Do Compression Tights Work?

Pro skiers use them, so they should be good enough for you. Right?
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Pro skiers use them, so they should be good enough for you. Right?
Compression tout

Some compression tights actually compress your legs. Others are just tight long underwear—a far cry from the original compression tights designed to increase circulation, reduce swelling, and aid recovery. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know which is which until you try them. Some will work great for a half day, or even a full day, but some will leave you hanging, especially if you’re short on space and can only bring one pair for a multi-day ski trip. And while the jury is out on whether they actually work, pro skiers use them at least to aid recovery after (and during) long days on the mountain.

Here’s a quick roundup of tights I tried, with honest feedback about each:

110% Play Harder Juggler Knickers

The best thing about the 110% knickers is the pockets located on key muscle groups. The pockets hold hot or cold packs in them to aid muscle recovery. Beyond that, this pair could be considered a tight base layer. Did they offer additional support? Probably, but it was hard to tell. A three-quarter length eliminated that under-the-boot base layer bunch, and they were comfortable—albeit didn’t stay up as well as others. [$150,]

2XU Thermal ¾ Compression Tights

It’s the brand that the U.S. Ski Team uses, so it should be good enough for the average skier, right? Yeah. The 2XUs were comfortable, didn’t ride up (or down), wicked well, had a drawstring to tighten the waist, and kept their tightness after multiple days. They were one of the best tights (that I tested), and would be a good option for both summer and winter sports. [$120,]

C3fit Impact Long Tights

The C3fit Impact tights were one of my favorites despite being a full-length tight (C3fit does have a ¾ length now). Even after numerous days of use, they stayed as tight as they were the first time out of the box. They have comfortable compression that’s designed to support your knees, thighs, and hips, and they wicked well. And, unlike some other tights I tested, these didn’t show off a plumber’s crack during a day on the slopes. [$150,]

Opedix Knee-Tec ¾ Tights

My favorites by far. The compression tights stayed tight after a few consecutive days of skiing in them, and Opedix’s touted knee support really seems to work—unlike some other brands. They breathed well, and didn’t smell like moldy cheese after skiing hard in them for a few days. Now if only Opedix made them a smidge shorter, so they don’t overlap with the top of your boot cuff. [$225,]

Skins S400 Thermal Compression ¾ Tights

The Skins S400 definitely seemed like they kept my lower body warmer than wearing a merino base layer, and they stayed tight after wearing them numerous times in a row. They also wicked well, and were comfortable—they have a nice fleece-like inner fabric. But the inseam was a little on the short (low-rise) side. [$150,]

Zensah ¾ High Compression Capris

Made by a company that specializes in running tights, the Zensah ¾ High Compression Capris were comfortable, stayed tight after multiple days of use, and wicked well. But I had a hard time getting them to fit right. The length and the inseam didn’t seem to mesh as well as other tights. If I pulled them to mid-calf or slightly above, they rode up toward my knee. If I pulled them lower, they didn’t fit well at my waist. That said, the newest version has a drawstring, which will likely help keep them in place around the waist. [$86,]


Essentials hydration

Water That Works

Dry snow: good. Dry mouth: very bad. Keep your whistle wet and your gear organized with a hydration-compatible ski pack.

Ripper Wendy Fisher

Working out with Wendy Fisher

Wendy Fisher is a former Olympian, a Crested Butte World Extremes champion, and a mother of two. The Crested Butte resident took her first real hiatus from competitive skiing when she had her first son. But now she’s getting her strength back. Rehabbing from a knee surgery, we hit the gym with Wendy in Crested Butte.

When it comes to keeping skiers warm, trust Norway’s Helly Hansen, which developed the first technical baselayers way back in the 1970s. Top and bottom both sport hydrophobic fibers that transport water away from your skin. Tiny patterns woven into the fabric facilitate the wicking. [$45 for the top, $55 for the bottomsl;]

Baselayers That Work

Good baselayers are the kind you don't notice: They'll wick sweat when you're hot, and keep you insulated when you're cold. If you haven't already, it's finally time to ditch those cotton baselayers. Here are eight options to upgrade your collection.