Clothing and Accessory Reviews – TriSports University The place to learn about triathlon. Thu, 10 May 2018 23:38:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Clothing and Accessory Reviews – TriSports University 32 32 Swimskins – Worth It? Thu, 29 Jun 2017 20:39:07 +0000 The swimskin is one of the newest pieces of apparel in triathlon. As a thinner and smaller replacement for a wetsuit, swimskins are growing in popularity for warm-water triathlons. For triathletes who compete in swimming environments where wetsuits are not allowed, the swimskin is the perfect piece of gear to reduce friction in the water […]]]>

The swimskin is one of the newest pieces of apparel in triathlon. As a thinner and smaller replacement for a wetsuit, swimskins are growing in popularity for warm-water triathlons. For triathletes who compete in swimming environments where wetsuits are not allowed, the swimskin is the perfect piece of gear to reduce friction in the water and shave valuable time off your swim.

When should I consider a swim skin?
While a wetsuit is still the best in terms of offering buoyancy, warmth and speed, the swimskin is a great alternative when racing in non-wetsuit legal races to provide an advantage over traditional triathlon racing suits. You will want to consider buying a swimskin if you are racing in areas with mild temperatures. For WTC events, wetsuits are not allowed in water temperatures above 76.1 °F. The USA Triathlon rules state that wetsuits are not allowed in water temperatures above 78 °F. A swimskin is an excellent option if you will be swimming in small bodies of water or areas where the temperatures get high.

What is a swimskin in the first place?
If you have never heard of a swimskin, they are a skin-tight “speedsuit” that goes over your tri suit or race kit and extends from the knees to the shoulders. They do not offer buoyancy or warmth, but the compression allows you to maintain speed and hydrodynamics while swimming through the water. The suit is meant to smooth out the contours of your body and race kit so you can glide through the water and exert less effort. By making your body smoother and smaller, these skins enhance your speed by reducing friction that typical race kits produce against the water.

Originally, swimskins came out with no sleeves; however, more brands are now offering sleeved versions as more triathletes use sleeved tri suits. In past years, you could not wear a race kit that had sleeves under your swimskin. This meant that you had to roll up your sleeves or roll down your race kit to your waist underneath the swimskin. In 2016, the WTC changed the rules that allow sleeves above the elbow to be worn under your swimskin.

How should a swimskin fit?
The swimskin should fit your body very tightly. In most cases, they require a friend to help you zip it up. If they fit too loosely and the suit is flapping against your body, then the features that reduce drag will actually do the opposite. This is a piece of compression equipment, so it should feel tight. Keep in mind that it will feel much different once you get in the water than it will outside of it. Although each person has a different preference, you must choose the swimskin that is most comfortable to you.

What are the performance benefits?
While swimskins are fairly new, there have been some studies done on their performance. In a pool test by the U.S. Olympic swim team, swimskims saved an average of just over 2 seconds per 100 yards when compared to a typical training suit. In comparison, the wetsuit shaved off 6 seconds per 100 yards against the training suit.

There are several major races that are typically borderline non-wetsuit races. Those include the Ironman World Championships, 70.3 World Championships, Ironman Texas, Ironman Chattanooga, Ironman Louisville, Honu 70.3, Eagleman 70.3, Buffalo Springs 70.3, Muncie 70.3, Racine 70.3, Ohio 70.3, Boulder 70.3, Maine 70.3, Atlantic City 70.3, Augusta 70.3, New Orleans 70.3 and any local race that occurs in the summertime.

What are the key features?
If you think a swimskin would be beneficial to you, there are many brands to choose from. While each one has been tested and designed to enhance speed, there are differences in fit and feel. Some of the most popular brands include Blueseventy, TYR, and Zone3. Here are some features of each swimskin.

BlueSeventy PZ4TX

Differentiator: Advanced ultrasonic welded seams
Building on ten years of swimskin development, the PZ4TX swimskin features advanced ultrasonic welded seams for reduced drag, which means that the seams are welded together using radio frequency and heat to melt the edges together for a stronger seam. With a breathable material on the back of the suit, it helps regulate your temperature while in the warm water. This suit actually does not have a lanyard attached to the zipper to reduce friction the lanyard may cause in the water. The zipper locks in place when pointed down and unzips easily when pointed up.

Zone3 Swimskin

Differentiator: Revolutionary fabric, elite athlete feedback
Zone3’s latest suit is built upon seven years of testing, elite athlete feedback, and thousands of customer demos. Based on the extensive testing, Zone3 chose the revolutionary X2R woven fabric with glued and heat bonded seams for less drag and ultimate speed. The fabric is one of the lightest hydrophobic materials available. The legs have a fabric called Energy-D, which offers more compression so that your legs glide effortlessly through the water. There is a lanyard attached to the zipper to allow for easier transitions.

TYR Torque Swimskin Series

Differentiator: Double-layer technology
The Torque Swimskin Series is the latest of TYRs offerings. This swimskin is constructed with two layers, a hydrophilic outer layer that works with the water and a hydrophobic inner layer that repels water to keep you dry. The fabric is a composite knit fabric that allows your body to move freely. Each suit has a coil zipper for a quick transition and a beaded grip on the legs so that the suit will attach to your body and not move around in the water.

At the end of the day, each brand offers countless benefits and the features have been tested extensively. Many of these suits offer similar race times, so it really comes down to the feel of each suit. Whichever brand swimskin suits your fancy, the data is in and swimskins deliver that little extra advantage when it matters most.

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About the Author: Alyssa is a writer and the wife of an Ironman and TriSports Ambassador. Not much of an athlete herself, she has learned the sport of triathlon from her husband over his years of competition. Now she wants to share what she has learned as a spectator with other triathlete supporters. 
















Product Review: Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet Fri, 07 Oct 2016 18:21:45 +0000 Written by Greg Billington, USA Olympic Triathlete Giro has been at the forefront of aerodynamic helmet design since creating the Giro Advantage in 1985. Between snow sports and cycling, they specialize in helmet, glasses, and apparel technology. Over the last three decades, they have been perfecting their trade; based on current wind tunnel testing, the […]]]>

Written by Greg Billington, USA Olympic Triathlete

Greg Billington on the left, testing the Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet

Giro has been at the forefront of aerodynamic helmet design since creating the Giro Advantage in 1985. Between snow sports and cycling, they specialize in helmet, glasses, and apparel technology. Over the last three decades, they have been perfecting their trade; based on current wind tunnel testing, the new Aerohead series represents the pinnacle of their research, shaving 15 watts off their current Advantage series.

