Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Salomon: S-LAB EXO Tights Review

It’s amazing how technology works this day especially on the apparels that we thought were just there to cover us. I’m not yet that old and I still have a lot of miles left on these legs, but I still remember how running was back in the day. All you have to do is grab a pair of shoes, shirt, shorts and off you go.

Well that mentality is of the past, the 21st century has seen a lot of improvements and one of those is how “technical” gears and apparels are getting these days. Running is not like other sports (cycling for example) that you have to have (at least) the best equipment in order to keep up with the group…well, WRONG! Running has evolved and you’ll be surprise that gears and apparels this day are very “techy” and sophisticated. I have nothing against it, it’s there to help us perform better and keep us safe from any injuries.

Salomon is one of the companies that really push the boundaries when it comes to performance. A good example of this “forward thinking” that is backed by a lot of research is the S-LAB EXO Tights. I have tested a lot of Salomon products and I don’t sugarcoat when I say that they’re one of the bests, because they are! You can read my previous reviews here, here, here and here.

The S-LAB EXO Tights is one special tights in my opinion that Salomon has put a lot of thoughts in it. I did a lot of testing on this since I’m thinking of using this for the California International Marathon this Sunday.


Features
·      Skin Fit: Next to skin fit
·      EXO Sensifit stability
·      2 gel pockets
·      Knee articulation
·      Reflective branding front and back
·      Advanced Skin Active Dry
·      Venus bi-stretch woven
·      Silicone grip tape

Benefits
·      Postural Control: Salomon EXO stability technology with carbon effect film provides real result.
·      Lightweight: Lightweight Advanced Skin Active Dry provides slight warmth and great moisture management.
·      Freedom of movement: moves with the body.
·      Muscle Support: Patented Salomon EXO print delivers maximum support for muscles to improve endurance.

Fit and Functionality
The S-LAB EXO tights that I requested is a medium size and it fits me perfectly. I compared this with my other running tights, even the ones that I use in cycling and the cut is pretty much the same. There is no size guide available on their website due to the fact that their sizes are based on the industry standard. So, if you know what size you wear for the most part then you’ll be ok.

This tight falls under the Nordic category on the Salomon website. The tight is primarily designed for skiing purposes. I’m aware that skiing is very much low impact activity compared to running but how this was designed is quite intriguing. I got curious and wanted to know if this can benefit me in running.  

Salomon has extended the EXO technology throughout their S-LAB apparels. If you’re wondering what EXO technology is and what it does, here’s my brief explanation. This is literally the honeycomb (or the hexagonal) pattern that you see on their apparels. It is a patterned material that is strategically infused / bonded to lessen the deformity of the fabric. Aside from the compression that you would normally get from a compression gear, this adds more stability to support the large muscle groups like quadriceps, hamstring, calves, forearms, triceps and biceps to reduce the jarring motion which could lead to a possible tear on the muscles. As a result, this prevents the early onset of muscle fatigue so that you can perform better and much stronger. Below is a short video courtesy of Salomon how it helps in controlling the muscles.


To give you a better idea of the construction of the EXO Tights and what it does, I will start from top, middle and bottom then the inside.

·   From the top: Unlike some other tights that I have tested, the EXO tight doesn’t utilize a draw string to secure to your waist, instead Salomon infused a very thin layer of silicon grip tape to grab to your skin.


Traditionally, you’ll find just one very small pocket on the inside (enough to fit a car key) on some tights but Salomon made a very clever design. The 2 pockets are integrated with the waist located at the front and back. Made of very thin and breathable material that are stretchable and elastic enough to hold some of your running essentials like gels, tabs, key and some cash.

My main concern when I saw this is, will it hold up or roll down once I start moving? I was really surprised that it stayed perfectly in place and the fact that I had some gels and fuels on those pockets, it really held up well. The only issue that I can see on this is if the person wearing this might be big on the midsection (no offense) then the silicon gripper will tend to roll down. So just a precaution that it may not function the way you want it to be.

·   Going to the mid portion of the tights. It is very visible how those honeycomb patterns were strategically placed to support the quadriceps, hamstrings and the lower portion of the back (lumbar). I don’t have massive quads but putting this tight needs a little bit of pulling especially when placing those honeycomb patterns to the right muscle that it’s supposed to support. The compression plus the honeycomb pattern is very confining. It might feel a little bit strange in the beginning but it doesn’t take much time to get adjusted to it.

 

·   On the calves’ section: There’s really nothing fancy about this area but I love that they used a very silky soft compression material that offers enough support on that precious muscle. It is also where they put the reflective material to keep you visible during low light conditions.


·   On the inside: Remember those honeycomb patterns that you see on the outside along the quads and hamstring? You might notice that there is a break in patterns (blue areas) that it doesn’t wrap around the legs, well actually it does. Looking on the inside, you’ll see that Salomon filled those gaps with the honeycomb pattern EXO technology as well, so your legs literally get a 360-degree of full support.


·   Lastly, on the knee section: Salomon infused a silicon gripper on both sides of the knee area. This gives an extra hold and prevent the tights from riding up that could be a potential cause of chafing especially on the inner thigh. This is also visible on the outside.


One of the benefits in wearing a full tight is you’ll get the full coverage that your legs need especially during cold season. My leg muscles tend to tighten up during the first mile of running when the temp is a bit cold but wearing this gives me some added layer to keep them warm. It doesn’t block the wind completely but it’s better than just wearing a short.


Performance wise, this tight is quite impressive in delivering the right amount of compression and perfectly stabilizing the major muscles needed for running. The excessive wrapping of the EXO technology helps eliminate the early onset of muscle fatigue by lessening the jarring motion and increasing the blood flow in my legs. The Advanced Skin / Active Dry technology did pretty good even on cold weather condition keeping the sweat and moisture out of my skin as it easily dissipates into the air.

My Verdict
Running is a high impact sport and even though this apparel is designed primarily for skiing, it still provides a good muscle compression and stabilization like other apparels that are made specifically for running, so I don’t see any reasons why people wouldn’t use this on running.


 Since I only been testing this for less than two months, the only issue that I can see on this is the durability of the silicon gripper tape on the waist area. Probably only time can tell for how long it will hold up but if for any reason that this fails and didn’t meet your satisfaction, Salomon have extensive warranty period and they will replace any faulty garments with a new one as quickly as possible.

The S-LAB EXO Tights is designed for pure performance and rest assured that they are built with high quality materials and craftsmanship. It comes with a whooping price tag of $250. Yeah, I know that it’s a steep price to pay and will surely put a dent in your wallet. But if you compare this with Opedix and Lululemon, that price is within that ball park. It’s evident that technology comes with a price tag and if you are willing to pay for that then I highly suggest that you give it a try.

So if this is something that you may want to consider this Christmas, you can purchase this directly on their website or at retail stores near you. You can also get it on Amazon on a much cheaper price and save you some buck.

Thanks for reading and hope you find this review helpful.

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