I live in Michigan. Late fall and winter is cold, windy, and snowy. I hate it. Unfortunately I’m forced to run in the cold. As such, I am always searching for quality clothing. Zensah may have the answer.
A few years ago, I learned the art of layering. Generally, I like to start with a moisture-wicking form-fitting base layer, followed by a moisture-wicking technical layer, a warm cotton layer, and finally a wind-resistant outer layer. Overkill? Usually. Remember, I hate the cold.
Over the last few years, I’ve used the same old base layer- a shirt and tights I bought during a winter clearance sale at a big-box sporting goods store. I was in need of a new base layer.
While doing research, I came across Zensah’s line of compression clothing. I have been using their compression sleeves since late August (read my review here). I contacted them and asked about the line. They sent me their long sleeve compression shirt to review.
When it arrived, I ripped open the package. We were in the midst of a cold streak, so I was eager to try it out. My first impression was surprise. It was about half the weight of my old compression shirt. Interesting.
I was also incredibly soft… much softer than other compression fabrics I’ve felt. It was also softer than the compression sleeves.
When I put it on, I wasn’t disappointed. It felt as soft as it had in my hands. The shirt was tight as compression clothing should be. It was difficult to get a good feel for the thermal qualities of the material, so I went outside.
It was cold. Really cold. Okay, so the shirt won’t work as a stand-alone shirt for cold weather. It is intended to be a base layer anyway, but I had to test it out.
I wore it the rest of the day. And night. And I wore it to school the next day. I told Shelly I was just testing the shirt’s long-term comfort, but in reality I just couldn’t take it off.
I finally got around to testing it on a run a few days later. I wore the Zensah shirt under a cotton hoodie. The run was a faster-paced run; I wanted to work up a sweat to test the moisture-wicking properties.
After a few miles, I noticed the hoodie was getting damp with sweat. I stopped and felt the Zensah shirt. Surprisingly, it wasn’t wet… just slightly damp. My old compression clothing would be soaked at this point. The net effect was noticeable- the shirt helped keep my skin relatively dry, which helped keep me warm.
About a week later, Shelly and I went on a road run (where I tested the New Balance Minimus Roads). The twelve mile run caused some minor inner-thigh chafing. While wearing the Zensah shirt, I didn’t get any armpit or nipple chafing- two issues that typically occur after about 10 miles. This was surprising, I’ve never found a top that prevented chafing so well.
I will be doing a few longer runs to really test this shirt, but the early returns are VERY promising. Zensah’s compression clothing appears to be an excellent choice as a winter base layer. I would guess their tights would be just as effective as the top. Zensah’s compression wear definitely earns a thumbs-up!