Pearl Izumi's Elite Sun Sleeves will protect your arms against the sun's UV rays without making you uncomfortably hot.
Essentially, these are simple tubes of fabric with what Pearl Izumi call Direct-vent mesh on the bottom for extra ventilation. The top section, the bit most exposed to the sun, is rated UPF 40+, which means that it blocks over 97.5% of UV radiation.
The Sun Sleeves are made from a really thin nylon/Lycra fabric. Unlike most arm/knee/leg warmers, these have no brushed inner face. These are all about covering you up, not providing insulation.
On the contrary, these are infused with Coldblack technology that helps reflect the sunlight away from dark clothing so that its not absorbed and transferred on to you. The science behind it is sound although the difference it makes to your temperature is marginal.
I tried wearing a Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeve on one arm and a similarly thin sleeve from another brand (with no Coldblack treatment) on the other arm. I couldn't discern a difference in the way each arm felt. That's not to say that there was no difference in temperature, and it tells us nothing about the effectiveness of Coldblack because the fabrics weren't exactly the same, but the point I'm making is that you shouldn't expect miracles here.
The main thing is that these are a comfortable option for covering up your arms from the summer sun without adding much warmth. The double-thickness fabric at the top holds them in place just fine and you can't feel the single flatlock stitched seam. Those transfers are reflective. We're half expecting them to become tatty at some stage but they're doing okay so far.
If you really want to reflect heat away, you could always go for the white Sun Sleeves (same price). Rather than containing Coldblack, these have an Ice-fil treatment that has a slight cooling effect when you sweat.
Arm covers to keep UV rays off your skin without adding too much warmth.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl izumi ELITE Sun Sleeves
Size tested: size: M
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Heres what Pearl Izumi say:
"The lightweight and cool Elite Sun Sleeve was designed to provide arm protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays
- The Black colorway features ELITE Transfer fabric with In-R-Cool coldblack technology to provide optimal cooling and sun protection by reflecting UV rays while the White colorway uses ELITE Transfer fabric with In-R-Cool Ice-fil technology to provide optimal skin-cooling effect and moisture management when you perspire
UPF 40+ Sun Protection on top and Direct-vent mesh on bottom of arm for ventilation
- Reflective elements for low-light visibility
- Fabrics: 90% nylon 10% elastane"
There's not a whole lot to get right or wrong here; they're pretty straightforward arm covers.
This is about the going rate.
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.