Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FlintLand Review : EC3D B-Hot Compression Gear

  • Type : Compression / performance
  • Use : Cold weather / winter running
  • Price : Pants - $150, Socks $65

Ever since I became aware of compression gear, I had a hit-and-miss experience. Convinced at first that I had found a little edge that would allow me to push my running just a bit farther, I soon realized that the promise was greater than the results I was getting. I tried compression calf sleeves that did little more than give me a high-tech road runner look. I squeezed my sorry butt in running pants so tight that I was afraid they would rip open if I sat down. I felt dumb to have spent my money on expensive stuff that was not much else than snake oil.

Still, I knew there was some good to compression, and that some of the gear I got, I really loved. My Adidas Tech Fit t-shirt, that completely eliminates chaffing issues. My Sugeoi recovery socks. But aside from those, I thought I was pretty much done with compression. Then I met an EC3D Sports rep at a running show.

She told me how the company had started in the medical field, creating compression fabrics for people suffering from various ailments, with tangible results. She explained the science and research involved in genuine compression gear, and demonstrated why most of the running stuff I had tried before failed to provide any benefit. She actually taught me so much that I decided to create a separate article (coming soon) on the science of compression. But this is a review, so let's get back to it.

First impression
She suggested I give EC3D compression gear a serious try. She measured my feet, my calves, my thighs and my waist and selected correct sizes for a pair of running pants, a pair of recovery pants, two pairs of full-lenght compression socks, and a kit of compression crew socks, performance calf sleeves and recovery calf sleeves. Since these are way too much for a single review, I split them into categories. This article is about the B-Hot line of compression gear, made from merino wool mixed with elastane. I tested the running tight and the full-lenght socks.

Trail test
I started wearing the B-Hot tight right about when things got close to the freezing point, late last fall. I had suspected the merino wool would keep me warm, but would provide little protection against the wind. I was very surprised to not only keep warm in cold, damp, windy conditions, but also very pleased about the moisture-wicking properties of the fabric. The seemless construction and the obvious quality of the weaving make the B-Hot very sturdy and comfortable, even for running long distances. Even when winter settled in, I managed to go out for long runs wearing only my tights in weather as cold as -10C (XF) and always felt warm. When things got seriously cold, I wore the B-Hot compression socks that cover my lower leg up to the knee under my full-lenght Windstopper winter pants.

Surprisingly, even though the tights and socks provide a high level of compression, I didn't feel my movements were impaired at all. Compression stitches along the whole inside lenght create specific pressure that limits muscle oscillation and improves blood flow, two things I started to notice some benefits from after several kilometers of running. In short, this gear really shines on runs from 15-20k to ultra distances by reducing fatigue and helping with posture. The tight I reviewed was a prototype and it became rapidly quite obvious that the stitching in the crotch area could use some improvement for a better fit. The final version now features a new pattern that corrects the issue by weaving the compression pattern in an outward curve, all the way up to the waist.

The EC3D B-Hot line has quickly become among my favorite cold weather running gear. It provides serious compression for tangible results on long distances, without limiting my range of movement. It also keeps me toasty in cold weather, even in strong winds, thanks to its mix of merino wool, elastane and thermal polypropylene. It wicks moisture away from my legs, keeping dry and warm even after several hours out. And after hundreds of kilometers of running, they still look and feel as new as the first time I wore them.

High points
  • Certainly among my best winter running gear
  • Excellent mix of synthetic fibers and merino wool
  • Medical-grade compression that doesn't hinder range of movement
  • Keeps you warm and dry even over long distances
  • Sweatshop-proof - 100% made in Canada
  • Competitive pricing

Low points
  • A bit tricky to pull on and take off
  • Limited US retail distribution

The equipment for this personal review was supplied by EC3D Sports free of charge, without any conditions.