After my first long hiking trip, I told my husband that the best investment I had made for that trip was my new moisture wicking bra. It was one of the best hiking bras ever! He looked at me with that weird look men have when they think women are bonkers. But I know that you ladies understand how uncomfortable it is when sweat runs between the girls and builds up under them. So gross! Am I right? And talk about suffering from chafing, digging, rubbing and more. All problems when we wear the wrong underwear on a hike.
Thankfully, I’ve done quite a bit of research on how to choose a hiking sports bra that I can share with you. Note that this post contains affiliate links to make it easier for you to find products I have mentioned. You don’t pay any extra and in some cases I could earn a small commission.
What to consider while choosing the Best Hiking Bra?
Bras, just like really great hiking underwear can make or break your day while hiking, trekking or camping. The best sports bra for hiking will do two things: Keep you super dry and fresh feeling plus fit so comfortably that you will forget you are wearing it. That means a top hiking bra will be lightweight, of good material, have antimicrobial properties, look stylish, support your boobs, be of the right cup size and so much more.
Bra Materials that Keeps You Fresh and Dry
Your breasts should be outfitted with material that’s breathable, lightweight, moisture-wicking and quick drying. A moisture wicking and quick dry bra for hiking will ensure that the twins stay dry and smell free on long hikes. While lightweight material helps you feel flexible and free.
Merino wool and bamboo materials are the premium fabrics that naturally have moisture wicking properties. Alone they generally don’t provide great support so bra designers have blended these 2 yarns with a variety of synthetics to give you the best of both worlds. Our top choices use merino wool or bamboo.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple amazing choices with all synthetic fabrics. Creative designers have developed bras with breathing panels or utilizing new technology that allows fabrics to pull moisture away from your skin.
One of the reasons we like merino wool and bamboo is their natural antimicrobial properties. These fabrics are resistant to growth of bacteria and fungi which are what make your bra smelly after they get damp from your sweat. We go into a lot more detail about the benefits of merino wool and bamboo in this post about the best hiking underwear.
You will often see other fabrics that are “treated antimicrobial”. Personally I’d steer clear of any fabric that is treated with chemicals when it’s going to rubbing against your most sensitive skin.
Quick Drying and Moisture Wicking
The best backpacking bra will wick moisture away from your skin and be a quick drying bra. Because really, who wants wet fabric tightly rubbing against your skin when in full motion hiking. If you get caught in the rain while hiking your bra is sure to get soaked. But even worse is a sweat soaked bra from hot weather hiking.
In addition to bamboo and merino wool which are naturally quick drying, there are also a handful of fabric blends where the designers have developed just the right mix that moisture is pulled from you skin to the outside to quickly dry. Nasty stuff won’t grow in dry fabric so these blends also often work well for hiking bras.
What’s the difference between Hiking Bras and Sports Bras?
Hiking bras are a subset of sports bras. But not every sports bra will work for hiking. Why? First you need to think about where your backpack will rub. Clasps and hooks can create sores when caught between your body and your backpack. Second, most hiking is not high impact like running, so you have better options for a lighter weight cooling bra because you won’t need as much support.
Bras That are Designed for Comfort
Because you will be wearing a backpack, you want a bra that doesn’t have strap adjustment hardware that might rub between your pack and your back. For that reason most hikers prefer a racer back bra style that doesn’t have those adjustments. However, I know many of you need that adjustment ability because we all know that no two sets of ladies are the same. In that case watch for smooth finishes and try your pack on with your bra before you head out.
A wide strap will usually give more support. Look for a strap that lays flat and smooth against your skin.
One of the most important fits might be the band. If it rides up and down when you are moving you are going to be super uncomfortable. Hiking bra bands should not rub or chafe your under-bust. When ordering a bra for hiking, make sure you have measured your rib cage right under your breasts. Don’t just guess the correct size. You want a band that fits snug, but doesn’t dig into your skin.
You’ll find most sports bras have a wide band. That because a wider band will provide more support and shift less as you move.
