June 12, 2010
Recently, the use of compression wear among athletes has been increasing rapidly. What was once a product focused towards providing support and improved blood flow for people with poor blood circulation, has now taken on a performance oriented design. 2XU, based out of Australia, is one the industry leaders in compression gear, and their compression socks, leggings, and tights are now permanently inked under the 'staples' section of my touring pack-list.
If you're not familiar with compression wear, it is designed to fit snugly, and assist in supporting your muscles and blood flow. When you put it on, you will actually feel a cooling sensation, and it is comparable laying down with your feet elevated above your head. By keeping circulation through your legs moving, you can avoid that 'heavy' or 'loaded' feeling you get in your legs after long rides. For tours that span many days, this can be a great way to stay fresher throughout the ride.
In addition to recovery properties, compression wear is lightweight, very packable, has an antibacterial material built in to cut down on odor, wicks moisture to prevent chaffing, and provides UPF 50+ sun protection. The high gauge material is circular knit to allow the clothing to stretch in all directions, which gives it outstanding durability and consistent compression.
The full tights fit nicely over your cycling shorts, so you can wear them right up until your ready to ride, and put them back on immediately post-ride. The socks are outstanding for walking around the town or campsite, and I found that the leggings are great for all-around use -- they are even comfortable to sleep in. If your taking compression clothes with you on your next tour, be sure to wear them on the plane or car ride as well to help keep your legs fresh on day one.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.