Review- Pearl Izumi Thermal Arm & Knee Warmers

By Matt Montross

Arm and knee warmers are one of the small accessories that can have a big impact on your riding experience, and their simple design belies their utility.  Through a season’s worth of use I’ve decided the Pearl Izumi Thermal arm and knee warmers are my new favorites.
The weather in Vermont can be variable, especially in spring and fall when temperatures can swing 20 or more degrees in a few short hours.  I won’t try to convince you that warmers and a good baselayer are the key to staying comfortable in those conditions, but look at the pictures you see of pro riders racing or training and you’ll see arm, knee or leg warmers out in all but the coldest conditions when thermal jackets and wind resistant tights are required.

The Pearl Izumi Thermals are made of P.R.O. thermal fleece, a medium to heavy weight lycra that is heavier than the standard material used in bib shorts but not quite as thick as a softshell.  That weight is pretty optimal as it is warm without being bulky and still offers some wind resistance.

The arm warmers have an interesting cut that follows the curve of your arm with your hands on the bars- the elbow is slightly bent with an interesting gusset at the top.  The gusset lies mostly flat under a short sleeve jersey, but it helps avoid the all too common jersey/arm warmer gap.

The asymmetrical wrist opening allows the outside of the arm to remain covered without any additional material getting in the way of your palm.

Here’s a shot of it from the inside- note the clever “L” markingsso you can tell which side is which.

Here’s a shot of that upper gusset- you can see with my arm relaxed at my side that the outside comes up higher than the inside to provide some solid overlap with the jersey sleeve.

With my sleeve down you can still see the slight bump, but it’s small and unobtrusive enough that I think it’s worth the trade-off.

The knees.  You can see they share the same right and left-specific mentality, which means that they fit really well when you put them on correctly and look completely ridiculous when you get them switched up.

When it comes to knee warmers the fit is critical.  They need to stay in place without bunching, binding or sliding down.  These have the best fit of any I’ve ever tried, and they hold their shape through many rides and trips through the laundry.

These pictures were taken after a 90 minute ride in the woods without readjusting to show how well they stay in place.  Overall the fit and feel is the best of any knee warmers I’ve ever worn, and as you can see they didn’t move around hardly at all.

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