this year i was again selected as a winner in the team running free lottery, and my prize was a credit toward CW-X compression wear. i was excited about this as i’d wanted to check out a pair of compression running shorts for a while (after watching dathan ritzenhein race the 2012 us olympic marathon trials and seeing rob krar race numerous events in the same type of shorts) as perhaps a go-between for weather where tights/capris were too warm and (split) shorts might be just a bit brisk. as i reviewed the options available to me – and read the various reviews associated with the different models – i settled on the stabilyx ventilator shorts as the shorts were generally reported to feel quite warm while running and i knew that i would really only be wearing them through the summer training season.
on the plus side
- quality – have you ever purchased any stretchy garments that just seem to be cheaply made and ready to rip at an inopportune moment’s notice? yeah, well this CW-X product isn’t one of them. the stitching is strong, the material has got a great hand to it and is definitely durable (having survived my beat-it-up washing machine numerous times thus far).
- breathability – the perforated front panels of the ventilator style do a decent job of not making it feel like all of the heat and perspiration is trapped against my upper thighs. after giving it possible consideration as my shorts of choice for The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-miler i wound up going with my Skechers Performance split shorts because of the projected temps for that race – but for just about any other race or summer conditions i think that these are just fine.
- sizing – the CW-X size chart situates me (5’8″, 137 lbs.) as a men’s small and this turned out to be a perfect fit for me.
on the something-left-to-be-desired side
- storage – this was another decisive factor for me in terms of not choosing the ventilator for the 50-miler. there’s just a single small key pocket sewn into the inside waistband … i was mildly concerned about the rubbing/chafing effect that it might have over the course of an ultra, and the fact that the pocket doesn’t even have a top flap made me wonder whether or not i might lose the key into the bushes should i need to make a quick trailside pitstop. i tend to prefer shorts with an external zippered pocket (even if only key-sized) which is what my split shorts afforded me.
- reflectivity – while there is some lime-green coloured piping on these shorts there is very little in the way of reflective accents. some might find such detailing gaudy but for pre-dawn road workout fiends like myself they would have been a nice safety addition.
- support – don’t get me wrong here – i think that there is definitely a science to the design of the compression panels incorporated into the stabilyx ventilator (although i’m still not entirely convinced of the compression effect of any apparel items). it’s just that, well, for a single-layered below-the-waist garment i had some concerns about the degree of comfort and concealment of certain body parts – and it appears that i’m not alone in trying to settle the issue on this. after a few runs testing out the shorts as they arrived off the production line, i decided to add an additional front panel to the groin area similar to what can be found in swimming jammer tights. it was a basic cut-out from an old lycra rashguard top that i had from my surfing days so as to keep the level of breathability and general feel the same. this minor alteration has helped me feel a bit more discrete as well as helping to keep things in place.
here’s the video version of this report for your viewing pleasure:
if you like running in compression wear (whether shorts, capris, full pants or tops – CW-X produces all of them) then these are definitely worth checking out!