Product Review - Louis Garneau Power Leg Compression Tights
The trend of compression garments designed and marketed as recovery aids doesn't show any sight of letting up. Ever since I took a looking at one of the first to the market, the Skins Recovery Tight, many more companies have introduced compression wear. One company's offering that I have been eager to try is Louis Garneau. Anyone familiar with L.G. products knows that they usually fly under the radar a bit. That is not due to the quality though as generally speaking, what they produce and sell is well thought out and made to high standards.
The Power legs are made from panels of varying compression levels. They cost $65 and that is considerably less then most top tier brand's offerings in the category. L.G. also recommends these as base layers when extra warmth is needed. I wouldn't purchase these to use as base layers. They are a little too tight for my preference. While the tightness may be helpful for muscle groups while working out, I found it to be uncomfortable and distracting. Perhaps with acclimatization, one would get used to it, but the feeling of extra compression on my lower half throws off "body balance". Perhaps if I had worn compression wear on the top half it would have been less distracting. This will be an area of personal preference and my opinion should be taken as such.
Used as recovery wear though, the tights proved themselves to be worth it and then some. One of the big drawbacks to the Skins tights in my opinion was the way they overheated my legs and made for an overall uncomfortably hot feeling after 20 minutes or so. If the surrounding temps were cool or if I was stationary, that discomfort is minimized. But over the past months, I have found myself choosing to not wear the Skins for that reason. The L.G. tights felt much "cooler" and they don't always results in that hot feeling. By not covering up the groin and waist area, the L.G.'s overall felt more comfortable when worn for more then an hour. One could argue that by making them leggings in style the possibility for shifting and creeping is increased. I didn't find this to be an issue. I did however find that the medium size was a little short for me. My inseam is just about 34 inches but my waist size put me at a medium. If I had to choose again I would go with the large and hope that there was still adequate amounts of compression with the bigger size.
As far as whether these helped with recovery, that is such a subjective thing to quantify that I won't make any claims. There have been some recent studies published that cast doubt on whether or not any type of compression clothing helps with recovery. My legs always felt fresher when these came off after using them for an hour or so. However, it was hard to tell a difference in leg strength the next time on the bike if the subsequent workout was soon after. Overall, they are worth the $65 for sure. For air travel ( or long times spent driving ) these, or any type of compression leg wear, are a must. And if worn during competition, they no doubt would provide additional benefit over standard tights, so long as you can deal with the snugness.