Review: CEP Dynamic+ Compression Socks

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Basic description: A range of performance and recovery socks that combine high performance fabrics with targeted compression to improve blood circulation and decrease swelling during athletic activity. We tested two models: the men’s Dynamic+ Ultralight low-cut socks, and the men’s Dynamic+ Cycle Merino short cut socks.

MSRP:
Dynamic+ Run Ultralight low-cut: $20
Dynamic+ Cycle Merino short-cut: $22.50

Features:
Dynamic+ Run Ultralight:

  • Material: 74% Polyamide, 13% Elastane, 13% Polypropylene
  • Seamless toe box and extra-flat toe seam
  • Anatomic and wrinkle-free fit
  • Antibacterial properties
Dynamic+ Run Ultralight

Dynamic+ Run Ultralight

Dynamic+ Cycle Merino:

  • Material: 64% Polyamide, 14% merino wool, 12% Spandex, 10% Polypropylene
  • 15-20 mmHg compression on foot and arch, graduated 22 mmHg compression from ankle up
  • Seamless toe box and extra-flat toe seam
  • Anatomic and wrinkle-free fit
  • Padded pressure zones
  • Antibacterial, odor-reducing properties
Dynamic+ Cycle Merino

Dynamic+ Cycle Merino

Deep dive:
CEP is practically the standard bearer when it comes to compression garments; they’ve been in the business for decades, and their athletic apparel line was an early offshoot of the company’s primary roots in medical compression therapy. They have one of the most extensive product lines around, tailored specifically for activities from running to triathlon to golf or general exercise. And that’s not counting their full line of recovery garments.

The degree of compression in most athletic garments is a notch below medical grade, so the physiological benefits of these items are generally subtle; therefore, the decision to use compression wear is based as much on fit and feel as it is on perceived performance improvements. (For more discussion on this, see our complete overview of compression apparel in our September 2014 magazine.) Having said that, several UR staffers are big fans of compression wear, and CEP is at the top of their list. In fact, one of our editors put them to the ultimate test in June, wearing them wire to wire at the Western States 100, his eighth silver buckle, all of them in CEP compression socks.

We tested two different CEP models in this review, each with a couple of unique properties to distinguish them. The Dynamic+ Run Ultralight are super thin and light, and cling to your feet almost like a second layer of skin. CEP’s anatomic fit is so precise as to have specific right and left sides; the contour of each side is slightly different to accommodate the lateral geometry of each foot. Our socks stayed in place remarkably well, and the seamless construction prevents any hot spots or chafing. They’ve also proven to be quite durable, surviving high mileage training cycles and multiple washings without losing their shape or elasticity.

The Dynamic+ Cycle Merino are a higher cut and provide a nice feeling of support across the ankle and lower calf without the entire surface area of the leg being involved – this is a great compromise for runners who want a bit of support but typically find knee-high garments irritating. The socks seemed to provide just a bit of relief from the pounding of 100 miles – and in that circumstance, any amount of support feels pretty nice.

Merino wool is one of our favorite fabrics, for its natural wicking ability, its thermal properties when wet…but mostly for its inherent odor resistance. We wore our pair for run after run – sometimes up to seven or eight outings before they hit the wash, and they never took on the nasty funk that most trail socks suffer after just a single hot run in the sun.

Regardless of your preference for sock height or thickness, there’s a CEP sock to suit you. If you’re not completely sold on compression gear or just want to test the waters, either of the socks we tested offer a relatively low budget approach to see how they feel and to determine whether you gain a performance benefit.

Conclusion:
CEP’s Dynamic+ Ultralight low-cut and Dynamic+ Cycle Merino short cut socks provide a precise fit, comfortable material construction, and strong durability – ideal for the rigors of ultrarunning. They are go-to socks for fans of compression wear or those looking to experiment with the concept.

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About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, California native, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 25 years of experience in endurance sports. He was a collegiate rower at UCLA, then dabbled in marathons and Ironman-distance triathlons before falling in love with ultras in the early 2000s. His favorite locations to run include Marin County, CA, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and he loves exploring America's National Parks. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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