Let’s face it, most sports bras are just not cut with the well-developed back muscles of a female climber in mind. We’re a teeny, tiny niche with big, strong shoulders that often gets overlooked by most companies.
A few years back, I spent an atypically girly afternoon shopping in Boulder with Alex, a good friend, and climbing partner. We tried on flowery dresses, tested lipsticks, and finally ended up in the spandex mausoleum of Lulu Lemon.
Alex emerged from the dressing room wearing a turquoise sports bra and asked, “What do you think?”
“Looks good,” I replied, staring at her straight-on, noting that all her bits were securely covered.
“But does it give me lat fat?” she asked as she turned around and dropped her arms to her sides.
To my horror, the bra pinched and creased her ripped back muscles as they passed under a constricting elastic band, creating an unfortunate but undeniable illusion of “lat fat.”
“Um, well … maybe that’s not the best choice.”
That’s why my interest was piqued when I saw Arêt Basewear’s TOURA bra pop into my Instagram feed with an eerily well-targeted ad. There was a photo of a strong woman flexing her back, with a caption mentioning a bra made for chicks with muscles. I immediately delved deeper and knew I had to have one.
Could this be the antidote to the dreaded lat fat?
Arêt Basewear launched last December by a group of three women who wanted to design “the ultimate basewear that hugs your every sculpted curve and elevates your movement.” I’m always a fan of women making products for women, and who wouldn’t want their sculpted curves hugged? In addition to bringing joy to breasts across the country, these ladies are also committed to running their business in an environmentally conscious way, which is good for everyone.
My TOURA arrived right as I was heading out the door to climb on a Saturday morning. I clipped the tags, put it on, tossed the eco-friendly packaging in the recycle, and jumped in the car. The first thing I noticed was that the TOURA felt a lot stretchier than other bras I own, especially around my rib cage. It completely lacked the usual inch-wide elastic band that most of my other tops have, and instead had a narrow internal band that kept it securely down below the ladies. It gave me a sensation of being gently supported and held in, but not smashed down.
On our hour-long scree-strewn approach I broke a good sweat, drenching the TOURA by the time we got to the crag. I’ve spent many, many hours of my life shivering with a sweaty sports bra plastered to my chest like a wet ace wrap. But the TOURA was different. It’s made with an 82% Nylon fabric that is reminiscent of (and can double as) a bathing suit, and within 15 minutes of hanging out at the cliff, it was totally dry again.
On Sunday, I spent the day turning my garden beds with a pitchfork, again while wearing the TOURA.
On Monday, I tossed it on for yoga and a hike, and by training time on Tuesday I knew I should wash it, but I couldn’t resist doing my pull ups in it. Surprisingly, it didn’t stink.
Out of about ten sports bras that I keep in rotation, the TOURA has become my go-to choice for all low to moderate impact activities. The support is just a little too light for me to wear running (I tried), but it’s spot-on for most everything else. As for durability, I’ve been wearing this thing whenever it’s clean for a few months now, washing it cool and hanging it to dry, and there are no signs of wear.
Typically, upon returning home from climbing, I find myself wanting to rip off my bra off as soon as I get home in the evening, but the TOURA is so comfortable that I often leave it on through dinner. The cut is very low under my arms, so my lats are free to flex, while the flat straps distribute pressure and are smooth under layers or a pack.
In the front, the TOURA dips low, and at first, I was worried about having a Janet-Jackson moment. But the fabric is well placed and I stayed street legal even through several downward dogs. A TOURA High Cut model with more coverage is also available for bustier ladies or anyone looking for a little more modesty. My full B cup felt right at the upper limit of the low cut version. To find my size I pulled out my measuring tape to get my circumference and referenced their size chart and the fit was right on.
A sports bra is one of the most basic yet essential pieces of gear that I use. I wear one for some amount of time pretty much every day. Having complete comfort and freedom of movement, plus quick dry times, and a cute design is seriously a game changer. At $64 the TOURA is on the upper end of the price range, but totally worth it.