The recently launched Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs ($800) are the newest iteration of the brand’s compression therapy boots, and I’m impressed by how different the system looks now than just a few years ago. Its design is cleaner, sleeker, more compact, and generally more approachable and user-friendly. While I’ve gotten to know compression boots over the past several years through my local gym, they were never something I imagined having in my home.
Part of that reasoning was the price — a set used to cost upward of $1,500. But the system was also bulky — where would I put that giant control unit in my tiny two-room apartment? Although I couldn’t fathom having my own personal set of compression boots, I was grateful to have access to them through my gym and have always enjoyed the therapeutic experience of the compression boots on my legs.
Using dynamic air compression to support circulation isn’t new, but Normatec became a name brand among runners when they started marketing the technology to athletes more than a decade ago. After Normatec paved the way, other brands entered the space and introduced similar equipment at a significantly lower price, though still very expensive to those of us whose recovery equipment includes a basic foam roller or maybe a tube of Arnica.
Although Normatec held its position as a premium brand, its system remained unattainable for most folks. Meanwhile, similar equipment became increasingly available for half the cost, and household compression boots became a bit more mainstream, at least among us runners.
In 2020, Normatec became part of Hyperice, a larger company known for making a variety of recovery tools. This brings us to 2022 and the launch of the Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs at nearly half the price of previous versions, one that’s much more competitive within the market. While the price has been cut nearly in half, the newest model looks better than ever.
The control unit is a fraction of the size of older models and has a simplified panel that’s easy and intuitive to use. The boots and the hose generally look the same, perhaps slightly streamlined as well. And the whole system looks like something that I could actually use at home in my living room, which is where I’ve been testing it. I’ve been using the boots for the past half a year as I trained and raced, including both a 100-mile and a 100-kilometer race, with weeks full of long mountain runs and workouts in between.
The system comes with a small control unit measuring 4 x 4.5 x 8.5 inches and weighing 3.2 pounds, two leg sleeves that zip from the toes to the top of the leg, and a 60-inch hose that connects each of the leg attachments to the control unit. The system also includes a charging cord and three international plug adapters. You can also purchase add-ons, such as sleeves for the hips and arms and a backpack carrying case, separately.
Read on for our full review.
Also, we named the Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs the best compression boots in our Best Recovery Tools for Athletes guide.Shop the Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Features and Specifications
The Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs provide compression therapy to the legs and feet by pushing air through a pair of leg sleeves that squeeze the leg muscles and feet in sections on timed cycles. The system is designed to support lymphatic drainage and circulation, resulting in feelings of recovery and restoration. They can also help with increasing mobility and flexibility and reducing pain, inflammation, and muscle soreness.
While there aren’t direct links between this type of therapy and improved athletic performance, compression boots have become increasingly popular among runners, cyclists, triathletes, and other athletes.
Leg Attachments, Control Unit, and Hose for the Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs
The leg attachments are essentially sleeves that slide around your legs and zip closed. They have pockets that fill with air on a regulated cycle to squeeze the legs and produce a seamless feeling of compression through the length of the leg. They are well constructed with a ripstop material that’s easy to wipe clean and a burly zipper that seems plenty durable. They’re also comfortable, even when they’re squeezing my legs at maximum pressure.
This third generation of the compression boots was released in June 2022, and the control unit was a key focus in the latest upgrade. By removing the touch screen found in the previous version, Hyperice was able to reduce the size of the control unit and make it simpler and easier to use. In the current version, there are a total of six buttons, including the power button on the side and the start and stop button at the bottom. A set of LED lights at the top indicates the battery level, and you can choose the attachment type, pressure level, and run time.
You can also choose ZoneBoost, which we discuss in more detail below. The system can be used for legs, hips, and arms and offers seven different pressure levels. Run times are available in 15-minute increments. Once you make your selections, press start and the system will do the rest. After your cycle finishes, you can start again, choose a different cycle, or power down the unit and store it until next time.
The system can run for up to three hours on a charge and recharges quickly. It can also be used while plugged into an outlet. The hose is the most “meh” part of the system. It connects the control unit to the leg attachments, but it’s not as supple as it could be.
Other compression therapy brands like Air Relax and Speed Hound have a better hose that’s easier to tuck out of the way, and Therabody’s compression system connects via Bluetooth and doesn’t require a hose at all. In contrast, this hose feels like an umbilical cord and can be slightly unwieldy if I’m trying to push it out of the way and have a laptop or book in my lap while sitting in the boots. On the plus side, it’s super easy to connect and disconnect the hose to both the control unit and the leg sleeves, and it seems plenty durable.
