Product Spotlight: Injinji Compression 2.0 Socks

The compression market is certainly a crowded and finicky one.  Som runners use full-length compression socks and others that use calf sleeves.  Some use them while running, others use them for recovery only.  No matter what your style or method if use, if you are a fan of Injinji, you should at least take a look at their Compression 2.0 product…the only compression performance toe sock on the market.

Description
Injinji Compression is a full-length graduated compression sock using Injinji’s toe sock design.  It is made of a blend of polyester, nylon, and lycra.  They are designed to provide graduated compression from bottom to top of the calf in order to enhance circulation, performance, and muscle recovery.

Injinji Compression 2.0

Price: $49

Review
I am typically one of those finicky compression users that I mentioned at the start of the article.  I usually wear calf sleeves during events so that I can easily change socks if needed and socks during recovery for the full benefit.  Either way, I decided to give these a try in both scenarios so that I could provide a well-rounded review.

Comfort
In terms of comfort, you really need to rate compression socks a bit differently and I would rate these as positively.  The compression was consistent and not overbearing.  There were no spots where the sock felt or rubbed weird. On my 20 mile long run in them, never once did I have to adjust them or did I find myself wishing I would have worn different socks.

Protection
Protection was a non-issue on the road.  It provided a solid amount of padding underfoot to protect my feet while on the pavement.  On the trail, I am not sure I like it as much.  The overall feel of compression sock material tends to be a bit more abrasive in my opinion.  I should call out though that I have this problem on the trails with EVERY compression sock I have tried.  This is why I typically use calf sleeves and my Trail 2.0 socks when running longer trail distances.  Others may be different and not have the same issues.

Breathability
Nothing really to note here.  My feet seemed to stay a pretty consistent temperature during my long run, which indicates to me that they were pretty breathable.  They didn’t feel hot whatsoever during my test runs.  I also experienced no issues wearing them around for recovery during the day.

Moisture
I didn’t get them too wet during my use, but the bit of dampness I did experience wasn’t an issue.  They do a good job at wicking away water and sweat.

Conclusion
The Injinji Compression 2.0 offers consistent, graduated compression from the foot to the top of the sock.  I would say that it is at least as effective as any other high quality compression sport sock on the market, plus the added benefits of individual toe design that Injinji does better than anyone.  The one thing I did notice about this sock is that it does take some time to get it on.  I am not saying that the time required to put them on is some long, drawn out process, but the compression material combines with the individual toe design does require a bit of patience.

As far as personal preference, the materials that are required to make a good compression sock are not what I would choose for long trail runs since I prefer a thicker, softer feeling sock.  The polyester/nylon/lycra blend just doesn’t provide this for me.  At the same time, they provided a good experience on the road and an even better one as a post run recovery sock.  It offers solid compression on top of the unique features that I love about Injinji.  I am definitely glad that they decided to introduce it into their lineup.

Product Spotlight: Injinji Performance 2.0 Snow Socks

New from Injinji for winter 2014 is the SNOW, a new product within their Performance 2.0 line of socks.  I love seeing that, as Injinji continues to grow, they continue to expand their product line to include socks that are much more specific to a purpose or activity versus having a few multi-purpose variations.  By going the route of specialization, they can ensure that their socks provide the best comfort and protection for all of the specific activities that we do.  The SNOW is a perfect example of how they are branching out.

Description
The SNOW provides the right combination of warmth, cushioning, and performance for any of your winter endeavors.  It uses Injinji’s nuwool, which is their unique wool blend.  It combines that with a well padded foot and OTC (over the calf) graduated compression design meant to improve blood flow and performance in your legs.

Injinji Performance 2.0 Snow

Price: $30

Review
Snow has been rather scarce early in the season here in Salt Lake City, but I finally got to take these out recently for a bit of snowshoeing.  I would classify the SNOW as a cross between Injinji’s Compression and Outdoor lines.  It comes with the warmth of the Outdoor model and a bit of the full leg compression that you get with the Compression line.  Overall, I was very happy with these.  Here are my thoughts across the key sock categories:

Comfort
I love wearing the Outdoor as an everyday sock in the colder months, so considering that the SNOW have a similar feel, I was not surprised that they too were very cozy and soft.  They aren’t as tight and restrictive as the regular Compression line, but still offers much of the endurance and recovery benefits of OTC compression.  These were so comfortable that I even found myself leaving them on for most of the day after I was done snowshoeing.

