“Turn sweat into energy” is the intriguing by-line of X-Bionic, a leading Swiss manufacturer of high-tech, functional sports apparel. Research shows in extreme cases, endurance athletes use 97% of their energy to cool their bodies down during physical activity, leaving only 3% of energy to be used for the actual sports performance. The concept is ingenious in its simplicity: X-Bionic’s apparel uses its own special patented technology to cool down the body during activity thereby freeing up energy to be used for performance.
Imagine: that a 1% reduction in energy expended on cooling the body would translate into a 33% increase in the amount of energy for sports performance.
I had the chance to try out the Running Pants and the Speed Shirt Singlet. The most prominent feature of the apparels: they are not your conventional wicking material that promises to “wick” away your sweat – rather, the apparels are designed with special panels which X-Bionic calls the 3D-BionicSphere® System. These panels are placed at spots where most sweat is produced (such as the chest, arm pits, and back), and the 3D-BionicSphere® System acts to retain a small amount of sweat, thereby using the body’s own natural cooling mechanism to reduce the body’s temperature.
That said, since most of us are used to the feel of wicking materials, it is immediately apparent that the X-Bionic apparels feel much more like your conventional cotton shirts; and thus takes some getting used to. Nonetheless, a quick run in them (under the unforgiving afternoon sun) reveals a noticeable effect on cooling. The retention of some sweat leaves you feeling cool as the sweat evaporates off your skin; the apparel does not feel heavy and sweat-soaked like the conventional wicking materials. For those training in cooler climates, there is also an Intercooler system in place to keep the running muscles insulated. Between periods of exertion, the locked-in air of protects these vulnerable muscles from over-cooling.
What is perhaps more significant is the drying-off effect of the apparels. Stand around for about 10 minutes after your workout and you find that your singlet and shorts are almost completely dry and comfortable enough for you to stay a little longer in them without feeling the overwhelming urge to hit the shower.
I also used the apparels while racing the Powerman Duathlon to test out the compression system – another unique feature of X-Bionic for it uses partial compression instead of the full compression used by other manufacturers. I have always been skeptical of using compression apparels during activity, for I find them too constricting; sometimes to the point of numbness. The Partial Kompression system of X-Bionic however, adequately resolves the problem of restricted blood circulation. The compression panels on the tights have ridges where targeted pressure is applied, leaving the sides of the ridges compression-free to prevent the negative effect that compression could have on blood circulation. Admittedly, I was most impressed with the Partial Kompression system. Despite the extremely hilly bike leg of the duathlon, my quads were still fresh for the subsequent run. And no, there were none of the usual marks left on my thighs by too-tight compression tights.
All in all, X-Bionic has gotten it right – Swiss engineering coupled with Italian(Not German) manufacturing. Should you choose to give these apparels a try, remember that you are not simply buying a garment, you are buying a piece of technology.
To find more about their technology, you can read up here:
For more info on how to get X-Bionic, you can e-mail Kah Leong at firstname.lastname@example.org