As I was preparing for the Rio Olympics and the ITU World Championships, my coach Paulo Sousa and I were looking for ways to save precious time. I invested in ceramic bearings, the nicest tires – when he saw the data on the new Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet, we decided that we needed to try the product to see if it could be beneficial.

I ran it through the paces to see if it could be useful, even during a draft legal triathlon. There aren’t many opportunities for gains from an aero helmet during peloton racing, but when it does play a role, it is critical.

“If you don’t look fast, you aren’t doing it right!” -Greg Billington

The helmet is one of the fastest on the market. I wasn’t going to a wind tunnel, so with that as a given, my primary concerns were with transition time and cooling, although I also took into account comfort, safety, and looks as well. If you don’t look fast, you aren’t doing it right!


This helmet was designed with triathletes in mind. The visor can be stored in a flipped up position, which makes the helmet easier to put on. I practiced my transition a number of times, but had no issues with this stage of transition. The helmet buckle is slightly small, but with practice this is fine for T1. It takes practice to perfect putting the visor on with one hand while cycling; as with many things, the effort is worthwhile. In Cozumel, the race was so hot that I opted to race without the visor and use glasses instead. The vented holes in the Aerohead MIPS Helmet were perfect for inserting my glasses into, so I could put these on during the race and not waste time in T1.

At the Cozumel Elite World Championships, I had the fastest ride and made the swim/bike breakaway with seven other athletes. The helmet was critical during the first three minutes and in maintaining and increasing our advantage to 90 seconds over the 40k course. I was about 12th out of the water and needed to make up about 10 seconds before the breakaway was established. The helmet cannot be discounted as I was the last athlete to make the breakaway, ahead of four athletes who exited the water before me.

Photo: Viviane Sloniewicz
Photo: Viviane Sloniewicz Greg looks fast, so he must be doing it right!

I was impressed with the amount of ventilation this helmet offered. The four vents deliver a powerful flow of air while cycling. Both the Rio Olympics and the Cozumel World Championships were very warm races; Cozumel was 80-90% humidity and 80+ degrees during the bike ride. I opted to remove the visor to maximize cooling, but during training I felt good both with and without the visor. The brow pad is made out of a hydrophilic material, in order to efficiently wick away sweat and enhance cooling. It is, however, 14% warmer than the Giro’s Air Attack Shield, so take that into consideration if you are easily affected by the heat.

There is a significant amount of extra visibility when using visor instead of glasses. When wearing glasses, I have sweat build up on the lens about 45 minutes into most rides, which obscures my vision. Obviously, that was not an issue with the visor. It also provided more shielding so I was not constantly bothered by the usual cycling wind noise.

The visor is also cleverly designed so that it can be stored or placed in transition in the flipped up position. Among other benefits, this helps protect it and save space during travel.

Visor flipped up
Visor flipped up

The Aerohead MIPS Helmet is made with cutting edge technology. MIPS, multi-directional impact protection system, refers to the plastic insert designed to distribute force during side on impacts. This version is constructed with a polycarbonate shell and strong magnets so that the visor is always safely attached.

For Star Wars aficionados, this helmet is a dream come true. While I was leading the Cozumel World championships during the ride, my coach’s tweet gained in popularity:

Follow Paulo Sousa on Twitter @pstriathlon
Multi-purpose helmet, can be used on the bike and on the job

Even still, compared to other helmets of similar aerodynamic quality, I prefer this design. It eschews an extended tail or excessively rounded shape. If this design had initiated its category of aerodynamic advancement, perhaps we triathletes would not be ridiculed for this aspect of our obsession with speed, however, the shaven legs would probably still be an issue.

This is the best helmet I have used, maybe in a class of its own. In aerodynamic testing, it significantly improves over almost all aero helmets. In transition it is fast and, with a bit of practice, has the potential to be very fast. The venting, while minimal, is effective and well designed; I felt good competing in the sweat box that was the Cozumel World Championships. The $250 price tag is competitive and if you are trying to save watts while staying cool, there is every reason to invest in the Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet.

38872-medium_gregbillington1About the Author: Greg Billington is a 2016 triathlon Olympian. Billington began swimming, at age 8. He discovered track and cross country in high school, where he ran at Wake Forest University. Billington’s first international triathlon competition was in 2006 racing for the U.S. in the ITU Elite Junior Worlds. He is part of the USA Triathlon Project 2016 Squad and coached by the one and only, the USA Triathlon Certified Coach, Paulo Sousa.

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What’s the Point of Compression Clothing Mon, 22 Aug 2016 12:39:54 +0000 Written by Nate Deck, TriSports Champion Team Athlete Knee high socks on a hot day? Compression tights? Those look uncomfortable. Those look goofy. That’s just one of those trends that will pass sooner or later. Maybe you have heard, thought, or even said some of these things. Let’s dive in and cut through the myths […]]]>

Written by Nate Deck, TriSports Champion Team Athlete

Knee high socks on a hot day? Compression tights? Those look uncomfortable. Those look goofy. That’s just one of those trends that will pass sooner or later. Maybe you have heard, thought, or even said some of these things. Let’s dive in and cut through the myths and misconceptions around compression apparel.

What Is Compression Clothing?
The first thing to know is that compression socks (or other clothing) are not just tight socks. Compression clothing has graded compression. The compression is tighter towards the extremities and gets looser as it gets closer to the core. That means compression socks will be tighter at the feet and ankles than they are at the calf and knee. This helps aid in blood flow from the extremities back to the heart.

The idea behind this comes from the medical field where compression clothing has been prescribed for patients at risk of blood clots for various reasons, such as sedentary lifestyles, diabetes, and so on. My brother was even prescribed compression socks because he was in such good shape aerobically, that after sitting for a long period of time he would pass out when he stood up due to blood pooling in his feet. Athletes took this concept of increased blood flow and realized that it would lead to more oxygen being available to the working muscles.


