I have a confession to make: I'm not much for compression gear. I know that might sound strange, considering that I'm about to review it, but, honestly, that's why I'm the perfect candidate to do so. I've spent most of my four-plus years involved in OCR and trail running, wearing loose, comfortable fitting shorts. If it was cold (i.e. Spartan World Championships in Lake Tahoe…brrrrr), I'd wear thin, compression leggings, or Cold Gear, at best, covered with my trusty, loose-fitting shorts over the top. So, when I was asked to review Human Octane's new Elite Compression shorts, my first thought was ‘OK, I guess I'm gonna have to run in just shorts'. Gulp. Well, I'm certainly glad I took that leap of faith. In all honesty, these shorts changed the way I feel about compression gear.
The very first thing that I noticed about these shorts was the thickness and apparent quality of materials. I actually found myself thinking they might be a little TOO thick to be comfortable. These are definitely not your standard workout-quality compression shorts. These are race-shorts, through and through. They reminded me more of the thin-but-comfortable wetsuit I used when I ran the inaugural Toughest Mudder eight hour overnight race, here in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. So, quality? Check. But how comfortable would they actually be? After all, quality means nothing, if you don't want to actually compete in them, right?
Admittedly, I'm kind of between a size small and medium. I'm 5'10” and about 150 lbs., but I find that most size smalls are just too constrictive. I chose to go with the mediums, and it was the right call. They fit snugly but still allowed full movement. For most of the race, it was like running with nothing on (though I'm pretty sure my fellow Spartans were glad that wasn't actually the case). A couple of trademark details that I really liked: For one, the front ‘pouch' (for lack of a better term) is just that, a pouch. While most compression shorts are completely flat in the front and rather constrictive, these shorts are designed and sewn so that you have a little extra room in there. The result: MUCH more comfortable, and less time…uh, ‘rearranging' things on the course. The other thing I really liked: A back pocket accessible from zippers on either side of the pocket. It's basically like having a kangaroo pouch in the back of your shorts. And, before you think that having a pocket in the back of your compression shorts would feel uncomfortable, let me reassure you that wasn't the case. I ran the course twice, so I needed to make sure I came prepared. I stowed some salt tabs, Cliff Blocks, and a Cliff Bar in the pocket, and, I swear, NEVER even knew they were there, till I got hungry and remembered I brought them.
So, overall impression: LOVED them. And, remember, this is coming from someone who typically does not like the feel of compression gear. I will definitely be wearing these shorts on the course, and I look forward to eventually testing out HO's full-length version of this product, in colder-weather scenarios. The shorts are available on Human Octane's website at humanoctane.com. The regular retail price is $98, which, for a pair of compression shorts, might be a little on the pricey side, but I would point out that 1) These are quality shorts that should last a LONG time (I did actually get snagged on the barbed-wire crawl, with no apparent damage), and 2) From time to time, the company offers discounts to people on their mailing list (i.e. 20% off for Father's Day). For $78 (that's with the 20% off), these are a great deal. So, OK, I admit…I'm a compression short convert. Thanks, Human Octane.
Want to know how the women's gear faired in the field. Check out our Human Octane Women’s Elite Compression Gear review.