Compressport isn’t new to the compression garment game having already made its mark in the triathlon scene with its flagship calf sleeves. More recently, and driven by the personal passion of the brand owner, Compressport has ventured into the trail running sphere, working with European trail running legend, Seb Chaigneau, to design a range of functional trail-specific compression garments. According to Caine Warburton**, the trail running shorts are one of the range highlights.
It’s evident out of the box that a lot of thought has gone into the garment. One of the most important parts of a compression short is of course the compression and Compressport comes to the game with their unique 7-stage graduated compression which has been stitched on medical grade compression machines.
But what does that mean in all practicality? Essentially it means that the shorts are tighter where you need them to be around the quads for extra support, but less so in the high mobility areas such as the hip in an attempt to provide maximum support as well as flexibility.
Unlike other compression shorts these are intended for use during sport and less so for recovery. This is evident with additions of silicone inserts on the bottom of the thighs as well as on the high waist band to prevent excess movement. They also feature unique silicone grip pads on the quads for use during power hiking on super steep climbs, a handy pull tab back pocket and flat lock stitching to prevent chafe.
Compressport offers these shorts in four separate sizes (T1,2,3 &4) as well as a sizing guide to assist runners in getting the right fit by measuring key areas such as the bottom and top of quad. Personally, I was a T2 and for reference I am 75kg/180cm tall. Initially when you put these shorts on they are tight, even a bit of a mission to get on the first time however this does get easier with experience. They are longer than your usual trail/compression shorts coming down to just above the knee which to be honest didn’t really appeal to me at first. However once running I really did not notice the extra length and at the end of my first 4-hour run I was pleased to have the additional support though the entire length of my quad.
They have a high waistband section (designed to aid with posture) which was a bit odd at first as it comes up to around the belly button. On the legs they feel quite firm through the quads and hamstrings with the compression backing off towards the glutes and hips.
I own a few pairs of Skins and one important difference when comparing the fit was that my Skins are tight around the waist (uncomfortably so), a side effect of downsizing to get a good fit around the quads however the Compressport shorts are not excessively tight at the waist just firm. Now as described these shorts are a “next to skin” fit so potentially they could be a little revealing for the more self-conscious of runners out there.
Having worn these shorts for more than 400km of running over 8 weeks I have noticed a few key things. These shorts breathe! They are extremely efficient at wicking sweat and keeping dry and light. The fabric is quite thin for this quality of compression (by design) and it appears to have been woven in an “open” style, this greatly aids their thermoregulation properties keeping you nice and cool, to a point that is actually quite noticeable when compared to other brands such as Skins. After every long run (bar those in the actual rain) the shorts have been completely dry having wicked all the sweat away during the run.
The compression over the quads is noticeable while running downhill and I could feel the extra support my legs where receiving and a distinct reduction in muscle bounce when really pounding the non-technical steep downhills. I initially thought that climbing in the short may have been restrictive the however the reduced compression over the hip means that the leg lift isn’t compromised at all. I also noticed that the silicone grip pads made a massive difference to hand grip when things got sweaty and steep as I was power hiking the bigger climbs.
I was also a bit sceptical about the shorts’ ability to stay in place without slipping when hiking hard, hands on knees style, putting loads of force through the silicon thigh grippers. However over the course of a recent 100km race, which involved plenty of hiking, they performed exceptionally. I did notice about 5cm of downward movement at the start which once settled did not move again, indicating perhaps I had them pulled too far up?
The pocket at the back was large enough for me to get two Endura gels into without much trouble and the red pull tab assists well with accessing the contents on the run as the pocket sits flat against the body meaning it would be a hassle to open without it. This pocket is particularly handy for the training runs that are long enough to need gels but not long enough to warrant carrying a pack.
For a female perspective I had my wife (also an accomplished ultra runner) try these on. She reported that in her view they shouldn’t chafe around the groin however she did mention that black would perhaps be the preferred colour choice for most women due to the “tight” fit.
It’s clear that Compressport has developed a trail specific and functional product here. Their ability to combine the benefits of medical grade compression, flexibility and function make them stand out from the crowd in the current crowded market.
For me the benefits of these shorts really come out during long runs and races where vertical accent is over 1000m as their ability to support a runner’s quickly fatiguing quadriceps and hamstrings come to the fore. The addition of the power hiking grip pads means these are my preferred short when I know I am tackling anything over 20%. Provided you can get the correct fit, these shorts should be useful for anyone seeking compression for training and racing, however in my opinion they are most beneficial for those runners who tackle the longer distances.
**Caine Warburton has a commercial relationship with Compressport via its support of the KSR trail race team of which Caine is a member. These shorts were sourced specifically for freelance review from Compressport before the relationship was developed, notes Caine.**