Pros: Compression and Comfort
Cons: No pee flap
First full disclosure - I purchased a pair of Opedix S1 3/4 length in Large for the above price and I won a pair of the S1 full length in Medium. I returned them both to end up with 2 pairs of 3/4 S1 in Medium. I'll tell you everything I know about both styles and the difference in the fit.
My knees -
Left - no (usable) ACL, some meniscus damage, and arthritis from old injuries. ACL/MCL/Meniscus in 2008 and an injury that caused Chrondomalacia patella back around ’79. Whacked it pretty good.
Right - ACL reconstruction 3/31/2011. That time I tore the ACL, MCL and LCL with of course some meniscus damage.
Both tend to swell for no apparent reason. The surgeon noted this as well. On my left leg, he was draining it every visit and typically pulled out 40cc (I think cc is what he unit of measure was). Here it is 4 years after my left knee was injured and it still swells. Both swell after any sort of prolonged jumping or running. They don’t hurt, just swell.
I'm 52, in relatively good shape and ski 60+ days a year (this year was cut short - only 53). I also race beer league and nastar. 5’7” and around 175#. Granted I could do with less shape around the mid section.
There is plenty of info of why they work at Opedix site so I won't bother with that.
At first inspection, they are well made and durable looking. The material and design is strong; reinforcements everywhere. At no point did I look at these and feel I needed to be careful with them. Well, outside of the cost, and they will rip like any other cloth would, but I had no reason to believe pulling them on or off would cause something to tear. So far that has held true and you do have to man handle them to get them in place.
Also noted was that they are black and at the Opedix site they are listed as grey with the usual disclaimers about color variation. The ankle tab on the 3/4 length isn't there as depicted at the site either on the Large. Is there on the Medium 3/4 length. Neither of these are complaints, just observations.
The first pair I received was the 3/4 length in Large. I bought them to fit my belly but I should have bought them for my knees, which are mediums in size. I felt the compression on my knees but it felt like it should be more. Though snug around the belly, it wasn't uncomfortable at all. Once on, the first thing I noticed was that there isn’t a pee flap. I’ve always thought of those with the highest regard so I wasn’t thrilled about that. I thought about it and decided it that it must be due to how much tension is on the material. Having a pee flap would weaken it.
Next thing I noticed was that the waist has a draw string that you need to tie. That’s fine but probably because I got a Large, even with them tied, they tended to slide down after skiing and bending a bit.
It just worked out that when I received them, the conditions had gotten less forgiving to knees so I started wearing my knee braces again (both legs like Forrest Gump). The combination of the Opedix and my braces was great! My knees had been bugging me more this season than in the past and I dismissed it to my lack of working out once the ski season started (quit riding stationary bike). Could be true but after skiing three days straight, all day long, to include one legged skiing repeatedly and skiing bumps, and chopped up crud, my knees were fine! I’ve never been able to go three straight days of easy skiing without breaking out the ice packs by the end of day two. No swelling and I didn’t wince when I had to walk up or down stairs (down is usually worse).
I did make a change to how I wore them though for two reasons 1) they kept riding down and 2) always having to untie the draw string on the waist to use the rest room (because there’s no pee flap) and I’m a coffee drinker. My answer to both was suspenders. I don’t have to use the draw string and they stopped riding down. Life is good.
I used nice suspenders for dress slacks that have a squeeze clasp that won’t damage the material. My reasoning is that if the draw string anchors to the hips for support, I’m doing the same with the suspenders. Added bonus of not having to untie and retie all the time. Remember you’ll be doing this in full ski gear. I know it’s different for women but I was born with the opportunity to use a urinal and I'd like to keep taking advantage of that.
In between skiing on the weekend, I wore them under my dress clothes at work. Part was to get used to them with the suspenders and part was because I work in a large manufacturing plant, give tours now and again and also tend to do long periods of standing. I’m fine with walking all day; it’s the standing still that bugs the knees. The three flights of stairs to the café I could do without too. Worked out great.
I did this also on beer league nights which I go to straight from work. This had me in them from about 6:00 AM until 11:00 (ish) PM. When I did take them off I was happy they were off but I didn’t mind wearing them that long at all. They were never uncomfortable. Braces were worn also while racing.
