Monday, March 28, 2011

Review:Salomon EXO SLAB II M Light Compression Short

The "scientific" jury seems to still be out on the performance and recovery benefits of compression apparel. I recently read a study somewhere that indicated that lighter compression was as effective as tight compression.

I have tried Zoot compression shorts, too restrictive, hot and tight in later stages of a run or race for me when I head into a shuffle stride. I do use Zoot and Zanesh compression calf sleeves for air travel and recovery and find them effective.

I have a pair of light compression Salomon EXO Calf Sleeves which I run most days in including for my St George Marathon and have also extensively used and like the Swiftwick 12" merino wool light compression socks which I reviewed last year. I also have an older pair of 3/4 length light compression Pearl Izumi tights. I have found that the light compression reduces road shock muscle vibration and keeps my goofy stride more aligned, particularly when tired.

I have had my eyes on trying the very hard to find Salomon EXO SLAB II M adventure racing shorts. My idea is to combine them with my Hoka One One Bondi B as my Boston Marathon kit. I put the two together on an up tempo 10 miler yesterday which sealed the deal, negative splitting every mile on the way with  no road shock or hamstring or other muscle tightness during or after. They felt like a regular running short with just the right amount of muscle support in the right places. On a cooler or rainy Boston day they will be invaluable. The thin overall mesh should make them comfortable on warm days.

Front View-Yellow trim is a mesh pocket

Much as with the incredibly well engineered Salomon Advanced Skin Pack I reviewed earlier this year Salomon has solved the dilemma of providing both compression function and comfort. The light compression is where it belongs on the quads and hamstrings as well as lightly around the belly and lower back.  The rest of the short is, well, like a running short complete with brief and does not chafe as most single material compression shorts do. Salomon uses an alphabet soup of marketing terms to describe the technologies in play. It's really impossible from the terms and pictures to fully understand them. While I got the black, the white version makes it easier to describe.
Salomon calls the construction Smart Skin to describe the fact that fabrics are chosen and construction is designed for different functions in different areas of the short. EXO Sensifit is the concept that the whole will better align and support your body to run easier on uneven terrain and hills. Acti Lite means the fabrics wick and dry quickly, they absolutely do.


<< Mesh material around waist. mesh pocket below yellow band. 3 small mesh pockets on back (sadly to shallow for anything other than gel packs)
<<< hips are mesh with imprinted hexagons on inside for support. White areas are all highly breathable thin mesh.
<<<<; inner thighs and rear are built like a regular running short of non mesh stretch material. Non compressive. Includes brief. No chafing.

<<< Same mesh as sides and belly. Hexagons imprinted on outside. Outer hexagons appear to be thinner overlay than inner ones but stretch in both places appears the same. As all the mesh is far lighter and breathable than the more conventional compression shorts which use the thickness of weaving to achieve variable support cooler on hot days.

Note: given the running short middle construction they do not look or feel like one is wearing bike shorts.  I likely will wear regular running shorts over them for Boston.
Rear: Note  Hexagon Support pattern is dfferent on rear

All and all an outstanding piece of gear. Highly recommended for road and trail running, all distances. Retail/MSRP: $100
Update: Running Warehouse has a limited supply at $79.95


Andrew Barnes said...

Compression gear is rubbish. There is no real physical benefit. The only benefit is psychological or perceptual. The fact that you have spent $800, or even that you know the cost is $800, immediately predisposes you to a favourable perception. It wasn't that long ago that the worlds medical fraternity believed that smoking was good for asthmatics. Such is the power of the human mind to believe whatever it wants to.

Andrew Barnes said...

... er $100.