Thursday, 28 August 2014

STRYDA - The compression revolution

     For runners, cyclists and all athletes, when you think about going harder for longer, with less pain on the other side you have to admit that you’ve considered compression. The use of compression garments to aid performance and recovery has grown immensely over the last few years, and two brands dominate the Australian, if not the global market. 2XU and Skins were born in Australia and have been picked up and loved by athletes across the nation and now, worldwide. They’re also loved by mums in school yards all over the place. Over the last 12 months I’ve run in the Skins A400 Full length tight, and more recently have leaned towards my 2XU Elite Compression Tights as my favoured pair. When it comes to the half tights, the Skins A400 have the edge and are my go to.

     Well, it’s time to shake up the market, and STRYDA compression might just be the brand to broaden our horizons. STRYDA are the new boys in town, and yes, they are another Australian designed and tested product. They are also my local supplier, based out of StepWell podiatry in Melbourne. They launched in July and I had the pleasure of attending their V.I.P launch event and was able to try on most of the range. My favourites were the STYRDA Elite Force compressors and working through the winter, the garment I am relying most heavily on.

STRYDA looks brilliant...
     For the last few weekends (and training days in between) I’ve had the privilege of being able to run in the STYDA Force Elite Compressors. So, how do they stack up against the big boys? This initial review product provided by STYRDA is in for a bit of a three way comparison, especially for my Aussie readers who have limited access to good quality products. Now that you’re with me, I'm aiming to fill in the details, so make sure you’ve got a drink at hand and time to take it all in.

     Let’s get to it. In the box, the STRYDA compression range looks brilliant. The box is 100% recyclable and the graphics and pictures make a huge statement. If they were off the self, I’d be drawn to them. Visually they have the first notch on their belt. When my box arrived in the mail, I was hard pressed to actually work out what garment was inside, as neither Mrs Fish or myself were able to find a product description or label on the box. As the range is still in development I’ll forgive them for this one, and they are also only available on line or at StepWell Podiatry in Rosanna, Melbourne. While I loved the look of the box, Mrs Fish is one for keeping her compression clothing away from any buckles, Velcro or corners so we often pop our gear back in the box for storage. *** Since writing this, STYRDA have updated the labelling on their boxes. I'll update with a new pic when I can. 

The other brands have more rounded packaging.
     Both the 2XU and Skins boxes are a softer paper based material that has a premium feel to them. This is where the plastic type materials and sharp corners of the box could be redesigned, as we were both cautious about it catching on other clothes on the shelf. For packaging, I like the Skins A400 boxes for ease of use and storage.
    Now the exciting part, what the STRYDA FORCE Elite compressors are like to wear. Visually, they look fantastic! I love the blue stitching on the side, the Giant S on the thigh and the STRYDA branding (Check out their great snaps on the official site). They look sharp and stylish, without being too out there and ‘look at me’.
Scuse the mirror, they look good!
Stryda Force Elite Compressors

     Stepping into the STRYDA FORCE is easy. Gather them up as for any tight and pull them on. STRYDA have gone with an 82% Nylon 18% Lycra mix for greater compression capability, giving them a lovely strong feel, yet still feeling soft to the touch. The mens range are low waisted, similar to the 2XU range, which I am still getting used to. The STRYDA instantly felt like they were giving good levels of compression to my chicken leg thighs and calves. They are designed to run long down your shins and calves to provide maximum venius return all the way down your leg and through the ankle. I do have short legs and they are a touch long for me. They are also a little more relaxed through the groin and glute areas than my other compression garments.

     When I took them for their first Dandenong Trail Runners run, I got nothing but positive feedback on the design. I love the two tone of the 2XU but the oversized X can be either love or hate. I like it, some don’t. If I had the choice I would go for the ‘Nero’ or black range. My Skins are the charcoal on black, and are essentially very black. The advantage of the 2XU concept stores is that trained staff can give you the right advice, and they will certainly let you know all about the enhanced visibility of their product in low light conditions. This is where the Skins fall behind. I believe The STRYDA Force logo and print are subtle enough to remain discreet but have enough reflection to also stand out on our early morning runs.For ThisFish, it's a second win for STYRDA.

Great in low light
 The Skins have a 74% to 26% mix and feel more like you could put your fingers through them or be susceptible to damage while putting them on or taking off. Of the three, they do feel the nicest in your hands. When I first got them I was excited, as the A400 half tights are the best fitting shorts I have. After a wear or two I found that the Skins just lack the compression needed to a) be compressive and b) actually keep them in place. I feel like I am forever wanting to hitch them up during a run or workout session.
     The 2XU Elites have been my favourites. The additional support provided through the panels in the glutes, hamstrings and calves give me the best compression. For my height, they are also the shortest length of the three. To pick up and hold they feel like a superior product to the Skins. They also have an 80 - 20 Nylon to Lycra mix, which could be what the STRYDA Force are aiming for. 

     At this stage I should mention price. The 2XU Elite tights are the most expensive, at $185 AUD, the Skins A400 tights are $160 and the STRYDA FORCE compressors are $119. For a product that undercuts its competitors by nearly 25% at the minimum, they offer an excellent feel and fit. For me this gives the edge to the STYRDA Elite Force Compressors over the Skins, and a very close second to the much more expensive 2XU Elite tights. Price wise they are offering exceptional value for money

     So, part one of this review is over. A brief summary?
Packaging – The STRYDA packaging looks amazing and is my pick of the 3, but it lacked a product description and the sharp edges have us on edge. The Skins box with its ‘drawer’ is a winner. I'll give them a point each. 

                                         STRYDA 1, Skins 1, 2XU zip.

Styling – Again STRYDA have the design edge. The colours work incredibly well together and catch the eye. They are also safe enough to catch and create reflections for low light conditions. They are my favourite of the three. 

STRYDA 2, Skins 1 2XU zip.

Fit and Feel – The STRYDA Elite Force Compressors feel terrific. They are soft on touch, yet feel strong and well-constructed. They give a nice tight feel through my calves and hamstrings although for my height they run a little long through the lower leg, even if they are designed for maximum coverage. However, the 2XU give that contact feel of a greater level of compression and offer a more precise fit. 

 STYRDA 2, Skins 1, 2XU 1.

Price – STYRDA are the clear winner, offering fabulous value for money at 25% less cost than the Skins and nearly 33% less cost than the 2XU Elite. 

STYRDA 3, Skins 1, 2XU 1.

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