Does It Even Work?
The next question is obvious…do they even work? The answer is not as clear cut as some manufacturers would have you believe. While there are multiple studies on the topic, none of them are 100% conclusive. Some even conflict one another. On the one hand, many of the studies have been done in a lab setting, testing athletes in simulations of various activities of shorter duration and high intensity, such as 5K runs and even rugby. None of these showed a definite increase in performance, but some of them did show a quicker recovery with the use of compression socks or tights.

The most applicable test was performed at the Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon in South Africa. What sets this test apart from the others was that it was performed in a real world scenario, as well as being the only test for a long distance event. The results showed the runners wearing compression socks averaged 12 minutes faster than those without them, and their muscles showed fewer signs of damage than the other runners. The runners were also tested 24 and 48 hours after the race. Those wearing compression gear were further along in their recovery than those without compression gear.

Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross pulls on compression sleeves before a 400-meter race at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul in 2012.
Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross pulls on compression sleeves.

The scientist running the test, Elmarie Terblanche, indicated that the results are probably due to multiple things. First of all, during the race, the socks supported the muscles and reduced the amount of wear and tear throughout the event. Second, the recovery was also aided by this support allowing the muscles to heal in a pseudo soft cast. The final aspect was the increased blood flow, which, in turn, increased the speed of the natural healing functions in the muscles.

The take-away from this is that while compression gear may not give an immediate boost in performance, it may delay fatigue and prevent unnecessary muscle damage in longer events. It also helps speed up the recovery process, especially within the first 24 hours and when used in conjunction with other tried and true recovery methods like foam rolling, ice baths, and elevation.

Calf Sleeves
Compression Calf Sleeves

Should I Wear Them?
Ah, yes. The final question. Should I wear compression gear? Assuming you read the sections above, I would guess you can probably answer that for yourself. While I wouldn’t put them on for the first time on race day and expect a PR (aside from the whole “nothing new on race day” concept), I would say that using compression during and immediately after your long run is a safe bet for increased performance. Recovery is just as important as training. The ability to recover after a hard workout and hit the next one just as hard will definitely increase your performance if done consistently over time. Adding compression garments to your recovery arsenal is a good move if you get some quality gear and use it consistently.

About the Author: Nate is a husband, father, and teacher. When he’s not hanging out with teenagers he can be found swimming, biking, and running around central North Carolina or on twitter @n8deck.

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Choosing a Wetsuit: Buoyancy is not everything! Mon, 28 Mar 2016 22:39:47 +0000 Written by Eric Levario, Age-Group Triathlete and Customer Service Specialist There is a lot of angst and a lot of questions that come up when looking for a wetsuit for triathlons. I emphasize “for triathlon” because these suits fit tight and allow minimal amounts of water in your suit. The term wetsuit implies that water […]]]>

Written by Eric Levario, Age-Group Triathlete and Customer Service Specialist


There is a lot of angst and a lot of questions that come up when looking for a wetsuit for triathlons. I emphasize “for triathlon” because these suits fit tight and allow minimal amounts of water in your suit. The term wetsuit implies that water will enter your suit and that is to be expected. Your body will warm this water and it will act as the insulating barrier when swimming in chilly water. If your suit lets in too much water, this will diminish the buoyancy your suit provides and may indicate your suit is too large.

Now how do you pick the right wetsuit for you? It seems easy to look at the sizing charts provided by Blueseventy or HUUB and see where you fit in their sizing charts. I caution you though; one person’s perfect fitting suit may feel too tight to another person. This has to do with general comfort levels and the experience of the triathlete in a triathlon wetsuit. It’s important to remember that these suits are going to feel tight. It may feel a little uncomfortable because it’s squeezing your chest and may give you the feeling of claustrophobia. The best advice I can give you is to do your best to get comfortable with a little discomfort. Walk around your living room with the wetsuit on, take a shower in it, and get it wet. What you’ll find is the suit will loosen a bit. When you feel comfortable, go for a swim. You’ll find that a suit that you thought did not fit you may actually be the perfect one for you. Here are some tips to consider when looking for a wetsuit.111

Buoyancy is not everything
Most triathlon wetsuits are made the same way. They have thin neoprene through the shoulders and neck, and thick neoprene on the low torso and legs. While this distribution of thicknesses seems perfect for those of us who drag our feet, it is not ideal for everyone. This distribution is made to correct a less than ideal swimming position by bringing the legs up, like a pool buoy. If you come from a swimming background or lead your masters swim practice, you may find that a traditional wetsuit lifts your hips too high. This gives the feeling that you’re swimming downhill. Contrary to the belief that this should be faster, it is slower and requires adjusting swimming form. If you already have a good hydrodynamic position, you do not need the additional flotation in your legs and hips. What you need is a uniform, buoyancy suit that offers balance. You may have worked hard to perfect your position. A balanced suit will provide the needed improvement in buoyancy in an effort to stay balanced in the water. You should not have to learn to swim in an unbalanced suit if you don’t need the help. You may have come across suits that are built different, like the new 2XU Ghost or the HUUB Archimedes 4:4. These suits have one thing in common; they don’t follow the usual construction of traditional triathlon wetsuits. These suits are designed for already strong swimmers who don’t need that extra lift.


Comfort is king 
I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a suit that fits properly. When selecting a suit based off a size chart, keep in mind that there was a model the suit was made after. This means the suit was made to fit a certain body that was likely not yours. When looking at a sizing chart, base your size guess from the weight chart, rather than the height. This will give you a better chance of finding a suit that will likely fit. It’s ok if you wear a size large wetsuit but usually wear a medium trisuit. If you’re comfortable, you’re usually faster. That’s all that matters in triathlon.

Don’t just go for the cheapest wetsuit
Wetsuit fit and comfort is a personal thing. You may look at a high-end wetsuit and think “That’s crazy! No suit is worth that much!” The difference between an entry-level wetsuit and a high-end suit is much more than just price. Entry-level suits are generally made with low-priced neoprene (a.k.a. rubber). This neoprene is very durable, but flexibility is limited. The majority of triathlon wetsuits are constructed with a certain type of neoprene called Yamamoto. They are generally constructed with one of three different grades. The three grades are Yamamoto 38, 39, and 40.

