Wednesday, 25 March 2020 11:33

Zone3 RX3 Medical Grade Compression Tights: Tested and Reviewed

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I've never seen the attraction of running. When I first tried it to enter a duathlon, my fitness from riding made me go too far too soon and I had a sore shins for weeks. Besides we've a few runners on here so I didn't feel the desire to test any kit. But times can change and I was looking for a new challenge. So against all common sense and advice I've entered the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon and in training for this I've the perfect opportunity to do a little testing, including the RX3 Compression tights from triathlon brand Zone3.

 Zone3 say

The Zone3 compression tights have been under development for the last four years and regular testing and feedback sessions have enabled us to release what we think are some of the most comfortable and effective tights on the market.

This medical grade compression tights are highly technical, built for performance and produced with beautiful design features and a  360reflective logos for visibility in low light conditions.


What makes this product different

The Zone3 RX3 tights offer validated graduated compression and are also designed to carefully support the muscles and make you feel and perform your best during exercise. A combination of X-PWR and Revolution Energy fabric from Italy is used to support the hip and knee whilst increasing blood flow to the calves, hamstrings, quads and glutes. A heat bonded PU tape is used on the lower leg and positioned to support the soleus and help reduce one of the most common forms of calf pain. Once you put these tights on you will feel the difference, whether training, racing or using for post-workout recovery.

With the following features

  • Graduated compression to increase blood circulation, reduce lactic acid build up and improve recovery times.
  • Exo-Black & Revolution Energy fabric to improve performance, power and muscle support.
  • Heat bonded technology for added comfort against the skin.
  • Comfort waistband, drawstring cord and pocket design.
  • Breathable and wicking fabric with built in UPF 50 sun protection and Antibacterial properties.

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 Well lets get things out of the way first. Maybe it's because I'm a road cyclist but running like mountain biking seems obssessed with keeping the shorts baggy. Lets take any aero benefits of Lycra out of the argument for now, I'm not that fast, but baggy shorts are more uncomfortable, don't wick as well and make an annoying rustling noise. Women, being more sensible than men have cottoned on to this years ago and run in functional apparel. I don't understand why men don't. In the 80s climbers caught on to this and Rockskins were the ultimate climbing trouser and decorated many a crag. Then Kurt Cobain came along and baggy combats became de rigeur and just like music was ruined by grunge, climbing was ruined by a low crotch.

Anyway, my despair at the loss of hair metal isn't that relevant here so I'll go back to tights. The RX3 comes in a quality piece of packing and comprehensive instructions on how to put on. This may seem a bit daft but many a wetsuit, pair of bibs or compression tights has been ruined been yanked up by the waist band. Close fitting clothing should be pulled up gradually and gently. Think of that banana in school.

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 For all of that the RX3s are easy to adorn. As you can see from the above picture, I have massive feet. It's Okay, I've learned to deal with it. This makes it hard to put tights with a tough ankle cuff on. Doesn't matter how well they work, if I'm stressed putting them on before use or worse taking off getting in the shower, well that's not going to work. These have a lovely elasticated cuff and that makes it easy.

The feeling of compression is there straight away and whilst not being comfortable, may be a little disconcerting if you're used to the freedom of baggy shorts. PU tape around the calf feels and looks like the silicon grippers in cycling shorts and provides a bit extra support there. The knees are well articulated allowing plenty of movement. I tested this with a 15 min turbo "warm up" before a 10k and they felt as good in this aspect as cycling tights.

Quads and hamstrings feel well supported and with a small key pocket and a well zipped rear pocket you've got room for a phone and a few gels. Personally I'd quite like a thigh pocket for easier gel access but this is a very minor quibble. The waist has a comfortable drawstring and the waistband is bliss. Maybe at first it rolled a little but this was due more to my winter gut and after a few weeks was no longer an issue.

The look of the RX3 is also striking. Available in 3 options I was sent the black and orange version. With Hi Viz orange logos detailing and sections on the lower legs they are perfect for early morning or evening runs and they look good. I am a believer in confidence helping performance and if I think I look good I am liable to go better. You can dismiss this if you wish but think about it. Why have designers and why are some brands more popular than others?

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Of course the most important thing is how they perform whilst running. I'm going to break my rule here. You know the one that goes "the mark of good kit is you don't notice you're wearing it". Whilst running I was always aware I was wearing them. With this level of compression that was inevitable. But instead of being annoying or restricting, Zone3 RX3 tights feel like a comfort blanket. Through the course of my marathon training they've become my succour. I've tried other similar priced tights to make a fair comparison but they left me feeling a little let down, perhaps a little abandoned even. I feel like I can achieve anything running whilst wearing these. My legs rarely feel tied whilst running or after running I feel my training has soared to the fact that's I've knocked 12 minutes of my 10k record (pre accident and at my fittest). I've done a 1/2 marathon in 2hrs 15, my first ever by the way!

Okay I'm new to this running lark. My improvement could be expected and yes I'm new to running kit, but I'm not new to quality sports kit. In all honesty Zone3 RX3 tights are one of the best pieces of kit I've ever had in to review, nay one of the best pieces of kit I've ever used in athletic pursuits. Now excuse me, time to don the Lycra.

Info on the Zone3 RX3 Compression Tights can be found here

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