One serious comfort consideration is bands with clasps. Here again because your back pack is rubbing against your back it’s great to avoid those little clasps digging into your back all day. However you might find a pull over bra doesn’t work for you if you need extra support or you struggle with lifting that bra over your head. That’s why there are athletic bras with front closures. Some bra manufacturers also do a great job of padding those clasps.
Generally hiking doesn’t require the kind of support you’d look for if were running. There’s a lot less boob bouncing going on. That means you can opt in for lighter weight bra that breathes better. So if you fit a smaller cup size, you will probably be most comfortable in a lightweight sports bra. For those ladies in the mid range cup sizes (B, C) a comfy racer back styled bra will provide adequate support for hiking. If you wear a larger cup size, you’ll likely want to move up to something with medium support.
Style and Colors
Many of today’s sports bras are often designed with style that as the day heats up and you start shedding layers you are perfectly fine stripping down to your last layer: your gorgeous bra. Consider wearing colors you like, and styles that have enough coverage that you’d be comfortable when it’s super hot and you hike with your top off. Many hikers recommend avoiding skin tone colors which tend to look like you are naked when you go down to that base layer.
Back to that first 10 mile hike… I was so glad I had invested in a good hiking bra. It’s worth spending a few more dollars to get a bra that won’t leave you feeling skanky and itchy at the end of the day. It’s no fun to be tugging at your straps and realigning everything while on the trail because you picked up a cheap bra. While some of the best hiking bras can be pricey, the good news is that you don’t have to spend a small fortune on a good quality hiking bra. I’ve looked at a few bras under $40 here, and some really awesome bras at $60 to $90. It’s worth the investment for a bra that will support you through hundreds of miles of hiking.
Of course, Amazon is always a great place to check for selection and pricing. I also love the website Moosejaw for outdoor wear. They run amazing sales, have a generous rebate program and free shipping on most orders. So I’ve included links to both when available so you can grab the best deal.
Best Bras for Hiking
Overall Best Bra for Serious Hiking
The Supportive DriLayer HorsePower fabric in the Brooks Dare Crossback turns what was designed as a running bra to the perfect bra for hiking when you are really pushing it on the trail. You’ll find yourself dry and comfortable all day. The bottom band is fully integrated into the sports bra, offering support where you need it and smooth, chafe-free comfort.
We also like that the molded cups not only give support but provide shaping. As you know many sports bras smash the girls flat so it’s pretty sweet to look good when you feel good on a hot sweaty trip. Seams have been minimalized to reduce chaffing. This bra is available in a huge range of sizes to fit most hikers.
Best Merino Wool Blend Bra for Hiking
This thermo-regulating, moisture wicking Bra from Smartwool is the best of both worlds. It is made from a blend of nylon, elastane and Merino wool. First the soft Merino wool liner snugs up next to your skin where it keeps you warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warm. Nothing beats merino wool for naturally managing moisture and preventing body odor.
The outer layer knit cups have been engineered to give you the shape and lift that merino wool by itself would be unable to provide. And you’ll love the wide straps that will provide overall support without digging into your shoulders. The smooth back won’t cause any rubbing if you are carrying a heavy back pack. Seamless means there won’t be any chaffing under your arms as you move on the trail.
Whether you’re out hiking, camping or trekking, this Racerback bra made from sustainable wool will keep you feeling fresh and dry all the time!
The Top Cost Effective Hiking Bra
Cost-effective support is what we get from the Under Armour Mid Crossback Sports Bra. Made entirely of polyester, it provides strategic support for medium-impact activities, while still feeling as soft as ever. The built in cups are soft and breathable and really help to keep the nipples out of sight. The 4-way stretch construction allows you to move better in all directions. Under Armour’s proprietary fabric – HeatGear – is one of those specially designed for moisture-wicking and fast dries. This bra will be perfect as a backpacking bra!
