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Review: Cold weather mountain bike gear from Pearl Izumi is perfect on chilly days

Mountain biking in the cold? Pearl Izumi has you covered

A snowy mountain bike ride with Pearl Izumi apparel
Travis Reill / The Manual

Just because the days are shorter and the temperatures have fallen doesn’t mean it’s time to store your mountain bike away for the season. However, with colder and wetter weather, you need to be prepared with proper winter-weather mountain biking gear.

Fortunately, our friends at Pearl Izumi were kind enough to send me a fresh kit to try out in the chilly conditions. Pearl Izumi has been a trusted brand in the cycling industry for over 30 years, making quality apparel and gear across all cycling categories.

Cold weather mountain bike apparel from Pearl Izumi
Travis Reill / The manual

My Pearl Izumi cold-weather kit

Not only was Pearl Izumi kind enough to send me some mountain biking apparel to test, but they also allowed me to choose the apparel I wanted. Pearl Izumi has a vast selection of mountain bike apparel, with quite a bit designed to keep you warm in the winter months.

While Pearl Izumi sent me a handful of mountain bike apparel to test out, this review will focus on the three main things keeping me warm: a pair of pants, a shirt, and a hoody. Pearl Izumi also sent me a pair of chamois bibs, gloves, and socks—all performed wonderfully.

Pearl Izumi Elevate Pants for mountain biking
Travis Reill / The Manual

Pros and cons of Pearl Izumi mountain bike apparel

Elevate Pants pros

  • Perfect fit. Many brands’ sizing can be strange as they attempt to accommodate both a U.S. and international market. The Elevate Pants were spot on.
  • Solid waist adjustment. Many mountain bike pants use velcro for waist adjustment, which will eventually wear out. These pants used webbing and an adjustable G-hook.
  • Durable yet breathable. Pearl Izumi promotes the Elevate Pants as their most durable mountain bike pants. They took a beating without making me too hot. There was plenty of room in the double knees for pads.

Summit Hooded Thermal pros

  • Good style. Awesome for mountain biking but also acceptable to wear to the bar without looking like you just came from the trails.
  • Regulated temp well. The Summit Hoody did a great job keeping me warm while not letting me overheat.
  • Roomy hood. The hood is big enough to fit over my helmet without looking bulky.

Canyon Merino ¾ Sleeve Jersey

  • Stylish. Again, this worked great as a mountain bike shirt, but it was also a shirt I found myself wearing off the bike.
  • Breathable and moisture-wicking. The Canyon Merino breathes well, quickly wicking moisture away from your body.

Elevate Pants cons

  • Pockets. I would have liked to have “normal” pockets on the Elevate Pants. Although I don’t mountain bike with items in my pockets, having standard pockets on the way to and back from the trailhead is convenient.

Summit Hooded Thermal cons

  • Somewhat bulky. The hoody needs to be more compact to fit in a hip pack.

Canyon Merino ¾ Sleeve cons

  • Bunched up. The sleeves would bunch up underneath a top layer. This wasn’t a significant issue, but I noticed I had to adjust them occasionally.

The Pearl Izumi Summit Hoody for mountain biking

The ins and outs of this Pearl Izumi winter kit

I prefer to layer any active gear—mountain bike included—so I chose apparel that could be considered more mid-weight in Pearl Izumi’s line-up. I also don’t live in a particularly wet climate, so I avoided water-proof gear.

With that in mind, I ordered accordingly. Here’s what I got:

  • Elevate Pants—These pants are built for everything and are made to last. They feature two side zipper pockets, incorporating webbing with a G-hook for waist adjustments. The nylon/spandex blend sheds light moisture and breaths well while giving the Elevate Pants a bit of stretch. Sizes range from 28-38 inch waist, all with a 31.5-inch inseam, with two color options.

  • Summit Hooded Thermal Jersey—The Summit Hoody took on the cold without making me sweat. The recycled poly/elastane fleece can be a mid or outer layer, though I only used it as the latter. This standard-fit hoody has a longer hem in the rear for additional mud coverage and a hood that fits over mountain bike helmets. There are two colorways and five sizes.

  • Canyon Merino ¾ Sleeve Jersey—Pearl Izumi’s DriRelease merino blend cuts back on stink and moisture. The merino fabric helps regulate body temperature while pulling moisture away from the body and drying quickly. The cut is relaxed with a slightly longer rear hem for additional coverage.

Pearl Izumi Canyon Merino 3/4 sleeve shirt for mountain biking
Travis Reill / The Manual

Pearl Izumi cold-weather apparel: Performance

I was pleased with the mountain bike clothing I received from Pearl Izumi. While each product had a downside or two, there was nothing that affected the performance of the product.

The Elevate Pants may be the best mountain bike pants I’ve used. The fit was perfect—not too tight or loose, with plenty of room in the knee to fit pads underneath. I never overheated in the well-ventilated Elevate Pants. And they are durable, surviving a crash or two without rips or tears.

While Pearl Izumi says the Summit Hoody isn’t necessarily designed as an outer layer on cold days, I found it to be more than enough in temperatures that dipped below freezing. The hoody kept me comfortable in 30° weather up to 50°. This 20° window makes up most of my winter mountain biking, making the Summit Hoody a perfect option.

Pearl Izumi’s Canyon Merino Jersey also performed flawlessly. What merino wool does so much better than poly-blend activewear is it absorbs and dries the sweat from your body—with an emphasis on drying. A sweaty shirt equals a cold ride. I stayed significantly warmer in the Canyon Merino Jersey because it performed well.

The Pearl Izumi badge on some mountain bike apparel

Should you buy this Pearl Izumi cold-weather kit?

I recommend purchasing any mountain bike apparel from Pearl Izumi. All the clothing Pearl Izumi sent met my expectations of mountain biking apparel. The Canyon Merino and Summit Hoody did especially phenomenal jobs regulating body temperature.

This Pearl Izumi kit is perfect for mountain bikers who want high-quality, high-performing gear that doesn’t resemble “traditional” mountain bike apparel. The tops are perfect for the trails or as casual wear.

With that said, I chose these Pearl Izumi items because I am a bit more of a warm-bodied creature. While I certainly don’t like to start a mountain bike ride freezing, I’ve found that I warm up and overheat quickly. Something like the Summit Hoody was a winter outer layer for me, but it may be a mid-layer (as Pearl Izumi intended) for another.

Editors' Recommendations

Travis Reill
Contributor
Hi! I'm Travis, a teacher turned stay-at-home dad turned freelance writer. Mountain biking is my passion. Fortunately, I've…
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