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bras: to wear or not to wear
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shannon stoney
bras: to wear or not to wear on 07/20/2005 14:49:41 MDT Print View

It seems that a lot of knit backpacking shirts are extremely form-fitting and rather thin. I have one Cool max shirt that is like that. The problem is, it seems as if you pretty much have to wear a bra with shirts like that if you are seen in public. This means that you are not all that cool, because the bra adds another layer. But perhaps there are very light weight, very comfortable bras?

So the question is: do you wear a bra with your tight fitting merino and synthetic knit shirts, or do you go bra-less and just let other people deal with it? And if you do wear one, which one do you like? Do you ever hike just in a bra top? I see women running in shorts and a bra top all the time.

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
bras on 07/20/2005 15:44:11 MDT Print View

In the summer, I wear a long sleeved sun shirt to hike in. I usually start a trip wearing a sport top (Patagonia mesh), then leave it in my pack when I get sick of it. The sun shirt (RR Adventure top) is loose and blue. In cooler months I wear a black Superfine 190 Icebreaker wool top or an Icebreaker Bodyfit light blue wool top (leaves much less to the imagination than the black top). Again, I usually start a trip with a sport top, but sometimes ditch it. When I backpack solo it's usually mid-week and I don't see many, if any, people and the sport top goes as soon as it starts to bug me. When I'm backpacking with others, it usually stays on.

Bruce Warren
(Aimee) - F - MLife

Locale: South Texas
Re: bras: to wear or not to wear on 07/23/2005 20:07:32 MDT Print View

The true ultralight gal definitely leaves that bra at home and walks proudly down the trail.

shannon stoney
Re: Re: bras: to wear or not to wear on 07/24/2005 08:53:31 MDT Print View

I just realized that my concern is not just with "what will other people think?" but also: "if I'm alone, what will other people do?" If I was in a friendly group or with my boyfriend, I would probably feel safe walking around in that clingy coolmax shirt and no bra, but not alone. I have had too many experiences where I got grabbed or harassed. Granted, most people on the trail are sober and well-mannered, but you never know, and you are sometimes not within hollering distance of anybody else. Wearing a bra won't make you perfectly safe, obviously, but for some reason NOT wearing a bra seems to mean "green light" for some drunk men in the South.

Re: Re: Re: bras: to wear or not to wear on 07/25/2005 21:51:24 MDT Print View

Drunk men in the south...hmmm. If hiking alone, a lady is always safer when she is not drawing attention by wearing clothing that may reveal various body parts. That some men cannot control their urges and resort to grabbing or worse is a very sad part of our world. I think most/all would agree.

shannon stoney
foiling drunk men in the south on 07/26/2005 08:56:58 MDT Print View

On my walks around my neighborhood I carry a big bamboo walking stick, which also serves the purpose of deterring drunk men. But my bamboo stick doesn't telescope, so it's not practical for backpacking.

Dane Burke
(Dane) - F

Locale: Western Washington
control on 07/26/2005 12:26:00 MDT Print View

"That some men cannot control their urges and resort to grabbing or worse is a very sad part of our world."

Men may not have control of their urges but they do have control of their actions, and any man acting on those urges has made a conscious decision to do so. Those who honestly do not have control of their actions are mentally ill and need help. I get angry when I hear "Oh well she was dressed slutty so it was partly her fault". How a woman dresses may attract sleazy men but rapists and other sexual predators really don't care how a woman is dressed. If their goal was simply sex there are many other ways to obtain that, either legally or through prostitutes. Rapists are satisfying an unhealthy, deep perversion for control and domination, not sex.

Women do not make themselves targets of sexual predators by the way they dress anymore than Americans make themselves targets of terrorists by living the way they do.

Sorry that had nothing to do with backpacking.

shannon stoney
safety and martial arts on the trail on 07/26/2005 15:10:50 MDT Print View

It's true that you can't prevent sexual assault by not dressing slutty. Once I got grabbed by a drunk neighbor in the middle of winter when I had on about five layers. He doesn't remember this of course. After that I started carrying the stick.

I have had three fights with men. Two out of the three times I was working without a top on, once in my own garden and once in somebody else's garden. (The other time was the winter incident.) So based on this admittedly small sample, I have concluded that it is best not to "show us your *BEEP*" as they say in New Orleans, especially in remote rural areas when nobody else is around. It's probably actually safer to do it on Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras!

The stick seems to be a deterrent all right. I would like to have some collapsable ones for backpacking but they all seem so expensive!

Sharon Bingham
(lithandriel) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Comfortable bras... on 01/22/2009 16:40:28 MST Print View

I notice this is a really old thread, but for some reason I woke up at about 3am this morning wondering if there is a more comfortable solution.

I am too large to comfortably go bra-less (and in eternal envy of women petite enough to do so and get away with it).

I HATE, HATE, HATE pull-over "sports" bras - they squish you til it hurts, and they tend to be thick and heavy AND since they are often one solid "shelf", it seems like they weigh entirely more than necessary (say an individual cup-based style).

I'm a bit of a seamstress, so I sort of dreamed up one I could make - but I have no idea what fabrics would be good to make it out of - light-weight, stretchy, soft, comfortable, breathable AND structured? Sure has ME stumped.

Is there anyone else out there who has this problem, and who doesn't solve the issue by going without support? If so, what do you use?

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Comfortable bras... on 01/22/2009 17:42:09 MST Print View

I am not large enough to 'need' a bra for comfort. If it's warm, I wear a short sleeved nylon shirt (coolmax type) with two chest pockets. That completely covers anything offensive even if it gets wet. If it's cold enough that I need a clingy base layer, I will put it on UNDER the two pocket short sleeved shirt. I simply cannot stand wearing bras in any situation.

