Do you have experience wearing a wool sports bra?
March 22, 2016 1:54 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to hear about experiences with wool sports bras that aren't from gear reviewers.

I'm intrigued by the increasing number of wool sports bras I'm seeing on the market. (Or maybe I'm just now noticing.) I hate my sports bras for long-term backpacking trips, field trips, or work situations in which I may end up wearing my bra for a week or more. I also hate that for *my* size they've usually got a significant cotton component. What's the point of making sure the rest of my clothes don't have "killer cotton" in them only to bind a quarter of my upper half in it? Perhaps wool is a solution for both stink and dryness? Perhaps a wool sports bra would dry quickly enough that on longer trips I could semi-wash it, even. This is exciting!

There's a few bras out on the market now, and I'm already read some good gear reviews of them, but I'm interested in a few things that haven't been covered and non-reviewer experience. So if you've got personal wool sports bra experience, I'd love to hear it! I'm interested in how well they work with sweat and in the summertime - they seem a natural idea for winter, but would the wool be too much in heat? How's the breathability? How easily do they dry out? I'm particularly love to hear if you've worn them for a longer period of time without washing them. How's the cleavage stank? Since they're wool, is laundering them a bigger deal than a regular sports bra? (That's not a deal breaker for a great bra.)

Most of all, if you've got awesome megabreasts - how's the support? If they don't work well for running, do they work for other, less bouncy activities? (I've noticed some brands don't carry them for larger sizes.) Do you have a brand or style you'd recommend?

Thank you for anything you can give me!
posted by barchan to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I'd love to be proven otherwise, but I've never found a wool bra that was supportive enough for moderate breasts much less for megabreasts; maybe for just lounging around or sleeping in.... but even moderate hiking involves some bounce... Seems only small-boobed women can have the benefit of wool.

(I personally layer 2 midweight sports bras when I'm in backcountry, and try to dry the inner one over night. I rotate the inner and outer bras to hopefully minimize stank. It's a crappy solution)
posted by larthegreat at 2:00 PM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Depending on my weight, I'm a 34C to 34DD. I own three Icebreaker wool bras: the Rush and the Siren. I use them mostly when skiing--so, low impact but I wear the same bra all week or more--but I also wear them all year to work (I bike commute 4 miles one way). They don't make me too warm--I don't even notice a difference in body temperature when I wear different bras, either in the winter or the summer--it's the rest of the layers that really matter to me.

IME, the Rush bra wicks really really well, but the Siren bras don't because the underboob band is elastic, not wool. However, they handle the body odor issue very well, like all Icebreaker under layers. They really handle sweat and odor well when the bra meets the underarm.

As for support and aesthetics: the Rush bra gives me sports-bra-monoboob, which is probably unattractive to men in the bar apres ski, but IDGAF. The Siren bras are only slightly more supportive than yoga bras and therefore my middle-aged breasts are not Perky McTitties in them, but, again IDGAF. I'd rather have slightly less perfect boobs under my sweater than an underwire or compression when in the midst of physical activity and sweating. I don't have discomfort from bouncing or anything in either of Icebreaker bras which I have, despite the lack of support infrastructure. YMMV.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:19 PM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I have the Icebreaker Rush as well ( and I love it. I use it exercising (running, biking) and on long backpacking trips. Definitely not too warm, and never gets that cold clammy feel a cotton bra does if you go from exercising to standing in the shade. It also dries pretty quickly both while wearing it and when it's off. It's held up well, never stinks, and is easy to care for (throw it in the wash when I'm doing a cold cycle and try to air dry it if I remember). I'm small chested, and don't mind uniboob, so I'm not much help with regards to those questions.
posted by sorrel at 2:30 PM on March 22, 2016

Best answer: I have two Ibex bras (the Balance Sports Bra and Balance Bralette). Both are majority wool but with some nylon and spandex in the blend.

They are definitely comfortable for me in hot weather--I don't perceive any difference between them and my all-synthetic bras. I machine wash and lay flat to dry and it's super easy and they dry quickly. (I do this with my synthetic sports bras too, to preserve the elastic as long as possible.)

