The Lapa bra by NU is the first of its kind in the sport of swimrun. NU is a Spanish-based company, born from the creative mind of Xavi García Carabí , a former professional polo player and current triathlete, trailrunner, and swimrunner. Xavi endeavors to create products that not only complement the athlete in the sport they are pursuing, but also become so seamless and comfortable that you don’t even notice them. NU currently develops and sells a series of swimrun wetsuits, calf/thigh/shoe floats, headbands, race shirts, and of course, the Lapa bra. The only other bra to rival this one is produced by HEAD. I would like to say we chose to test the NU Lapa bra primarily because it has three pockets, rather than HEAD’s one; however, I have to admit, I preferred NU’s over HEAD’s based mostly on the fact that it didn’t come in gender stereotypical colors…I hate pink. ANYWAY, this NU Lapa bra review was written after testing this product during an intensive three-month training period and two long-course ÖTILLÖ-merited swimrun events: 2019 Casco Bay Islands and 2019 Orcas Island. It has endured open ocean, mountain lakes, hot East Coast humidity, and cool Pacific Northwest rain forest.
Disclaimer: Swimrun Labs did not receive any payment from NU or its competitors to write this product review, and acquired the product through purchase at market value.
- Weight: 100g (3.53 oz)
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L
- Material: quick dry material and mesh (92% polyester, 8% elastane)
- Color: Black with bright yellow print
- Cost: $48.50 USD + shipping from Europe $35.27
Fit: Fits like a supportive sports bra. The only difference we noticed right off the bat is that the material rises higher under the arms than most. Because of this, we were concerned about chafing as the seams are not as smooth as other brands out there. Only training and racing time would tell. Chafe report to be continued….
Sizing: Brooke (5’6″, 137 lbs) ordered a small, Annie (5’4″, 125 lbs) ordered an extra small
Aesthetic: Light, simple, and sporty. Best of all, not pink, purple, or baby blue.
Perceived value to the swimrunner: Annie and I were both ecstatic about this bra, as we had been stashing snacks, flasks, paddles in just about every pocket, nook, and cranny our swimrun wetsuits had to offer, and were still not satisfied with our storage space. We’re American…we care deeply about storage. So, when we unwrapped our new Nu Lapa Bras, we couldn’t wait to shove whatever we could find in all of it’s three pockets. And that we did!
Now, the paddles fitting in the pockets was a revelation, because, damn…what to do with those paddles during runs?! Some people just hook them to their race belt or wetsuit with a carabiner, but Annie and I just can’t tolerate things jostling around or clanking together when we’re running. Especially when on a beautiful remote trail with just you and the forest (and of course that other person you’re attached to), the last thing you want to hear is plastic paddles tip tapping arrhythmically all the way up the mountain. So, being able to securely tuck these away in an easily accessible pouch was brilliant.
BUT, don’t everyone get excited about this because while Annie was able to secure her paddles in her Lapa pouch, I unfortunately was not. Turns out, not only does the size of your paddles matter, but the size of your chest does as well. So, when I tested this method, my paddles would pop out with the slightest jostle, not making this a reliable stash solution. (Side note: Annie wore the XS with a chest girth of 30″, while I wore the S with a chest girth of 34″…maybe the medium would have been a better size for me.)
Testing Results Breakdown
Performs as expected. Drains well, so we did not notice that feeling of running in a soggy sports bra. Pockets were deep enough to hold 3-4 gels in one side pocket, collapsable cup plus filled flask in another side pocket, and paddles (for Annie) in the middle pocket without anything falling out during fast, hard trail descents. We could not give it perfect marks for the chunkiness of the seams. We feel these could be covered and/or slimmed down a bit for a more seamless and smooth feel.
For Annie, she did not notice this bra at all during her swims. Xavi would be proud to know that it worked seamless with her wetsuit and became a part of her skin. This was also true for me for the entire duration of my 3-month training, the entire 6 hours of Swimrun Casco Bay Islands and throughout 80% of the swims during Swimrun Orcas Islands. But during the last 2-3 swims of our Orcas race, I kept feeling this sharp, stabbing sensation under by right armpit with every recovery stroke on that side. As we transitioned to the run, I would re-adjust my flask, thinking that one of the plastic corners was rubbing against my armpit on the swims, but then the same thing would happen on the next swim. At the end of the race, I noticed a significant chafe of about 2 inches from the seam of the Lapa bra. There are a few explanations for why this happened to me and not to Annie: 1) differences in our swim stroke, 2) my lack of applying body glide or anti-chafing oil there, 3) the size being too small for my body. I’m eager to try the next size up for future races to see if this issue persists.
I think this has more to do with my lack of pocket planning than the bra itself, but I want to mention that I did have trouble retrieving some gels that were hidden deep in the side pockets. I believe it’s mostly due to the fact that I had to dig through a mine field of used gel garbage to access my unopened ones, so again, poor pocket planning. Next time, I plan to use one pouch for unopened gels/snacks, one for trash, and one for water cup/flask.
Unfortunately, after wearing this bra for 2 months of training and one race event, the next time I put it on, it ripped in the back. As iterated earlier, this could be due to the fact that a medium is probably a more appropriate size for me, but I did follow the size chart and sadly, this is what came to pass. It still functions perfectly well — now it just has that trendy “distressed” look. And my love for the utility of this bra surpasses my concern for aesthetics, so this will remain a staple in my swimrun training and racing kit.