This article is a long time in the making, over a year, and many thousands of dollars of “research” money was spent to make sure I tested out all the machines possible. I went ahead and bought compression recovery boots from all the levels of legitimate and semi-legitimate manufacturers I could find to see if there really was a difference in what made a recovery boot different from the next.
What I came up with after testing all of these machines, while undergoing an intense ultra marathon training regime, was the categories and differences in all of the compression recovery boots. I’m going to start this comparison off with a table of the main categories that I think were important. Then I will follow it up with a paragraph or two about each machine starting with my least favorite and finishing with my favorite and current machine.
Compression Recovery Comparison Chart
|Name||Modes||Cost||Noise level||Different Sizes||Pressure||Perks|
|Recovery Pump RP||Recovery||1200||2||5||20-100 mmHg||Comes with travel bag, 6 sizes|
|Recovery Pump RPX||Recovery, Pre-Train, Isolate, And 3 custom modes||1995||2||5||20-100 mmHg||Comes with travel bag, 6 sizes, internal battery|
|RevitaPump||Sequential||800||2||3||20-250 mmHg||Budget Friendly|
|Podium Legs||4 modes||800||6||3||50-230 mmHg||Remote Control|
|Normatec MVP||Sequential Pulse Technology||1750||3||2||20-100 mmHg||Lockable Case|
|Normatec Pro||Sequential Pulse Technology, fully customizable||4800||3||2||20-100 mmHg||Lockable Case|
Recovery Pump Review
Recovery Pump was my first experience with compression recovery boots. They had a great customer service team who got back to me right away and sent me a pair to test for an extended period of time (made an exception for this site). One of the great things about this extended test period was they allowed me to learn so much more than I thought I knew from reading about recovery boots online. Also it coincided with a bad calf strain about a week after I got them. I’m not sure about the science related to healing and recovery boots but I was back running in about 7 days from the initial strain.
Now onto the actual unit usage and quality. The pump portion of the unit was solid and well built despite it being a mostly plastic construction like most of them are. It had a good handle and easy to plug in boots which was symbolic of the ease of use the entire unit had. One of the really nice features that made recovery pump stand out was the dials that were simple to use and the timer. Most units either have a hidden time limit or just go one forever. When using them there are two things that often happen to me – 1. I forget how long it’s been since I started and 2. I fall asleep with them on. With the time there’s no need for this concern one way or another.
For accessories beyond the basic boot and pump they have the core and arms. These are nice things if you really want to target more than just your legs. I have no interest in the arms no matter how hard I lift or exercise my upper body but the core garment is a great add on. After a serious leg lifting or mountain running day these hit the spot.
RevitaPump is the best budget option on the market and they will let you know it with no shame. The one thing that is confusing initially with RevitaPump was the number of options offered in their store, 16 in all. While they do have the cheapest pump option available at $599.00 this is not the option you want. The One Touch package is where you should start if you can afford the extra $200. It has a more durable leg sleeve and easier hose connections.
Once you start using the unit which is almost too simplified you will see some of the limitations. One of the main ones is that it can only run 30 minutes at a time with options of 10, 20, and 30 minutes. Also the pressure knob doesn’t say what the pressures it can apply are and this is very important since it can go up to 250 mmHg which is extremely high, higher than you should ever use.
Besides those limitations it is a good entry level unit if you just want to learn more about compression recovery boots. But please if you do, read some articles on compression boots first before you go trying to max out the pressure on this unit – 250 mmHg is too much. And as for accessories RevitaPump has them all – Waist, Core, Arm, and Full Body with Heat.
Podium Legs Review
Unfortunately as of my last check Podium Legs is now defunct but can be found on various websites still for sale. They offered an intriguing entry into a market that didn’t need much more of the same. They had a very affordable, FDA approved, lightweight unit with a remote control. But as you can guess there wasn’t much room for them.
The boot part of the unit felt durable but the hoses felt like they could use some improvement. When using it there is a real possibility that you could unplug a hose or even pinch the line. Then there was the machines noise – but this could be avoided if you jammed something under the rattling handle.
The programming on the main unit had some plusses and some minuses. Without the manual you would never know what anything on it did but that goes for most of them. But these modes weren’t your typical modes you find on most, see the image to the right for more on them. The other glaring problem is that the unit turns off after 15 minutes. Overall I wouldn’t suggest them to most people after using the RevitaPump which comes in at the same price point.
Normatec MVP Review
Now comes the creme de la creme, the Normatec recovery pump. This is the gold standard when it comes to recovery pumps. They have a proven, durable and professional product; and this is clear from the pricing. After trying all of the other pumps this was my final one to review and I only ended up getting one because I snagged a good deal on ebay.
When you use a Normatec device you can feel the high quality. The MVP versions main compression unit has a lockable top on a box that slightly resembles a lunch box and feels solid. There is only one mode on the MVP version but there is 7 levels of power adjustment plus a bonus level if you have an area you want compressed a little more.
All of the makings of the leg part are high quality and well thought out. The hoses are all bundled and tucked together with a quick connector to put it all together in a second. The material the boots are made out of is also very thick but at the same time it is soft and flexible with overlapping chambers to make sure there are no areas with trapped fluid when pumping.
The only downside to this unit is that it’s a bit bigger than others and expensive. But to make up for that they have great accessories like the hip/core attachment, arm, and external battery pack for using on the road. In the end this is the unit that I ended up keeping and using on a regular basis.
Compression Recovery Summary
I think it’s clear that the winner here is Normatec with their sturdy, simple, and performance delivering product. But you shouldn’t think that you can’t get results with the less expensive recovery pumps. I frequently use other peoples recovery pumps, when I’m traveling for races and haven’t brought mine along, and they work as needed. If you aren’t sure which one is for your I suggest you start with Recovery Pump and if they don’t feel up to snuff then return them and spend the extra money on a Normatec system.