I haven’t worn compression shorts / tights since I managed to shift about 15 kegs when I first starting running, trying to resemble something of a runner. For the last five years or so, I’ve been firmly in the baggy shorts camp and I must admit, firmly not a fan of Skins.
I won’t go into too much detail, but the last pair of skins I wore (some full length tights), did things to a man’s nether region that should never be told of again. So banish them I did to a fire. However, when a Skins rep got in touch and asked if I would like to try a pair of their updated brand spanking new A400 tights, I thought why not, everyone deserves a second chance (except Donald Drumpf… sorry I won’t get political, this is an ultra running website and I should know my place).
These days, compression wear is par de course for many an ultra runner. Some wear it simply for comfort, others I’m sure have bought into the whole, performance enhancing capabilities that they claim to offer as well. So after a lengthy break from running during the middle of this year, and a few kegs firmly back on around the midriff, I cast my fears of damaging my nether regions once again and donned a pair of these beauties to see if compression wear had moved on in my ancient mind. Here’s five things you need to know about SKINS if you’re considering some for the hot summer months.
- Comfort: Squeezing into the ‘medium’ size that I’d requested in hope that the fabric would ‘go with me’ (see below for further explanation of ‘go with me’), I was perhaps even more surprised that I managed to get in them without too much drama or ‘tucking in’. This is a good start, I thought to myself. These feel very nice.
- Fabric: Perhaps the first thing I noticed is that gone was the ‘sandpaper’ like effect from previous versions of Skins of old. It’s been a while and I know clothing ‘technology’ has moved on a bit, but my did these feel soft as a baby’s bum. My eyes lit up with excitement that if they were good enough for a baby’s bum, then my nether regions might come out of this in tact. The blend of spandex used in these is I might say, bloody good. I was impressed at ‘first touch’. The fabric used in SKINS is something they refer to as ‘warp knitted’, which uses multiple fine quality yarns. Apparently these have no natural stretch, instead the spandex mix does quite literally, go with your body.
- Movement: Now, in the words of Austin Powers, because of the way these are put together, they are ‘toight like a tiger’ on the skin. According to the blurb, ‘The A-Seam was developed specifically for technical athletic wear-its sleek construction’, which in short means it sits so snug against you that everything stays exactly where it needs to. Indeed, so snug was the fit that I actually wondered if I could move properly while running. Part of me also worried that being such a snug fit, would it chaff even more? But apparently not as it deliberately sits flat against your body to eliminate chafing. But the proof would need to be in the pudding, and I can firmly say that after quite a few runs and washes in the machine now, there’s been zero need to apply any ‘man glue’ as I affectionately call it.
- Cooling/Wicking: Now pretty much every brand out there now claims some form of wicking or cooling effect, along with better blood flow too. I must admit to being slightly skeptical on both accounts, but I can see their point now. Training today in Sydney is like jogging in a rainforest (now I know what running in Queensland is like everyday!) and while the shirt was dripping wet, the SKINS did manage to stay relatively dry. Did it make me feel cooler? Not really, but today was a bugger of a day to be testing that, still, a big mark up from the usual baggy shorts that resemble being in a bath after just 5 minutes of running.
- Improved circulation to the muscles: Apparently, these compression shorts help to increase oxygen delivery to active muscles while running, reducing lactic-acid build-up for more power and less recovery time. I have absolutely zero way of proving this, so the jury is out here. Maybe they do, but I would imagine the benefits would be in the region of the 1%ers… which if you’re a leading runner looking for those extra gains which the standard EPO, then maybe these will do something for you. For the weekend warriors among us, things like fit and movement are far more important things to be concerning ourselves with. Grab a chocolate milkshake after your long run, that’s going to help your recovery no end.
Massive improvement on my experiences of old, enough to actually make me want to start wearing compression shorts once again, but only if there’s no one else around at the time, and never in white. A man should never be seen in white compression shorts… ever.
But in all seriousness, I was pretty impressed with these compression shorts, so thumbs up to SKINS for moving things on in the technical running gear department. The initial fears about these being very tight are not so founded and because of the material and construction of the shorts, they really do move with you well while you run.
The SKINS reviewed were sent to Ultra168 free of charge for testing. As per our policy on testing, we’re under no obligation to write a review and all thoughts and opinions in this review are ours and ours alone.