After spending the past several weeks training through triple-digit heat waves in Southern California, our two testers can confidently report that 2XU's array of training and racing apparel leaves little to be desired. As the official compression sponsor of IRONMAN, this review focuses on three of the brand's standout compression items.
by Ryan Schneider and Jennifer Ward Barber
If I could have imagined what 2XU cycling shorts should feel like, this is it. You get a tight, compact fit and feel – everything you’d expect from a compression short. The chamois is dense and super protective. Though it did pinch a bit in the crotch, the density of the chamois allowed me to shift and ride comfortably in multiple saddle positions. The elastic support on the legs felt soothing, and didn’t leave those blood-constricting marks around your thighs that you might be used to from other shorts. -RS
Recovery Compression Tights ($159.95, not pictured)
Having recently completed a season that involved a marathon, two IRONMAN 70.3's, a sprint triathlon, three individual time trial races, and my first full IRONMAN, I've pretty much been in a constant state of recovery since January. Thankfully, it coincided with the addition of these tights to my tri-wardrobe. From 2XU's new Refresh line, these black-on-black tights are as stylish as they are functional. I've even been known to throw a funky tunic overtop and head out on the town after a tough workout. (OK, if "on the town" means grocery shopping or a smoothie stop. These might look a wee bit out of place at a happy hour.) Compression is all the rage right now, but when I first pulled them on, I could tell these weren't a gimmick. (The more difficult it is to put your compression gear on the better, and I was a struggling, post-long-run mess!) With a high-denier LYCRA fabric and graduated fit, these tights promote circulation and decrease lactic acid. They're also antibacterial, but I'd still recommend a quick shower first. In the fall and winter, they can be used for colder training sessions, and with their SPF of 50+ and moisture-wicking fabric, they'll help your performance as much as they will your recovery. So upgrade your socks and throw these into the mix to head into your next workout fresher than ever. -JWB
Compression Calf Guard ($44.95, above left)
From the Perform line, these sleeves have been a staple in my racing repertoire since my first 70.3. Using PWX FLEX fabric, these sleeves flex and move with your body while providing the kind of in-competition compression you need. I have suffered neither a shin splint or calf cramp while wearing these sleeves; they really do help reduce muscle fatigue and damage from racing, bringing the feel of a supportive "weave" to the lower leg. And they're versatile, too: In my most recent full IRONMAN, I remedied a sudden knee pain by pulling the sleeve up over my knee and stuffing it with ice chunks from an aid station. It's also important to note here that IRONMAN competitors are free to wear compression at all times during competition—the only exception to this rule is during a non-wetsuit legal swim, where anything covering the arms or below the knee is grounds for disqualification. So, in all of my races save for one this year (IRONMAN 70.3 Hawaii), I was able to rock my calf sleeves with confidence. -JWB
Check out a review of 2XU's additional "beat the heat" gear at lavamagazine.com/gear/tested-2xu-threads-to-beat-the-heat
Full Disclosure: 2XU is a paying sponsor of certain IRONMAN® events and/or an advertiser on certain IRONMAN® media properties. The foregoing product review has been prepared and published here as promotional consideration under an agreement regarding such sponsorship and/or advertisement.