Yamamoto 38 is what the majority of entry-level suits are made with. It is durable, and the least expensive of Yamamoto rubber. This grade also has the least flexibility of the three. This rubber is used in the TYR Category C1 and C3. This will give you a very desirable price for an entry-level wetsuit. When getting into the sport of triathlon, it is a cost-effective way to get a suit without breaking the bank.


Yamamoto 39 is the mid to high level grade of rubber. This is used mostly in middle to high level wetsuits like the TYR Hurricane C5. One of the best “bang for your buck” materials, as it provides greater flexibility and gives up little in durability over Yamamoto 38. The rubber is more supple and will give you improved comfort through your swim.

Yamamoto 40 is a high-level grade of rubber. This rubber is very pricey and usually is only found in high dollar suits. These are the TYR Freak of Nature, Blueseventy Helix, Zone3 Victory D, and other top of the line suits that have a bit of sticker shock with them. This rubber has the most flexibility, is light in weight, and will feel the softest to touch. When a suit is made with this neoprene, the whole point of it is comfort and flexibility. With the flexibility, however, the suit is less durable and is more susceptible to damage from fingernail holes and tearing because of its supple material.

With these grades in mind, you may want to think about what is most important when deciding on a suit. For the majority of people, Yamamoto 38 and 39 are the best value for the money. When in doubt, try them on. You will not know how a suit really fits until you go for a swim with it.


Don’t just go for the most expensive wetsuit either
We know the attitude that the more money you spend the better quality product you’re going to get. In the case of wetsuits, some people feel that the highest dollar option will give them the best time-savings. This is not the case with wetsuits. While marketers can talk all day long about the features that their wetsuit has that will make you faster, more comfortable, and give more flexibility, the fit of your suit is much more important than how much you spend on it. A well-fitting, entry-level suit will ultimately be faster for you than an ill-fitting top of the line suit. This means that if you find comfort in a lower dollar wetsuit, you are not giving up much time to a high-end suit. We’re talking seconds for a full IRONMAN swim.

There are many wetsuits out there which can make these decisions difficult. Now you are better and more informed to make the right decision for you. Knowing how wetsuits are made and with what materials will help you weigh your options on which suit is the best bang for your buck. For some, that will be high-quality neoprene in the shoulders and neck. Others will look at the makeup of the suit to aid their swimming form. Whatever is most important, you will be able to make an educated decision on what these new wetsuits have to offer and what will give you the greatest benefits.

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2XU Compression: The “Cankle” Killer… Tue, 16 Aug 2011 23:49:37 +0000 Does compression really work? The studies are published. Everybody is wearing it. We challenge 2XU to prove it – and grow some ugly “cankles” doing it.]]>

By Tom Demerly.

Compression is a strong trend in multisport- but what does it really do? We do a street level test to see the benefits.

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Compression garments: Do they “work”? What does “work” really mean? Is it a triathlon fashion fad?

I love equipment but I’m a cynic. I need proof that something like tight-fitting clothes provides a significant performance/recovery benefit. I’ve seen the studies and sat through the tech clinics. I wanted to experience the benefits of compression first hand- if they are real.

The brands that sell technical compression garments provide university medical studies that “prove” compression speeds recovery, improves circulation, reduces fatigue and improves proprioception (your sense of where your body is in space). What I set out to discover was: Does compression provide me- personally- the guy on the street, with any tangible benefit?

“Does compression provide me- personally- the guy on the street, with any benefit?”

2XU or “Two Times You” was founded in the sports mad city of Melbourne, Australia. The company and its name reflect their mission to advance human performance through their equipment- to literally give you “Two Times You(r)” capabilities.

2XU compression socks are tuned for activity, activity/recovery and for recovery using different graduated levels of compression.

Last year Chris Sinkovich and Richard Verney of 2XU sensed my cynicism about compression. I dismissed the compression category as a great money maker, but a fad. The two bristled. An exchange of e-mails, visits and phone calls took place over the next few months until I finally told the guys from 2XU: “Guys, it’s a nicely made product- but I would need to experience any benefits for myself. “ I was finally off the hook. I thought.

Two days later a box and an e-mail showed up. Sinkovich and Verney of 2XU challenged me to disprove the university findings about the benefit of compression. It was on.

The claims about compression benefits are lofty:

  • Increased circulation.
  • Faster Recovery.
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Increased muscle compression reducing unwanted muscle oscillation
  • Improved Proprioception.
  • Temperature and moisture management.

For the 2012 season 2XU has introduced three levels of compression performance:

  1. 2XU PERFORM: The active/movement line. Compression for exercise to control muscle damage and provide full range of motion and proprioception in action/endurance sports and manage moisture and heat.
  1. 2XU XFORM: For active recovery. These garments use graduated compression to further enhance recovery while retaining the benefits of the Perform line.
  1. 2XU REFRESH: For recovery. Powerful and graduated compression to reduce inflammation and facilitate recovery through fluid return.

For my test I used the 2XU Men’s Recovery Compression Tights, the 2XU Compression Recovery Sock, the 2XU Swim Recovery Compression Top and the 2XU Compression Race Sock.

Testing physiological response to recovery garments is a slippery slope that delves into constants and trials, protocols and other rigmarole. That’s in the university studies published on 2XU’s website. My test would be a trial to see if I could find/feel/see a benefit. It’s not science, it’s anecdotal.

“I wanted to see if wearing compression made me feel any better”

In the short term I wanted to see if wearing compression made me feel any better and if there was a tangible difference using compression. The recovery claims were of particular interest. I decided to take two weeks off running after a hard two months, then resume running and use the compression to manage the residual soreness.

It’s hot in Tucson. A requirement of exercising here is constant hydration. I drink at least 3-4 liters of water per day, much more on days with a bike commute and a longer run. The water produces edema, or inflammation of the lower extremities. I’ve had this in deserts around the world, from the Sahara to the Wadi Rum in Jordan. Edema is a function of acclimating to exercise in the heat. It is a particular concern for athletes travelling to a race in a different climate, especially after a long flight. Here in Tucson it wasn’t difficult for me to induce some wicked edema and grow some epic cankles.

“…it wasn’t difficult to induce some wicked edema and grow some epic cankles.”

