As many of you know, through our Ultra168 Supporters Club, we now have an army of eager reviewers, willing to try their dab hand at testing some of the gear we get our hands on. This week, it’s the turn of Jason Williams, who tested the CompresSport On/Off Base Layer top, which we hear gives you an instant six-pack 🙂 As always, we haven’t edited a word, bar the correcting of a few spelling and grammatical bits and bobs. What you see is what Jason thought and wrote.
Let’s just start the review by saying I like this top. It’s a bit weird and a bit funky, but then many in the trail/ultra community are like that too. Compressport is best known for their Calf Compression Sleeves. This new top the On/Off Base Layer is a move into the area of upper body compression wear. The On/Off name comes from the technical nature of the fabric which reacts to how hard you are working.
The top is designed to serve two functions. One as a compression garment and the second as a base layer to keep you cool in summer and warm in winter.
Second things first. Having only worn the top in temperature ranges from -1deg to 13deg C I cannot comment on how it works in warm temperatures, however for cold days it certainly works. Unlike normal thermal tops which warm you up initially but then make you feel too hot once you get going, this top provides a bit of warmth without overheating. Actually when you get up and going and are working up a bit of a sweat the fabric feels cool but not cold. This is due to the hundreds of small holes that allow evaporation and ventilation.
As a compression garment is where I found the greatest benefit to the trail runner in me. Most compression garments that I have worn seem designed for the road runner/triathlete. Great if you want to go in a straight line, not so great if you are constantly twisting and turning on gnarly single track. This top gives and stretches to allow a full range of motion but has enough resistance to be pulling you back into a correct form. In other words normal compression gear is like a coach with a big stick whacking you into line saying you must go this way, where as the Compressport top is like a gentle reminder pulling your shoulders back to open up your chest, holding your arms at the correct angle and relaxing your shoulders so you can just get on with running. It does this with some nifty panels woven into the fabric along the tricep region, across the shoulder blades and down the spine that provide resistance when stretched pulling you back into the correct alignment.
So far I have run in the top up to 3 1/2hrs and at no time did it make me feel too hot/cold, restricted, etc. The top has a V neck and so doesn’t rub around the neck line. The material is not like the usual lightweight wetsuit material of many compression garment suppliers being more like a stretchy tee-shirt material and hence remained comfortable the entire time.
Overall I would rate the top about an 8 out of 10. It does well what it claims to do. Note however the top is definitely a base layer, and I would recommend wearing a tee-shirt over the top as, looks wise it is a bit different. A bit like a grey version of Spiderman’s outfit. I did see Marco Di Gasperi wearing the short sleeve in a video of his FKT up and down the Italian side of Mt Blanc, but then he can probably get away with the look.
The only other disappointment with the top was the expected instant 6pack as shown on the packaging, which didn’t come to fruition. Hence again, probably best to put the tee-shirt over the compression top.
Given all of the above I would definitely recommend this top to the trail/ultra community as I have found it to be both comfortable and supportive when out on the trails.