Review: Pearl Izumi Keeps Us Warm – Thermal LS Base Layer, Plus P.R.O. WXB Gloves and Shoftshell Shoe Covers

Pearl Izumi Thermal LS Base

For those of us that live in areas where the cold settles in for a few months each year, it’s important to stay warm and dry when riding in the cold season. Here in the Pac NW the dry part is especially important. With the help of some Pearl Izumi gear, I’ve had no trouble doing both.

Thermal LS Base:

When the temperature dips below the 45° mark, I immediately reach for one of my Thermal LS Base layers. This technical piece of clothing features a brushed inner layer with Minerale™ technology that helps keep you warm and dry. The P.R.O. thermal Minerale layer not only helps to transfer moisture, it is also odor resistant. I can back this claim up, as I have ridden in / sweated in this base layer for several rides in a row with minimal odor prior to a good washing. The base layer features a crew neck cut, is form fitting for ease of layering, and it’s long enough to be tucked in and stay there.

Keeping your core warm is always nice. However, keeping your extremities warm will always make for a much more enjoyable winter spin. Head past the break for more on Thermal LS Base, plus the P.R.O. Barrier WXB gloves and shoe covers.

Personally, while I prefer cold weather to hot, I don’t deal well with being cold. Having the LS Base layer has been great. Wearing the Thermal LS Base layer with just a merino wool short sleeve jersey over it, I’m good down to 45°. Add a windproof vest into the mix, and 40° is no issue. Turn that vest into a winter shell and 32° is totally manageable. On long rides, the claims of moisture wicking hold true as well. I don’t find myself soaked in sweat post ride. The quality of construction is top notch. I have had two of these in rotation for a season and a half now, plus some off the bike wear as well, and they don’t show any signs of wear and tear yet. And last but not least it’s super comfortable. The softer “brushed Minerale™” liner feels like nice fleece against the skin. The tight fit isn’t too tight.  Plus, it’s the prefect length to stay tucked in. MSRP is set at $75 and it’s worth every penny.

Pearl Izumi Barrier WxB Glove Top

P.R.O. Barrier WxB Gloves:

These gloves are great for those who need to stay both warm and dry. They feature a waterproof  Outdry® layer to keep your digits dry and a fleece lining to keep them warm. Leather palms aid in gripping the bar tape. The anatomical cut of the glove allows for easy shifting as well, be it on  brifters or MTB style shifters. The fleece panel on the thumb is great for wiping sweat clear. The gloves come up past the wrist enough to seal tightly around a long sleeve, preventing cold creep.

Pearl Izumi Barrier WxB Glove Palm.png

In practice, I have found these keep my hands dry with no issue. When it comes to keeping the hands warm, the gloves alone seem to work for me from 50° to about 42°. Below 42° out, I find myself supplementing them with a pair of liners. That keeps me good down to about 35° out. Even with the liners in, the gloves never feel too bulky, and I never have any issues shifting. Even riding on a Di2 setup, I don’t find myself having any mis-shifts. As with the base layer above, I have been riding these gloves for a season and a half now. All stitching is holding together fine, and they have maintained their waterproof qualities. The only wear showing is on the rubber grippers applied to the underside of the index and middle fingers, and even that is minor.  The gloves have an MSRP of $100 should you choose to make them your own.

That said, on really cold days (32° and below) I still find myself reaching for my $70 REI Switchback gloves. With their heavier, removable fleece liner, they are more bulky and harder to shift with, but I never have an issue with my hands staying warm. The Switchbacks are also my choose for days up on Mt. Hood.

Pearl Izumi Softshell WxB Shoe CoversP.R.O. Softshell WxB Shoe covers:

On my winter commutes I rock a pair of Mavic Drift waterproof, insulated shoes. If I head out for a winter road ride though, the last thing I put on (minus a helmet) is my Pearl Izumi Softshell WxB shoe covers. They feature quality Primaloft® insulation, two layers of WxB laminate fabric, internally taped seams, and plenty of reflective elements for safety in low light. The intended use is with road shoes, and the Kevlar® bottom with it’s elastic strap is designed to slide over external road cleats. There is even a pad of thicker fabric on the toe to prevent wear and tear at the contact point.

The use of these shoe covers can be summed up pretty easily. It’s exactly like wearing a warm comforter from your bed on your feet. It’s fantastic. Riding with warm, dry feet is simply a must in the winter and these shoe covers don’t disappoint. I have been on rides ranging from 48° all the way down to 30° wearing them, and they have preformed very well in all conditions. They slide on easily and rise up past the ankle a bit.  Closing them is simple thanks to the two stage hook and loop Velcro system. These have seen less use than the other gear reviewed here. However, they are showing no signs of wear yet, and the quality of construction is excellent. The only gripe I have is very minor. When removing them over my Shimano road cleats, I wish the bottoms had a tad bit more stretch, as they are a difficult to remove.  Cost of entry is set at $100.  It seems but a small price to pay for warm, dry feet all winter if you ask me.

Comments

Veganpotter - 01/05/14 - 4:25pm

An article about cold weather riding and apparel should include a writer that rides in ACTUAL cold weather. S. Carolina has 30 degree days as do dozens of other states. This is late fall and early spring for people with ACTUAL cold weather. A review of clothes for 15 degrees down to below zero would be nice.

Eddy - 01/05/14 - 5:26pm

Nice review. I like PI (and GORE) gear and having the right gear makes riding in colder temps possible. Good riding gear is expensive but I find it last for many years. It might not get to 0 degrees F. here in NC but the 15 degrees we had last week is close enough for me.

g - 01/05/14 - 5:30pm

@veganpotter. I got your back on this one. if the high on my road ride reaches 32 degrees, I’m having a good day. trying to find booties and gloves that aren’t to bulky, but functional in 0ish wind chills is a whole different world. I’ve even used barmitts , but these are a little dangerous.

Brandon - 01/05/14 - 6:25pm

Guys. I ride everyday and today just so happened to be -10 when I was riding. Rode the fatbike off-road for an hour. Tomorrow is a projected high of -14. 32 degrees is downright balmy. Days like those are knickers and tall socks and long sleeve wool jersey with vest.

I do agree, however, that people reviewing this stuff should actually review it in cold temps. 32 degrees is just not cold.

Brandon - 01/05/14 - 6:27pm

By the way I’m talking air temps, not wind chill. Wind chill tonight is supposed to be -60.

Gabe - 01/05/14 - 9:16pm

I own the WXB Barrier gloves and the P.R.O. Softshell Lites. The barrier gloves are fine for me down to about 20 degress; lower if I am riding hard. With the softshell lites lining the wxb’s I have comfortably kept warm in sub zero temperatures.

My only gripe is the fit. FOR ME the pinky fingers are too short and the middle and index fingers are too long. They keep me warm but I will not buy these again. I work at a shop and tried on the softshell PRO and lobsters before ordering these two gloves which we do not stock. They do not fit the same…

Dave - 01/05/14 - 9:31pm

0 degrees? Yeah, they got these really cool things called rollers now, so you can ride your bike inside and not have to deal with having to choose between wearing $800 of technical gear, or frostbite. I ain’t saying it’s as fun as a nice outdoor ride on a balmy day, but I was under the impression that riding wasn’t supposed to make you miserable.

Brandon - 01/05/14 - 10:29pm

Dave. Get a fatbike and you will see that there is nothing miserable about it. Plus you tend to generate enough heat where dressing appropriately (with gear you probably already own) is not hard to do. Who actually likes riding a trainer or rollers anyway? You didn’t buy your bike to ride indoors, did you? Get outside!!! Anyone who owns a fatbike can attest.

Veganpotter - 01/06/14 - 12:35am

When I lived in Maryland, I would suffer through 6hr training rides with a high of 12degrees. Now that I live in Milwaukee, I’ve purchased a fat bike, have pogies and good winter cycling shoes. I don’t feel remotely cold at -15 with pretty conventionall biking layers. Tomorrow the windchill will be -45 and I’ll be riding. The only major change will be wearing ski goggles, ski pants over my bib tights and an extra thin sock under a warm sock. Riding inside is terribly boring!!! On my road bike…10degrees is almost warmish.

Archibold - 01/06/14 - 1:16am

You guys all sound like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo&oq=four%20yorkshi&gs_l=youtube

Pynchonite - 01/06/14 - 9:37am

Haven’t tried the gloves or base layer, but I have a pair of Elite WXB covers from last year. So far, the Kevlar strap has frayed off the right cover and the fabric has separated from the bead along the bottom. Haven’t really done anything extreme (like hiking) in them. Pluses: comfortable by themselves (no other insulation other than a nice sock) down to about 5°F for about an hour and excellent waterproofing.

Volsung - 01/06/14 - 10:08am

Sometime in the last few years PI forgot how to make Velcro. My wxb gloves don’t close anymore and the new softshell lobster’s velcro is wearing out. I usually tuck em into my jacket sleeves, but I expect more from expensive gloves.

Veganpotter - 01/06/14 - 12:06pm

Archibold…you’re right. It does sound funny but thats actually just how cold it is in many states. There are TONS of winter bikers in the Twin Cities which gets WAY COLDER than Milwaukee. Its just how people get around and we want reviews on how clothes perform in ACTUAL cold weather. 30degrees is something we can get in mid-late April in Milwaukee and even later in the Twin Cities, the Upper Penninsula in Michigan, and hell…FAIRBANKS ALASKA. -40 before windchill can often be the HIGH TEMPERATURE!!!

Psi Squared - 01/06/14 - 5:43pm

Well, it looks like people in areas the get colder, areas like the Twin Cities, should find people up there to review cold weather stuff for them. This review is still relevant as many people live in conditions like those in the story.

I’d wager no one owes people of the Twin Cities a cold weather gear review in the Twin Cities’ conditions.

Zach Overholt - 01/06/14 - 6:02pm

@veganpotter, understood, but also know that for those temperatures you wouldn’t be using shoe covers or middle weight gloves, you would be riding winter boots and heavy weight gloves like the PI PRO WXB 3x1s. This review was about cold(er) weather gear with an emphasis on staying dry. My ride today was -4 f, and I would definitely not have wanted shoe covers or the Barrier WXB gloves.

Veganpotter - 01/07/14 - 9:21am

Talking about things going from 48 down to 30? Thats not so wintery and it should be stated that these clothes work for mildly cold temperatures.

More people(as a percentage) ride in Milwaukee, the Twin Cities, than any of the warmer cities I’ve lived in on the east coast(Philly, Richmond, Baltimore). These are not just tiny towns. A company that makes the most cycling clothing in the world should make clothes for COLD climates when pretty large cities with lots of riders don’t stop riding while people in much warmer cities compain and quit riding when it drops below 20.

Fraser C. - 01/09/14 - 5:05pm

I’m not going to disagree with anyone here, but just a thought.. I ride in all weather here in Cincinnati, commuting every day, so I ride plenty in sub freezing and then some. I would still use the above covers and gloves, becasue the gloves would be inside my BarMitts, and the covers would be over my SIDI winter boots. Layering is good!

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