Discussion: Review of CW-X Compression Gear – warm and cold

Why I’m Reviewing
During the latter part of the winter I was going to attempt to write a review of cold weather running tights because I found it so difficult to find really useful reviews and information on both specific manufacturers, use cases for different tights, and what kind of tight or baselayer would be good for which activities and in which climates. i.e. Trail Running, distance running, snowy weather, wet weather, cold and sunny, cold and overcast, muddy, you get the point. So I recently tried asking folks at CW-X if they could let me review some of their gear, by giving me samples of course, along with other vendors, namely Opedix, 2XU, and SKINS, and got no real feedback, except from those at CW-X, everyone else just ignored me I suppose. So, after doing some research, regardless of vendor feedback, I am going to offer my thoughts on the first and most helpful vendor, CW-X.

Here’s what CW-X has to say about their company and their running clothes like this:

Born from 40 years of Anatomical research, CW-X® Performance apparel incorporates a patented muscle support system called CW-X® Conditioning Web TM into it?s garments. This system reinforces key muscles and joints which allows you to exercise longer without getting as fatigued. The Conditioning Web provides targeted support to all major muscles and joints in the lower torso, which helps increase muscle efficiency, endurance, and power. In short, it allows you to run, hike, ski, bike, longer without getting as tired.

CW-X® Conditioning Wear® clothing provides the true outdoor running enthusiast searching for running tights and baselayers, one of the most fundamentally sound products on the market. CW-X® continues to design and perfect it’s products in order for the consumer to reap the healthy benefits they provide.

If you’re in the market for tights and baselayers, CW-X® wants to be your provider. Whether it’s the CW-X® running tight, the CW-X® running top, or the women’s CW-X® support bras, that peaks your interest, CW-X® athletic apparel will surely earn your trust.

The Story
Now that I’ve given the good folks at CW-X their due, I’d like to talk about the gear and why/how I chose it and what it’s good for.
CW-X describes their tights, shorts, and knickers are conditioning wear, also known as compression apparel. If you’re not familiar with compression apparel, check the link. After you read it you’ll understand a little better that not only does CW-X have a really good reasoning behind the idea of compression sports wear, compression sports apparel helps your body work better. I can surely say after having warn something like these, and bike tights, bike shorts, running tights, running shorts, and plenty of other sports clothing, CW-X Conditioning Wear made my job of getting outside much easier.

Just so you all know, I took a chance on which product to buy based on information that wasn’t very concise or even very much of it. On top of that I don’t like running, not really. I do it because it keeps me healthy and I like getting done with running, but the run itself, for me, is typically boring and so I do a lot of trail running because it keeps me interested the whole time and I can find a way to make things fun while running. Even with that idea in mind, I still didn’t want to go outside until I wore the CW-X Expert Insulator tights for the first time along with my Under Armor Long Sleeve Mock. Not long after I got started running up a snow covered hill on my ascent into a local park here in Colorado in January 2010, I was indeed staying warm. Not simply because I was moving and burning a lot of fuel running up an incline covered with snow, but because the Insulator Expert tights were really working well. The conditions weren’t ideal for a first run of the season for me, but it was an ideal day for a test of these tights. I was initially just testing myself and the warmth of the tights, but after about 20-25 minutes of running, my legs still felt strong. Sure I ride MTB, and go to the gym pretty often, but I rarely would get outside and run.

Not too tight
After the inaugural run was over, I re-read the specs on the CW-X Insulator Expert tights to review the webbing diagram they have on their site and sure enough, the extra support from those tights worked like they said it would. Recovery time was reduced to almost nothing and I just went right back to work, a little tired, but honestly feeling great. I had no soreness and I felt right then that for the warmth at least the tights had done their job. I mean, it was only the first run after all. I then did several more runs in the same park around the same time each day for the next 3 weeks in varying temperatures, but usually near freezing, and every time I was very impressed with the way the CW-X tights worked for me. I continued to notice the benefit I got from the webbing and support technology they put into those things and my times just got better and I started to go further, all trail running mind you, and yes, I still hate running, but these tights let me go the distances I wanted to. Soon I was doing 5 miles at a time, mountainous trail running, in 50 minutes.

Last but not least
I recently ran my first 5K race of the season coming in at 30 minutes, pretty much where I expected to for my level of effort that day, and the tights were really enjoyable to run in the whole time and I had to wear them for the next several hours till I could get out of there and they remained comfortable even as it warmed up a bit. So finally, I decided to get another pair of CW-X shorts or 3/4 length tights and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do till tonight. Now that the weather is starting to get a little warmer I feel the need for a better pair of shorts/tights when I go outside to run trails in my favorite park. I have a regular pair of running shorts, Nike I believe, but I really only like using them at the gym. They’re just not “tough enough” for me. Regular running tights offer none of the benefits of compression apparel, and so I’m looking again to CW-X to provide the answer I need.

Conclusion
I’m looking at getting a pair of CW-X Stabilyx Ventilator Shorts. These things look really great for mid-late spring and warm weather running in the mountains. I’m also looking at getting the Ventilator Top to go along with it since the top looks like it will keep me cool in all the right places as well. There is another piece of gear I’m considering from CW-X as well, and those are the 3/4 Stabilyx Ventilator Tights which would be nice for a slightly cooler day or when the weather isn’t as predictable. The Stabilyx version of the CW-X tight has more webbing technology to offer even better support to the lower back and abdominal regions which can be very helpful in producing power as you run. That said, I don’t know if there will be extra heat build up in those areas, but I’m going to think that’s not a problem as I doubt the extra heat would be anything like the insulated versions which these are not. Also the Ventilator tights have a mix of materials to let your calf and quad muscles breathe and expend heat much more efficiently than some of the other tights CW-X sells, and they are designed to do so. I can’t wait to try them on! If you’re in the market for a pair of shorts or tights for this spring or summer, I certainly suggest giving CW-X a go. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Just be sure to consult a sizing chart, or find a vendor and try them on before buying.

Postscript
I would also like to point out that so far I don’t own a pair of 2XU, Opedix, or SKINS, but I may be making investments in those companies as well to procure some shorts for running this summer since even though I don’t like running much, CW-X has given me a great head start this year and I don’t plan on losing it just yet. I will probably be looking at the Triathlete shorts as well since I really love to ride and this summer is looking great for it. Thanks a lot CW-X and I look forward to writing about your competitors as well once I get a chance to try them out. A couple other companies that comes to mind as well are Zoot and Zensah. I don’t know much about them, but I have heard of them and I may be adding them to my list. Thanks for reading through this review, happy shopping, and see you on the trails!

Vendors

CW-X: http://www.cw-x.com
SKINS: http://www.skinsusa.com
2XU: http://www.2xu.com
Opedix: http://www.opedix.com
Zoot: http://zootsports.com/
Zensah: http://www.zensah.com/

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