Not every UK winter day is a trial of endurance against wind, snow, slush or rain. Often as not, conditions are just right – cool, still, maybe even a glimpse of sunshine. On days like this, the Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey is one of the best things you could be pulling on.
One of the benefits of a non-windproof top is its versatility. Using different weights of baselayer, a gilet or a windproof jacket, you can make it into whatever you need, even within one ride. When it wasn't cold enough to wear the Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit Softshell I've also been reviewing, this is what I pulled on. It's great.
It's built from numerous panels, front and back, some backed with fleece, others less fleecy, and it wasn't immediately obvious why, for example, the chest panels are less fleecy than the underside of the arms... But that didn't matter in use, where it just did a great job of keeping me warm and comfortable without ever overheating. It's all neatly double-stitched together, though some seams are not flat-locked but that wasn't noticeable. Pearl Izumi's own sturdy zip was easy to fasten and undo, even in winter gloves. There's no baffle behind it, but each side of it does have a chunky flap shielding the inside so no draughts got through and it was comfortable around the throat.
Keeping everything in place at the bottom is a broad, stretchy band with a strip of silicone. This is confined to the back panel to keep the line of the front of the jacket clean. There are five pockets to carry enough supplies for day-long winter rides; the middle pocket is made from a softshell fabric to provide some protection from road splash and is generously deep. There's no zippable key pocket.
Fit and comfort were fantastic. In particular I liked the sleeve length, easily long enough for my gibbon-like arms, even though I am 6ft 2in and was testing a medium. There's lots of stretch in the fabric too, so don't feel you need to size up even if you are of broader build. It has a medium-length drop, enough to ensure warm kidneys without bunching up at the front as you bend at the waist.
The understated blue/black design is stylish and won't go out of date. The Elite also comes in grey, and burgundy or black with yellow contrasts, all of which look good on the website.
Highly recommended – and having written about it, I think I'm going to pull it on and go for a ride.
It's the most comfortable non-windproof winter jersey I've ever pulled on
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Elite Escape Thermal LS Jersey
Size tested: Medium
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?
According to the Pearl Izumi website, "The updated ELITE Escape Thermal Jersey provides cozy warmth on cool days. The lofted Thermal fabric breathes well and wicks moisture; and extended back pockets provide a range of storage options for long rides. Made for layering, the zipper features internal flap construction to protect jerseys or base layers from snagging. Best paired with ELITE Thermal Tights."
..and that's no word of a lie. Cosy and comfortable; plenty of pockets (a zip one would be nice).
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
ELITE Thermal Fleece fabric provides superior insulation, moisture transfer, dry time and odor–resistance
Internal welted zipper design for wind and chafe protection
External logo elastic with silicone grip on back to hold jersey in place while riding
Three back pockets plus additional external storage for quick, easy access
Softshell Lite center back pocket for splash protection
Optimally placed reflective elements for low-light visibility
Weather forecast: Cold and dry
Temperature range: 0 to 10 degrees
Fabrics: Body made of 92% polyester 8% elastane with weight of 260 g/m2
Very tidily assembled. Not all seams are flatlocked, but there was no lumpiness evident in use.
I don't dish out many 10s but I will for this. Just so comfortable, warm and pleasant to wear.
Tough thermal fabric; I even got caught up on a barbed wire fence and it didn't snag or pull, though I wouldn't recommend doing this.
Lovely long sleeves; if you have long arms it's definitely worth a try. Elsewhere a close but not overly tight fit. There's plenty of stretch.
Medium was spot-on for me. If you have short arms try a size down.
For the warmth it provides, surprisingly light.
Worth another maximum 10.
Plenty of jerseys come in at this mark and above. For the quality and performance I'd say it offers good value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
As usual I flung it in at 30 degrees. Mud splashes left no permanent stains. I don't use biological powders so can't vouch for them.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very good indeed – warm without being stifling or sweaty; very comfortable and a great fit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Warm, comfortable and soft to wear, lots of sleeve length and a good zip. Great fit and good looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not much. A zipped pocket would be useful.
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 score
For those above-freezing winter days, or if you still prefer the versatility of layers over a windproof jacket, this is close to perfect. Great quality, great fit and very comfortable.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking