Whilst it’s possible to slip on a pair of shorts costing little more than £10, it will come as no surprise to most runners and triathletes that it’s equally possible to spend in excess of £100 on certain brands – yes, we’re looking at you Salomon EXO S-Lab TwinSkin Shorts at £130… Whilst not quite hitting that eye-watering high the Fennec Running Pants from X-Bionic, at £75, are far from cheap – so what exactly do you get for all that hard-earned cash?
One thing’s for sure with the Fennec you get a lot of very technical-sounding names thrown in: 3D-BionicSphere Systems, ISO-Pads, Innerlap AirConditioningZone, HeatPipe Construction, Xitanit fibres…
Taking it’s name from the desert fox (or fennec as we would have known it was correctly called if we watched more David Attenborough) the X-Bionic Fennec Running Pants are a medium-compression shorts option, but their unique selling point is the level of temperature control they bring to the run. And that’s where many of the tongue-twisting tech names come in. Let’s see if we can decode some of them:
The 3D-BionicSphere System is a panel at the top, front of the shorts which helps to control heat via its waffle-like texture, whilst also helping to wick away sweat; another panel of the same material sits on the back of the shorts just at the base of the spine. The ‘Partial Kompression’ squeeze that the Fennec Running Pants offers is zonal – meaning that it varies in ‘strength’ by region; this acts to both stabilise muscles (reducing the natural oscillation that occurs with each foot strike) and increase blood flow. Unlike most conventional compression garments, that X-Bionic claim can ‘crush’ blood vessels, the ‘Partial Kompression’ system leaves capillaries more fully open, which arguably also helps to maintain optimum performance temperature.
The ISO-pads are for ‘targeted insulation’ – basically providing additional padding (and heat-retention) around the hipbones and bottom, whilst the xitanit fibres help reflect external heat, keeping the inside of the shorts cool even when they heat up on the outside.
We could go on, but so packed with tech are the Fennec Running Pants that we’d end up with a scientific paper and not a product review. So, are they any good?
Fundamentally, yes. The compression feels really well judged and far less restrictive than many we have tried (‘Partial Kompression’ at work?) – the leg cuffs in particular stay precisely positioned and don’t rise with the stride, and the waistband is minimal and soft. In terms of thermal properties they lived up to their claim of ‘Cools when you’re sweating. Warms when you’re freezing’ – having tested these through the depths of winter they kept a well-balanced temperature level and certainly felt cool (and more than capable of wicking sweat) when things did heat up. Impossible of course to make any real judgements on the performance enhancement any of this may bring but safe to say that the Fennec Running Pants are a solid option for medium compression shorts if you’re likely to be running a full range of punishing conditions.
In terms of looks the Fennec Running Pants are a little… extreme. They don’t leave much to the imagination and there’s a danger of looking like you have just stepped out of a hyper-sleep pod. Those of a nervous disposition may feel inclined to slip something baggy over the top – although that will, naturally, inhibit most of the good work that all of the inbuilt tech is striving towards.
A little expensive at £75, but so packed full of features that even if you only think half of them are any good the Fennec Running Pants could still be worth the ticket price.
The X-Bionic Fennec Running Pants are available in sizes S-XXL and also in women’s specific design. Full details at x-bionic.co.uk