Skins A400 Men's Compression Tights
Disclaimer: I received a pair of Skins A400 Compression Long Tights to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Over the last month, I've had the pleasure of testing out the Skins A400 full-length compression tights and if you follow me on Instagram, you already know how much use I've gotten from them and how helpful they've been with my half marathon training. Until now I've never invested in any kind of compression gear, the only tights I've worn have purely been for warmth on winter runs. It seems like every month there's another article debating the legitimacy of compression gear but I'm definitely a believer now! Before we jump into my experience, I just want to highlight a few key features from the Skins website.
From the Website
Perform better and recover faster with SKINS’ innovative technology! Our Dynamic Gradient Compression technology increases circulation to deliver more oxygen to your working muscles. The biomechanically placed 70D Memory MX fabric around the knee allows for maximum natural movement without restriction while the balanced 4-way stretch properties allows for minimal force with optimal support over the delicate Achilles tendon. The 210D Memory MX fabric over your ITB & TFL muscle groups reduces pressure whilst ensuring natural function to reduce the risk of injury.
My first impression of the tights after opening them was that they looked a little small but again, I'd never really worn compression gear so I figured they'd probably stretch (they did). These things are covered in seems but that's also the point. The tights use 5 different fabrics over 24 unique panels designed to fit specific muscles and the seams act as anchor points that offer focused support and stability to those muscles.
The tights also have a few Skins logos printed across them that not only provide branding for the tights but are also made with reflective glass bead technology to make sure you're visible on any early morning or evening runs. I haven't gotten much use out of this feature yet but I'm certainly expecting to as the days continue to get shorter.
Trying Them On
I did struggle to put them on for the first time, these things are tight, you can't just slip them on like pants. Once my foot was through the ankle though they slipped on pretty easily. Once they're on, you really get a sense for how the seams outline your specific muscle groups. I will say, my biggest complaint was absolutely the tag inside the tights. It's large and irritating. My first thought was to cut it out but there's a nice big "Do Not Remove Tag" to deter you from doing so. I held out for about a week until I couldn't stand it anymore. It was easy enough to take out without any damage to the tights themselves.
The tights also have a nice sized pocket sewn into the waistband that rests against the small of your back. It was large enough to hold my keys as well as an ID or credit card if I needed it. I do wish that the pocket had a zipper just for peace of mind so I wasn't worried about anything falling out. I never had issues with it, but I did occasionally find myself checking the pocket during runs to make sure everything was still there.
Running in Them
Now for the real test, how did it feel to run in the Skins A400s? The main purpose of compression tights is to improve circulation so that your heart can pump more blood to your muscles faster. This gets more oxygen to your muscles which allows you to run harder for longer. Compression gear also helps restrict the movement of your muscles upon impact with the ground which can limit the damage they sustain during longer runs.
I've heard that wearing compression gear during and after your run can help you avoid some of the soreness associated with exercise. I did notice this, especially in my shins and calves, but I also switched to new shoes around the same time I started running with the Skins tights so I'm not sure if the improvement can be totally attributed to the tights.
Where I noticed the greatest benefit of running in the Skins A400 tights was in their ability to ward off muscle fatigue during my long runs and the Rock 'n' Roll Montreal Half Marathon. In every half marathon, I've ever run, I've started to feel the stiffness and soreness of muscle fatigue around miles 8 or 9. My hamstrings in particular start to let me know that they've had enough. Running with Skins, however, I didn't have any issues with muscle fatigue during training, and it wasn't until I hit the steep uphills in Montreal around mile 12 that I started to feel it in my hamstrings.
I had also read online about the A400 adaptive technology that allows the tights to regulate your temperature no matter the weather outside. They'll keep you warm in the cooler months but will also help release and evaporate moisture to keep you cool in the summer. I was a little skeptical of the second part of that because I couldn't fathom how wearing full-length tights could possibly keep you cooler than just wearing a typical pair of running shorts. I was nervous going into Montreal because I'd planned all along to race in the tights but the weather was calling for temperatures in the high 80s and 93% humidity.
I decided to put this adaptive technology to the test and wore the tights anyway. Despite the extreme heat outside and the sun beating down on me throughout the race, I never felt overheated. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely hot, but not so hot that I noticed any significant impact on my run. In fact, I ran one of my best half marathons and was less than 2 minutes off of a PR. The mental part of running a half marathon becomes a huge part of the race for me, especially towards the end. Not having to worry about sore legs or being too hot, I noticed a significant difference in my mental fortitude during the final miles of Montreal that allowed me to continue to push much harder even late in the race.
Although I've seen plenty of arguments on both sides of the compression debate, testing the Skins A400 tights for the last several weeks has officially converted me. This year has been my most successful in regards to training, and (knock on wood) I've avoided injury which is a HUGE step for me. There are so many factors that contribute to successful race training, so I'm not claiming that the Skins A400 tights are solely responsible for my recent success. I do, however, credit them for not only helping me to consistently get through my long runs but also for making those runs significantly easier on my legs with led to less recovery time between runs.
In the past after a half marathon, my legs are pretty much shot for at least the first 5-7 days. After Montreal, I was back up and running with just a day off in between. With a few more races on my calendar in the next several weeks, I'm glad I'll have the Skins A400s to get me through training and to hopefully shoot for PRs at the Run Inspired 10k this month, and maybe even the Rock n Roll Las Vegas half in November!