The first few times I saw these tights I thought people were wearing their Marvel superhero underoos for running. Then I saw them at the Running Free booth at the Around the Bay 30k, saw the price tags, and realised they were something new. I browsed over to the CW-X website to get the low-down.
Basically the tights are designed to work as a type of soft exoskeleton, providing support, helping maintain alignment and reducing muscle oscillations. It’s a little bit like combining a good pair of compressive tights with some taping like you’d get from an athletic therapist. It sounded promising, but when it comes to swallowing marketing hype I’m a skeptic’s skeptic. Prove it to me and I still won’t believe it.
Fast-forward a few months and I had decided to ask for a pair of Pro tights for Christmas. I had heard nothing but good word-of-mouth from runners and adventure racers who had tried them. Furthermore, there had been a peer-reviewed article published that showed a very significant positive effect when trained runners used the tights during a high intensity run. If the tights were truly an effective technical garment, then I was ok with the price: it was in line with a really good pair of bike shorts, which are definitely a worthwhile investment.
Christmas came early when CW-X came on board as a sponsor with Running Free, and I got a pair of Pro tights in exchange for a review. Not a moment too soon: I had been nursing a hip injury and was “well-tapered” for Raid the Hammer, a 25km, 4-hour grind dubbed “Ontario’s toughest half-marathon”. My first impression was that the tights were very solid, and they were comfortable to wear. Considering my enforced lack of training, I performed surprisingly well during the race and had no issues with my hip. This was looking promising.
I have since used the tights on many trail runs and for some bike rides as well. The only issue I have with them is that they ride down a couple of inches and I need to occasionally pull them up. A grippy waistband would help. Also, reports are that they do NOT take well to bushwhacking, so throw a pair of thin trekking pants over them if you plan to go off-trail.
On the up-side…You know the feeling you get when you surprise yourself during a run? I’d be running up some long steep hill in the Gatineau Park thinking “I shouldn’t be able to keep running up this hill like this”. Same thing on the next hill, and the next, and I still had spring in my stride after 2 hours. I felt consistently stronger than my level of fitness, and am totally sold on these tights for running.
The jury’s still out whether I’d use the tights for biking, as I didn’t notice anything as dramatic. Depending on your butt-saddle interface, you might have issues with one of the seams, so be aware of that. On the upside, they were surprisingly warm and my legs felt fine during the 45-minute ride to school in sub-zero temperatures.
Overall: two thumbs up. I can’t wait to try them for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. If you run/trek/ski/snowshoe then put this at the top of your wish-list. If you need a great gift for someone who does, then look no further.