Friday, November 30, 2012

Love Those Fancy Pants! Women's Salomon EXO IV 3/4 Tights - Review

I am lucky enough to be a team member of a fantastic Canadian store called Running Free.  When I became a member they only had one location in Markham but they have now expanded all over the GTA.  They have stores in Orangeville, Newmarket, Milton, Ajax & Barrie.  If you're an athlete and you live in Southern Ontario, then I highly recommend a trip to one of their stores.  It's like a giant candy store.  One of the many perks of being on this team is that once and a while I get to test out new gear.   Most of the time you get something through the team lottery system (sometimes you don't get anything).  The lottery items are provided by our team sponsors which include, GU, CW-X, Salmon and Mizuno to name a few.  Not too shabby! If you accumulate enough points to get to the "Pro" level you get to actually pick what you'd like test out.  Since I raced my face off last year (14 races between March and November!) and actually did fairly well in the races I entered, I managed to gather enough points to get me to the Pro level. 

I’m a sucker for all things compression, especially now that I’m getting older and I’m finding that my recovery needs a bit of outside help.  I remember when Salomon brought these 3/4 tights out.  I thought they looked so cool.  I really wanted a pair but never managed to justify the hefty price tag ($149.99).  I was finally due for some new running bottoms and got the opportunity to choose the item I wanted to review so naturally, I chose these tights.

I had to wriggle into the small but it didn’t feel like other compression gear I had worn before.  I didn’t feel like a sausage!  You know when you squeeze yourself into some compression gear and it is so tight that it gives you lumps in odd places?  This didn’t happen with these at all.  I actually wondered if I was in the correct size.  I re-measured my thighs to be sure and according to their sizing chart, I was.  Sizing is of the utmost importance with any compression garment.  If you’re in between sizes then size down.

The first thing I noticed about these tights was the built in underwear.   I wasn’t sure I was going to like them but I have to say after numerous long runs in them, I’ve only had a chafing issue once (a combination of no body glide and being slightly overdressed).  They actually stay put and they are quite comfortable.  Kudos to Salmon for that nice little detail.

The waistband is a bit higher than normal tights on me but given it’s structure, I don’t actually notice it.  It’s constructed of a lightweight mesh type fabric with a drawstring.  The band is actually fairly wider than normal tights as well and I think that’s why it feels so comfortable.  Another nice touch.  The other thing I quite liked was the length and the fact that the tights stayed put on my calves.  I have several pairs of 3/4 tights and the majority of them ride up my calves.  These didn’t budge.
The compression factor itself is subtle.  The tights are incredibly comfortable, supportive and light weight.  The tights are made with Salomon’s Smart Skin EXO fit technology.   Their Smart Skin technology claims to “apply the right technical material in the right zone for optimum performance” and the EXO Sensifit claims to allow for “better alignment of your body to run easier uphill, downhill and on uneven trails”.  As with most compression gear, it also claims to help you run longer by reducing cramping and muscle soreness and of course it is supposed to help you recover better but improving recovery time.   I can’t dispute any of these points.  I’ve worn these tights on many long runs, some hilly and some flat and my legs have always felt good even towards the end.  I’ve also used them for recovery after long tempo runs and I found they worked just as well if not better than my Zoot 3/4 compression tights.  They are definitely more comfortable.  It doesn’t hurt that they look way cooler too.

One last detail I noticed was the quality of workmanship on these tights.  They are very well constructed.  The seams are flat-locked and strong.  I have looked at other Salomon gear and I’d say the same thing about all the other pieces I’ve looked at.  Definitely a very well made brand.
Now that the cooler weather is here, these have become regulars in my workout wear rotation.  So much so that I may actually buy a second pair.  I know Salomon makes these in a full length tight as well so I’m going to be on the lookout for those this winter as well as some other Salmon gear.
If you’re in the market for a new pair of 3/4 tights, I’d highly recommend giving these a go.  They’re definitely worth it.

Have you tried Salomon products before?  Did you like them?  This was my first experience with them and I'll definitely buy more.
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