Alongside the arm warmers, I've also been let loose with a set of Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers to complete the set. Well, nearly – George tested the knee warmers. The leg warmers are every inch the quality product we've come to expect from the American company, and are very nearly the equal of the arm and knee warmers...
Nearly? Well, this comes down to personal preference – do you like a zippered ankle hem in your leg warmers or not? Maybe you've never thought about it before, but there are positives and negatives to having one, as these do.
Fundamentally, a zippered hem allows you to get your foot through far easier when putting them on and taking them off, saving stretching stitching with your toes or heel. The downside is the potential for the zip to rub slightly, and possibly a slightly looser fit. Oh, and the zip could break.
Maybe you can tell that I'm not a huge fan of zips on leg warmers, but I have to admit that in this case, Pearl Izumi has nailed the cut brilliantly when they're zipped up, just like a trusty pair of Altura leg warmers I've owned for years. Add in the ease of getting them on and off, and it's made a convert of me.
Like the knee warmers, the legs feature a cut that assists with easy bending at the knee, with very little in the way of bunching as a side effect. Coupled with the fleece backing and stretch of the material, they're some of the most comfortable leg warmers I've worn.
The fabric has been infused with Pearl Izumi's PI water repellency treatment, which once again provides a surprisingly resilient barrier to water ingress. (You can watch Jack having fun testing it out in this video.) I wore them alongside a set of first-generation Rapha Pro Team thermal bib shorts, and they make a perfect partner to them – high quality, and effective at keeping the elements out without creating a ridiculously sweaty interior. Yes, you can overheat in them when the temperature starts to rise towards double figures, but that's what the knee warmers are for.
In the cold stakes, the fact is that, for me, these full-coverage leg warmers are pretty much good for anything down towards the freezing wind chill mark, as I found with the arm warmers. That's despite the 7-13°C recommendation from Pearl Izumi.
The top features an identical hem to the knee warmers, complete with flat silicone gripper on an elastane cuff that grips fast and comfortably, with a small level of compression down the length of the leg. Length is also well-considered, coming up slightly long like the arm warmers, guaranteeing coverage without having to stretch them or sacrifice upper thigh or ankle insulation. If you're shorter in the leg you might find them a tad too long. The reflective logos also sit on the calf region, helping with rear visibility.
As ever, quality is excellent, and the zips are also well made, easy to pull, and haven't stiffened or degraded in the multiple washes they've been through. The same applies to the fit and contouring, which remains as new, as does the effectiveness of that PI water repellency coating.
Like the knee and arm warmers, they're expensive, coming in at £59.99. The GripGrab AquaRepel models I reviewed earlier this year are £12 less. However, the Pearl Izumis do fit far more comfortably, and that matters a great deal when you're in the saddle for any length of time, let alone on a long winter ride.
Despite the price, they're clear winners in a head to head for me. If you prefer a shorts and warmers combo to full-length bib tights, put these on your shopping list.
Pearl Izumi's Elite range of warmers continues to impress on all fronts
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers 2018
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Pearl Izumi says: "The Elite Thermal Leg Warmers quickly convert a favorite pair of cycling shorts into cozy tights. Our best-selling leg warmers are now updated with water shedding PI Dry™ technology for all weather performance. These leg warmers are sold in pairs and have unisex sizing.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The ELITE Thermal Leg Warmers quickly convert a favorite pair of cycling shorts into cozy tights. Our best-selling leg warmers are now updated with water shedding PI Dry™ technology for all weather performance. These leg warmers are sold in pairs and have unisex sizing.
- 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
- Zippered ankle for easy off and on
- BioViz™ reflective elements for low-light visibility
- Unisex sizing
- 56% nylon 30% polyester 14% LYCRA® elastane; Made in Vietnam
"What is PI Dry™? PI Dry™ technology is a hydrophobic treatment used on knit or woven fabrics that makes the fibers repel water without effecting the breathability or the feel of the fabric. Now you can splash through a puddle and the spray will simply run off."
The construction is excellent, including the zips that are easy to pull and make getting the leg warmers on a breeze.
They're very comfortable, well-moulded around the knee, and most importantly keep you warm even when the weather gets frosty.
I can't see any faults, and the zip stops the seams for stretching too much when putting them on and taking them off.
Just enough compression to feel comfortably supportive without being restrictive.
They come up just right on me, but if you have short legs you may need to consider other options – they come up a touch long, which is to say right up to the crotch with ease.
If you're wearing leg warmers, weight probably isn't the biggest concern. They're not unduly bulky, which is good.
These are some of, if not the most comfortable leg warmers I've worn. As someone who prefers leg warmers to using tights, they're a great find for me.
£59.99 is expensive, but genuinely fair for the comfort and performance.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very well – I can spot no degradation of fit or comfort of the fleece lining.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, nigh-on perfectly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Warmth, comfort, fit, length.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing – even the zips (I usually avoid them) were great.
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 overall score
Leg warmers that do a great job in any conditions down to very low single figures, and boast added water resistance thanks to the PI treatment – an ideal treatment for legs.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding