PICK YOUR THREADS
We all want to get down and dapper when we select new training gear, but often we have to factor in more than just the aesthetics. 2XU garments are carefully crafted from a range of fabrics with funky names that seem to jump right out of the science lab, but which fabric or garment really does the job you need it to do? 2XU co-founder and product development manager JAMIE HUNT takes us through just some of the wonder materials that make up 2XU gear.
In extreme heat and harsh sun, the fabric that stands above all others is ICE X polyester. It’s a high-filament yarn, which makes it very light and enables excellent moisture management – that’s tech-speak for “you can sweat a lot but it will wick the moisture away from you and stay dry”.
“The best part is that it contains Xylitol, which can lower the temperature of the fabric by as much as 4°C.” It also has infra-red reflectors to reflect sunlight and keep you and the garment cool.
INTENSE EXERCISE INDOORS
The ICE X will also do a great job indoors, but a better moisture transfer system gives the SMD fabrics and edge if you’re sweating a lot indoors. 2XU uses 4 variations of SMD fabric – the SMD Cool, SMD Mesh, SMD Silver and SMD 3D Mesh. The Mesh fabrics are for maximum breathability/moisture management, while SMD Cool is still excellent for outdoors because of its high UV performance – the fabric has the equivalent of a UPF 50+ sun protection. The SMD Silver is particularly good for indoors, though, as nano silver particles embedded into the fabric act as both an antibacterial and thermo-regulation agent – in other words, it helps stop you getting whiffy and keep you from getting too hot as you move or too cool as you sweat.
KEEPING OUT THE COLD
2XU has a range of garments that have varying degrees of insulation to keep you warm.
At one end is SMD thermo brushed, a mid-level insulation that is more designed for temperatures of 8-15°C. Typically, this is useful in a long-sleeve run or cycle jacket for crisp conditions. At the other end of the range when it’s raining cats and dogs or freezing brass monkeys, look for garments with a ‘membrane’ in them.
“Anything with a membrane will take you right down to below freezing temperatures for sure) and repels all wind and all rain,” Hunt says. – will keep the weather off you to -5°C. However, the non-membrane styles like SMD thermo are one level away – they have the advantage that they will breathe better and wick away moisture better, but they won’t keep you nearly as warm in very cold conditions.”
You’ll see insulating fabrics with numbers in their names – take 5:10 XSTRETCH as an example. The number indicates a ratio of waterproofing to vapour release – that is, how much moisture rain, snow, fog, etc. is kept out compared to how much perspiration can travel out through the fabric. 5:10 XSTRETCH has a superior flexibility to many waterproofing materials, so you don’t have to compromise speed or power just because you want to be a little drier.
FRESH FOR THE DURATION – MERYL® SKINLIFE
It’s claimed that Meryl® SKINLIFE “won’t release unpleasant odours, even when worn for days” – I know some adventure racers who’d love to put that claim to the test! It’s a nylon yarn with a cotton feel, great moisture management and very good durability – Hunt says it’s one of the most respected and commonly used fabrics in the fitness industry. But let’s get back to that big call about keeping stink at bay. Meryl® SKINLIFE has a bacteriostatic agent in the fibre that maintains a natural bacteria activity balance on the skin – a high level of bacteria or a complete absence of bacteria would create issues not just with odour, but also various problems such as skin allergens and infections.
All these factors combined with its excellent thermoregulation make this a great fabric for garments that can be worn against the skin for long periods either on its own or as a base layer in colder conditions.
PICK THE RIGHT COMPRESSION
The questions I’m asked most often about 2XU gear is, “What’s the difference between the three types of Compression tights?” and “”Which one should I get?”
Here’s a guide:
- COMPRESSION– this tight delivers the optimum flexibility and movement. It is made from PWX FLEX, a 105 denier (a measure for density of fibres) fabric that is very appropriate for people such as trail runners or adventure racers who might wear this during their training or event. As the lighter fabric of the three Compression types, it also wick more sweat and heat away from you, too.
- ELITE COMPRESSION – provides greater compression that the type above because
- “If you have issues with your calves or your hamstrings, you might prefer use Elite Compression, because panels of more powerful PWX WEIGHT material (170 denier = higher compression) material offers greater support against the muscle oscillation (“vibration”) that can cause fatigue and soreness.
- RECOVERY COMPRESSION – these use the PWX WEIGHT material all over, making it the tight with the most powerful compression. The more compression you have, the more blood flow through the legs and venous return (volume of blood flowing back to the heart through the veins) you have, which is what you need for recovery. However, while the recovery compression will have more power, it will be less flexible – you always compromise flexibility for power and vice-versa, which is why you’d tend to save these tights just to wear after your activity or on a long plane trip to protect against DVT and general stiffness.