Compression Gear I Love (and Hate)

Jumping into the land of compression, there’s what seems like a billion different companies ready to get your lean, little runner legs into tight socks, sleeves, and leggings that will make you a better runner.  We already addressed the whole “make you a better runner” topic the other day, so let’s address some of many companies out there.  [Note: I am not endorsed or sponsored by any of these companies.  I have purchased or won in a raffle/contest.  I was not asked to review any of these products.]

One thing I have learned is each company provides a completely different product.

If you follow five bloggers, you’ll probably see three of them shoving a 40% off PRO Compression code into their posts.  Other companies you’ll run (unintentional pun!) into who aren’t as pushy on the blog front are CEP Compression, Zensah, and 2XU.  Personally, I have experience with all of these companies in some capacity except 2XU, which I actually just purchased a pair of socks from, but they won’t arrive until next week.


The first pair of socks I owned (birthday gift from J) were a pair of CEP Progressive+ Run Socks 2.0 in black.  These are the ones I’d always see at my local Fleet Feet, which is exactly where he got them.   At $60, I was not about to purchase a pair of socks, no matter how amazing they were.

My first attempt at putting these socks on was a disaster.  I tried to put them on just like normal socks because why would you think anything different, never having owned a pair of compression socks?  I discovered there were instructions along with the socks, starting with putting them inside out first — what!

These are definitely my favorite pairs of socks.  The pricetag is higher when compared to other brands, but they are the best quality.  They are the only sock that I feel like actually compresses my feet.  Considering after my runs, my arches ache and my feet are tired, this is important to me.

I have slept in them 2-3 separate nights in a row (with clean feet) and never had an issue with the compression lacking.  I don’t pay attention to the washing instructions; I throw them in the wash/dry with everything else.  Aside from a little pilling, they are in perfect condition.

While I’ve worn them at night, I prefer to wear these during the day because sometimes they can get too compressive and I want to rip them off.  I also struggle with socks in bed, so these usually aren’t my first choice to wear at night.

The next pair of compression I owned was another pair from CEP.  I had a gift card to another local running store which also only seemed to carry CEP so I purchased ($45) the exact same style of sock in sleeve style: Progressive+ Night Calf Sleeves 2.0.

I tend to wear these during the day because for whatever reason, they are slightly tighter (to me) than the socks I own of the same style.  I hate waking up in the middle of the night feeling like my circulation is being cut off (it’s happened) and trying to whip these off in a dead sleep.  These are also one of my favorite pairs to wear during races.

Squeezing everything from my belly button down.
Recovery Tights from Zensah (see below) and PRO Compression socks

My third pair was the first set I spent my own money on.  Due to that, I went the cheap route and bought a pair of pink PRO Compression Marathon Socks online with one of many 40% off coupons you can find [seriously – never pay full price for these!]

Basically, you’ll get what you pay for.  Yes, they are listed as $50, but you can always get them for $30 ($27 for sleeves).  It’s a great price for somebody who wants to have a stock of socks, but if you want quality – steer clear.  These are my least favorite socks because I don’t find their quality to be as high.  They are a thinner material and I’m afraid that at some point, my toes will start to poke through, though the feet are not tight at all.

I wear these socks at night because they don’t cause me to wake up in the middle of the night due to heat or being too tight.  I’ll also wear these to races because I don’t feel bad “wasting” a pair to get dirty when I don’t feel like they do as much for me as other brands.

ZensahA friend of mine won a pair of Zensah Tie-Dye Neon Pink Leg Sleeves in a basket at Diva Night at Fleet Feet a while back.  The sleeves they gave her didn’t fit and she couldn’t exchange them, so she gave them to me (thanks Cheryl!) While I didn’t buy these, their website tells me they are $40 for sleeves, $50 for socks.

These sleeves are thick.  I am not worried about them ever losing their compression or anything ripping them.  I imagine that their compression socks might be too hot for some people, especially in the summer.  I think the fabric that Zensah uses is the most comfortable out of all sleeves.  I’ve never experienced pinching at the tops of my calves (it’s happened before with all the others after wearing them for extended periods of time).  For comfort, these are my favorite.

I wear these at any time, really.  Typically, I’ll sleep in them because I get the best of both worlds – comfort, more compression, but not too hot (they aren’t socks).

Continuing with the Zensah theme, I recently won the choice of anything on their website.  I picked the Zensah 3/4 High Compression Capris, sold for $86 on their website.  I have only worn them a few times so I don’t have much of an opinion yet.  I ran in them once, tried to sleep in them another time, but mostly just lounge around the house in them.

If I’m relaxing on the couch, I can’t wear them for too long because I notice the compression too much around my calves.  It’s more of an annoyance, like I’m always focused on the sensation.  If I’m doing something around the house or running them, I don’t notice.  I wish I had another brand for comparison (I’d love to get my hands on a pair from 2XU) but since I don’t, these default to my favorite compression pants!

Sometime next week, I’ll have my hands on a pair of 2XU Compression Performance Run Socks.  These are $50 on their website, though I bought mine through their eBay account as a sample for about half the price.

Well, OKAY, if you say so, Ryan.
Well, OKAY, if you say so, Ryan.

Overall, each brand I use for different reasons.  If you want a recommendation of what I think is best sock for overall compression purposes, I’m going to tell you to spend the money on CEP.  If you’re not sure if compression is for you, get a coupon code and order a pair from PRO Compression.  If you want a combination of quality and pricing, look at Zensah.  We’ll see where 2XU falls for me on the spectrum soon.

As I stated earlier, these are just the most prominent brands you’ll see.  You can also find your favorite sneaker and clothing brands selling compression gear including Brooks, ASICS, Nike, and Under Armour, among some lesser known brands like CW-X and EVO-Shield.  Of course, this is not an inclusive list and I’m not a compression guru!

What’s your favorite item and brand of compression?




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Just a 20-something homegrown Buffalo sports loving, distance running, gin drinking kind of girl.

3 thoughts on “Compression Gear I Love (and Hate)”

  1. I like sleeves for sleeping in. I don’t buy too many of socks just because I think they don’t last as long.

    I am in complete agreement and I also don’t care as much for Pro…they just don’t work for me.


  2. I’ve never worn compression socks but I know many people who do. I think the knee high socks looks goofy, but if they work, what the heck.
    Maybe I’ll give them a try sometime.
    Great review.


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