Gear Review: Virus Stay Warm Compression Clothing

Overview

I ran across VIRUS (http://www.virusintl.com) recently as I was looking around for some new warm compression gear for the upcoming winter months.  VIRUS, to date, has built its brand outside of the running world, focusing on sports ranging from MTB and Skiing to MMA and training.  What intrigued me the most about them and convinced me to look at them a bit closer is their use of recycled materials in the manufacturing of their products.  As a trail runner that cares about the nature around me, this really spoke to me.  I wanted to see if their products performed as well as some of their competitors given their unique manufacturing approach.

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with Virus, however, they provided me with the product used in this review.

Technology

VIRUS incorporates a number of features into their Stay Warm compression gear.  Some are pretty common across the board, such as anti-odor, heat trap, and quick dry, but Virus does so without being over-reliant on chemical treatments of the fabric to do so.  In addition, they also incorporate recycled materials.  For their Stay Warm gear, they use recycled coffee grounds.  Here are some descriptions of the technology used directly from their website:

  • Coffee Char – Our Coffee Charcoal technology is designed specifically for use in cold weather. Made from recycled coffee beans, this technology insulates and traps heat. Our studies prove that the use of coffee charcoal in contact with the skin will raise surface temperatures 10 ° F. This technology provides a superior natural barrier from the cold combined with our quick dry technology allows for a comfortable resistance to low atmospheric temperatures.
  • Heat Trap – Heat Trap is designed to trap heat close to the skin, while allowing moisture out. Based entirely on our yarn construction and material selection – our testing proves that heat trap increases surface temperature by 10 °F 2°C. No chemical treatments or applications are used to achieve this feature.
  • Anti Odor – Anti-odor technology begins with selecting compounds to weave in our fabric that deters the growth of microbes that grow and emit noxious fumes. There is no artificial or chemical process in the treatment of our fabrics to achieve this feature.
  • Quick Dry – Quick Dry begins with the formula of our fabrics. We carefully design fabrics to inhibit the absorption of moisture. We then weave the yarn with microscopic funnels that allow wicking to flow moisture away from the skin. No chemical treatments or applications are used to achieve this feature.
  • 4 Way Stretch – 4-Way Stretch is designed for effortless 360 Degree range of motion. 4-Way Stretch starts with the construction and design of our fabrics that allow for effortless wide ranges of motion. Garment fabrication then is made to allow fabric stretch flows throughout – ensuring optimal stretch.

In the Box

For my review, I tested the Stay Warm Compression top and the matching Compression 3/4 pants as shown in the images below.  The packaging it comes in is fairly minimal, which is nice.

Virus Stay Warm TopVirus Stay Warm Three Quarter Pant

Experience

I first wore these during a night shift pacing at The Bear 100 in Northern Utah at the end of September.  The weather was in the low 40’s and rainy for most of the night, allowing me to give these a nice test.  I purposely wore these how I would during a typical winter run.  In other words, I wore the tights alone with nothing over them and wore the compression shirt beneath a long sleeve tech shirt.  It is important to note that these were designed to be worn as base layers, so I was slightly deviating from the intended use with the tights.  During the run, both the top and bottom were fantastic in keeping me both dry and warm.  They performed so well in fact that there were times during the run that I actually felt I might need to shed clothes, particularly while moving.  The friction caused by my movement generated heat, which the material did a fantastic job at retaining.  Even standing around at aid stations; although I did get colder as you would expect, they still did a good job at minimizing the chill.  From a moisture perspective, they also performed well at shedding water.  Despite a constant rain through much of the run, I did not feel soaked or cold at all.  I encountered one downside during the run, when I snagged the pants on a branch, tearing a small pin-size hole in them.  Then again, when worn as designed, an outer layer would have protected from this happening.  In fact, these would be perfect out of the box for road running as well, where the risk of branches and other obstacles isn’t as great.

Conclusion

The current warm compression gear from Virus is geared toward using as base layer versus an externally facing running tight.  As a result, the pants emphasize being thin versus durable.  This is neither a plus or minus, but it may dictate how you use them.  In talking with the rep from Virus, they are looking toward designing some running specific tights as they expand their product line.  I will say though, they were fantastically warm.  I found them to perform equal to or better than other warm compression gear I have tried before.  This gear will definitely come in handy this winter.

Score: 4.5 / 5.0 (from a trail running perspective – higher score is used as intended as a base layer)

Pro’s:

  • Unbelievably warm for how thin they are
  • Lightweight
  • Non-restrictive
  • Made from recycled materials, which is a bonus for us nature-loving trail runners

Con’s

  • Durability issues when wearing as an outer layer (please note however that this is not the intended use)
  • I didn’t experience this as I wasn’t moving too quickly on the test run, but the seams around the inside of the thighs could potentially cause rubbing issues at higher speeds/longer distances.

Virus has provided me with a 15% discount to offer for those that would like to try their products.  You can view my What I Use page for details.

If you like this post and would like to stay up to date when future gear reviews, race reports, and other related posts are released, please follow my Facebook page at Ultrarunner Joe!

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