Compressport Product Review

Okay, let me begin by saying that I’ve been “dressing Euro” for a while now when it comes to my trail and ultrarunning. Calf sleeves, compression socks, and compression shorts have become mainstays of my training, racing, recovery, and travel wardrobes. Let me explain why.

During training and racing, I appreciate the biomechanical support said clothes provide as well as the reduction in minor-but-annoying-to-me soft-tissue vibrations. Let me state the second part of that another way: I hate feeling my quads and glutes do that tiny jiggle they do on a burly descent because it makes me feel like important energy is being directed the wrong way. If it’s cold, that jiggle is additionally painful. And, at the end of a long run, I like the minor biomechanical aid that, say, a pair of compression shorts gives to my core. When fatigue sets in, gait-changing shifts in the tilt and rotation of my pelvis occur because surrounding muscles don’t behave quite right. With a little love from something tight, those shifts are staved off. Also, I’m one of those people who blows up like a balloon from water retention after a big training or racing event, and during long bouts of car/airplane/whatever travel. When I wear compression, I don’t blow up so much.

I asked the Swiss company Compressport if I could test one of their newest trail products, the Pro Racing Trail-Running Short. Perhaps because they’ve noticed my penchant for tight clothing, they sent me a few additional pieces to test, the Full Socks 3D.Dots, the Pro Racing Arm Sleeve with Watch Space, the R2 Calf Guards, and the ProRacing Trail Socks.

Compressport Pro Racing Trail-Running Short

Description and Specs

Compressport Trail Running ShortsThis short ($130) is high waisted and almost knee length, giving complete coverage of the lower abdominals, the glute complex, the hamstrings, and the quads. The compression around the abdominals and glutes is what I’d call moderate and high around the hamstrings and quadriceps. There’s an external, finely woven mesh pocket on the back that can hold about five gels, an iPhone (Put the phone in a baggie because the pocket gets sweaty, and beware an electronics-crushing fall!), or a pair of gloves. The inside of the high waist is ringed with a silicone overlay that’s designed to create friction between the shorts and your skin to prevent movement and sagging. Additionally, there are several silicone overlays on the outside of the thighs – words, circles, and swishes – that are also designed to give you a friction-ed place to put your hands when you’re climbing uphill. The seams are flat and strategically placed to avoid crotch-chafing issues. The short is unisex and come in four sizes that you fit yourself into based upon the circumference of your upper and lower quads. The short is available in black and red.

Performance

Among the Compressport pieces I tested, these were my hands-down favorites. The level of compression and the way it varied between the core and hamstrings/quads areas was ideal for me. Around my core, I’m looking for a little bit of biomechanical support, but not so much compression that I get a belly ache. And, in the hamstrings/quads area, I prefer very strong compression to eliminate soft-tissue movement. The only awkward part of this short is where the compression suddenly changes from moderate to high on the upper thigh. This sudden change creates a slight, shall we say, bulge of my upper back thigh. If Compressport graded from moderate to high compression over an inch or two, I think it would eliminate this little bulge.

The silicone overlays more than do their job. The shorts stay up and you can push on your thighs as much as you want when you’re climbing and your hands won’t slide around. Cool innovation. I’ve found that the front waist, because it’s so high, occasionally folds over when I’m doubled over on a steep climb. Also, I’ve found that I have to drop trou with intention or the silicone overlays work too well in keeping my pants on, if you know what I mean. I’ve gone through roughly 15 hand washings/air dryings, as per directions, and about 25 outings – including a 100k race – with the shorts and they remain intact and fully functional.

I worried a bit about how the front of the crotch would perform given that this short is unisex and I’m lacking certain anatomical features that would have to be accounted for there for male short wearers. But, honestly, as a woman, I notice no weird extra fabric or fabric bulges. I don’t know how Compressport pulled that off, but good on them.

The back pocket works great in all the ways I’ve tried it. Its mesh is see-through so whomever is running behind you will have a nice view of its contents.

Speaking of views the folks behind you will have, let me progress to my least-favorite aspect of this short. They are slightly see-through in the heiney. (I tested the black shorts.) If you’re just plain running in the short, folks won’t have a view through the material to whatever is, or isn’t, back there. But, if you’re taking big steps up a big climb, the material stretches across your lower behind thin enough to provide an, ahem, slight view. So, this means that you either have to live with this or wear underwear that appropriately covers the view. Ideally, if Compressport used a slightly thicker material, just through the lower back half of the butt, they would allay any issue.