If you need support, then I don't know of a light and breezy alternative, but I bet there's a market there!

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Sports Bra on 01/22/2009 18:12:31 MST Print View

My wife is too curvy up top to go without, but I'm sure she would if she could. Two years ago I bought her a CW-X Ventilator sports bra after reading about it in a popular backpacking magazine that we've all heard of.

She was confused at first that I bought her a bra unannounced, but she loves it and said it's the only sports bra she's ever had that that doesn't squish her. It's designed to actually control the up and down motion, and not just squeeze them so they don't move. She also loves the ventilation.

Since this site is all about lightweight, I just dropped hers on my scale and it's only 2.5 ounces. You'll find them here (very bottom left on the page).

Edited by mn-backpacker on 01/22/2009 18:14:10 MST.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Catalog on 01/22/2009 19:42:07 MST Print View

My wife had a catalog from a company called Title Nine, seemed to specialize in sports bras for any sized woman. They had a web page. Boy, no love for southern men in this thread.

Sharon Bingham
(lithandriel) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Something less "full-coverage"? on 01/22/2009 20:27:04 MST Print View

Thanks for that CW-X link. I took a look.

I was still hoping for something more light-weight with less fabric. But there really doesn't seem to be much out there.

I do a lot of my hiking in AZ, where it's hot, and the best sun protection is keeping your skin covered. So the lighter the fabric and the fewer "layers" I need to wear, the better (hence, the jealousy of my more petite collegues)...

I need support, but hiking isn't the same as, say horseback riding, where serious motion control and the "robust" support system of a sports bra is a must.

Thinking of what bugs me about regular bras for everyday wear, here are some of the things I came up with:

1) many of them have a slightly padded lining. Not tons, but enough to hold onto moisture.
2) all of them have underwires (pretty standard for bras in my size) - which is fine for every-day wear, but not something you'd want to sleep in, and which can get uncomfortable the hotter and wetter you get.
3) all of them have clasps in the back, and adjustment sliders, which can be irritating with the weight of a pack pressing against them - say going up-hill.
4) straps get pressed into your shoulders by your pack straps (potentially solvable with a racer-back strap setup)

I do have a few bras that are made out of a sort of mesh, which would at least solve issue 1) - but none of the rest.

On the face of things, a sports bra would address most, if not all of my complaints, but at the cost of a lot more fabric (which I need to cover with another layer to keep the sun off my skin) than what is strictly necessary to accomplish the task.

I was thinking something made like a triangular bikini top (not the string kind, but the kind that might have, say, a 1" wide, flat rib-cage band), that clasped in the front and had racer-back strap setup could work nicely. Strap adjusters could be moved to the front and off of my shoulder-blades (or, if I'm making it myself, just properly fit the straps in the first place and eliminate them entirely - along with extra fabric and fastener weight)...

And I could make it - if I knew what fabric to go hunting. Maybe just a light-weight un-lined lycra of some sort?

Any one more familiar with activity appropriate fabric that might be a good candidate?

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: bras: to wear or not to wear on 01/22/2009 20:29:12 MST Print View

Ummmmmm...if you are bigger than a shallow B cup, yes, you need to wear something supportive. Bra tops are fine, as are tank tops with support.

Go without and you will get sore boobage.

As for bras....I have found that you can get pretty good ones at Walmart for around $10 each. I don't buy "sports bras" (maker of the Uni-Boob look), rather I buy a sports bra that has underwires. Have to, otherwise, hello neck aches!

Edited by sarbar on 01/22/2009 20:30:59 MST.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Sports Bra on 01/22/2009 20:30:36 MST Print View

I also bought my wife the CW-x sport bra and she liked it a lot until I bought her the Ibex merino wool sport bra. Now she says she is spoiled.

Since I am in charge of washing, packing and storing all our gear, I've handled it and I will vouch that the Ibex is comfy soft. It weighs 2.1 oz in size medium.

Kavitha Narayan
(knarayan) - F
Re: Something less "full-coverage"? on 09/05/2010 22:23:06 MDT Print View

I am also looking for a comfortable sports bar for a backpacking trip in Fall in Yellowstone. I have the same questions as you posted here. Did you get a good one that satisfied all your needs?

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
bras: to wear or not to wear on 09/06/2010 10:56:47 MDT Print View

When you get to my age, the main purpose of a bra is to keep them from interfering with the pack's hip belt. :-)

I tried a sports bra and it was awful! Hot, as others have noted, and no support, just squashing. It reminded of my mother's tales of binding her br**sts in the 1920's! The only thing good about it was no fastening to ride up my back and hit the pack. I also can't stand underwires. Just a plain cheap lightweight bra with plenty of stretch fabric seems be as comfortable as anything else I've found. I'm still looking for one that fastens in the front, though.

Re the bamboo pole (I know that post was several years ago)--trekking poles are the answer--just another of their multiple uses!

Why is it that we can have one breast but not two on this forum?

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
hah on 09/06/2010 12:33:33 MDT Print View

Too funny on what they censor. Snort!

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Ibex wool bras on 09/06/2010 18:24:43 MDT Print View

If you're wearing a merino top, why not a merino bra?

This is the first bra I've tried that doesn't feel clammy at end of day, even when damp. Most of the time I don't even bother to take it off at night.

- Elizabeth

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: bras: to wear or not to wear on 09/06/2010 20:27:22 MDT Print View

"When you get to my age, the main purpose of a bra is to keep them from interfering with the pack's hip belt. :-)"