SNEWS found the concept of workout tights that had a variety of specially designed supportive compression panels built-in as interesting -- especially since the manufacturer Wacoal Corp. of Japan has been making women's intimate apparel for decades and must know a lot about things like support and compression.
So, we eagerly tested several CW-X tights, the first of the line Wacoal is introducing this month at select stores.
One plus is that the tights -- both short and long versions that the company prefers to call equipment rather than apparel -- come in both women's and men's sizing. Seems like a given if these tights are going to be "anatomically correct" in fit and compression, if you get our drift.
Initially, the tights seem really, well, tight. But once you get over the surprising snugness, they feel nicely supportive. The panels -- called the Conditioning Web, that run down the sides of the legs, wrap around the lower part of the hamstrings, and over the backs, tops and bottoms of the knees, and around the back of the calves and down to the Achilles area -- are curiosities but make sense anatomically. The materials have different compressive strengths and are a four-way stretch, the company says, to specifically target the muscles and joints covered. For example, the panels that wrap around the knee leave a small area for the kneecap for less compression on the patella.
Wacoal also claims the design and the web can increase your body's efficiency and decrease fatigue by better aligning muscles.
We ran, walked and hiked at various tempos and on different terrains -- flat and hilly -- in both the short and long versions, and we must address them separately:
â€¢ The short ones are longer than some short tights, hitting right above the knee. But that seemed to allow the compressive panels to lend better knee and hamstring compression. They feel great and stay in place well, lending warming support on cool fall and winter days. We loved these!
â€¢ The long ones have a different story. Because the knee wraps are snug, they tend to pull down on the upper part of the tight on the hips. On a shorter workout, it was just a rather annoying feeling of the tight slipping slightly, which is exacerbated if you're narrower hipped. On longer runs or hikes, they did actually slip, often to the point of creating a tiny gap in the crotch for our female tester. She felt frequently obligated to grab the tights in the thigh area and yank them up. Our male tester -- the one with fire-plug legs and a bubble butt -- found the tights migrated downward so often he had to stop every half-mile to inch them back up again since the knee hole in the tights Conditioning Web wouldn't do him much good below his patella. Oh, and about that gap created by the slippage? On our female tester, it caused chafing in places that were never intended to be chafed. Now, it's possible that for shorter or slower workouts, they'd still be fine. Or that on an "average" body type -- guess that doesn't include SNEWS testers -- they'd be fine. Or they'd work for other purposes like climbing, wintersports, indoor fitness workouts. But our tests only included running, walking and hiking.
Short tights: 4.5 hands clapping
Long tights: 3 hands clapping
short - $60, gray on black, or black on black ($69, a red-white-and-blue star pattern)
long - $80, same as above ($89 for the blue print, above)