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Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Knee Warmers 2018



A great pair of water-resistant knee warmers that live up the hype

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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The Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Knee Warmers keep your legs toasty, dry quickly after a downpour, and stay up well. What more do you need from knee warmers?

  • Pros: Warm, comfy, water-repellent
  • Cons: Pricey

The new Elite Thermal Knee Warmers landed in the office to a bit of confusion, as they look identical to the 2016 ones. However, there is one new addition: the PI Dry technology coating, which makes them water resistant.

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They are made from Elite Thermal Fleece panels, which means they are very warm and kept my legs comfortable throughout the review period, down to around 4 degrees.

However, simply keeping your legs warm is, oddly, not the only element that makes good leg warmers – they also need to stay in place. These manage this well through a combination of thick silicone grippers at the top and bottom openings, and through the well-thought-out panelling, which means there isn't strange bunching or pulling during the pedalling motion.

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Knee Warmers - cuff.jpg

The one element that really sets these apart from the competition, though, is the PI Dry technology that Pearl Izumi has coated them with. The idea behind this is to make the knee warmers water resistant, and we created a video showing how well it works (we also got to throw water at Jack, which was an added bonus).

In real life these work as well as our highly scientific test. It was interesting testing them in the wet with non-water-resistant bib shorts... while the shorts got drenched, the knee warmers stayed dry.

The technology works by coating the individual fibres rather than the overall fabric, and Pearl Izumi claims that after 100 washes 90% of the performance should be maintained, rather than the industry standard of 80% after 20 washes. I don't know if it would be physically possible to wash them that many times in a review period, but after the three washes I put them through there was no noticeable loss in protection.

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

The knee warmers have an RRP of £44.99 which is steep, even with the impressive waterproofing element. You can pay less for pretty good protection – dhb's Aeron Rain Defence Knee Warmers (we tested the arm warmers last year) cost £26, and Madison's RoadRace Optimus Softshell Knee Warmers put up a good fight against the rain and are still only £29.99. Castelli's Nano Flex Knee Warmers are closer in price, but still a fiver cheaper at RRP, though Stu wasn't enamoured with their seam placement.

Overall, though, I really like these knee warmers. They may look the same as last year's version, but the PI Dry technology coating really brings a new element and despite the high price, in my opinion they are worth the investment.


A great pair of water-resistant knee warmers that live up the hype test report

Make and model: Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Knee Warmers 2018

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?

A pair of knee warmers that allow you to keep your legs warm, while also keeping them dry.

Pearl Izumi says: "The ELITE Thermal Knee Warmers have been updated with water-shedding PI Dry™ technology for all-weather performance making them even better in cold and wet weather than before."

This seems like an accurate description of how they perform.

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

Pearl Izumi lists:

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

BioViz™ reflective elements for low-light visibility

Unisex sizing

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Well made, with strong stitching and panelled construction.

Rate the product for performance:

Performed really well throughout the review period.

Rate the product for durability:

The coating means they are likely to keep their waterproofing for a long while, and the strong stitching means they're unlikely to fall apart any time soon.

Rate the product for fit:
Rate the product for sizing:

The medium size fitted as expected.

Rate the product for weight:
Rate the product for comfort:

The really nice soft fleecy inner, anatomic design and warmth meant they were really comfortable.

Rate the product for value:

A bit steep, but with the water-resistant treatment, they are a worthwhile investment.

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

Easy, washed at 30°C without an issue.

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

Very well, stayed in place nicely and kept my legs warm in cold conditions.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The waterproofing is really impressive; I even ran them under a tap to see the water flow off for fun.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

They are a little on the pricey side.

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

A really warm and innovative set of knee warmers with waterproofing; comfy and, though expensive, worth the money.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 29  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: Mercian King of Mercia or Cinelli Gazzetta  My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

George is the host of the podcast and has been writing for since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between. 

Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.

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ktache | 6 years ago

I purchased the Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Knee Warmers based on this site's review and that I have trust in the quality of Pearl Izumi's products.  I have found them excellent and and worn with my Endura's Zyme long shorts, my "winter"shorts, did the whole winter, even through "the beast..".  Highly recommended.

ecycled | 6 years ago

Excellent product. Have used for years with never an issue.

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