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‘Performance’ Base Layers, now with Superhero motifs

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Captain America would kick your butt in an ultra, and no doubt you’d be out-climbed by Spider Man… but thanks to Under Armour, you can now resemble your favorite super hero and maybe even perform at a little more heroic level.

Compression shirts claim to improve athletic performance by stabilizing muscles from vibration and other lateral forces, saving energy for straight-line contraction.

And now you can wear this tight-fitting garment emblazoned with the logo (or body) of your favorite Marvel and D.C. Comics character. Go ahead and sport that Hulk body, Batman logo or Superman S on a compression shirt, which may help out around mile 17 of a marathon.

The author finishes up a 3-mile snowstorm run testing the Alter Ego compression shirt; Photo by Sarah Poinski

The $44.99 compression shirt series feature HeatGear Sonic fabrics, which are made of a stretchy polyester fabric. It is smooth and stitched using non-chafing flatlock seam construction.

The shirts are available in adult and youth sizing on Under Armour.

Under Armour category manager for base layers Neal Goldman said the playful yet functional clothing gives people the chance to show the world a little of their inner animal. “Everyone has some inner beast, an immortal character.”

Well, maybe. I must admit to feeling a little silly running through a popular Denver park wearing a shirt with a giant Superman “S” on the chest, as I weigh about 145 pounds dripping wet and have the upper body you’d expect from a distance runner.

However, the shirt did perform well on a few test runs in the 5-mile range.

The garment provides a small amount of squeeze and is comfortable and smooth against the skin. I did not notice any chafing during runs and the fabric seemed to disperse moisture well as I ticked the miles off on an 80-degree day.

The material did seem to hold in heat and provide some insulation, which could be a good or bad thing depending on weather conditions. On a hot day, I felt a little overwhelmed by the tight and slightly warm and wind-blocking shirt. On a cool day it kept me a little warmer.

How would Iron Man (the hero) do in the Ironman? One can only wonder

For the sake of pseudo-scientific gear testing, I decided to also take the shirt for a run in a snowstorm. Under straight-up nasty conditions, the shirt performed really well, blocking wind and keeping my core remarkably warm and dry during high aerobic exercise during a windy, 30-degree snowstorm run.

The Alter Ego, which you can also purchase sans superhero motif simply as HeatGear Sonic Compression for $24.99, will be a great workout shirt for athletes in many disciplines who like a snug fit through the chest, shoulders and biceps.

Just watch out for the Kryptonite.

—Sean McCoy

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