Product Review: CEP Clone

Running and cycling everyday can be pretty hard.  For the last few years, there are two tools that I use to keep my body feeling fresh.  One of them is CEP Clone compression gear.

Clone AdMost of us have likely thought that compression gear was the most magical recovery aid ever since the first time we tried on a pair of compression tights or socks after a hard workout.  Not me.  I went through lots of different compression gear and only had a lukewarm reception to any of them.  Then I heard about CEP Clone and, despite my lukewarm experience with other compression gear, decided to give it a try.  My thinking was simple— other compression gear fit like crap.  Maybe it’s just me, but I always thought most compression gear wasn’t tight enough in the calves and was far too limp in its overall compression.  It was quite a plunge diving into CEP Clone— it costs about $270 for two pairs of tights.  But considering that the overall “snugness” of the tights is guaranteed for a half year of being worn every single day of the year (so the guarantee is really a full year for the two pair that come in an order), that’s not a bad deal.  If I really liked it enough to wear it that often, it would be an incredible bargain.  And if CEP was confident enough to guarantee it for such a long period, there must be something awfully special about CEP Clone.

So What’s the Big Deal About CEP Clone?

Measurement chartThe big deal is this: it’s medical-grade made-to-measure compression.  This is hugely important.  Just about every positive study on the effect of compression on recovery has used fancy compression gear that provides gradient support of 20-30 mmHg of pressure.  Despite whatever the manufacturer of your compression gear is telling you, unless you get it made-to-measure, you’re not getting 20-30 mmHg of compression.  This should be obvious if you think about it— if you pull your compression gear so it’s only 1cm tighter anywhere, you’ll notice that the compression goes up quite a bit— yet, in order to make their products fit as many people as possible, all off-the-shelf compression gear is sized to fit much wider size variances than 1cm.  For instance, the regular CEP line has sizing ranges that span up to 10 cm!  The ONLY way that you can be sure to get 20-30 mmHg of compression is to get your gear made-to-measure.
Hence, you can’t simply order CEP Clone over the internet.  Instead, it’s more like having a custom suit made— and it takes about the same length of time.  A CEP-trained retailer carefully takes 21 separate measurements, including measuring each leg separately.  All in all, it takes between 30 minutes to an hour.  In the process, you’ll likely be shocked by the asymmetries in your body.  In my case, there were places where my left and right legs had about an inch of difference– a big enough measurement that would have a huge effect on fit!  After you have paid for your CEP Clone, your sales rep faxes the information to CEP and your prescription, made-to-measure tights arrive about 2-3 weeks later.
 You don’t have too many options in CEP Clone.  The gear comes in black only and is available either as a full-length tight or as a thigh-high length (there’s even a lace-top option— more on that later).  I went with the thigh-length option because I found that my other compression gear in this length is much more comfortable (no, I didn’t get the lace trim!).  Most people I know go with the full-length compression tight— and I think a lot of them have second thoughts about that choice later on.  You also have the option to have either tight made with an open or closed toe.  I’ve heard that the closed toe option can be really uncomfortable on your toes, but some women may want to choose that option (see below).  The open toe option is also a lot easier to get on because of the handy fitting sock (see below)
Sheerness of CEP CloneOne thing you should know about CEP Clone is that it is MUCH more visually sheer than any other recovery gear you’ve ever used.  CEP’s parent company (Medi) makes medical-grade prescription garments to treat conditions like lymphoma, so their garments are typically intended to be used as regular, non-athletic clothing.  This background shows through in the CEP Clone line— it really has the visual sheerness of a pair of women’s opaque pantyhose!  For guys, this can be a little disconcerting.  In fact, the first time that I tried them on, my wife Laura looked at me with a wry smile and said, “wow, honey, all you need is a cute skirt and pretty pair of flats and you’re good.”  I suppose it helps to have either an aged-induced indifference or an overdeveloped sense of masculinity to wear CEP Clone around my house confidently.  This also means that wearing CEP Clone with a pair of shorts is out of the question for all but the bravest guys.  On the other hand, that visual sheerness might be a real plus for women, as I can easily see women wearing CEP Clone as office attire.  This option probably explains why there are the lace top and closed toe options.
Beaded silicone gripper bandDespite the sheerness of CEP Clone, I can tell you that the stuff is tough as nails.  While it is visually sheer, CEP Clone has some real heft to it.  Also, unlike pantyhose, it doesn’t “run.”  In the two years I’ve had my CEP Clone, I’ve only snagged a pair once by accidentally tugging (hard!) on an object that accidentally hooked into a pair.  Even then, the tiny hole I punched in the tights has remained just that— a tiny hole— despite being repeatedly worn and washed many times since my accident.  One other advantage to the thigh-high version is the beaded silicone grippers at the top.  If you’ve ever worn TYR Carbon (such as in the TeamUSA Carbon kits), you’ll know that the silicone grippers on the shorts are a great feature because they don’t slip but also don’t cause rashes like those caused by continuous strips of silicone.  The stuff on CEP Clone is like that— only 10x better.  It’s much wider and there are a ton more silicone “bumps”— this means the stuff doesn’t slip at all.  Again, this is where Medi’s experience with making thousands (millions?) of made-to-measure garments for everyday people really comes in handy— they can invest a lot more into good product design than a company that caters to just a few nutty multisport athletes.  Sometimes it’s good to take advantage of something designed for the vast unfit masses instead of using rarefied products reserved only for elite multisport athletes.
Tights, Fitting Sock, Wash Bag, and SoapWhen you get your tights, it will come in a very European looking cardboard case.  You’ll get a bunch of stuff inside, but the most relevant are the tights, the white mesh bag (for storing and washing your tights), the white “fitting sock” (essential for pulling on the toeless version of the tights), and the soap sample.  Why the soap?  Because this is the greatest soap I’ve found for washing these things.  Whenever I use Woolite or any other gentle soap, I’m always disappointed and my tights always feel less comfortable.  The Medi soap is a great hand-washing soap for everything if you find other soaps irritating.  Thankfully, you can get big bottles on Amazon.  As you only use a tiny capful each time you wash your tights, a big bottle like this one lasts at least a year.
I find that CEP Clone is great for anytime right after a hard workout.  For instance, I’ve been running for the last two mornings.  Yesterday, I forgot to wear my tights and my legs were trashed all day.  Today, I remembered to wear them and my legs felt great— fresh and bouncy and not the slightest bit tired.  If you have a job where you have to sit or stand all day, CEP Clone is great.  And if you have to fly, they are a no-brainer.  In fact, in flying they have a huge advantage over regular compression tights because the extra length over the foot area prevents the ankle swelling that I would get with other compression gear.  Also, the thigh-length version is SO much more convenient when nature calls.
While CEP Clone is expensive, it’s definitely worth the cost.  It will last you longer than any other compression gear you own and serve you much better throughout that time.  I dare you to find a negative review on CEP Clone on the internet— I certainly couldn’t find single one.
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