Running and hiking through fall and into winter can mean putting up with some cold weather, but it sure beats those hot days! None the less, you might find that warm base layers improve both your comfort and performance. While a pair of lightweight merino or capilene leggings are nice to have around, a pair of compression tights brings a new dimension into play. A really cold winter last year led to much consultation of the interwebs, crystal balls, and spirit animals – and thus I arrived at the decision to pick up a pair of 2XU Thermal Compression tights for my cold weather runs. This is my second winter using them, and my thoughts thus far.
Why Compression Tights
Well, for starters they fit damn close to the skin so there is no flapping or bunching of the material. They also move sweat away very effectively compared to a looser fitting legging, which is desirable for aerobic activities like hiking and running. Then there are the claims of better muscle alignment, increased stamina, and shorter recovery times. Those are subject to some amount of marketing and hype, but I do believe that they deliver to some extent anyway.
Initial Impressions of the 2XU Thermal Compression Tights
They’re sexy. I mean, I’m a thin, squirrely dood and they even make me look haute. Ok, who am I kidding, but they do look badass (that matters, right?). The fabric has a very soft hand which sort of begs one to squeeze right into them. I’ve found from experience that companies who offer tall sizing (and/or petite sizes) tend to be a little more serious about the requirements of their customers and getting things right in general. The fact that 2XU is one such company gave me confidence in their products. They also specialize in wetsuits and tri-suits and get a lot of positive reviews so, tights in hand, I felt pretty good about dropping nearly $150 of Sandra D’s hard earned dollars on these.
In the Field
Just as I hoped, the fit of my medium-tall tights was just right. After my first run with these I realized a few things…
- Damn, they really do fit tight! In a good way though.
- The warmth is real. Outside temps above 55ºF are too warm for me to use them.
- The muscle-alignment claims are true. This is more effective than taping my knee (runner’s knee) for example.
- Faster recovery… not so sure. I’m not hardcore enough to know what my exact recovery time for a given workout is or should be.
I really like running in these tights, but the temps need to be pretty low otherwise I overheat quickly. That will vary from person to person based on your BMR, how many MET’s you’re burning, and all that sciency jazz. Suffice to say, I have gone on some runs in much colder weather, maybe low 20’s (ºF) and felt really good. I’ve also done some snowshoeing (with backpack, up and down hill) while wearing the tights as a baselayer under rain pants and was mostly comfortable, if not a little on the warm side with temps in the upper 30’s low 40’s. I’ve run in light rain with them as well and I’m pretty stoked how my legs didn’t get cold, even when wet. Earlier this spring I wore them on a self-supported Trans-Zion run.
Yeah I know… shorts over tights… disgraceful! But, I didn’t want to snag them up on any shrubs out there, plus it was pretty chilly out with the start at 0400 and snow flurries later in the evening. Well, anyhoo… the only complaint I have about them is that I’ve noticed my sweat reacts with the dye, producing a yellow byproduct. In one case this transferred to the inside of my rain pants and stained them yellow. It’s only on the inside, but still sorta creepy.
- Great Fit
- Good Warmth
- Compression does seem to help with muscle alignment and fatigue issues
Not So Much…
- Some dye bleeding as mentioned above
The fit and finish of the 2XU Thermal Compression Tights are superb. They deliver on most (if not all) of their claims, just be aware of possible dye bleeding if you plan to layer them. For runs and hikes in cold weather where added warmth and a close fit or compression fit is desired, they easily warrant consideration.