I fell hard once while wearing this short, cutting my knees, left elbow, and left hip. My hip was covered by the short, which emerged from the fray undamaged. I wish I could say the same for the skin underneath!

Full Socks 3D.Dots

Description

Compressport Full Socks 3D.DotsThese are knee-high compression socks ($56). As compression goes, I’d place them in the moderate-to-high compression category. Other features include ribbing for a close fit, an arch-support band, and those funky 3D.Dots, three dimensional nubs of material designed to grip a shoe’s insole, provide padding to sensitive areas of the foot, and allow air and moisture transfer. They are unisex, but come in 11 sizes based upon your shoe size and the circumference of your calf at its thickest point. You can get these socks in black or white.

Performance

These socks do the trick in supporting all of the tricky, tiny support muscles of the lower legs and preventing vibrations in my calf muscles. I’ve also enjoyed using these socks on long travel outings and during recovery to prevent swelling. The arch-support band is nice; I can feel the tiniest of tugs on my arches at the ends of long runs when the arch collapses a bit due to muscle fatigue.

And the 3D.Dots? Honestly, I can’t tell if they do anything or not. About the biggest impact they’ve had is garnering attention from others who ask, “What kind of sock is that?” and “What are those dots?”

ProRacing Arm Sleeve with Watch Space

Description

CompresSport Pro Racing Watch Space Compression Arm SleeveHere we’re talking about a simple product, compression arm sleeves with a special slot through which you slide your watch so that you can read it without having to push the sleeves around. The watch space has protective material on its edges so that you don’t stretch or rip your sleeve around the watch. Again, the product is unisex but comes in four sizes based upon the size of your biceps and forearms at their largest spots. The arm sleeves are available in white and black and they retail for $64.

Performance

You know, I wanted to like these arm sleeves, but, for several reasons, they just aren’t for me. That said, they are good sleeves and they could be right for you. Let me elaborate.

First, because they are moderately compressive, it takes a bit of effort to slide them up and down than other, looser arm sleeves. I wear arm sleeves largely when the temperature is variable, when one minute I’ll want my arms covered and the next minute I’ll want some air to cool off. Also, the watch sleeve doesn’t work for all watches. I can slip my little Timex stopwatch through the sleeve no problem, but the watch space won’t allow for the larger, square face of my Garmin 310.

That said, the sleeves wear comfortably, provide moderate compression to the arms which mostly keeps the sleeves up, and are well-made for what I think would be long-lasting use. If you don’t have the desire to slide your sleeves up and down with as much frequency as me and if your GPS watch face isn’t as big as mine, these sleeves might do the trick for you.

Finally, during very hot runs, I pour water over my arm sleeves for a cooling effect. These sleeves do a great job of holding onto water for a little while so that the arm sleeves can do their cooling job longer. This, for me, is the highlight of the sleeves.

R2 Calf Guards

Description

Compressport R2 Calf GuardsThe R2 calf guards ($48) are the mainstay product of Compressport’s calf-guard line. “R2” stands for race and recovery, and I would add that the guards can be easily worn during just plain running, too. :) We’re looking at a simple product that’s designed to provide a high level of calf compression. The top and bottom of each sleeve has a band made of a slightly stretchier and looser material that’s designed to provide a gradual transition from tight compression to bare skin to prevent circulation cut-off issues. The socks come in four sizes based upon the circumference of your calf at its widest point as well as the length of your lower leg. The R2 comes in 10 colors, including black, white, and an array of bright shades like blue, green, pink, and yellow.

Performance

I’m into the R2 Calf Guards; they are my second-favorite Compressport product among those that I tested. Mostly, I’m into the fact that they are both simple and effective. They are highly compressive, eliminating what feels like all calf vibrations while running. The guards are easy to pull off and on, which isn’t always the case with highly compressive garments. I appreciate the attention to detail with the stretchy top and bottom bands, and the sleeves don’t cut into my legs. When I’ve been traveling, I’ve worn these for eight or more hours without discomfort. I think these guards are dang durable, too. I drag my calf sleeves through the shrubbery and snowfield wringers, but mine look nearly new after nearly 20 outings. Finally, I dig the color scheme; you can get really colorful with these guards.