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Compression Levels and ZoneBoost Technology
The control unit offers seven levels of compression, and once you choose your settings, you don’t have to mess with them again, even after you’ve powered the device off. I’ve been using compression boots on and off for years, so I’ve grown accustomed to the pressure and I like keeping it at the highest level. However, the few times I’ve tried the hips sleeve, it felt much more intense and I’ve had to use a lower pressure setting. I’ve never tried the arm attachment. In comparison to other leg compression systems I’ve tried, Hyperice offers as much or more pressure.
ZoneBoost technology is one of the system’s optional settings. It allows you to select a cycle that will prioritize a certain section of your legs. There are five zones to choose from, starting at the feet and moving up to the calves, knees, lower quadriceps, and upper quadriceps. This is a nice feature if you have a really sore part of your legs and want to focus the majority of your compression recovery in one area. If you don’t select a specific zone, the system will cycle through each zone equally.
Hyperice has an app that can connect to many of its devices via Bluetooth. The app has a selection of routines to choose from and acts as a remote control of the system. While I really like the app’s offerings for some of its other products, like the Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro — check out our Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro review for more — I’m less impressed with the offerings for this compression system. I tend to bail early from the routines in favor of choosing my own pressure and zone settings.
The remote control feature is nice and allows me to easily slide the pressure up or down, switch between zones, and view the remaining time in the current cycle. However, I can do all of these things pretty easily from the control unit, especially now that it’s smaller and simplified.
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Performance
The Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs claim to increase circulation, reduce swelling and inflammation, and help your legs recover faster. Hyperice also states that the system’s dynamic air compression helps with lymphatic drainage to reduce pain and soreness.
In my experience using compression boots, including Normatec’s older models, somewhat regularly for years and testing these compression boots through the past few months of peak summer running, I’ve found that the boots indeed help my legs feel fresher, more limber, and less stiff. Did they completely eliminate the swelling in my feet after a mountainous 100 miler in Idaho? No. My feet stayed puffy for a few days, though I believe the boots helped get me up and moving more quickly than I would have otherwise.
Similarly, the boots did not help me say goodbye to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If I am determined to trash my quadriceps in a downhill race, or overdo it in a strength class or a speed workout, I will still likely experience DOMS. But, the boots certainly give my legs the feeling of a quicker recovery than I might have had without them.
Compression boots are not a magical cure for the aches and pains of high-volume training, hard workouts, and big mountain races. And they’re not a proven tool for improving athletic performance. But they do seem to help, especially when combined with other recovery tools and methods like cold therapy, foam rolling, percussive massage, and the most obvious tried-and-true method of all: rest.
What sets this system apart for me is how easy it is to transport, whether I’m going from room to room in my house, taking a road trip, or hopping on a flight. I haven’t actually flown with them yet, but I would. I saw some folks using a Hyperice system at an airport gate last spring when I was flying to Boston, Massachusetts, to run a marathon. Nerdy? Of course. Practical? Absolutely.
The control unit is the most lightweight and sleek I’ve seen, the leg sleeves are comfortable, durable, and easy to clean, and the hose, while I don’t love it, is easy to assemble, disassemble, and coil for storage. Overall, the system is compact and easy to use. And it’s quiet — much quieter, in fact, than other systems I have tested. As a result, it’s a tool I reach for regularly.
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Overall Impressions
The Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs are the latest example of how far the design, user interface, and accessibility of compression boot technology have come in the past few years. What used to be a big, clunky system that cost upward of $1,500 and was limited to professional athletes, celebrities, and niche gyms or physical therapy offices is now available at almost half the cost and in a much more mobile package. This is still a premium system with cutting-edge design features and technology, but at a price that competes with even mid-range compression systems.
On the other hand, we’re still talking a lot of money for the base system without the add-on hip and arm attachments or carrying case. It’s definitely a recovery tool that’s still way beyond the budget of most folks. As a result, we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether this is something that adds value to your running recovery, lifestyle, and overall wellness. If you are in the market for a compression system, however, these compression boots are a great option.
To learn more about how the Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs stack up with other compression boots, and to see the iRunFar team’s other preferred recovery tools, read our Best Recovery Tools for Athletes guide.Shop the Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs
Call for Comments
- What are your go-to recovery tools and routines?
- Have you tried compression therapy?
- Have you used the Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs or similar compression boots? What was your experience?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]