For my first run I banged out 5.5 miles on the River Trail behind my house, a perfect desert proving ground. Temperature was high 90’s with the monsoon season humidity building. That night, my legs ached. Experience told me in the morning they would be worse. I put one 2XU Compression Recovery Sock on my right foot. I put my normal shoes and boots on my left foot. The following afternoon this is what I got:

Edema from training in heat after time off. I wore a 2XU compression sock on the right foot, and regular running socks on the left foot.

There was substantial inflammation in my left lower leg. The leg was larger in circumference and felt inflamed and “heavy”: The right leg below the knee, where the 2XU Compression Recovery Sock was, had less inflammation and was visibly smaller. I’ve had surgeries on both legs going back decades ago. The 2XU Compression Recovery Sock on the right leg prevented the edema and inflammation I had on the left leg.

“Nearly all of the inflammation from my left leg had gone down overnight while wearing the 2XU recovery tights.”

I found the sizing charts on the 2XU product to be very precise.

Next step was to use recovery while sleeping. I wore the 2XU Men’s Recovery Compression Tights while sleeping after verifying my fit on the packaging size chart. I found the 2XU size charts on their packaging to be accurate. Nearly all of the inflammation from my left leg had gone down overnight. My legs were sore, but it was more joint pain than muscle pain. The level of muscle discomfort compared to using no compression and coming back to running was lower.

2XU recovery tights allow active recovery even- and especially- while sleeping, speeding recovery for your next workout.

Finally, the following morning I got up, drank a liter of cold water, changed into the 2XU Compression Race Sock and did my long commute to work; 19.5 miles around Davis-Monthan AFB. I. I rode hard in rising temperatures already above 85 degrees. At work I racked my bike, took my shoes off, shot one photo in the 2XU Compression Race Sock, pulled the socks off, and stepped in front of the camera again. Less than 24 hours after the “cankle” photo this is how my legs looked:

Before and after. Not only is the edema from the left leg completely gone (right), it is easy to see that both legs appear leaner and retain less fluid. My legs felt lighter and more comfortable after wearing 2XU compression.

“…compression does provide a reduction of soreness and inflammation for me.”

My take-away is that compression does provide a tangible benefit in reduction of soreness and inflammation for me. The results feel more significant than any other recovery product I’ve used, including anti-inflammatories, aspirin and (unfortunately) even massage.

2XU compression sleeves for racing help reduce vibration, especially during the bike to run transition.

In retrospect I think Verney and Sinkovich knew they were shooting fish in a barrel with this project. I was an easy target because compression has easily verifiable benefits. In my role as a product review editor I see a lot of products that promise but don’t deliver. Three (other products) are in my cubicle right now. You never read about those because we don’t buy them, don’t publish the review. Verney and Sinkovich proved to me that 2XU Compression does provide a verifiable benefit to me, or perhaps I proved it to myself. In both cases my paradigm about compression as being trendy and fashionable among last-decade triathletes has been aptly shifted. For me, 2XU Compression provides tangible benefits

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Five Tri Shorts Tested Tue, 08 Feb 2011 23:15:54 +0000 The triathlon short is iconic to our sport. Born out of necessity and adaptation the evolution of the tri short continues with a new generation of highly evolved “Super Tri Shorts”. We test five here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly.

tri shorts review

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It’s tough to say where the tri short was actually born. The idea of combining a run short with a bike short and swim suit makes so much sense it was likely more consensus than creativity. Tri shorts are logical and efficient: One garment, swim-bike-run. No changing.

Especially at long distance events where a one piece trisuit may be inconvenient the tri short is the Swiss Army Knife of the triathlete’s wardrobe; it does everything fairly well, doesn’t particularly excel at any one thing.

Early tri shorts morphed for the swim to bike transition by retaining a snug, hydrodynamic fit while changing the size and fabric of the crotch pad so it dried faster. Simple, one layer fleece pads in early tri shorts provided enough friction reduction and padding for short events and dried quickly on the bike. For the bike to run transition the smaller pad was more flexible to run in than a diaper-like bicycle short. Other benefits include compression during the run which many athletes believe improves comfort and even performance.

Tri Short Review
The search for optimal triathlon clothing: The early Nike BRS ensemble included a padded brief that was the fashion statement of the mid 1980's. The first tri shorts (right) were usually seen in garish patterns and short on function and comfort. -The author in the early and mid 1980's.

Early tri shorts also gave the triathlete a separate identity. The short-shorts were mostly sold in garish neon tones and wild patterns that broadcasted the élan of a new sport. The tri short along with trisuits and bright Oakley sunglasses heralded the arrival of “tech” in triathlon wardrobes and the transition from the swim goggle and Speedo days. We had our own sport, our own identity, our own wardrobe.

Tri shorts have advanced with the rest of our sport to include the latest in fabric, compression, aerodynamic and hydrodynamic benefits. New tri shorts provide enhanced compression and flattering fit. Some designs are evolved for longer distances, creating a category within a category for the Iron-distance athlete. Patterns have changed and options have grown. We survey the top of the category with some interesting innovations here.

DeSoto Forza 4 Pocket Tri Short
De Soto's Forza 4 Pocket Tri Short shown inside out in the 2nd from right and 4th from right photos. Unique fabric, leg openings and functional pockets make this short a practical solution.

De Soto Forza 4 Pocket Tri Short: A Classic Evolved.
Emilio De Soto started his California based triathlon clothing company because he couldn’t find good quality triathlon clothing. Like the tri short, Emilio himself is a triathlon original, innovating clothing designs from his own experience as an elite level triathlete. The current De Soto 4 Pocket Tri Short merges early tri short design with long distance adaptation and advanced fabrics for a modern classic. Perhaps more than any other tri short this version seems to get everything right: Fit, fabric, features.

The De Soto Forza 4 Pocket Tri Short starts with a 9” inseam (size medium measured at shortest point of inseam to center of crotch). This inseam splits the difference between bike and run agendas and also looks proportionate on most builds. I’m long torso-ed (short legged) so very long tri shorts make me look like an oompah-loompah. The De Soto Forza inseam length maintains a sporting profile even on stubby legs. Gripper elastic at the leg openings is gone from the Forza tri short in favor or athletes who may not have shaved legs. The wide 2” compression band at the leg opening (called “Compressor” by De Soto) keeps the short from riding up but doesn’t give you snausage legs- it isn’t too snug and it doesn’t pull hair. My legs are shaved and the De Soto legs stay put from water to winners circle.

