We were super excited to get a chance to check out some of the latest offerings from Compressport given it’s a new name to most in the US market, but they have some extremely deep roots in Europe and is a favorite among elite trail and distance runners. We are starting to see the brand pic wk up pace domestically and in most major races, you’ll find multiple runners in the top 50 sporting Compressport sleeves and other apparel. It’s a little different look and experience for most runners who have been taught to love the 2 to 3 inch shorts, tank tops, and the general less is more running style and instead harkens more to this space where aerodynamics and compression serve to enhance performance. We took some of their latest offerings for a run and wanted to share our thoughts.
The first aspect we need to tackle in the US is the whole question of what things are “meant to look like”. Most men grow up on baggy shorts and a t-shirt, whereas the majority of women tend to gravitate to tights or three-quarter length capris. So most people’s first thought with Compressport is, wow that’s tight. To which I would say heck yeah it is, but there’s a reason for it. There’s a reason why people have turned to using arm sleeves for muscle recovery both during and after races and it only makes sense now to apply that to the majority of the body. It’s a natural extension to assume that compression of the quads for instance is just as performance-enhancing and as a arm/calf sleeve and similarly for the upper body.
The gear we tested for this was specifically the R2 Race & Recovery calf sleeves, the Trail Running Short V2 and the Trail Running Shirt V2. The shorts and shirt both contain their 3D grid technology which aids in compression and also keeps the gear in place on your body. Their gear is all silicon based and feather-light and doesn’t retain water. Costs for shirt and shorts come in right around the $120 to 100 range. The compression sleeves are around $40.
Style and Aesthetics
Next, let’s talk about the aesthetic of Compressport, the stuff looks pretty sick overall. Given their deep Swiss roots, you get this nice red, white and black palette that’s maintained throughout the entire product offering and while they have some other super bright choices in their sock lineup, these black lines really shine from the style perspective. Putting everything on felt a lot like putting on a uniform of sorts and I find personally that my performance increases variably depending on how I feel in the gear that I am wearing. This gear honestly made me feel stronger in many ways simply because of the aesthetic. For those that are still too modest, I found the shorts pair really well with a pair of shorts or a light jacket or long sleeve shirt simply because they are skintight, but they don’t need to be worn this way and you’re really just adding extra bulk for the sake of what you feel is modesty. The bottom line is, don’t let the fact these are skintight affect you because it’s about the reward and how you feel during the run in your performance and not that little roll of fat you’re so worried about everything. Nobody cares.
Moving on to the in run aspect, the gear is a stand out from a performance perspective. I initially used the calf sleeves and socks as part of our OTC sock review, so had some exposure to them already loved not just the fit of their gear, but the feel of it. The socks are super interesting with a combination of scientifically placed nubs of varying size and while it gives it a very trippy aesthetic quality, you start to feel how functional those additions are to the actual performance and how they contribute to the longevity of your run. The calf sleeves are silky smooth and offer a pretty balanced level of compression, but they do offer varying material types which do increase or decrease the level. I thought the R2 model was perfect for me.
I had taken each piece out at varying distances just to test them out. I started with shorter runs where I’m not sure a lot of compression was necessarily needed so I wouldn’t see myself gearing up for a 5 or 10k necessarily in full kit, but it really depends on your muscle fatigue level and what’s necessary at the time. The first run where I truly noticed how effective everything worked together was tackling Leif Erickson Trail for our full 22 mile end to end feature. I went in to that run with my recent distances being in the mid-teens and was more mentally prepared than physically, but I got to see firsthand how compression helps with fatigue and strain as I was hit with not only varying kinds of elevation, but also some drastically different speeds. I honestly feel like these got me through the run because even when I finished, my level of muscle fatigue was still lower than I would expect normally. Overall my legs were pretty solid even after such a grueling run on limited training at that distance.
In terms of the actual feel throughout the run, I can honestly say I have zero complaints. I worried at first about things riding up or moving around. I worried about things rubbing together and the friction that might be created, none of which occurred. In fact, it was just the opposite and in most cases, I felt less chafing than normal. The things hold you pretty tight, so there isn’t a lot of excess moving around. I also felt the top was super efficient in that you retain body heat pretty well, but also allowed for airflow keeping me pretty balanced from a temperature perspective. It also layered really well with the jacket given time of day I started was fairly cold. This is honestly one of those runs where I feel like this year got me through it overall.
Overall, the Compressport gear is pretty incredible and not only aesthetically super cool looking, but from a performance perspective, I can definitely say really can’t help a lot of people. For those who are running distance, you should definitely give it a try. It kind of feels like a secret that much of the rest of the world has known about that is just hitting the US and we should get on board. If you need to start with one piece of equipment, then check out their calf sleeves, they are a gateway to some really cool stuff.