ProRacing Trail Socks

Description

Compressport makes a number of crew-ish-length tech-y socks, and these are their trail version ($24). As far as I can tell, the difference between the trail socks and the other socks on the ProRacing sock line is that these have more 3D.Dots around the inner ankle. For features, the socks are ribbed for a sturdy fit, have an arch-support band, and 3D.Dots around the foot’s ball, heel, Achilles, and inner ankle. Finally, there’s a tab on the back of the sock that I think is supposed to help keep the sock from falling into a shoe. The socks come in four sizes, based upon your shoe size, as well as three colors, blue, pink, or green dots atop the gray with black base colors.

Compressport ProRacing Trail Socks

Performance

Since I’m a person who sometimes struggles with friction blisters between my toes while running, I enter into all sock discussions with a bias for toe socks. That said, I wear tested these socks about 10 times under conditions where I knew toe blisters wouldn’t happen, and I enjoyed wearing them. I could feel the arch-support band, but, like the Full Socks 3D.Dots, I couldn’t really tell what the 3D.Dots were doing for me other than looking good.

Overall Thoughts

Compressport has been providing compression and similar garments to the triathlete and Euro-running crowd for the last three years and, of late, they are expanding into the trail-running markets beyond Europe. For folks who are into compression, there’s no doubt that something or things in the Compressport lines will work well for you. Their products vary in their technical additions, with some products seeming simple and others seeming more loaded with “gadgetry.” I can vouch for their durability, given that I’ve put each of them through lots of trail wearings and not-so-benign conditions. As far as I can tell, washing/drying directions for all of Compressport’s gear is for hand washing and air drying.

In the online and written literature for Compressport’s products, the company makes a lot of claims about what their products do that I don’t think are substantiated by scientific research. For example, they claim that the fiber of a product that “triggers a micromassage providing well being and lightness” when you move in it or that a garment has “painkilling” properties. While I wish companies would trend toward just telling potential buyers what a product is specifically made of rather that what they think it can do in their product literature, I can look past this and see the usefulness of the garments for me.

Finally, after my experience so far with Compressport’s products, I’m left wanting to try more. Namely, I’d love to give their ForQUAD quad guards a go since they appear to be very similar to the R2 calf guards in structure and function. I’d also like to try their FULL LEG compression garment, which extends from thigh to ankle, for recovery and traveling.

Call for Comments

  • Have you worn any of Compressport’s products for trail running or ultrarunning? If so, what did you try and how do you think it performed for you?
  • Is there anything among the Compressport lines that you’d be eager to use in your outdoor activities?
Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com's Senior Editor, the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,' and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places. For more information on Meghan and her adventures, please visit her personal website.

There are 35 comments

  1. Guest

    While I like compression sleeves on my legs after a long day to recover (for no scientific reason), the idea that…

    "I hate feeling my quads and glutes do that tiny jiggle they do on a burly descent because it makes me feel like important energy is being directed the wrong way. If it’s cold, that jiggle is additionally painful."

    …is just weird to me. There shouldn't be that much jiggle, or perhaps people are overly sensitive to jiggling? I gotta go with TK's wardrobe choice on this one… Why run outside if you are just going to encase yourself in a tight shell? I love the feel of wind and air on my skin… just saying…

    1. Meghan Hicks

      Guest,

      With all due respect, why place judgements on other peoples' clothings of choice and what feels comfortable for them? It seems to me that, if a person is comfortable, they are going to enjoy the outdoors more than if they are uncomfortable.

  2. Melissa

    I'm always looking for good compression calf sleeves – like the less compressive bands top/bottom on these. I use the sleeves during runs only, use compression socks for recovery. I've used Zensah sleeves, but my fave so far is CEP. (Have a pair of SLSTri sleeves to try, they make my fave compression recovery sock so far. Also have a CEP sock to try.)

    I wouldn't mind trying the shorts, especially if it helped my weaker glutes, but I'd want a lower cut waist as I can't have anything pushing on my stomach due to digestive issues.(would also prefer a more female-friendly cut)

  3. Drew

    I'd like to try the quad guards since I've never found shorts that are long enough, and I don't like anything tight around my waist. Do you know where they are available in the states?

    1. Meghan Hicks

      Drew and all,

      I'm sure some running stores around the US are starting to sell Compressport products. That said, I haven't seen them in a brick-and-mortar store yet. If anyone has seen Compressport in their stores, I'd love to hear about it.

      There are a number of US-based online stores that are selling Compressport. A Google search of the product you're interested will yield those retailers.