The entire short uses De Soto Forza Compressor fabric. The robust fabric has powerful girdle-like stretch that is claimed to “support muscles and dampen the vibration due to dynamic flexion and extension”. There are substantial performance claims suggesting that fatigue may be mitigated by compression fit garments. Regardless of the claims, the apparel feels more supportive, sleeker in the water and more precise in fit. The fit is consistent from soaking wet to bone dry.

De Soto uses curved, flat seams that contour anatomical features like the major quadriceps muscles. Called “Curvelinear” seam lines, this orientation makes the shorts feel more supportive and natural. These features combined with the unique fabric means the shorts are snug but not restrictive. The fit feels more precise than any other tri short in our survey. Waist band is a conventional design with a flat drawstring. If there is one place technology could move this short into the 21st century it is at the waist band- and De Soto does that with an interesting refinement of the tri short in the next version in this review- the Tribib.

The pad in the De Soto Forza 4 Pocket Tri Short is lightweight fleece that is flat-lock stitched with flexible thread at its circumference rendering it effectively seamless. It is a basic and proven design. Stretch mesh modesty panels in the front and rear facilitate rapid drying but avoids embarrassment when the finish line photographer uses a powerful strobe.

Unique features on the De Soto Forza 4 Pocket Tri Short are the four pockets. Particularly useful for long distance events, these four pockets hold a small coin purse for salt pills during a race, gels or other small items. In an Ironman distance event that means you can load up on gels and energy bars in an aid station and still have a place to stow the empty wrappers. The fabric over the pockets is also compression-stretch so what goes in them stays put and the pockets add almost no drag in the water by staying shut.

The De Soto 4 Pocket Tri Short is $81.95 and sold in several colors including, of course, everyday black. The De Soto Women’s Forza Tri Short has similar features – without pockets.

DeSoto Forza 3 Pocket Tribib
The De Soto 3 Pocket Tribib is a category of its own. Shown inside out in the 2nd and 4th photos from the left. The bib makes for a flattering fit and profile and improves comfort and support.

De Soto Forza 3 Pocket Tribib: Innovation from Adaptation.
Careful readers spotted the one criticism of the De Soto Forza 4 Pocket Tri Short: The waist band. The Forza 3 Pocket Tribib eliminates the entire waist band adding a “brace” or suspender bib section to hold the shorts up and provide a more supportive fit. This design is perfect for athletes who have trouble keeping their shorts up because they are either overweight or very thin. It is also a more flattering look on most athletes since there is nothing “cutting” you at the waist. This short is perfect for events in all but the hottest climates and may even be a viable option in the heat when worn without a top.

One criticism of bib style cycling shorts is difficulty answering the call of nature. The De Soto Forza 3 Pocket Tribib uses a stretchy Carrera Pique front panel to facilitate bathroom breaks by pulling the front of the short down without removing the bibs.

De Soto frequently shows the Forza 3 Pocket Tribib with a Carrera full length Tri Jersey. The Carrera Tri Jersey covers the bib section creating a long, flattering line for men. The function of the Forza 3 Pocket Tribib combined with the Carrera Tri Jersey creates great form even for new athletes looking to lose weight. True to form for De Soto this is brilliantly designed and adapted for real world athletes. De Soto Forza Tribibs are $140. The ladies are missing out on this style as manufacturer’s have yet to develop a convenient solution for women’s bibs.

CEP Compression Tri Shorts
CEP's Compression Tri Short shown inside out in the 2nd from left and 4th from left photos concentrate compression in the leg.

CEP Compression Tri Shorts.
CEP is about performance through compression and understated marketing. If they had a more boastful marketing department their website may read something like this: CEP’s medical grade compression tri shorts are uniquely configured like a fighter pilot’s “G” suit to support the largest muscle groups and facilitate optimal performance during high “G” load foot strike while running. The CEP shorts are unique since they feel like two compression sleeves on each thigh attached to a brief of compression fabric very similar to the De Soto tri shorts.

The legs are free of grippers like the De Soto design and use what feels like higher compression fabric around the thighs. A seam at about whitey-tighty length separates the two levels of compression fabric giving the shorts a unique, secure fit.

The interior features of the CEP Compression Tri Short include a lightweight fleece pad and mesh modesty panels similar to De Soto.

While the feel of these shorts is great through the legs they are tough to don. The inseam measures a slightly longer 9.5 inches (men’s) from center of crotch seam to lower leg. The cut is mid to low waisted, but not Christina Aguilera low. One nick against the waist is the thin, narrow drawstring which has to be pulled quite tight to offset the feeling that the compression legs are pulling your shorts down. A small pocket on the back stays shut in swimming because of a nice flap but isn’t easy to access while running or cycling and is relatively shallow. It’s good for two gel packs. There is a mesh inset just below the waist band in the back so be careful pulling these up.

CEP makes excellent compression socks but is new to the technical tri shorts category and their offering in this category shows their mastery of compression and apprenticeship in technical apparel development.

The shorts are sold in sizes designated by Roman numerals making fit a bit cryptic. I usually take a Medium in tri shorts and found “IV” was the best size for me in the CEP shorts. The shorts are $149.95 and also available in a women’s-specific style. If your main concern is leg/thigh compression you’ll be interested in the CEP Tri Shorts.

2XU Compression Tri Short
The 2XU Compression Tri Short, shown inside out on the two right photos, uses an impressive pad that is oriented for sitting in the triathlon position.

2XU Compression Tri Short: A Subtle Symphony of Bells and Whistles.

I love 2XU’s approach to product development and marketing of their highly technical features and benefits. It is clothing as equipment. The new Men’s Compression Tri Short (model MT1758B) uses nice pattern, technology and design to set itself apart from the others in the super-tri short category.

This short is sold as a compression tri short but the compression feel is less than either De Soto or CEP. If you want a little compression these are a viable choice, feeling more like a Lycra bike short than a compression short. A 9” inseam is moderate for the run and long enough for long rides.

