I previewed the fancy Salomon EXO Sensifit line in my column earlier this week, "Gear Junkie Runs 'America’s Toughest Road Marathon.'" Today, I want to dig in a bit more on the tight-fitting running apparel, which includes a shirt, shorts, and compression "calf wraps."
You might look like Spiderman all dressed up in the EXO clothing. But any weird looks you get -- and I have no doubt received a few! -- are more than worth the comfort and subtle performance gains Salomon's teched-out apparel will bring.
This spring, from a marathon to long trail runs near home, I have donned the EXO outfit for more than 200 miles of running. It's now my go-to apparel for hard workouts and footrace competitions.
The best piece in the line is the EXO SLAB II Shorts, new this spring for $100. They fit tight and "combine postural support in key areas with abdominal support to improve performance and recovery,” Salomon cites. Like all the EXO products, the shorts employ a rubbery overlay web that wraps muscles tight yet still allows for freedom of movement.
The shorts have a built-in underwear brief. They fit tight yet are comfortable literally for hours on the run. There are five mesh pockets spread around the waist, letting you stow energy gels for a long run. One downer: There are no small zipper or Velcro pockets, making stowing keys and other small essentials difficult.
Lower down on the legs, the most mysterious part of the EXO outfit is the calf wraps, which are short sock-less "leggings." They are called simply the EXO IV Calf, and they cost $55 for the set.
I was skeptical of these pieces at first. But after a minor injury this winter -- I had slight shin-splint pain in my lower leg -- the calf wraps seemed to really help. Salomon cites the compression wraps as able to increase blood flow to the muscles. I now love running with these fabric tubes on my legs, as they seem to support my calf muscles and nurse my still-achy shin at the same time.
Finally, the shirt -- official name: EXO SLAB Short Sleeve Zip Tech Tee -- has the same rubber grid overlay as the leg pieces. But for the shirt the web system supports posture, and Salomon says the shirt's design can keep you in position to improve oxygen intake while running.
I like the shirt, no doubt, though of these three pieces it's the least essential. It costs $120, and the shirt's "better-breathing-through-better-posture" theme is subtle, though noticeable. Immediately after putting the shirt on you feel more upright and an inch taller. This translates into a better position while on a run.
For serious runners, Salomon has a winning line with its EXO Sensifit collection. Try them if you're in need of some running-apparel upgrades -- or if you just like to look like Spiderman when you run.
--Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie.