In both the FUSION triathlon and running range there is a choice of tops and bottoms made from PWR or Compressor3 (Comp3) fabrics. Given these choices we often get questions along the lines of: - Should I choose PWR or Comp3? - Which is better, PWR or Comp3?
In a nutshell both are technical fabrics with different characteristics and benefits. A short and sharp summary of each fabric is on our Tech page with product descriptions available on individual product pages.
Decided to do a bit of local road testing (Sunshine Coast, Australia), pitting the PWR triathlon shorts and top (TRI PWR SHORTS & TRI TOP) against the Comp3 triathlon shorts and top (MULTISPORT SHORTS & MULTISPORT PRO TOP). Although using the triathlon kit for purposes of this testing the majority of observations also hold true for the PWR and Comp3 running gear.
In so far as the tester i.e. yours truly is concerned, I have trained and raced in TRI PWR SHORTS and TRI TOP, both standard and ICE versions, for the past 2 years (pre Fusion Australia, in both cool and warm conditions i.e. UK to Hawaii). I haven’t yet competed in the Multisport Comp3. Post a good break I kicked off training again a few months back and have rotated through both sets during this time. Including some warmer and cooler conditions – the beauty of a Sunny Coast “winter”…
The following are my take home points comparing one set against the other.
Shorts: The overall design and cut is very similar between the two triathlon shorts. Both have low waist and share the same chamois. The key difference, fabric aside, is the length of the leg. The PWR shorts being a little longer. Measuring the inseam (not on, and so not stretched in any way) the inseam of the medium PWR is 25cm as against the Comp3 Multisport at 23cm. A 2cm difference doesn’t sound like much and I wouldn’t describe the Multisport Shorts as short, however for me (187cm, 6ft 1in) I find this means the PWR shorts cover most of my quads whereas the Comp3 are little more midway (refer pic below). Also the Comp3 Multisport Shorts do not have the side energy pockets.
Tops: Again the overall design and cut is very similar between the triathlon tops. The key difference in regard to features is that the Comp3 top has the front zip for venting which is a function of the different fabrics (refer Temperature & Moisture below).
The following showing a comparison of PWR v Multisport Comp3 fit, both front and back.
Fit / Feel / Sizing
The PWR fabric is a certified compression fabric and in terms of fit this translates to what I would describe as a high level compression or a strong / firm fit. It really is quite snug and while this is obviously important in relation to providing the compression benefits (i.e. reducing muscle vibration & aiding recovery) it is equally important in regard to minimising movement between skin and fabric, and in turn the risk of chafing.
The Comp3 Multisport Short in comparison is still a snug and secure fit however not as firm or strong as the PWR. Additionally the fabric itself feels softer against the skin.
I didn't experience chafing in either of the shorts although my feeling is that if chafing was a concern the extra compression of the PWR shorts means they would be the ones to go for. The strong / firm fit really does minimise movement.
Both shorts share the same low profile chamois so no noticeable difference in regard to fit or feel there.
Re sizing I’m a size guide medium. With both the PWR and Comp3 shorts I wear a medium and like the firm and snug feel. Also think it is important re the aspect of minimising movement and as a result any risk of chafing. In the tops however my preference is to go one size up in the PWR. The medium fits however with its higher compression I personally find it a bit too much around the chest. Going one size up seems to give just a bit more breathing space while still a nice snug fit. However as the Comp3 fabric is not as compressive I wear a medium in the Multisport Pro Top.
Temperature & Moisture
Would describe the PWR fabric as openly breathable and great when it comes to cooling. Once on, and as a result ‘stretched’, the fabric opens up (not visibly but between the fibres) and when combined with air flow this allows for moisture evaporation and temperature transfer. This works particularly well in warm / hot conditions as it allows for evaporative cooling. Even better if you splash a bit of water on it as you go (refer ICE TOP and SPEED TOP blog post). Have never felt the need for a zip on the PWR top, including Kona. On the other hand being so breathable it does mean you can feel the cold in cooler conditions.
Would describe the Comp3 fabric as a temperature regulator. The two phase fabric, with its base layer (layer of air) effect, has more of a maintaining / regulating effect. In terms of moisture transfer and keeping you dry and comfortable I found the Comp3 performs better than the PWR fabric in moderate and cooler conditions i.e. with the moisture wicking principle of drawing moisture away from the body for evaporation. However in warmer conditions I found the ‘openly breathable’ PWR fabric to cool more effectively, although the front zip for ventilation on the Comp3 Multisport Pro Top does help.
In summary the Comp3 worked particularly well in cool to moderate conditions keeping you dry and regulating temperature, whereas the PWR worked well in moderate to hot conditions as it is highly breathable, aiding cooling. In general I would use Comp3 up to circa 20o C, could go either way in the 20’s and choose PWR in 30o C plus.
Over recent years, like many in AUS, I’ve become increasingly conscious of trying to limit sun exposure. Both these sets of kit are on par in so far as offering protection for the areas they cover. In saying that like most tri tops the shoulders and in particular the shoulder blades are exposed, particularly when in the TT position. As such I have been training with a SPEED TOP (refer SPEED TOP blog post here), sometimes over the top of the PWR or Comp3 Tops when a bit cooler, or on its own when warmer. Found wearing the SPEED TOP over the top of either the PWR or Multisport Pro tops was fine, but again one size up as discussed in blog post.
For non-wetsuit I would absolutely recommend PWR. The high compression fit meaning less drag. For a wetsuit swim, either under the wetsuit were fine.
Competition v Training
The Fusion PWR triathlon short and top combination have been one of the most popular in Europe for a number of years and for good reason. They are designed with competition in mind. That said, the high compression / firm fit, is not everyone’s preference. Some choose to compete in PWR and train in Comp3. Others choose to both train and compete in Comp3. The European experience shows that many female athletes choose to wear Comp3 over PWR, and not just age group athletes. For example Fusion Pro athlete and 2013 European Ironman Champion, Camilla Pedersen, elects to race in Comp3 Multisport Shorts.
Personally I would still choose PWR for competition as I like the compressive characteristics and fit, along with the longer leg and side energy pockets on the shorts. That said if it was to be cooler, i.e. sub 20 degrees, a wetsuit swim and short to middle distance race I would look at going with the Multisport Comp3 combination as I think it would keep me that bit warmer, particularly on the bike, while still allowing me to drop the zip for extra ventilation on the run. The other alternative, which is particularly appealing to me, is to mix and match. Specifically PWR shorts with Comp3 top in cooler conditions. The Comp3 top helping keep the core that bit warmer. In regard to training I could go either way. The Comp3 is really good ie. comfy, for day in day out training. However I’ve found temperature is probably the main determinant for me, with Comp3 definitely on cooler days and PWR on warmer.
Found both to be comfy and equally high performers but different. A direct reflection of the two different technical fabrics. Very much making it a personal choice, but also consider competition and/or training and temperature/climate where you train and race. For further information on individual products please refer product descriptions: PWR - TRI PWR SHORTS & TRI TOP. Comp3 - MULTISPORT SHORTS & MULTISPORT PRO TOP.
If your interested in some further reading we provided a PWR set to the Australian Transitions triathlon forum to test. Part of this included putting a call out to members who might like to volunteer to be part of the testing. The initial review including one volunteer who raced IM Port Macquarie in the gear (click here), and a follow up review from a second who raced IM Cairns (click here).
Hopefully the above helps you settle on which is best for you. Of course any questions please get in touch. PS Become a Fusion Member to receive exclusive offers (see top right).
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