Thursday, April 16, 2015

Gear Review (for women)

When I read Jennifer's post about five brands for spring activewear, one of the items she mentioned jumped out at me:

Quoting from her post:

"4. CALIA by Carrie Underwood
This new line from Carrie Underwood is available exclusively at Dick's Sporting Goods and offers a lower price point than other high-end brands.

I really want to try the Inner Power Cross Front Mesh Bra. It's designed for high-impact performance like running, and it comes in actual bra sizes, which always seem to fit better than bras in general sizes (small or 6, for example). The mesh would be great for hot days, and the back is a unique design. I love this Smoky Plum color.

When Jennifer said "actual bra sizes," I was sold. 

In reality, I couldn't care less about price point if it's something that works.  I run enough that it's worth it to have an amazing sports bra (or five).  I've tried some pricy brands before without success.  I heard rave reviews of Lululemon's Tata Tamer, but I was sorely disappointed, it leaves chafe marks around my shoulders and sometimes near the clasp.  It's one of my last choice bras now. 

For running for the last few years, I've mostly been wearing Moving Comfort's Fiona, or Moving Comfort's Vixen.  I think I have 3 of each in different colors, but both styles seems to have their issues on me.  Those idiotic adjustable straps on the Fiona usually leave marks between my collarbone and shoulder wherever the seam is.  And the Fiona seems to result in band chafing for me, plus frequent chafing from the clasp.  The Vixen usually leaves me with chafing around the band and sometimes where the two off center seams go up.  Yow. 

With summer coming quickly, bringing hot, and sometimes humid runs over 16 miles, suffice it to say, money is not an object, though I'd certainly be reluctant to try something super pricey. 

So based on what Jennifer wrote, I decided to give it a shot.  I ordered one.  And I remeasured my band size for the first time in ages.  Am I one of the 80% wearing the wrong size bra?  Maybe!  (Is that stat real?  I don't know where I heard it, seems implausible, but maybe...)  I actually went down one band size from what I wear most days for work.  (No, I don't think it's a size issue with the Fiona and Vixen that I usually wear, since I have multiple sizes of the Fiona and they all have the same issue, and the Vixen is XS-XL sizing.) 

Shipping was free, but not speedy.  I shipped it to work and it actually arrived on one of my running commute days, so I decided to try it out the very night I got it -- not a tough call since the alternative was the stinky sports bra I'd worn on my way TO work that morning, and plus, my commute is just under 4 miles, so a much more comfortable distance to give a new gear item a test run instead of a regular weekday run, which is always over 6 miles.

My thoughts:

The second I put it on, I could tell, it fits great. I picked the right size. It was comfortably secure when I put it over my head, and appropriately tight when I hooked the clasp. 

My second thought was that it seemed too low cut in the front.  I was nervous that meant it wasn't going to work well.  And I knew, regardless of how supportive it was, I'd hesitate to wear it without a shirt since I'd be giving quite the show with this one, but aside from three runs in near-emergency conditions (all detailed here), I don't run topless, so how it looks is kind of moot. 

On the run, wow.  Fit great, no chafing, fully supportive, not uncomfortable at all, maybe a little cooler feeling with the venting?  Hard to tell.  But great.  Two thumbs up unequivocally while running. 

Got home, and I could immediately feel where the chafing had happened -- in the back, right near the clasp.  The cause?  Plastic tags.  Perforated so I was clearly supposed to remove them before running in the bra.  My bad.  Cut it as close as possible to the fabric, and threw it in the laundry.

Next, I wore it tagless for a weekend run of 12 or 13 miles. 

Perfection!  No chafing anywhere, comfortable, supportive, perfect.  Can't even say how happy this makes me. 

So now, I've discovered the product's true flaw, and my biggest complaint:  it's always dirty.

Seriously, I never get to wear it.  I do laundry on Fridays or Saturdays, which means that it's clean for my Sunday long run, and it's now the first sports bra that I grab from my drawer, so it's never clean and an option on a weekday.  It really feels like I never get to wear it.
Solution:  I ordered a dupe of the one I liked, as well as one in the other color.

Now my biggest complaint is probably the lack of color options.  The Moving Comfort bras have tons of color choices, why only two here?  I'd especially like some lighter colors.  Not that I'll run in just a sports bra ever (barring another emergency), but there's something I don't like about wearing dark colors, even underneath a shirt, for an August 20 miler.  Maybe some blues?  Yellows?  Pinks?  Light greys? 

Thankfully, the second and third ones I ordered were the same price.  Dick's doesn't know it, but they had this priced right for me to try it, but once I knew I liked it, I easily would have paid double the price for the next two.  Whew!  They could be like a coke dealer -- first hit is free, then they gouge you when you're hooked.  Good thing for me that's not a business model they've considered. 

I would assume it goes without saying, but my opinions, my money spent on all products referenced.

So thanks for the tip Jennifer!  You made my upcoming summer much more comfortable!   


  1. Thanks for the review! I'm so happy it worked out! I'm definitely going to buy it after reading this. I don't like Lulu's Ta Ta Tamer at all. It doesnt seem to provide enough support for me, even though it's marketed as their most supportive. I do wear 2 other Lulu bras on the majority of my runs--the Energy and All Sport bras. Both are marketed as medium support and both are pull-on with no clasps and in clothes sizes (6,8,etc.) I used to have a much larger chest, but when I lost weight a lot of my chest went too. I would never have dreamed of running in a medium support bra, but when my husband made a comment about how "tucked in" I am in those Lulu bras, I decided to try a run in them. Sure enough, they are great. There's no bounce, and they are very comfortable. I've never had any chafing. They are always released in new colors. I have a bunch. The only thing is that they do give a uniboob look. Last year I tried a sports bra from Victoria's Secret--knockout, I think. I wear it on speed days because it's super-maximum support, but that also means it's not very comfortable. It would be nice to have a higher support but comfortable bra, so I'll have to try this one.

    1. Honestly, if they had more colors, I'd be tempted to buy a bunch of these and ditch all my others except a few that I like for yoga (where I don't usually wear a shirt). Hope you like it too, thanks again for the recommendation.

  2. I just got excited reading this, then saw that they don't have my band size! I'm a 32, and a huge number of running bras start at 34. That extra inch matters for bounce purposes.

    1. D'oh. Now THREE complaints -- always dirty, lack of colors, no 32.