Review: SKINS RY400 Recovery Compression Tights

SKINS specializes in compression clothing for athletes of various sports.  Some pieces of their clothing are designed for use during the activity while others are designed for afterward, to help with recovery.  When SKINS contacted Singletracks about doing a review, I was mostly interested in trying the recovery tights, for use after big rides, so they sent me the RY400 tights for men.

Image: SKINS

Tech

The RY400 tights are 76% nylon and 24% spandex.  They’re designed to speed recovery and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness–that post-workout soreness that lets you know you really did something.  The fabric is woven in different ways in different areas of the tights–they put the squeeze on the major muscles areas (calves, thighs, and gluteus) but not so much on the knees or other areas you don’t want too much tightness.  The tights retail for $140.

Compression wear works by allowing blood to flow more easily through the muscles.  There’s more to it than that, but that’s the basic premise.  Want to know more about the science and technology in the RY400 tights?  Read up on it at the SKINS website.

Do They Really Work?

That’s the question everyone wants answered.  To be honest I was skeptical; the claims seemed like snake oil targeted toward triathletes. You know, the folks who are always looking for ways to part with a lot of their money on goofy-looking stuff. When the tights came in I pulled them out of the box and tried them on, then put them back in the box and kind of forgot about them for a week or so.

My first chance to wear the tights was after running a 5k.  You see, I’m not a runner, at all.  But for some idiotic reason some friends and I decided to do a 5k, so I did the Gaddis Couch To 5K Training Program.  Here’s how you do it: get off the couch and run a 5k as hard as you can.  There’s no training, just go do it.

If you do much running, you already know where this long-winded story is going.  I log a pretty decent number of miles every month on my bikes, so cardio-wise I was in good shape for the 5k.  Problem is, running and riding use your muscles in completely different ways. I ran the 5k, which had a few decent climbs, in just over 30 minutes and beat all my buddies.

The next day I could hardly move.  I have never been so sore in all my life and no MTB ride has made me hurt that badly.  Trying to stand up hurt.  I avoided stairs like the plague.  Using the clutch in my car hurt.  Even sitting at my desk at work and adjusting my feet hurt.  On the third Day of Post-Run Pain I remembered the tights and figured I’d give them a shot.

Different fabrics of different compression levels are used in different areas. Twin Six socks not included.

Holy miracle, Batman.  The RY400s provided instant relief.  I didn’t feel 100% better, but I could at least walk like a normal human being again.  I couldn’t believe it.  I wore them all evening around the house after work that night.  The next day I felt way better than the day before. Now that I was a believer, the next time I did a big ride (47 miles in a little over 5hrs on the single speed) I didn’t forget about them, and put them as soon as I got home from the ride.  I wore them all afternoon and evening, and the next day, I felt great.  I doubt I would have felt 100% on the bike, but going about daily life was completely normal.  No soreness or stiffness.  After that kind of day in the saddle I would usually be at least a little sore the next day, but not after wearing the RY400 tights.  These things work.

Wearing Them

These tights are tight.  And slick–it would be nice if SKINS incorporated some pull tabs to give you something to grip while trying to pull them on.  I think you’d have a hard time getting them on while changing out of your riding clothes wrapped up in a towel at the trailhead parking lot.  It takes two hands to get them pulled up the way they’re supposed to be.

The SKINS RY400s are tight, but they are comfortable.  Since they provide a nice even compression they don’t feel like they’re really squeezing you–no pressure points.  Once I get them on I don’t even notice that I’m wearing them, mostly.  I do get an occasional cool or warm sensation, but it’s subtle, and just a reminder that they’re working.  As far as having too much tightness in areas a man doesn’t want too much tightness, have no fear, there’s a, um….comfort pouch, if you will, to make sure important bits and pieces aren’t getting choked out.  There’s even an a escape route on the front so you can pee without taking them all the way off and then struggling to get them pulled back up again.  If you need to do more than pee, you’ll have to pull them down.

They're surprisingly comfortable for something so tight.

My one criticism: the RY400s tended to slowly creep down if I moved around a lot.  Just lounging around the house watching TV or whatever, they stay right where I put them.  But if I wear them out somewhere (under a pair of pants… these are not outerwear since they leave nothing to the imagination) and do a lot of walking, they’ll creep down a bit.

Summary

The SKINS RY400 Recovery Tights really do work as claimed.  I really like them, and any time I have a big ride or race planned, I’ll be using them afterward.  The price is a bit steep, and I’m a cheapskate, but, after having worn them and seen how well they work, I’d buy another pair if mine are lost or damaged somehow.

I’d like to thank SKINS for providing the RY400 tights to review.  Visit the SKINS website to see their full range of clothing by clicking here.

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6 thoughts on “Review: SKINS RY400 Recovery Compression Tights

  1. Just because I’m a born Skeptic, the 4th day after, is always remarkably better, in terms of lactic acid pain and stiffness, regardless of tights/no tights. I get that it feels good when your wearing them. Cheers.

  2. Besides the tights, they have compression socks and arm “like” warmers that do the same. My wife is a runner and swears by the compression socks. She will use them to run in and after longer runs for recovery.

    Have you worn them on longer rides at all? Be interested if the reduce cramping on them.

    • I haven’t tried them on the bike. Been too warm since I got them for one thing, and, they don’t have any padding in so I’d have to wear shorts over top of them. And the way they creep down, I think it would be a hassle. They do make some bib shorts for wear on the bike however.

    • I was wondering the same thing but after looking at the SKINS site it seems like they have separate tights/shorts/jerseys for wearing on the bike that are designed with different compression profiles.

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