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So I proceeded to order the Renpho pressotherapy boots that were on sale on Amazon together with the Normatec Pulse 2.0 that cost something like 10 times as much. All for the sake of analysis...
So since then I have been using both pressotherapy boots alternately to compare the advantages of one over the other and poder answer the question you all asked me at the time: Is it worth the economic option, or is it better to save and buy the superior product?
I want to make it clear that the purpose of this analysis or comparison is not to determine which of the two products is better. It is absolutely clear that the Normatec recovery boots are much better in all respects than the Renpho pressure therapy boots. The answer is obvious, because in the case of the Normatec the price right now is 950€ and the Renpho only 80€.
I am comparing a top product with one of the most basic products on the market, at no time do I mean to imply that the Renpho boots are on a par with the Normatec.
Anyway, I will tell you a little about both products so you know what the real differences are between the two, something that can also help you to know what you can find in a pressotherapy boots that you use to recover and what features you should look for.
Normatec Pulse 2.0 Pressure Therapy Boots
I'll start with the Normatec boots, it seems to me the best option to guide you further towards the differences in a top product compared to a low-end product.
The first thing to note is that the Normatec Pulse 2.0 is wireless. The control unit has an internal battery that offers an autonomy of 2 hours of use. This is an important aspect because it allows you to use it anywhere without having to be near a power outlet.
It may seem silly, but when it comes to using the boots it allows you to place yourself wherever you want without having to be aware of having a plug nearby. And I'm talking about doing the recovery at home, if you plan to use them outside the house there is not much more to discuss. Having battery power gives a lot of versatility when using them.
But speaking of making that recovery anywhere, something that I find unforgivable in Normatec boots is that they include a bag or backpack adapted to the product. We are talking about an article premium with a price that confirms this, that it is intended to be portable and that to some extent it can be considered fragile (in the end they are tubes that are exposed to possible breakage or kinks).
The reality is that once you have the boots at home you have to find a way not only to transport them, but also where to keep them stored when they are not in use.
But back to the boots themselves. Two boots are included that are exactly the same, there is no difference between the left or right side. The boot is one piece and opens and closes very comfortably thanks to a zipper at the top.
The use is therefore very simple. Each boot has a direct connection to the hose, and from the hose we make the connection to the control unit. This is an important detail because in case we damage any part 1TP11We can make the replacement more economically (either a boot or the main hose). If everything were a single piece, damaging any tube would mean throwing a lot of money away.
The normal size boots are valid for people in the range of 160cm to 190cm in height. I am 1.93m tall and the boot covers my leg completely, perhaps shorter people may find some discomfort in its use. But as from the 1TP11 control unit we can control how many zones we want to use, it would be enough not to activate the zones that are not going to be used and that's it.
Because speaking of zones, Normatec boots offer 5 swelling zones: feet, calves, knees, lower thigh and upper thigh. The massage is therefore for the whole leg, not only applicable to some zones.
As for the most basic feature to consider in a pressure therapy boot, the pressure range reached is between 30 and 110mmGh in the 7 different pressure levels that Normatec boots have.
Within the massage options we have two: Normatec Pulse (the cycle system patented by Normatec) or the so-called sequential. The choice of the type of massage must be made with the Normatec application, and is that the control unit has Bluetooth and podemos control the same functions from the cell phone more conveniently.
As an extra function of the mobile connection, it also offers synchronization with platforms such as Training Peaks and Strava, creating and storing the recovery session as if it were a sports activity.
But it also doesn't go much beyond indicating how long you've been using the device. And it doesn't have much more to say either.
Renpho pressure therapy boots
Now that you know what a top of the line recovery boot offers, let's take a look at what Renpho's lower end pressotherapy boots offer. As is obvious from the price difference everything scales down, both in materials and performance.
The first thing to note is that there is no battery here and so we are slaves to finding a plug to poder wear the boots. The small 12V transformer is responsible for powering the pressure pump.
And I speak of a boot, when it really is not. Each leg is made up of two pieces, one that is placed on the foot and calf and another that goes to the thigh. These are placed with Velcro, so when using the system we have to open, put the leg inside and close.
It is not as convenient as having everything in one piece but it is bearable. Of course, as it is evident, it is somewhat more complicated to put on.
But the main problem we are going to have when it comes to putting on the boots is not the velcro or the fact that it is divided into two parts, but that the whole system is formed in one piece. There are tubes that go from the control unit to each of the four pieces of the whole system, and these cannot be disconnected.
This can present a problem in case we damage the system at any of the points. In addition, the tubes are not protected as in the case of Normatec, which is a hose with the tubes inside, but each tube travels separately and without any protection. If we puncture, bend or break some of them we will have a problem, because they cannot be replaced.
The operation of the control unit is quite simple. There are four intensity levels, two types of massage and different zones to select. All that can be seen through the LED indicators on the unit, because there is no display as such.
Where we find many more limitations is in the areas to be treated. There are only 3: feet, calves and thighs. The thigh area depends on where you put the piece, because as it is independent of the lower part of the boot and its regulation is with Velcro you can put it higher or lower. However, I find that regardless of where we put this piece always tends to go down to the bottom of the thigh.
So there is no massage in the knee area, and the quadriceps massage let's say is pretty basic because it tends to never be in place.
What about the pressure achieved? Renpho doesn't publish these specifications anywhere so I can't give you an exact figure to compare with what Normatec or any other brand offers, but I can tell you that it is lower than Normatec boots.
It is something that is perfectly appreciated in the massage capacity and also in the fact that with the Normatec boots inflated it is practically as if we had a cast on, with the Renpho it is more like a cushion.
The pressure they reach may be enough to receive a massage in case of tired legs, but I think it falls short if we want a regenerating massage after a hard training session.
Opinion and final conclusion
After these few days of testing I think I am now in a position to answer the initial question I posed at the beginning of the article. I can sum it all up in a phrase that I always like to remind everyone and which, moreover, is almost always perfectly true: "Poor man's money goes twice to market".
Why do I say this? I consider Renpho's boots not a bad product considering what they cost, but they are insufficient if we think of them from a sports recovery point of view. If you simply want something that gives you a massage to activate the circulation in your legs, Renpho's pressotherapy boots will suffice. But if you think of them as something focused on sport you're going to spend money on these boots and then on real boots.
With respect to Normatec's boots, we are dealing with a product that is premium in every way, including price. There are other rivals within this product range (pressotherapy focused on sports recovery) with different price ranges and features.
The bottom line is that if you're looking for such a product for sport (and if you're on this page I'm guessing it's for this reason), you're going to have to save up and pay for quality boots. If you're going to go for something cheap, your money is going to go twice in the market.
And with that... thanks for reading!