2XU Hyoptik: compression and reflection
Disclosure: I received complimentary 2XU Hyoptik tights to review because I am a BibRave Pro. (Per usual, all opinions are my own–you should know by now I don’t need any help with that, I’ve got plenty of ’em!) Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro here. Read and write race reviews at BibRave.com! It’s a great way to choose between conflicting races, to help runners find the best races, and the help race directors improve each year.
The Hyoptik tights are made of material that is substantially thicker than the Elite MCS Compression Tights I previously reviewed (and have been wearing to every possible race). While the material feels like a single layer, 2XU describes the material as two (fused) layers: “A soft brushed thermal inner layer helps retain warmth in cold climates.” Not that the San Francisco Bay Area qualifies as a cold climate, usually, but I did scrape hard frost off my car before my January runs AND see actual hard ice on my run.
Anyway. I ordered a size large, because that's the size I have in every other 2XU product. When I first took the Hyoptik tights out of the box, I was afraid I'd made a mistake. They looked like they might be 3/4 length, and made for a pixie. I held them up to my waist, and the bottoms barely touched my knee! I was seriously worried. Fortunately, there was nothing wrong. I did order the right size. There must be something about the fabric that just makes them look itty-bitty when fresh out of the box. Whew.
After my initial worry about the size, I played with the tights a little bit, even before I first put them on. The thicker fabric definitely seemed appropriate for cold weather, and I love it when my winter gear has a little bit of fuzzy-wuzzy on the inside. It's also soft on the inside, which I liked.
Then I put them on. The thicker fabric of the Hyoptik was both easier and more difficult to stretch over my legs when compared to the MCS and other, thinner compression tights. On the one hand, it was easier because I could get a better grip on the fabric as I worked the tights onto my leg. I also found I was much less likely to snag a nail on the Hyoptik fabric (for whatever reason, I have a problem with this and thinner compression tights/shorts). On the other hand, this thicker fabric tends to want to snap back to the original shape a tiny bit more, so I have to work harder to adjust and keep the upper portion appropriately on my body. (Ladies, you know all about how bad a “drop crotch” is with pantyhose, right?) I went so far as to apply a small amount of Body Glide, just in case, the first few times I wore them. (It wasn't necessary, but a runner can't be too careful about chafing.)
Since I grew up in Michigan, I joke that California doesn't have a real winter, at least not in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Jenzenator knows what I mean–she chose the 3/4 length because it isn't cold where she lives either.) We have calendar months they call “win-ter” but not actual winter weather. A few days each year there is some frost on my car and I can see my breath, but that's about it. So as far as a field test wearing these in the snow and icy hey-the-wind-chill-is-double-digits-below-zero of my childhood, I would have needed a field trip to a cold place. If that's your situation, you want to check out reviews by the other BibRave Pro team members who live in colder climates. If you read Daddy Did You Win? you know the tights are cut out for Northern Indiana winters. (While you're at it, Cass Gunderson has tips on winter running too.)
First test race, Brazen Racing New Year's Day, was one of those frost on the windshield days. While I was running I actually saw frosted patches of grass along the trail! This is as close as I was going to get to a cold snap, so I took Hypotik out for a run. (The Fun Size Athlete and Heather Runs 13.1 also took Hyoptik to the trails.) Now despite being a native Midwest girl from two long lines of white, pasty people from far northern climates, I'm not big on being cold. I really dislike running with cold legs. When the weather drops below a certain temperature–and it's not that low since I've moved to the West Coast and gone soft–it's like my thighs and butt freeze into solid blocks of ice and just don't un-freeze. (I don't know if Sweet Blonde's Fit Life has the same problem.) It's hard to run when your biggest muscles, which should be warm and pliable, more closely resemble a side of beef in the deep freeze! 2XU Hyoptik kept me just the right amount of warm. Sure, I was a little cold at the start, but once I started moving I was fine. The fabric kept all of it's promises: compression, sweat-wicking, and warmth. By the time I finished, the sun had come out but it wasn't actually warm outside. My legs cooled off a little bit after I stopped running, but didn't hit the point of being actually cold. Since I spent part of that time sitting at a picnic table and eating an It's-It, I'm attributing the lack of chill on my legs to the tights. Not that it gets as cold as, say, Colorado where Miles of Abbie lives, but hey.
