ByJohn BoyTOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 December 2013
I've worn Skins original format tops, half-tights and long tights since 2009, an A400 top and half-tights since 2011 and, I bought the A400 long tights in 2013, so I know the product well. They certainly work for me in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that I get between 48 - 72 hours after a hard session. As well as resistance and cardio I wear them for yoga and Pilates and, when I had inguinal hernias this summer, my GP said that it was OK to wear the A400 half-tights during Pilates for support and compression. Generally the quality has been very good, although I have had some where the flatlock stitching has started to unravel; they've been replaced without a problem.
The A400 kit differs from the original format in that different material is used at places that are subject to more movement or need less pressure. So the A400 tights have a less compressive material around the knees and over the ITB. However, they are more a lot more compressive around the ankles and calves; I must try them for a fast cadence session on a Spin bike or turbo trainer. As per the original format, the Skins sizing chart suggests that if you're on the border between two sizes, go for the smaller size. Whilst you could do that with the original range, there's no way that I can do it with the A400 range. I'm 5' - 10" (177 cm) and 70kgs so I'm right on the line between medium and small sizes, but trust me, I get more than enough compression from the medium size! I've mentioned that the lower section has a lot of compression and this requires some care putting them on. They need to be rolled on like women's tights as just pulling hard on the waistband may cause problems with the stitching or material. These are tight so if you're self-conscious you may want to wear shorts or gym trousers over them; they aren't too restrictive around your sensitive bits though!
Improved performance from new kit can be placebo / association effect. I wear Skins A400 half-tights for resistance work. The first time that I wore the A400 long tights, exercises using both legs improved - leg press machine, rowing machine - but the single leg items such as leg extension and leg curl machines remained the same. My legs felt good 24 hours later.
Skins brought out an A200 range and they say that the difference between the A200 and A400 range is : "The A400 has several categories; these ranges are more specific to the different sport activities and their specific needs. A400 is aimed for professional athletes and serious amateurs. This range is also cut to be more ergonomic, and made to fit better by splitting into body shapes, based on the 3D body scan we have conducted. Also different fabric is used in specific areas to give more comfort and freedom of movement, such as around the neck, knees and side of the torso. We use different fabrics in A400 range to give the correct amount of compression while the muscles are pumped up during activity. The A400 provides in contrast to the other ranges a dynamic gradient compression. For the A200 collection improvements were made in both men's and women's ranges to the look of our recognisable contrast stitching and our waistbands. Additional unique embossed fabrics have been used to add texture and subtle branding to the garments. The A200 women's garment take cues from catwalk collections in terms of colour, style and the use of feminine mesh details whilst still performing to Skins exacting standards. Bold aesthetics help the A200 range stand out of the crowd, but the innovative design goes much deeper that just a striking appearance."
Expensive, but for the right body shape they are supportive.