The pad in the 2XU Compression Tri Short is perforated open cell foam laminated between layers of fabric. 2XU calls this the “LD Long Distance Ultra Dry Chamois”. It breaths well and is quite flexible. It may hold a more water than fleece designs initially but the more plush feeling is worth it over a long day at 70.3 or 140.6 distance. The pad is also oriented farther forward for riding in the triathlon position, a credible detail from 2XU.

The waist band on the 2XU Compression Tri Short is flat and relatively wide and does away with drawstrings for a great fit that extends over the entire short. If you don’t like higher compression options this short is a strong candidate for you.

The technology story continues with “2XU Ice X” Xylitol embedded yarn throughout the fabric. This fabric draws heat away from the body and is infra-red resistant for a claimed 5.4 degree Fahrenheit temperature reduction. The fabric does feel cool and light.

At $129.95 the combination of fit, fabric and pad make this a great long distance tri short. Even with the more substantial pad the short is still very run-able. Along with De Soto this is one of my favorites, and likely to become a favorite of the ladies as well with a female specific version with gender specific fit geometry and pad.

Louis Garneau Elite Lazer Tech Tri Short
The Louis Garneau Elite Lazer Tech Tri Short, shown inside out in the two right photos, has comfortable fit and great features for any distance. This was my favorite short in the category.

Louis Garneau Elite Lazer Tech Tri Short: The Category Killer.
We have a winner. Louis Garneau’s Lazer Tech Tri Shorts are a top pick in the super-tri short category. The superb fit, lightweight fabric, freedom of movement and best pad in category sell for a reasonable $129.95. The only nick is the lack of a more modest color, in either men’s or women’s versions, such as all black. It is worth calling out that the women’s version uses a gender-specific chamois pad and different orientation of fabric panels as well as female specific fit.

The heart of this short is the Louis Garneau Tri Elite Crabyon gender specific pad. Both the men’s and women’s pad use a thin layer of foam and is seamless and stretchy. The Crabyon fabric outer seems to dry more quickly, perhaps because of its lighter weight. Crabyon is an anti-microbial fabric for accelerated wound healing that comes from the medical industry. This pad is also reasonably generous making it an ideal long distance tri short. There is no front to back center seam on this short, meaning you sit on more pad and less seam than the others.

There is a small, vertical gel pocket on the Louis Garneau Lazer Tech Tri Short that seems to work well both on the bike and while running. It’s smack dab in the center of your bike so you do have to reach. The short is long-ish at 10.5” inseam but doesn’t “feel” long due to the nice fit at the wide leg openings.

Garneau shows masterful use of fabrics on the Elite Lazer Tech starting with the luxurious leg and waist designs. No drawstrings, no rubber grippers. The shorts feel fantastic on. An “action panel” at the hip provides freedom of motion. The waist band is another best in class design feature. It is a 2.5” wide doubled fabric waist band that provides subtle support, no slip and doesn’t dig in. If you try on several try shorts and then these you’ll carry them to the register. They are even better in the real world on the bike and running. The Louis Garneau Lazer Tech Tri Shorts are less expensive than some in our test and feel the best, especially while running- giving up no comfort on the bike. These are a clear cut winner from sprint to Ironman distance.

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Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket Thu, 04 Nov 2010 18:33:47 +0000 When is a jacket more than a jacket? When it is perfectly adapted for the endurance athlete. Zoot takes ownership of the cool weather category with technology and design on the WRKS XOtherm Jacket. See it here. ]]>
Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket
Zoot's WRKS XOtherm Jacket merges sophisticated fabric technologies and exceptional design into one of the best values in performance outerwear in the industry.

Fabric technology and technical apparel design have given the modern endurance athlete advantages no other generation of athlete has enjoyed. The fabric and garment technology we wear today eclipses what the first climbers to reach Mt. Everest used in 1953 and what the astronauts wore on the moon from 1969 to 1972.

Zoot History
Zoot is a technical apparel originator. This is their first event store at Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. Photo: Courtesy of Zoot.

The fabric and design “space race” was joined by Zoot with the first of their one piece triathlon “zoooots” or suits at their shop in Kona during 1983. Since their beginning Zoot has been a fabric and design innovator. Their latest offering for fall 2011, the Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket is not only a technology leader but also a value leader. This jacket is also an example of ultra-sophisticated technology that bears some explaining to truly appreciate it.

Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket
The unique waffle-weave inner fabric design wicks perspiration, traps warm dead air for lightweight insulation and provides excellent freedom of motion. Notice the smooth textured, stretch "action panel" under the arm to increase mobility and ventilation.

The Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket uses new XOtherm 300 fabric with “Megaheat Technology”. While a more elegant buzzword than “Megaheat” (aren’t they a death metal band?) may have been easy to conceive a better fabric than XOtherm 300 with Megaheat Technology would be tough to imagine.

“It keeps you warm when it’s cold, dry when you sweat and prevents overheating.”

Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket
Built for endurance sports: Unlike outdoor brands the Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket is endurance specific including an under-arm action panel that moves with the athlete while maintaining full coverage, insulation and moisture management.

XOtherm 300 is a lightweight, wicking fabric that achieves exceptional insulation far in excess of its weight and bulk. Perhaps more importantly to the athlete XOtherm 300 also provides excellent breathability for temperature regulation and superior moisture management. It keeps you warm when it’s cold, dry when you sweat and prevents overheating. The only thing XOtherm 300 with Megaheat Technology doesn’t do is your workout.
In addition to the advanced fabric on the Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket the design of the jacket itself makes best use of the unique properties of XOtherm 300 and makes the jacket more a piece of sophisticated equipment than training apparel.

“For most athletes this versatile jacket is a one piece wardrobe for fall and winter.”

The core technology of XOtherm 300 fabric is the weave or configuration of the fabric. Like Patagonia’s successful Regulator R1 fabric the Zoot XOtherm fabric is comprised of a slightly textured outer surface and a complex waffle-weave inner surface that provides square “cells” to trap warm air for insulation in the same way a down jacket provides insulation. The edges of the cells are a “brushed” or open weave fleecy fabric that helps sweep perspiration away from the skin. Warm skin, as during exertion, accelerates the wicking. The more you sweat the better it wicks. The smoother exterior of the jacket provides some level of wind resistance, but is not windproof like Polartec Power Shield, a softshell fabric. The Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket spans a missing middle ground between base layer and softshell. This is the athlete’s “sweet spot” in apparel design since a soft shell is usually not breathable enough for endurance sports except in extremely cold conditions and a standard base layer is not wind resistant enough in common fall/winter conditions. For most athletes this versatile jacket is a one piece wardrobe for fall and winter.

Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket
MegaHeat technology helps maintain insulation even (and especially) when wet. This is especially important in endurance-active apparel.

An additional benefit to XOtherm is the “Megaheat Technology” from Ventex Textiles. New Balance and Descente both use Megaheat Technology fabrics in technical apparel. Descriptions of how Megaheat actually works vary and no definitive explanation is offered on the fabric manufacturer’s website. Zoot explains that Megaheat works “by sweat, boosting thermal warmth at the skin by 7 degrees.” Other users suggest Megaheat is activated by exposure to the sun. Zoot manufacturer’s sales representative Kevin Hoard suggested that, “if you take a sample in your hand, get it wet you can feel it get warmer.” I tried it and, while I can’t buy into it getting warm in my hand like a hand warmer would, it at least did not get cold and clammy. I’ll argue that I wouldn’t want the thing to warm when I perspired on it- I’d rather have it wick the perspiration away- which this jacket does admirably.

“Megaheat works ‘by sweat, boosting thermal warmth at the skin by 7 degrees.'”

Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket
The action panel in action: The melding of technical fabrics optimizes the design for real world endurance sports.

Good fabric is nothing without good design and that is where Zoot’s experience with endurance sports has given the Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket an advantage over the outdoor brands like Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear and The North Face. This garment is designed by athletes for athletes- it isn’t mountaineering equipment adapted to aerobic exercise. The sport specific features include reflective trim on the front and back of the jacket, aerobic pocket placement for items like electronics (MP3 player, cell phone), longer sleeves with sealed cuffs for full range of motion during aerobic sports and stretch panels for additional ease of movement and further ventilation in high temperature areas to prevent overheating.

Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket
Fit is athletic but not tight. The high pocket can hold personal electronics, ID and other small items. The collar is perfection with excellent height, tailoring and a built in zipper well.

Fit on the jacket is “relaxed athletic”. It is trim and there is stretch to the fabric but this jacket is not uber tight. You can pull it on over a T-shirt for chic “track jacket” look when not training. Size runs are spot on. Our size “small” T-shirt size tester took a small, I wore a medium like every other jacket I’ve tried. The larges and extra larges are just that. You’ll find the sleeves are long for casual wear but this is technical apparel.
Having tried the Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket I know this fabric and the design theme are a success- perhaps even a triumph. Zoot- an exercise specific brand- offers more versatility and specific function with this jacket than the big outdoor brands. This jacket does more things than an equivalent Patagonia R1 Regulator top, a The North Face TKA 100 jacket or Mountain Hardwear’s Super Power Jacket. The price is a category leader too, at the low end of the mid-layers that range from featureless versions at $140 to bell and whistle super-layers at $160+.

Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket
A functional draft flap inner cuff seals the sleeves and prevents the arms from riding up during action sports but makes donning and doffing tricky and does not allow for large sports watches or wrist GPS/computers.

Nothing is completely perfect and I noticed a couple nit-picks about the Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket that could be enhanced. Firstly, the sleeves are excellent at sealing out drafts. An internal cuff seals the wrist but prevents venting and makes donning and doffing over a large watch, heart monitor or wrist GPS difficult. So many athletes use a big wrist appliance during training I would suggest an innovative “watch window” like Salomon and Pearl Izumi have included in previous sport specific designs. Also, I’d like a Velcro closure system or even longitudinal zippers at the wrist for venting, an unusual but useful feature in lightweight aerobic outerwear. There are no pockets in the back which effectively limits this top from use on long bike rides. I am a fan of at least a small back pocket on most outdoor mid-layers or all-in-one outer garments for use on the bike or while skiing. Those things mentioned it would be a lot to ask at the excellent $140 price point for the Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket so perhaps a great price is the trade off for these bells and whistles. Perhaps Zoot could introduce a “loaded” version with a watch window, zippered or Velcro cuffs and back pockets at $160 for 2011.


Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket
Like many other grid patterned mid weight techno-fleeces the WRKS XOtherm has a "waffle" appearance to the surface. Note the raglan sleeves with no seams over the shoulder for using a hydration pack while running, cycling or paddling.

The Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket truly excels in fabric function and fit. The tailoring is simply perfect for the real world athlete. I like the sleeve length and the length of the jacket. It is a flat lower hem, not longer in the back or shorter in the front. Some outdoor specific designs are cut higher in the front for a climbing harness and the Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket doesn’t need that. The collar on this jacket is absolute perfection, with a complex patterned design that keeps it up, isn’t too high and looks and functions to perfection. I’m also pleased they left any pretext of a hood off this jacket. A zipper garage at the top prevents neck pinch. An underarm panel of stretch fabric provides additional venting with the benefit of allowing the jacket to slide against a shell jacket outer layer when it gets really nasty. This jacket is breathable enough to do double duty as an inner or mid layer under a hard shell jacket in really nasty conditions. Articulated patterning in the elbow provides perfect range of motion and great “action” fit.


Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket
The jacket is loaded with value-added, unique endurance features like reflective trim, articulated elbows for range of motion, zipper "garages" to prevent neck pinch and contoured pockets to mnage small items without bounce.

The athletic mid layer has become a huge apparel category among the outdoor brands but the multisport athlete is left wanting for specific features with most of the designs. The Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket is more than a mid layer; it is a sport specific all-in-one garment that performs multiple functions through great design and innovative fabric. This could be one piece that replaces many in a winter/fall athletic wardrobe. This is outdoor clothing designed for the endurance athlete, not the wannabe mountaineer. With fabric technology and sport specific design the Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket is a core item for the athlete’s cool weather wardrobe that will likely make other layers and shells obsolete.

Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket
The athlete gets their own unique technical cold weather apparel: The Zoot WRKS XOtherm Jacket isn't designed for backpacking and mountaineering- it is designed by endurance athletes for endurance athletes. At last!