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Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers 2018



Pearl Izumi's Elite range of warmers continues to impress on all fronts

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Alongside the arm warmers, I've also been let loose with a set of Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers to complete the set. Well, nearly – George tested the knee warmers. The leg warmers are every inch the quality product we've come to expect from the American company, and are very nearly the equal of the arm and knee warmers...

  • Pros: Warm, comfortable, water repellent
  • Cons: Possibly slightly long, expensive

Nearly? Well, this comes down to personal preference – do you like a zippered ankle hem in your leg warmers or not? Maybe you've never thought about it before, but there are positives and negatives to having one, as these do.

> Find your nearest dealer here

Fundamentally, a zippered hem allows you to get your foot through far easier when putting them on and taking them off, saving stretching stitching with your toes or heel. The downside is the potential for the zip to rub slightly, and possibly a slightly looser fit. Oh, and the zip could break.

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers - zip.jpg

Maybe you can tell that I'm not a huge fan of zips on leg warmers, but I have to admit that in this case, Pearl Izumi has nailed the cut brilliantly when they're zipped up, just like a trusty pair of Altura leg warmers I've owned for years. Add in the ease of getting them on and off, and it's made a convert of me.

Like the knee warmers, the legs feature a cut that assists with easy bending at the knee, with very little in the way of bunching as a side effect. Coupled with the fleece backing and stretch of the material, they're some of the most comfortable leg warmers I've worn.

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers - back.jpg

The fabric has been infused with Pearl Izumi's PI water repellency treatment, which once again provides a surprisingly resilient barrier to water ingress. (You can watch Jack having fun testing it out in this video.) I wore them alongside a set of first-generation Rapha Pro Team thermal bib shorts, and they make a perfect partner to them – high quality, and effective at keeping the elements out without creating a ridiculously sweaty interior. Yes, you can overheat in them when the temperature starts to rise towards double figures, but that's what the knee warmers are for.

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers - front.jpg

In the cold stakes, the fact is that, for me, these full-coverage leg warmers are pretty much good for anything down towards the freezing wind chill mark, as I found with the arm warmers. That's despite the 7-13°C recommendation from Pearl Izumi.

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers - cuff.jpg

The top features an identical hem to the knee warmers, complete with flat silicone gripper on an elastane cuff that grips fast and comfortably, with a small level of compression down the length of the leg. Length is also well-considered, coming up slightly long like the arm warmers, guaranteeing coverage without having to stretch them or sacrifice upper thigh or ankle insulation. If you're shorter in the leg you might find them a tad too long. The reflective logos also sit on the calf region, helping with rear visibility.

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers - gripper.jpg

As ever, quality is excellent, and the zips are also well made, easy to pull, and haven't stiffened or degraded in the multiple washes they've been through. The same applies to the fit and contouring, which remains as new, as does the effectiveness of that PI water repellency coating.

> Buyer's Guide: 17 of the best arm and leg warmers

Like the knee and arm warmers, they're expensive, coming in at £59.99. The GripGrab AquaRepel models I reviewed earlier this year are £12 less. However, the Pearl Izumis do fit far more comfortably, and that matters a great deal when you're in the saddle for any length of time, let alone on a long winter ride.

Despite the price, they're clear winners in a head to head for me. If you prefer a shorts and warmers combo to full-length bib tights, put these on your shopping list.


Pearl Izumi's Elite range of warmers continues to impress on all fronts

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Make and model: Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers 2018

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for

Pearl Izumi says: "The Elite Thermal Leg Warmers quickly convert a favorite pair of cycling shorts into cozy tights. Our best-selling leg warmers are now updated with water shedding PI Dry™ technology for all weather performance. These leg warmers are sold in pairs and have unisex sizing.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?


The ELITE Thermal Leg Warmers quickly convert a favorite pair of cycling shorts into cozy tights. Our best-selling leg warmers are now updated with water shedding PI Dry™ technology for all weather performance. These leg warmers are sold in pairs and have unisex sizing.


- Thermal Fleece fabric with water-shedding PI Dry™ technology for all-weather performance

- Anatomic construction eliminates bunching through your full range of motion

- Plush wide elastic binding with silicone gripper for a stay-up fit

- Zippered ankle for easy off and on

- BioViz™ reflective elements for low-light visibility

- Unisex sizing

- 56% nylon 30% polyester 14% LYCRA® elastane; Made in Vietnam

"What is PI Dry™? PI Dry™ technology is a hydrophobic treatment used on knit or woven fabrics that makes the fibers repel water without effecting the breathability or the feel of the fabric. Now you can splash through a puddle and the spray will simply run off."

Rate the product for quality of construction:

The construction is excellent, including the zips that are easy to pull and make getting the leg warmers on a breeze.

Rate the product for performance:

They're very comfortable, well-moulded around the knee, and most importantly keep you warm even when the weather gets frosty.

Rate the product for durability:

I can't see any faults, and the zip stops the seams for stretching too much when putting them on and taking them off.

Rate the product for fit:

Just enough compression to feel comfortably supportive without being restrictive.

Rate the product for sizing:

They come up just right on me, but if you have short legs you may need to consider other options – they come up a touch long, which is to say right up to the crotch with ease.

Rate the product for weight:

If you're wearing leg warmers, weight probably isn't the biggest concern. They're not unduly bulky, which is good.

Rate the product for comfort:

These are some of, if not the most comfortable leg warmers I've worn. As someone who prefers leg warmers to using tights, they're a great find for me.

Rate the product for value:

£59.99 is expensive, but genuinely fair for the comfort and performance.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Very well – I can spot no degradation of fit or comfort of the fleece lining.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well, nigh-on perfectly.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Warmth, comfort, fit, length.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing – even the zips (I usually avoid them) were great.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Leg warmers that do a great job in any conditions down to very low single figures, and boast added water resistance thanks to the PI treatment – an ideal treatment for legs.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 27  Height: 188cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016)  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding

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