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