Disclaimer: I received a pair of MCS Thermal Compression Tights to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
As I said in my Buff Hoodie review, I live in Vermont, and Vermont winters are no joke. For the most part, I run pretty warm as a person, but the one thing that always gets me when running in the cold is my legs. I can be sweaty and warm everywhere except my quads and my butt–sorry if that’s TMI, but it’s true. Many a winter run has ended with bright red, semi-frozen legs and buns.
Now that I’m training for a May marathon, cold winter runs are part of my norm, and I’ve been working on getting my winter gear stash up to snuff. Luckily for me, BibRave teamed up with 2XU once again for Pros to test some of their thermal tights. Full disclosure here, all of my fellow Pros received the Hyoptik Reflective Thermal Compression Tights, but due to a shipping SNAFU, I received the MCS Thermal Compression Tights.
I have to admit, I was bummed about the mixup. I do a lot of dusk and dawn runs, when having some extra reflective gear would have been really useful. Also, the Hyoptik tights have a wider waistband, which I would greatly have preferred, as you may recall from my review of the regular MCS Compression Tights.
Disappointment aside, I was still excited to have some new cold weather gear, and I was determined to give the MCS Thermal Tights a fair shake. My first impression upon opening the package was that the thermal tights felt of a much higher quality than the regular tights. Not thick or woolly like I might have expected, but heavier weight. The first thing I did was pull out the drawstring–I’m sorry, but I don’t see much use for a drawstring in tight compression pants. And the next thing I did was to try to stretch out the waistband as much as possible. And then some more. Unfortunately, the waistband on these tights just DOES NOT work for me. The rise isn’t high enough to come up over my stomach, so it cuts into my tummy and hips. I also found length to be an issue–I’m 5’7″ and according to my height and weight measurements I got the correct size, but the tights leave a good couple of inches of ankle exposed, and cut into my lower calf a bit.
Other than those two issues, these tights feel AMAZING on my legs, like a soft, warm hug. You can see the Muscle Containment Stamping (hence MCS) right in the material, and it’s designed to support individual muscles and muscle groups for optimal recovery.
I had the opportunity to wear these tights for a couple of runs in different conditions, to really put them through their paces and see how much protection they offered in the extreme Vermont weather. I found that in conditions any colder than about 35 degrees, or if it was windy, these tights weren’t enough on their own, although they would definitely make a great base layer. In middling temps (35-45 degrees), the tights were perfect. My legs were definitely warmer than with other tights I’ve worn, and the compression feels so good on tired legs. The only thing that would keep me from wearing these tights during runs of 6 miles or longer is the waistband issue–it is truly uncomfortable for me, although this might be a personal problem. Many of my fellow Pros have worn the MCS tights with zero issues.
My favorite way to wear them has been for recovery around the house after long runs or on rest days. I wore them as a base layer under snow pants when I knew I’d be standing around watching a Nordic ski meet for hours after an 8 mile run, and I was toasty warm, and my legs felt awesome.
- PWX Flex Thermal Fabric for warmth
- MCS is targeted to the calf for ultimate muscle protection
- Graduated compression increases blood circulation for improved recovery and reduced muscle stiffness post exercise
- Flatlock seams to reduce chafe for greater comfort
- Powerful Invista LYCRA® for exceptional fit, support and recovery
- Moisture-wicking material
- Antibacterial and UPF50+ sun protection
- Just the right amount of compression on legs
- No chafing
- Warmer and softer than regular compression tights, though not ideal as a single layer below 35 degrees or in windy conditions
- High-quality, well-made product
- The key pocket is one of those floppy add-ons attached to the waistband, which I personally don’t like. I’d rather have nothing at all
- The narrow waistband is too tight/too narrow and cuts into me
- Not long enough for my legs (I’m 5’7″ and ordered the correct size)
These tights retail for $129.95, which seems expensive, but is actually pretty comparable to what’s on the market. While they aren’t a match made in heaven for me, those of you without quite so big a spare tire around your middle may find that these are just what you’re looking for. As my fellow Pro Angie said, “It’s like the MCS tights and the Hyoptik tights had a baby–the best of both worlds!”
Do you wear compression when you run, or when you recover, or both?