The Softest Bamboo Bra for Sensitive Skin
I love the feel of bamboo based fabrics against my skin. Eco-friendly, sustainable and thermo-regulating, bamboo is a plant that’s naturally available in large amounts and easily replenish-able. Bamboo fiber is also naturally hypoallergenic and perfect for sensitive skin. The Boody Racerback Sports bra with 4-way stretch provides medium support for hiking, gym workouts and active weekends. Available in sizes from XS to XL, it sits well around the bust and shoulders and leaves you feeling soft and silky. The bra sizes range from 30A (XS) to 40C (XL), though a reviewer noted that 34DD’s can also fit into size L.
Best Sports Bra for a Super Cool Back
I’m sure you know that feeling of a wet back after a hot day of carrying your pack. That’s why you’ll love the back venting in the North Face Bounce-B-Gone Bra. North Face’s FlashDry technology ensures the fabric wicks away sweat from your skin and dries quickly. This medium impact sports bra is called Bounce-B-Gone for a reason: it will provide a really comfortable level of support on a very technical or active hike. You’ll notice the slightly higher neck line and the wider chest band, both which help provide that extra support.
The Best Hiking Bra that Supports without Compression
The criss cross straps and wide band on the Ibex Balance Criss Cross Bra provide a surprising level of support. Combine that support with all the amazing benefits of wool and you have one awesome hiking bra. With 72% merino wool, you’ll find superior moisture wicking and a very quick drying bra. The seamless technology eliminates uncomfortable chaffing. This bra includes removable pads for a little more modesty and enhanced shaping.
The Perfect Merino Wool Bra for a Smaller Bust
Perfect for smaller busted gals that want a slim fit, the Icebreaker Merino Sprite Racerback Bra is so lightweight you’ll love wearing it. We love the lack of a side seam and wide arm hole openings which will prevent underarm chaffing. The single back strap allows for a wide range of movement. The merino wool ensures moisture will be wicked away from your skin and that it will dry super quick. Because of the limited coverage and support this is not a great bra for busty women.
Best Hiking Bra for Large Breasts
Normally I wouldn’t recommend a bra for hiking with back hooks and rear strap adjustments, but the amazing Brooks Maia Sports Bra is the exception. This bra continually get’s high reviews for all outdoor activities by bustier ladies. The wide cushioned straps ensure comfortable support. The back clasp is well padded to avoid digging into your back as you hike. The ability to adjust the straps for your personal best fit will be invaluable if you struggle finding a great fitting sports bra. Available in sizes up to 44DD.
The Maia is constructed with DRILAYER technology to keep you cool and dry on the trail.
Best Bra for Extreme or Technical Hiking
If you are going to be doing a bit of bouldering or technical climbing on your hike, the Reebock PureMove Sports Bra is an amazing choice. They use Motion Sense Technology, which is used by astronauts, to ensure this bra automatically adjusts with your movements. This all means you won’t have to be constantly tugging on your bra as it digs into your skin from all your twists and turns.
Although the fabric blend is lacking in moisture wicking, the built in perforations in the front and back allow this bra to dry quickly so you won’t suffer from sweaty boobs. One feature we really love is the smooth, cut free edges that won’t rub against your skin.
Best Lightweight Hiking Bra
This super soft and lightweight bra is made of recycled nylon and spandex that is quick drying. Patagonia Barely Sports Bras use proprietary HeiQ® Fresh for durable odor control which means you won’t feel stinky on the trail. This bra is designed with an under bust panel that offers support for B/C cups to provide support and help shaping. Best of all this bra feels light when you are wearing it, like it’s almost not there.
So now that you’ve found the perfect bra for hiking, pop over to our article on selecting the perfect underwear for hiking. There is nothing worse than the skanky feeling of damp underwear all day. Also check out our other underwear posts: Best Men’s Underwear for Hiking and for when the temps drop Best Merino Wool Base Layer for Hiking
My last bit of advice is to think about what you hate most about your current hiking bra. Is it the rub or that it digs into your skin? Do you want more support? Or do you just want to stop the sweaty, funky feeling? Because everyone of these amazing women’s hiking bras listed above will work wonders for you on the trail. So why not find the one that answers your most pressing need in a comfortable hiking bra?
This article was originally published May 30, 2020. It was updated on June 16, 2021 to reflect the most current information for your shopping benefit.