Protection
They provided ample cushioning, from under the foot to the top of the sock, to keep your legs protected from obstacles and the elements.  I wore regular (non-insulated) trail shoes with these while snowshoeing and my feet stayed pretty warm for the most part.  One of my big toes was starting to get a bit cold, but warmed up as soon as I started moving a bit faster.  With insulated footwear, such as a ski boot or winter hiking boots, your feet would definitely remain nice and warm throughout your activity.

Breathability
There was a good balance here.  My feet did not get sweaty at all while at the same time, they weren’t so breathable that they let cold air in to my feet.  Even wearing them around the house afterward, my feet remained at a constant, comfortable temperature.

Moisture
This one is hard to tell because Utah has the “best snow on earth”.  In other words, it is powdery and dry versus wet and sloppy.  My feet were not wet and neither were the socks after I was done snowshoeing.  However, if they are truly like the Outdoor line (which is my impression), then you shouldn’t experience any more issues with these than you would any other wool blend sock.  In fact, Injinji’s wool blend often outperforms many other wool blends from what I have seen.

Conclusion
The SNOW is the perfect blend of warmth and compression that will keep your legs fresh for hours of activity.  At $30, these are less expensive than most compression and in line with many OTC ski socks.  This would be a good addition to your cold weather apparel, whether your ski, snowshoe, hike, or run in the winter months.  For extra warmth and protection, you may even pair them with the Injinji sock liner if that is your thing.  I will likely find myself also using these as a winter post-activity recovery sock.

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!

Product Review: Titin Tech Weighted Compression System

I have been really excited to write this review, as I typically am for any product that I feel is a game changer.  As a mountain trail runner in Salt Lake City, I have been on a quest for some time to find a tool that can help me add resistance and build running strength on the days when I can’t hit the mountain climbs.  I have tried weighted vests in the past, but they all fit awkwardly, bounce, chafe, and/or cause muscle strains due to how they unevenly distribute weight (especially the shoulders).  Enter the Titin Weighted Compression system.  Titin has gone back to the drawing board and come up with a completely different solution to this problem; a combination of weight training and compression.  Let’s take a look at it!

Product Overview
Titin Tech markets itself as the world’s only weighted compression gear.  It has gained a lot of momentum recently, making a successful appearance on Shark Tank and being adopted and endorsed by professional athletes and coaches across a number of sports and disciplines.  Their main selling point is that the product keeps weight in place better than any other solution by using a combination of weight disbursement and compression.  As a result of the overwhelming effectiveness of their product, they are able to claim measurable results, with those “using it during warm up achieving a 13% increase in vertical leap, 11% increase in endurance, and 3% increase in running speed.”  They seem to have a lot of supporters that back their product already, but I am a hands on guy that likes to see for himself.  Let me share what I thought of the Titin system from an ultra runner’s perspective.

In the Box
The Titin system comes with (3) main components as pictured below:

  • Anti-microbial pocket shirt
  • (14) weight gels
  • Outer compression shirt

IMG_2771      IMG_2772

Price:
$249 for the whole system (includes one pocket shirt, one compression shirt, 14 gels)
$52.95 for an additional pocket shirt
$32.95 for an additional compression shirt

An important thing to keep in mind is that the gels come with a lifetime replacement warranty, which means that after the one time investment in these, you will no longer need to purchase them again.

Benefits and Uses
It is important that you don’t oversimplify this product and thing of it just as a weighted vest because the flexibility of this product is unlike anything else on the market.  It’s versatility allows it to be used in a number of different ways with a number of different benefits.  The truth is, while it is more expensive up front, you are getting much more utility and value out of the Titin system.  In fact, I will go as far as to say that you will likely replace some of your other gear/equipment with this system.  Let’s look at some of the key benefits:

  1. Due to its compression design, bounce normally experienced with fast movements is greatly reduced.  This means that it is more friendly for use while running, doing speed work or circuit training, or even sports drills such as what you would find in basketball or football.
  2. The even weight distribution means the weight is not putting a burden unevenly on parts of your body.  With most weighted vests, a good deal of the weight rests on your shoulders.  With the 14-point placement of the gels with the Titin system, you can ensure that all parts of your upper body are supporting the weight without any one area picking up the slack.
  3. The gel system itself is an added benefit in that they can be both heated and cooled.  This allows the vest not only to be used during weight training activities, but as a recovery tool as well.

Here are a few shots of me wearing it, both with and without the outer compression on.

Titin Front 1     Titin Back 1

Titin Front 2      Titin Back 2

In Action
So all of the marketing and third-party impressions aside, none of that matters if it doesn’t do the job when it counts!  After years of disappointment in my own search to find something that that I could run in, I am not exaggerating when I say that I have built up some lofty performance expectations coming into this review.  And while my focus for using this product is on how it performs while running, I also wanted to test it across a number of activities that I do that contribute to my running fitness, which I have included below.

