Proskins Active Performance Compression base layer
Reviewed by Steve
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The last few weeks it has been really cold, in fact not just cold but cold and wet. This is a rubbish time of year for archery because I like shooting with as little clothing as possible, especially on my upper body. I never use a bracer ( unless shooting an ELB) and if I can't just get away with a T shirt all the tops I tend to wear are tight fitting to avoid "sleeve" issues.
However, now that the autumn is well and truly here and Winter is just around the corner it's time to don some warm kit when shooting. Very early this year at a local shoot it was freezing.... and then it started to rain. Over the top of already bulky clothing I had to put on a waterproof, it's horrible shooting when you can't move freely to draw a bow. At the tea tent at lunch I met a friend wearing only a couple of thin tops and no waterproof... "Aren't you cold ?" I asked..... " I don't care" He said " I want to win". When it comes down to it there are generally only a few points separating the top archers in any class and if you really want to compete it's all about doing everything that will give you the best chance of that happening - I am not yet ready to shoot naked in all weathers to get those extra points so what is required is clothing that is lightweight, functional and not bulky.
Happily the outdoors is filled with sportsmen that are looking for exactly that combination of technical clothing. Indeed the market is so large that companies are producing some incredible kit with all sorts of performance enhancing attributes in order to grab a share of it, hardly any is aimed directly at the archer but as the requirements are pretty much the same, we, as archers can take advantage.
It's generally accepted that the best way to dress for the outdoors is with several thinner "layers" of clothing, starting with the base layer which in many respects is the most important one seeing as it's the one immediately next to the skin.
Bring on the Proskins active performance compression base layer, a glance at the advertising blurb endows this top with almost mystical powers such as - regulating your body temperature to a perfect 37°, if you are below it will warm you if above the material expands to allow the body to cool, it's anti bacterial, it supports muscle and increases blood flow to reduce lactic acid build up, it's breathable and enables quicker recovery after exercise - holy macaroni !!... and that is only part of the story as there are pages of science on the website about how performance will be enhanced.... the question is, will it work for a humble archer ?
I am unused to such close fitting garments and when I first put it on it feels a little bit science fiction, a bit Buck Rogers, they also make specific ladies wear and in Caroline's case definitely looked a little bit Seven-of-Nine. First impressions are that the top is very elastic and seems to cling to the body, not uncomfortable just different, I am unused to such a close fit especially around the neck.
As I said the seasons have now turned and it wasn't long before I was presented with the perfect opportunity to test out the garment - a club shoot and as it was a cold morning I figured 1 or 2 more layers would do the trick but wasn't sure how well it would actually perform in terms of keeping me warm so in the end settled for a long sleeve top next and another t shirt on top followed by a skinny fleece - all good and close fitting and none too bulky.
Despite the cold day it wasn't long before the layers were coming off and by lunch time the compression top and skinny fleece were giving me the perfect combination of relaxed warmth and freedom of movement, in fact I very much liked the "squeezy" feel of the top, especially when drawing up and at full draw where the muscles are tense. The real bonus for me was being able to shoot with no bracer on a day where I would normally have had so many layers on that I needed a bracer just to keep the extra clothing out of the way - I have no idea if I built up less lactic acid than normal but in truth archery isn't high impact so this is of less importance to me than the warmth, light weight and the breathability - there is a fair amount of walking in field archery and much of it up and down through generally wooded and hilly ground so you can get pretty hot at times - the top certainly worked to the extent that I didn't find myself glowing... Caroline can be a fussy dresser, she is almost always cold regardless of how much she wears - not once did I hear "I'm cold"....so she was sold on it purely from the warm perspective.
Features & Design
In terms of research and development it sounds like there is as much technology in this one top as there is in the space shuttle programme.
Yes it does, I am by nature a sceptical chap but this top is now firmly part of my archery "dress".
Value for Money
There are plenty of standard tops and T shirts that cost more, but this offers so much in addition - the bonus of the archers discount and free shipping should make this a no brainer. Get it on your Christmas list !!
When you are shooting you want to be shooting. I sounds obvious but I want to get on with the archery and not be too hot, too cold, uncomfortable, too bulky or fidgeting with clothing - this compression solution really does offer an alternative to a whole heap of clothing..