture-wicking, but takes some time to dry if it gets soaked. While the previous tops all feature some sort of racerback, the FreeReign tank has a scooped back and straight straps. It is also the only top which has sizing based on actual cup size rather than bust circumference at its fullest. The biggest size 36B can, however, also accommodate larger busts as you can read more about in my first-hand review of the tank top. Instead of a shelf bra (or bra liner), the FreeReign Everyday top features a molded foam front piece with separate cups for coverage and support. The biggest con of the tank is that this foam front can lift and fold if you move your arms around a lot.
- Soft, anti-microbial and moisture-wicking fabric
- Seamless knitted construction for comfort
- Large percentage of sustainable Tencel fabrics
- Limited size range (although size 36B can accommodate larger busts)
- The molded front can lift and fold if you raise your arms a lot
5. Ibex Balance Merino Tank Top
The Ibex Balance is the only tank top with built-in bra on this list which is made of a Merino wool blend (72 % Merino wool, 22 % polyester, 6 % spandex). This means that the fabric has natural anti-odor properties, which won’t wash out but will keep you feeling fresh in the Ibex tank top, even if there goes a long time between washes. Thus it is a great choice for multi-day trekking and backpacking trips where you will want to carry as little as possible and showering might not be an option. The Merino wool content also means that the fabric is thermo-regulating, i.e. keeps you cool when it’s warm and warm when it is cold, so you can use it all-year round. The Ibex Balance tank top is constructed with different densities and knits, so you get the support where you need it the most. The back length is 23 inches, so all but the tallest women should be covered adequately.