Once I'd confirmed the 2XU Hyoptik worked well in cold weather that stayed cold, I wondered what it would be like in weather that started cold, and then warmed up significantly. I packed the tights and headed off to Disney World! (Okay, so I had planned this trip months in advance…but I did take the Hyoptik with me.) If you ran during marathon weekend last year, or have any friends who did, you know it was ridiculously cold last year. So much so that I bought all new running clothes off the clearance rack at a local sporting goods store, plus a hat and gloves from Target! This year I wanted to be better prepared for cold. While my pre-trip weather check said it would be warm for all the races, it wasn't. It even rained. But back to the Hyoptik tights. I decided to wear them for the half marathon, because I expected the sun to be out in full force by the time I finished the full marathon. (I did wear the 2XU MCS compression tights for the full.) When I pulled them on at 3:45 a.m., it was quite chilly. (I even took an old heat sheet to the corrals with me.) As before, the 2XU Hyoptik kept me warm once I started running, wicked away sweat, and didn't leave me freezing when I stopped running–which was important, as I had to stand in line for a little bit to wait for the bus back to my hotel.
The last appropriate opportunity I had to run in the 2XU Hyoptik before my deadline for this post was for the Inaugural Sin City Run. It didn't seem cold at the hotel or standing waiting for my cab, but I was fooled: Las Vegas is a desert climate, and it gets COLD when the sun isn't out! When I stepped out at the park in my Hyoptik tights and short-sleeved t-shirt, I thought I was going to freeze. I wondered if I had made a serious error in failing to pack a long sleeved shirt for running. I pulled my Buff up over my head to cover my ears and line my hat. BibRave Pro Laurel ran these races too, and she had also worn her 2XU Hyoptik tights, so we were twinsies! When the 5k started, my legs were chilled. After a few intervals–Laurel and I ran 2/1–my legs were warm and toasty but my upper body was still quite cold. (Hm. Hyoptik top layer for cold days? I'm going to go check out the 2XU website.) My legs felt good and stayed warm through the end of the 5k, and through the pause between the 5k and 10k. While it wasn't a super-long break, it was sufficiently long enough that my arms were cold and I was a little chilly from the sweat on my head. Then the 10k kicked off, and my still-warm-and-happy legs took off and banged out a 10k. During the course of the 10k, the sun came out and the day warmed up substantially. The volunteers who had been wearing warm coats, hats, and mittens started to take off layers. I took the Buff off my head. By the time I finished, my upper body was also warm, and the sun felt really good. I spent the rest of the day in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, but I could have gotten away with short sleeves. (I was afraid I'd be cold inside the hotels and casinos.)
After multiple washes, they still look brand new (only slightly less tiny). I didn't even read the care directions (oops) but have been washing them in cold water, mild detergent, no fabric softener, hang to dry (except that one time I wanted to pack them in a suitcase and they were still damp). The only aspect of the 2XU Hyoptik that I didn't really field test is the reflection factor on the print. (Okay so technically I didn't have a good way to test the SPF or the antibacterial properties either…but I'm not sunburned or itchy, and they don't stink, so there you go.) Fortunately, Run Gina Run has some great pictures showing off the reflective qualities of the logo on the Hyoptik tights. During this time of year the days are still pretty short, and even where I live a lot of running takes place in the dark before work or the dark after work. I'm a big fan of taking safety precautions when running in the dark. Here are just a few:
- Run in well-lit areas whenever possible.
- Avoid running on the road if you can, especially if it is icy. If you must run on the road, dress as visibly as possible.
- To increase visibility, at a minimum wear a reflective vest, jacket, and other clothing, like the 2xu Hyoptik tights.
- Other ideas to increase visibility: wear light colors on top, add reflective tape (it's temporary, you can remove it), use/wear lights or gear that lights up
- Stick to headphones that are NOT noise-cancelling, and leave the volume low enough that you can clearly hear what is going on around you.
- Carry your phone (the iPhone has a flashlight mode, in case you get somewhere crazy dark).
- Wear or carry ID
Of course, you don't have to wear them only for running. Run Jen Run sported hers for runs, housework, expo attendance, and the flight home!
Have you tried anything from 2XU? Have you worn the Hyoptik compression gear?
Either way, here's your chance to score a discount! Code RUN20 will save you 20% off gear from 2XU, but only until February 29th. Run right over to the website and pick your new compression gear.
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