Putting it on and General Care
This is about as simple as it gets.  The gels come in two shapes which are designed to fit into certain pockets on the under shirt.  It is pretty straight forward which ones go in each pocket and they are very easy to insert…I had them all in in less than two minutes.  On the back (as seen in one of the pictures above), there is a half zipper that makes it easier to put on and take off.  I also found it easy to reach the zipper without assistance thanks to a ribbon that is attached to it.  As far as the zipper itself, it is unnoticeable while wearing, with no chafing or rubbing.

The gels can be heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer for added heat or cold therapy.  They don’t freeze solid, so you don’t have to worry about them forming into some weird, uncomfortable shape either.  Once heated or cooled, you are good for about 45 minutes.

The pocketed undershirt is anti-microbial, which means you don’t have to wash it after every use.  After using it for a solid week, I smelled no odor.  Still, I will probably wash it relatively frequently…every 1-3 weeks depending on frequency of use.

Now, here are my impressions when used for a number of different activities.

Running
For me, this was the most important test.  With other weighted vests I have tried in the past, the biggest issue was bounce.  I was constantly having to reposition the vest while running.  This resulted in chafing and an overall unpleasant/unpeaceful running experience.  Most vests are often bulky too, making it difficult to wear my hydration pack.  Lastly, with most previous weight vests, when I take it off I generally feel stiff and can tell that the weight was straining my muscles in bad ways.  This are all of the things I was looking to asses.

With the Titin vest, all of these problems disappeared.  With the outer compression shirt, the weight stayed snug and in place without impacting my running motion.  The gels are distributed and positioned in a way that they don’t restrict movement in the arms and torso.  I experienced almost zero bounce with Titin.  Because the weights are broken up into small packages, it is easier to used the compression to hold them in place while getting the collective benefit of the total 8lbs at the same time.  I ran multiple times up to an hour in it during my tests (which mimics my intended use), and experienced no chafing or weird rubbing.  The 8 lbs of weight is the perfect amount for offering some resistance training while not overdoing it (general recommendations is no more than 5-10% of your body weight).  When I took it off after my run, aside from fatigue from the added weight, I had no immediate soreness or stiffness in my upper body, which held true the day after as well.  Lastly, as you can see from the picture below, it is not nearly as bulky, which allowed me to wear my Orange Mud hydration pack normally and without any awkwardness.  In short, I have finally found the perfect resistance training solution for running.

Titin in Action

Circuit Training (Using Insanity T25 – Total Body Circuit)
While running certainly provided a good test of how the Titin system would perform under movement, I still wanted to test it with a bit more of an explosive workout.  I am happy to say that it performed equally as well with the quick, jerky movements found in circuit training workouts.  Additionally, the added weight made the workout quite a bit more more challenging, but in a good way.

Yoga/Body Weight Exercising
My test here was focused less on fast movements and more about how it performed in strength training routines and other programs that incorporate different body positioning.  I was most interested in how it would feel while in inverted positions, such as downward dog in yoga.  I am happy to say that it performed great in these scenarios quite well too.  In downward dog position, there was only some minor shifting, but no issues with the weights sliding into my neck or out of position.

Downward Dog Titin

My Final Thoughts

Pros

  • This system, while not necessarily designed for runners, suits the purpose extremely well with no bounce, chafing, or discomfort while running or cross training.
  • The weight is distributed extremely well as to not cause any unnecessary muscle strain.  The 8 lbs. is also the right amount of weight to provide benefit without increasing the risk of injury.
  • The system is multi-purpose, serving the job of both weight and resistance training as well as hot or cold therapeutic recovery.
  • The gels come with a lifetime warranty requiring you to only buy them once.  This way, you only need to buy additional shirts as needed.
  • Can use your own outer compression tops that you already own.

Cons

  • The price will likely turn some away, which is a shame because I believe the value far surpasses the price tag.  Even so, a slightly lower price point may encourage people to jump on board.
  • One design change I would make is to have the zipper on the back open up just a bit higher.  While it was super easy to put on, it was a bit difficult to take off once I was a little sweaty.
  • Addiction — I am not going to want to stop using it.  🙂

Conclusion
While the upfront investment can be eye-catching, what you get in return with the whole system returns much more value to you considering the multiple uses and the overall training benefit.  This product is truly a game changer that I believe finally gives runners a product that they can use to improve their performance and recover successfully afterwards.

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!