Personally, I think the stink-inhibiting properties of merino are overstated. In my experience, yes merino does smell less, but the glowing reviews claiming that it's completely impervious to odor are just false. That said, I've gone on weekend hiking trips bringing just the Ibex sports bra and it's totally fine to wear a few days in a row.
posted by mama casserole at 2:31 PM on March 22, 2016

I also own a couple of Icebreaker bras - they're an older version of the Rush bra. I'm very much so on the smaller end at 32A (well, pre-pregnancy), so I'm only looking for light support and avoidance of nipple headlights. For these purposes, and at my size, the Rush bra is awesome (as is almost all Icebreaker gear).

No stink after a week+ of wearing during backpacking adventures or several sessions of heavy running. Does not feel hot at all (note that Icebreaker has even thinner wool bras if this is a concern), but I'm normally wearing it in the mountains where it's not super hot. Comfortable, doesn't pull or rub. It does make me look like I have absolutely no chest, but, eh, that's pretty much everything that doesn't have padding. A big plus is that if it gets wet in a sudden rainstorm or if I use it for an impromptu swimsuit then it doesn't feel cold/clammy when I'm out of the water, and dries relatively quickly. I could very easily see giving it a wash in the river one night while backpacking if any sort of stink developed, and then pulling it on in the morning and wearing until it dried out. It'd probably be uncomfortable for about 5 minutes, and then I'd forget about it. I launder it on normal wash, cold, along with everything else in my house, and then dry on a rack. (This is the routine I use for all other wool clothes, except socks and underwear - those go into the dryer because I don't have time for socks & underwear that need to be hung to dry.)
posted by Jaclyn at 2:38 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'll be watching this question like a hawk, because I'm on a similar hunt. I haven't tried any of the wool ones because they don't seem like they'd be supportive enough. The one I currently wear on weekend backpacking trips is from Lynx (the cross back, to be specific). It's not wool, but it doesn't get as clammy as the shitty Target sports bras I had been wearing (and I'm mostly in the desert, so there's plenty of sweat). You can throw it in the washer AND dryer. I did a drip dry experiment at home, and it was still wet the next morning, so I don't know how it would fare with a backcountry laundering. My 36-Fish boobs are plenty supported for a light jog, but it doesn't make me feel like I'm wearing plate armor. Definitely mono-boob, but if I'm going to be swimming in it or changing out in the open, I'd probably feel more comfortable in it than in a more bra-shaped bra. It also comes in fun patterns and bright solids, should you care about that sort of thing.

I'm not 100% in love with it, but it's the best thing I've found so far.
posted by natabat at 3:01 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have (had?) a rush bra, and it's pretty much useless for running. Unless you're an A or small B, it's just not going to do motion control. I think it went to the Goodwill bin. I was hopeful since I've had a few wool cycling jerseys and they are comfortable and cool. It just was not enough support for a bra. Also, I think the support degrades a lot as you wear it. The idea of going multiple days seems like a no go - not for reasons of stank but because of diminishing support.

For high impact, the Freya underwire sport is my gold standard. For something more moderate like hiking, the Glamorise bras are very good. (In fact, you can't beat the price/support combo on the Glamorise bras. I wear that Glamorise to run in frequently.)
posted by 26.2 at 6:13 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for the answers so far! It sounds like something worth trying if I can find one that fits me. I don't need it for running and I don't mind monoboob. I DGAF as long as it works, and you all have given me hope. I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates the cold clammy bra in the morning. But if you put it in your sleeping bag, then you have a cold damp article of clothing in your bag which isn't good either. UGH. And I agree that merino properties are overstated, particularly if they've got synthetics blended in, but odor resistance is better than odor growth.

For those of you watching this question who are on the larger end of the awesome size scale, memail me if you want a report in case I can't get back here within the month.

And 26.2 I love my Freya bra for support! Only, after a few days, I'm like what's that smell? And then I discover that my cleavage and underboob have turned into the Valley of Death. That's why the wool appeals to me so. And to be able to swish it or throw it in a reststop/truckstop sink and have it dry would be so awesome. I love the idea of even being able to use it as an impromptu swimsuit!
posted by barchan at 8:31 AM on March 23, 2016

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