  4. Kim Neill

    Nice review Meghan! I've been wearing the Compressport calf sleeves for a couple of years and like them, EXCEPT, I really object to the impregnation of a fragrance in them–enough that I don't wear them much because of this. The sleeve itself is very nice, with a wide band on top. Although they do run a bit short in length for us long-legged, tall people. I did recently try the socks and did not like care the dots, because they feel like bumps and became a point of friction on long runs.

    1. Meghan Hicks

      Kim,

      It's my understanding that not all of the calf guards have that impregnated fragrance. I tested the R2 guards and they don't have any. The look book I was sent showing all of Compressport's products says that the UR2 guards are the ones with the impregnated essential oils.

  5. Stephane

    I have used the socks for a couple of runs unfortunately it didn't survive the Transrockies stage 2 and I ended up with a gigantic hole on my big toe (not a nail problem), I had to throw them away. I don't think the kneeting is as high density as the Feetures socks, they are also a bit more bulky then the Feetures.

  6. Kristin Z

    don't judge my jiggle. :) my skin often hurts at the end of a burly 50k and especially after a 50mi+… perhaps compression beyond just regular "tight shorts" would prevent that.

  7. dogrunner

    I LOVE the ForQUADs and ended up buying multiple prs so I always had clean ones (so I don't do laundry every day, do you? ). They have made a huge difference in minimizing aches and muscle strains during runs, and in recovery. (Still have not seen them in the U.S. even online, but no problems buying them online from a Canadian store).

    I have not tried the shorts but I like the CWX pro shorts and have been wearing them for years, mostly when I am a little sore or fatigued. They are too hot for hot weather running though. I also like the Salomon S-Lab exo shorts (whatever they are called). The thing is, I found that wearing the ForQUADS under either of these shorts works better for reducing quad soreness/fatigue, even compared to wearing compression shorts. Like I said, the ForQUADs have become essential gear for me. As always, YMMV.

    The Compressport calf sleeves are nice, but a little too tight for me – don't fit me as well as the Salomons. I use them just for recovery (and long car rides!).

    I am sold on compression after my experience with these products.

    1. Johnny

      Very serendipitous that this review came out and everybody is talking about these quad compression sleeves since just last week I was researching on quad compression. I've been having really sore quads/hamstrings from cycling and squats. Might just be the push I need to actually buy a pair.

  8. Guest

    Thanks for the review. I haven't really used compression products in the past. Next time could you maybe add more comparisons to other similar products. What features do these have that other compression products don't? How do the prices compare?

    Also, did the author or irunfar pay for the $300+ of products? Or send them back to Compressport after the trial?

  9. JP

    Just to add my tuppenceworth, I've been wearing the calf guards for over a year now, so mine must have a couple of thousand mile on them. I have NEVER followed the hand washing instructions – they've gone straight in the machine at 40 every time and whilst now a bit discoloured (Dorset coastal mud vs Eco washing liquid) they have maintained perfect structural integrity, no other compression socks I've used previously have come close. In short they are undeniably pricey but apparently indestructible.

  10. Heather

    100% Agree Meghan! Thanks so much for writing this review. And indeed, each individual should do what makes them most comfortable, wherever they may be! Woods, ocean, desert, you name it. It really is an individual preference. Thanks again for sharing.

  11. Stephen W

    Any chance you can get a male runner to test the shorts? I think the lack of "weird extra fabric or fabric bulges" to accomodate the male wearer suggests the fit might be a little "snug" in some cases.

    Again for male wearers, how good are they in preventing the revealing of too much "definition" in the front?

    1. Meghan Hicks

      Stephen W,

      I'm not sure I'll be able to get a man into the shorts I tested, as they are the smallest size and sized for my small, female frame. I suggest a little Google action of the full name of the shorts to see images of them in action; I'll leave that up to you to decide whose crotch you'll look at. ;) Good luck!

  12. Jesse

    Out of curiosity; beyond the companies "claims" and of course personal preference. Is there any scientific evidence on the benefits of compression use During exercise?

    1. dogrunner

      Maybe Joe Uhan and others will chime in – the (general lack of) scientific evidence showing a clear and consistent benefit has been discussed extensively in various outlets.

      I guess I find it all totally irrelevant. And I'm one of them scientists (PhD in Biology, teach Research study design, fwiw). The reason is that individual variation is huge, for a lot of reasons, and I only want to know if it works for ME. The only way to find that out is to do the experiment. I have, extensively (n=1) and am quite satisfied that there is a positive effect during and after exercise, for ME. YMMV, of course. As it would even if there was a clear, consistently statistically significant signal in whatever research studies have been done.

