Usual Retail Price: around $300 USD
Weight: 530g (size L)
Pros: Pockets, Fit, Comfort, Breathability
Cons: Could use warmer fabric panel on knees
Suitability: skimo racing
Colour Options: There are a couple of variations you can find in stores. Two designs on the left, in the picture above, are the 2017/18 colours.
Karpos skimo race suit features practical outside pockets for faster transitions and overall efficiency. This race suits is perfect for warmer/spring conditions but can be easily adapted for colder days by wearing underwear of various thickness.
Product description and How we tested it:
We have used the Karpos Race suit for over 20 times now in various conditions – from warm spring sunny days to -15 Celsius (5 Fahrenheit), and in wet snow and cold deep powder.
This well designed piece of skimo wear comes from Italian outdoor clothing division of the well-known Sportful brand that manufactures custom clothing for many professional cycling teams and some national teams in other sports.
The Karpos Race suit is used by Italian and Spanish skimo national teams so you have most likely seen them in many photos and videos over the years.
Sizing is accurate, just make sure to follow Karpos sizing guide when thinking of buying one.
The whole suit is predominantly made using Lycra Power fabric that is defined on Karpos website as “fabric with a high degree of stretch, thanks to 250g Lycra Power and 30% elastane. Offers maximum support and muscle compression while at the same time allowing complete freedom of movement. Tear-resistant and offers UV protection.”
At first glance and try, the Karpos suit feels thinner than most other skimo race suits. We can confirm that this makes it highly breathable, even providing a cooling-like feeling in warm conditions. On colder days (below -8C), we definitely had to wear a warmer underwear than with Crazy Idea NRG suit for example (which can get quite warm in the spring).
Now, starting from the top down, let’s take a look at various features this race suit has to offer.
When fully zipped up, the collar stands tall and fits tight, providing a good overall protection in windy conditions. Fleece lining inside the collar (and around wrists) create a warm and comfortable feeling.
Shoulder fabric is thicker for improved durability and features “rubberized” silicone anti-slip inserts that provide extra grip for race pack shoulder straps.
Chest area pockets are where Karpos suit differs from other suits on the market:
- There are two large stretchable mesh pockets on the outside that can store skins (without the need of opening the suit), or other larger items such as a drink flask or glasses. These two big pockets allow for really fast transitions.
- Then there are two smaller pockets – one on each side – with vertical zippers that are great for storing gels, energy bars, phone or your car keys during a workout.
The inside of the chest area has one zipper pocket for your avalanche beacon (big enough to snugly fit Pieps DSP) and features a larger horizontal pocket, across the belly, for warmer skins storage.
Another distinctive feature of the Karpos skimo suit is that the upper body (torso) portion of the suit is semi-separated from the bottom half (leg) portion. While the back side is sewn into one piece, the front side features an “invisible” horizontal gap that allows for quick access to the inside of suit (and makes for easy peeing for male athletes).
There is a large ventilating mesh panel on the back side that spans from the lower back all the way up to under the neck. This provides for great ventilation but does let in cold air in lower back area in tail wind conditions.
Suit’s fit around the hips, thighs, knees and calves will obviously depend from person to person but the stretchy fabric should easily accommodate for many body types, without looking loose even on skinny athletes.
While the whole front side of the suit (top to bottom) feels like it has some kind of a “wind-protective” finish, the knees area could benefit from an extra windproof panel, or a warmer fabric, to protect knee joints on colder days and during downhills. The crotch area has a Windstopper insert and does offer good protection in descents.
Boot “gaiters”, made of durable Cordura fabric, allow for cutting custom holes for various models of skimo race boots. Overall, they fit well over most boots and do a good job at preventing snow from getting in.
Our overall practical experience with the Karpos Race suit has been very positive but there a few small things that can be improved.
What can be improved:
As mentioned already, the knee area could benefit from a warmer fabric panel. This might make less sense in Europe but would be great for Scandinavian countries and cold North American states and provinces.
Then the bottom of the big back side mesh panel could perhaps end a little higher, thus, offering better wind protection on windy days and during descents. However, this is likely something that other race suit manufacturers are trying to figure out as well.
Buying Karpos Race skimo suit:
- for $300 USD at Skimo.co
- at various other stores outside of North America