October seems a bit late to be reviewing a ‘heat’ thing but seeing as temperatures topped out yesterday at 93f it looks like we had autumn, winter and spring earlier in the week when it rained and was cloudy for three days! That being said these sleeves are something you could easier wear in the cooler months as they do have some warming properties. Anyway onto the review.
The good folks at Wilderness Running Company sent me a pair of the RecoFit Armcooler Compression Sleeves earlier in the year to review and if you were reading my training posts from July and August that you’ll remember that (a) I went to Las Vegas and (b) we’ve had an endless summer and the temperatures were frequently above 100f. So I was happy to try something…anything that would cool me down. First here’s the product info from their website:
“Features light compression, 50-plus UV protection, anti-microbial properties and the cooling quality of Icefil fabric — great for triathletes, golfers, tennis players and anyone outside under the hot sun”.
I though that this was a bit light so I did a quick Google search on “Icefil fabric”, here’s a synopsis of the results:
Descente introduced a new ‘Icefil’ fabric to its top range of clothing for 2009. Descente claims the fabric’s Xylitol treatment absorbs heat from your body and also blocks IR rays from the sun, thus supposedly reducing surface temperature by up to five degrees Fahrenheit as compared to untreated fabrics….Icefil is not a permanent treatment but it is said to retain 70 percent of its effectiveness after 70 washes. Source.
Icefil fabric works not just by absorbing body heat but also by preventing solar energy from reaching the skin- it's neither cool nor clammy to the touch. Source.
So as you can see the fabric's practical application has been aimed at cyclists, there are also quite a few golf shirts available and even an equestrian line, surprisingly I couldn’t find anything for runners.
I am pretty used to wearing armwarmers during cool morning or evening runs and so how they felt came as no real surprise. The compression is uniform and not too tight, there are held on the upper arm by a combination of the compression and a strip of tacky rubber, basically relying on friction to stay put. My arms are best described as average and there was no issue with the fit, they do come in three sizes so try before you buy. In terms of color you can have any color as long as it’s white; white obviously contributes to the reflective qualities of the fabric.
I can’t really categorically say that the Icefil kept me cool or cooler than being without it but I am sure there was some benefit. While in Vegas I was popping into McDonalds to refill my handheld bottle with ice and would stuff some ice inside the sleeves and surprisingly it did not instantly melt so there must have been something going on, also when the ice did melt the wet took a while to evaporate (fyi if you keep the ice on your wrists it will cool you down quicker as the blood is closer to the surface of your skin, that’s why running your wrists under cold water cools you down) so the slow evaporation helped with the cooling.
I also wore them on several long runs through the Santa Monica Mountains. One benefit that you’ll not see on any of the marketing is their protective qualities when you’re rolling down the side of a mountain. Not something I planned but they save most of the skin on one elbow!
Finally I wore them all day and night…and the next day at 100 in the Hood without issue and they kept the chill off during the night.
Not the cheapest thing that you’ll add to your running closet, I would say that for the extreme heat they’re definitely worth trying, they can double up to add some warmth in the cooler months and as a runner or cyclist you can wear them, although I am not sure I’d wear them at my local golf course, my swing is so bad that I really don’t want to draw any extra attention to myself.
If you interested in trying them out you can find them at WRC and if you’ll use the code QUAD10 at checkout you’ll get a 10% discount. In fact check out their website anyway, they’ve got a sale on their sunglasses, Garmin products, trail shoes and a few other things.