By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com.
Compression apparel is a crowded category but technical apparel brand 2XU differentiates themselves by dividing their compression garments into specific performance, performance/recovery and recovery specific designs. This division of compression applications combined with 2XU’s proven high performance race apparel record make their compression category unique.
If you haven’t joined the compression revolution yet you’re in for a worthwhile discovery. Compression race and recovery technical clothing has become synonymous with triathlon. It’s part of the uniform. The reasons are valid: Well designed compression garments stabilize tissue, facilitate fluid transfer and improve proprioception. In the case of 2XU compression their three level Recovery, “XForm” and Refresh lines of compression apparel address specific needs, each with a unique set of tuned benefits.
Last year we did a test with 2XU‘s recovery tights and ankle sleeves that showed a visual reduction in inflammation after 24 hours of use. For the new model year 2XUhas expanded their compression line-up to include new race styles with fabrics like ICE X. ICE X fabric is a xylitol impregnated infra-red resistant fabric that provides sun protection and lowers skin temperature under the garment by up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The combination of performance compression and cooling fabric brings new capabilities to the compression category on race day, adding to the 2XU range of technical compression apparel for recovery.
Two of the most popular 2XU compression garments are their versatile Men’s Compression Race Sock and Men’s Compression Recovery Sock. The Compression Race Sock is a staple item that should be in every triathlete’s race bag. The socks live in 2XU‘s “XForm” category that performs both race performance and recovery functions. If you want one compression garment to experience the benefits of compression this is a good place to start. The Compression Race Sock is a relatively open weave for ventilation, moisture management and temperature control. The 15% Invista Lycra fiber is engineered to provide graduated compression over the pattern of the sock. The compression is higher where greater stabilization is needed.
One compression level up from the Race Sock is the dedicated Recovery Compression Sock. This sock uses 5% higher Invista Lycra fibers in its precision weave to increase compression specifically for recovery. This sock is slightly less breathable, a better option in a dedicated recovery sock since they are commonly worn while sleeping where heat retention may be a benefit. The Recovery Compression Sock is noticeably more compressive. This higher compression is also a great option for traveling to and from races, especially air travel. It provides a very snug fit when sized correctly from the 2XU size chart that felt good on sore lower legs.
Another versatile piece in the 2XU compression line is from the XForm multi-use category, the XForm Compression Tight. The benefit of a compression tight is graduated compression on the quadriceps and semimembranosus (hamstring) area of the upper leg along with small muscles in the hip/pelvic area that become fatigued while running and at the top of the pedal stroke in cycling. Since the XForm Compression Tight is in dual-use category it is also a great cool weather training piece and perfect for pre and apres’ race wear. top cycling teams have used this garment extensively in stage races to facilitate recovery.
2XU builds a versatile performance compression top in their Perform compression line that can be worn by itself while running, as a layer while cycling and for recovery and preparation before hard swim workouts. The Mens (and Women’s) Short Sleeve Compression Top provides a moderate, supportive and stabilizing level of compression while also managing moisture and temperature. Another versatile layer that crosses categories, the top features raglan sleeves for a sleek line as a base layer under outer garments and a crew neck. The Men’s and Women’s Short Sleeve Compression Top is sold in five sizes, extra small through extra large. We found the 2XU size chart using chest measurement in inches and centimeters to be accurate for determining size.
Two race pieces we looked at in addition to the one piece suit are the Men’s Compression Tri Short with ICE-X fabric and the matching Tri Singlet. The tri suit, tri top and tri shorts are available in three colors including the opaque when wet white color. This race outfit provides an alternative to the one piece suit for long distance events where athletes may want a separate top and bottom for ease of making bathroom stops on the course. The Tri Top uses the same single rear pocket as the tri suit for race fuel and a half zip front. The arm openings are well designed with no chafing even in hot weather.
Another benefit to the two piece race compression outfit as opposed to the one piece suit, especially at long distance, is double the pocket capacity since the tri shorts have two gel pockets and the tri top has the same pocket as the tri suit. You can carry twice as much nutrition on the course.
The pad in the tri shorts and tri suit is perforated for quick drying and ventilation.This pad is a big upgrade over basic fleece pads with its wrinkle free, molded construction. The pad is also larger than most traditional tri short pads and comes high in the front for riding the nose of your saddle in the aero position. Grippers at the leg are polymer “X” logos that didn’t pull the hair on non-shaved test riders’ legs. They stayed put on the shaved legs of out photo shoot model.
As with the rest of the compression line the compression fabric in the tri top and tri short are placed where they provide a performance and comfort benefit.
2XU has taken a technical “clothing as equipment” approach to cycling and triathlon apparel since they started in Australia seven years ago with co-founders and directors Jamie Hunt, Clyde Davenport and Aidan Clarke. Their combination of compression garments offers unique benefits to athletes across a wide range of activities with specialty recovery, performance and mixed use pieces. The new apparel includes sun protection and temperature management features that are relatively new to the industry making 2XU technical apparel even more useful as training, racing and recovery equipment.