The following weekend I wanted to try just the Opedix without the braces to see how much the Opedix were contributing. I skied that way all morning but the conditions were a lot worse than the week before and I skied bumps too. I started feeling it by lunch time so I put my braces on and skied the rest of the day. I feel obligated to remind you that I was wearing a Large and felt the compression needed to be tighter for my legs. I had been skiing the better part of the season without the braces. Only wore them early season because of the recent surgery and when doing something hard on the knees, like working race course maintenance all day for one of the many we had this winter; lots of slipping the course.
Skied the afternoon and the next day wearing the Opedix and both braces and all was fine again. I haven’t been able to do an apples to apples comparison of with and without braces, but I do know that Opedix with the braces is better than just braces.
Post end of ski season, I received the full length S1 I won in Medium. First thing I did was check for a pee flap – nada. Next thing I did was see if my chubbiness could fit in them….no problem and the compression I was looking on my knee was there!!! It reminded me of getting it wrapped post surgery – I liked that. I again wore them all day at work; with commuting that’s about 10.5 hours. No problems. I did NOT wear the suspenders this time. Nor did I need to use the draw string. They didn’t slide down but they did make it so I could wear a size smaller pants. My wife teased me about wearing “Spanx”. Anyway, it motivated me to lose weight so there’s an added bonus.
I was concerned about the fact these were full length. The ankle cuff stops just above the end of the tibia and my boots are snug. So snug I can only wear the thinnest of ski socks. So I decided to spend part of a Saturday wearing the Opedix and my boots.
Unfortunately this didn’t go well. I loosened the cuff one ladder step but it still was uncomfortable. I was sitting at the computer desk and only walking across the room now and again. After 5 minutes I unbuckle the top buckle (three buckle boot). That made it bearable but not really skiable. Here’s the pictures:
This one shows how far the cuff comes down:
How everything was worn. I did loosen up one ladder on the top buckle and then unbuckled it:
You can see the mark left on my leg even though the boots were unbuckled:
In fairness to Opedix, my boot set up is tight. My foot measures larger than the size of my boot and the liners are heat molded. There is NO extra room in there.
If I spent some time playing with it, I could have come up with a reasonable setting, but since the other Opedix S1’s were ¾ length, I would constantly have to re-adjust the buckles. The other alternative was to fold the cuff up but I was concerned about how the braces would fit.
I sent an email explaining the situation to Opedix and the changed out BOTH pair!!! I now have 2 pair of Opedix Men’s S1 ¾ Knee Support Tights in Medium. They really do want you to be happy with your purchase. They are also prompt with responding. I’m pretty sure it was the next day that I received the email back. I had previously email a month prior on the sizing and they were kind enough to send me the dimensions:
Note that around the knee of the Medium and Large there is a difference of one full inch. Don't be frieghtened by the waist measurements. The Medium's 26" waist stretches enough for mine and I'm more than 10 inches larger than that.
I will wear these doing any working out that I feel my knee could use some extra support. With two pair I will always wear these skiing. Chances are I will wear my braces also. This might be a “belt and suspenders” approach, but it is working. I never had the chance to ski with just the Opedix in a Medium but will try that next season and update this review.
I only gave them 4 stars for "warmth" as these aren't the Fleece ones and when I was skiing it was warm already. I was concerned on how to do this as I don't want you to think I was cold. The material is much thicker than the EMS Techwic I've been wearing under my ski pants so I'm sure they'll be warm enough.
Bottom line is I’m very happy with these and even if I didn’t win a pair I would still buy at least one pair. Having two pair just makes things more convenient with skiing so much. The compression on my knee is appreciated and it feels like they are doing more than just wicking away perspiration. Whether it is the compression or the support that is keeping the swelling away, I don’t know, but these tights do keep the swelling away without all the bunching and discomfort that typically comes from over the counter neoprene wraps. Very impressive.
There are discounts available and if you go to Opedix "site map" you just might see something you qualify for. I believe epicski members get one too. I did use my PSIA discount but I'm not disclosing that price as we are told not to do that.
I don’t see me skiing without these.