The best compression sleeves, shorts, shirt, watch, and more that you need to gear up for your next obstacle race.
Peter Koch 1 / 7
Zensah Ultra Compression Leg Sleeves In addition to protecting your legs from cuts and abrasions while crawling through muck or brush, these sleeves stimulate blood flow throughout the calf and shin, reducing muscle recovery time. $45; zensah.com
PRO TIP: Arm sleeves can save your elbows and, Schlachter points out, protect your skin from the sunshine.
Under Armour Heat-Gear ArmourVent Short Sleeve Keep it tight with this Under Armour compression tee, which wicks water far better than cotton and won’t easily snag on barbed wire or other obstacles. Body-mapped mesh vents keep you cool during the summer races. $45; underarmour.com
PRO TIP: “I go shirtless,” Magida says, “because even compression shirts get wet, then they get heavy, and you burn extra energy carrying them.”
Inov-8 X-Talon 200 The Talons were designed specifically for obstacle racers: They’re lightweight, have an aggressive tread, and drain water well. Their minimal, low-cushion design makes them more agile on the course, and it even lets your toes splay for extra comfort. $115; inov-8.com
PRO TIP: “Don’t wear Gore-Tex shoes,” says Schlachter. “Gore-Tex is great for shedding mud and water, but the moment you submerge your foot—which will happen in a mud pit or a cold-water plunge—that water stays in the shoe, so it ends up weighing two to three times more than it did when it was dry.”
SPIbelt with Waterproof Accessory When races prompt you to carry energy gels or, say, a government-issued ID, this little belt-mounted pocket stays dry and remarkably close to your body. $30; spibelt.com
PRO TIP: If energy gels give you GI issues, Schlachter recommends Clif Bars (clifbar.com) and Justin’s almond-butter pouches (justins.com). Both are calorically dense and made of real food instead of supplements.
Polar M400 The GPS-enabled, activity-tracking M400 helps you keep track of where you are on the course. The thinnest GPS watch on the market, it should stay free of scratches longer than its fat-faced competition. $200; polar.com
PRO TIP: “Most of these races don’t put mile markers up—they like that element of surprise,” Magida says. “If you want to know where you are, wear a watch.”
Mountain Hardwear Fluid Race Vest Weighing in at 6.7 oz, this hydration vest keeps a very low profile, making it less likely to snag on barbed wire. $70; mountainhardwear.com
PRO TIP: “I use a hydration vest only for races longer than two hours,” Atkins says. “It’s nice to not worry about having superfluous items hanging off me during short, intense races.”
CW-X Stabilyx Ventilator Shorts CW-X has made a name for itself using kinetic-taping technology to create what amounts to a stability-enhancing exoskeleton in its compression apparel. With mesh ventilation panels in the quad area, these shorts breathe well during races. $80; cw-x.com
PRO TIP: “With compression shorts, I recommend double layering,” Magida says. “They can rip on barbed wire, and you don’t need to be exposing yourself.”