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Verdict: 
Arm covers to keep UV rays off your skin without adding too much warmth.
Weight: 
42g
Pearl Izumi Elite Sun Sleeves
7 10

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.

Verdict

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"

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10

There's not a whole lot to get right or wrong here; they're pretty straightforward arm covers.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

This is about the going rate.

Overall rating: 7/10

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 the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven 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.

7 comments

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captain_slog [352 posts] 3 years ago
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This is marketing of genius. I'd never have bought arm warmers in summer, but call them sun sleeves...

Mind you, I suppose 42g is a lot lighter than a bottle of sun-tan cream.

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oddbydefault [83 posts] 3 years ago
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TOP TIP: Thoroughly soak them in water pre-ride. As the water evaporates, you get a really nice cooling effect all over.

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nadimk [7 posts] 3 years ago
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I have these in white, and they work very well on sunny hot days. Why would anyone wear them in black??? Coldblack or not, they're black. duh.

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russyparkin [570 posts] 3 years ago
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i have cold black endura versions of these. they work

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ir_bandito [58 posts] 3 years ago
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Do they provide any insulation at all, when it gets a bit chillier later in the day?

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Mat Brett [629 posts] 3 years ago
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ir_bandito wrote:

Do they provide any insulation at all, when it gets a bit chillier later in the day?

Yeah, they're warmer than having bare arms, largely because they keep the breeze off your skin, but they don't provide a lot of insulation at all. If you're looking for warmth, these aren't for you.

The idea is that they just keep the sun off your arms, as an alternative to sunscreen, say. Some people might have an allergy to sunscreen, can't be bothered with it, or whatever.

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russyparkin [570 posts] 3 years ago
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yeah cold black does what is says on the tin. no warmth at all. if the air is cool so are your arms.