    2. PezUK

      there is no evidence so far. i did extensive research two years ago before i bought 4quads and calf support. first, compression wear has been marketed by triathletes The fact most of the pros wear compression does not mean it has any benefits.

      I bought 4quads to help my injury. The fact is when i started running wearing them still being injured it hurt=the more i run the more it hurt(like i wasn't wearing them of course). consequently,i stopped running for a while however still wearing 4quads. how much they contributed to the healing? i do not know. i am inclined to believe it is marketing bs but i may be wrong.

      I may work if you are injured it may not it is you call :)

  13. Guest

    Sorry, didn't mean to offend. Just seemed counterintuitive to me. To each her own. RE: Kristin: I'm not saying I don't jiggle, and I'm sure as heck not judging yours. I just feel odd shielding my body from any movement. If it works for you though, more power to you.

  14. catie

    I bought a pair of R2 two year ago from some company in the UK (they had an amazon store). They came smelling heavily of laundry detergent. The store said that's how they are supposed to be. I set them aside for a few months and the smell went away. Smell aside, I like the R2. They provide similar amount of compression as CEP sleeves for me. I also tried 2XU calf guards but had to ditch them, because the top band was cutting off circulation.

    I bought a pair of the dots socks 2 months ago, and have been wearing them on most of my runs (I washed them a few times :-). They hold up pretty well. But like you said, I couldn't tell if the dots did anything for me other than aesthetic looks. If anything, I was really worried that the extra fabric of the dots would give me blisters, but so far that hasn't happened.

    Any idea whether the R2 has any UPF? I really wish more running clothing have UPF protection – when I'm out there long enough, sun protection really matters, and I really don't want to put sunscreen under calf guards.

  15. Amiee

    Compressport looks awesome! As far as jiggling goes… I tend to get a bad case of the itchies from it (please tell me that I am not the only one) when I am running hard and in the cold. I don't understand it and it feels like some sort of allergic reaction and it hurts! All I know is that wearing compression clothing tends to prevent it!

  16. Dawn

    I was wondering about the sizing of the calf guards. I suffer from shin splints and am looking for something to hold things together so to speak. The problem is I have rather large calf muscles 37cm at the widest part, however from ankle to just below the knee is only 28cm. Therefore I'd need a T2 for the calf but a T1 for height. Does anyone have any experience of being oddly sized. I know I'd have to get the T2 size but could I fold them over at the top or bottom?? I'd rather not spend £30 to find out they roll down and not really work.

  17. Tracy

    Although I have searched, I have not found any reports of the adverse effects of quad compression. I had an experience and want to know if others have as well. I had used compression in training for runs lasting 3 hours and felt benefit. Then wore them for 4 hours during a 24 hour fixed time race. After removing at 4 hours, I subsequently experienced gradual cramping of hip flexors. Replaced electrolytes, hydrated but had to resort to walking and eventually forced me out of the race after 17 hours due to intense pain (I’ve attempted and completed 24 hour races previously-this pain was much different than that). Obvious soft tissue swelling the next day that is slowly improving. I am 122 pounds and of course have some medial thigh bulge above quad sleeve but wonder if quad compression changes blood flow sometimes in a negative way resulting in hyperemic reaction to muscle above sleeve and soft tissue swelling.

  18. Corre

    I’ve found the compressport forquad thigh sleeves help reduce hamstring issues, which tends to be the thing that negatively impacts my running most. I have had a pair of the R2 calf sleeves for a while and like them more than the other types of calf sleeves I have, but the compressport forquad thigh sleeve is something I wear on most runs. They seem to last a long time. I haven’t found a good place in the US to get them but ordering from http://www.bike24.com and having them shipped from Germany is cheaper than anything I’ve found and they occasionally have discounts. Shipping time to the US is about 10 days.

  19. Geordie Klein

    Are the ”Born in Switzerland” compression clothes as good as Compressport states?

    I felt really lucky and privileged this year in April to dress myself in a new set of Compressport Nederland Trailrunning clothes.
    I always really enjoy new trailrunning clothes as others may be thrilled buying a new dress, or the latest jeans. And just as with new jeans, you start to appreciate them more and more when time progresses. It is now August and some 2000 trailkilometers later, time for a review …

    https://dutchtrailrunner.com/2017/08/26/compressport-trailrun-clothing/

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