Hiking bra reviews: Moving Comfort Juno & Serena
When I am wearing the same pieces of clothing every day for weeks or months, it’s important for them to fit well. That being said, I can make do with shirts and pants getting baggier if my body shrinks (or tighter if it expands), and I can even survive socks sagging around my heels (though I hate it with the burning fire of a thousand suns). An ill-fitting bra can really make or break a hike, though.
Because I’ve been having some trouble locating a great backpacking or hiking bra, I thought I’d share my experiences with the ones I’ve tried so far. Please leave recommendations in the comments if you have a bra you love for backpacking.
The back story
When I would go hiking in college or the few years after, I didn’t put much thought into what I wore. I hiked in jeans, cotton t-shirts, running shoes, and cotton sports bras. While I made do with what I had, it was never particularly comfortable.
I discovered running during my last few years of college, and picked up sports bras over time as I continued. When I was getting my kit together for my JMT section hike in 2012, I had recently discovered the Moving Comfort Juno bra, and was in love. I made it my bra for that trip with no second thoughts.
Moving Comfort Juno
While this bra worked excellently for me for running, I would NEVER take it backpacking again.
In terms of providing support, this bra is built like a tank — it got me through a half-marathon in comfort, with no discernible movement. It has velcro adjustable straps, which made fitting the bra to the particular length of my shoulders a breeze.
Once I put a pack on and walked in it for a day, I was out of love.
By day 2 of the hike, I had sores from where my pack rubbed against the bra material. Trying to get moleskin to stay on my shoulders was a struggle I grew tired of over the next 4 days.
The closure at the back is hook & eye, which means double thickness of cloth plus little bits of metal to get pushed back into your tender back. Ow ow ow.
To add insult to injury, it smelled rank by the end of 5 days.
The bra was so thick I didn’t want to swim in it for fear it wouldn’t dry until we reached Red’s Meadow. The time I did go swimming in the Lyell Fork, I borrowed my friend’s spare buff and wore it tube top style instead.
Rating: D- (nope.)
Having gotten that disaster out of the way, let’s move on to my 2013 JMT bra pick:
Moving Comfort Serena
After the Great Bra Chafing Debacle of 2012, I was reluctant to wear the Juno even for running. I found a one-piece bra from the same company that fit well: the Serena in size medium. I took it on my weeklong trek in the Himalayan foothills, and it performed well there. It was a natural choice for me to take on the JMT.
Overall, the bra worked well for me. I loved that it was made of one piece of material — no seams to rub — and had shaping that provided a touch of separation.
It provided all the support I needed, didn’t give me any sores, and I didn’t notice it smelling by the end of the 20 day hike.
The biggest downside was how long it took to dry. I went swimming in it several times, and each time the bra was not dry by the next morning. If I wanted to bring two bras and let one dry on my backpack while hiking, this wouldn’t be a problem. As I want to get by with just one, it’s suboptimal.
When it wasn’t that cold out, having to hike in a cold, wet bra was just unpleasant. When it was literally freezing (at 10,000′), it was downright painful.
The second drawback to this bra was how tight it was. It provided plenty of support, but it did so by really smashing everything down. I would have red marks on my torso when I took it off each night, and could breathe far easier without it. While I am willing to accept some smashing, that was over the line for me.
Rating: B- (didn’t hate it)
I’m not ruling out taking the Serena sports bra on my upcoming hike, but I am not thrilled at the prospect. Stay tuned for a review of the other bras I’ve been testing for the PCT.
Thank you for the thorough review! I’m looking for a sports bra that can be worn alone as well as under other layers (as your options all seem to be) for an 11-day backpack on the High Sierra Trail to Mount Whitney. I sort of intuited the issues with high-impact-activity bras, and I don’t have enough up front to require “compression.” I do, however, have headlight issues and fear that the bralette might be a little too little for a mixed-company trek with strangers, especially with the knowledge that a lighter color will be better for discouraging mosquitoes. How did you fare with the Ibex bralette?
Hmm, I nipped out the entire JMT and PCT. Didn’t find a way around it. The Ibex bralette also definitely didn’t prevent that.
I think you’d need to look for something with padding in the cup region. The one I ended up wearing on my thru-hike, the Patagonia Barely Everyday bra, has space to pads/insert, so that might work. On the other hand, pads would dry more slowly than a single layer bra unless you removed them for drying.
Hope that helps!