Pearl Izumi Summit WRX NeoShell Gloves
Price: $60 / €60
Available Colours: Black
Available Sizes: XS-XXL
Weight: 25g per glove, size small
When I write about gloves it’s often about the warmest and most extreme gloves I can find. Some of that is because I’m always cold but, if I’m honest, part of that is that there’s a certain romanticism to products that let you brave the worst elements. There’s a whole range of cycling beyond that though. If you are looking to brave the worst elements I can make lots of recommendations but our guide to the best winter cycling gloves also covers much more than that.
In the modern world of winter cycling, many people choose to stay inside when the weather is terrible. That means there’s actually a far greater need for an amazing pair of gloves when it’s cool but generally a perfect day to ride a bike. There’s also a lot of people who don’t have constantly cold hands and don’t have the same needs for warm winter cycling gloves. Whatever your needs, if you want something light but comfy and with good bar feel, that’s where the Pearl Izumi Summit WRX NeoShell Gloves shine.
You might also notice that the marketing for these Pearl Izumi Summit WRX NeoShell Gloves talks about mountain bikes. Despite that, I’m covering them because these are my favourite option for cool rides on a road and gravel bikes. I’ve found over the years that there are far more long finger cool weather cycling gloves in the world of mountain bikes. I wouldn’t read too much into the marketing. If you need gloves that cover a wide range of temperatures on the warmer and of the spectrum and that you’ll be happy to use, keep reading.
Design and aesthetics
Along with always talking about super warm gloves, stylish colours on gloves are always a draw to me. There are options from GoreWear and Sportful with bright fun colours but you won’t find that here. You might not think about it much but there’s actually a wide world of stylish gloves in the world. Even if you move beyond colours, you’ll find brands that put details like the silicone grip material to work for both form and function. For better or worse, the Pearl Izumi Summit WRX NeoShell Gloves are all business. There are no colours and while they certainly aren’t offensive there’s nothing I can point to that seems like a fashion play.
Instead of style, what defines the Pearl Izumi Summit WRX NeoShell Gloves are the two materials that make up the top and bottom. On the bottom that means an expanse of AX Suede. AX Suede is a washable synthetic that mimics natural suede and, in this case, it covers the entire base without a single stitched line. There’s no padding to get in the way of bar feel but the first two fingers and the thumb have a few small triangles of silicone grip material. On the first finger and thumb you will also find a few stitched lines of conductive thread for smart phone use.
On the back of the hand, there is more detailing. The thumb uses an unlabeled velvety material giving you a place to wipe your nose if you need and there’s also a cuff of neoprene with a hook and loop closure on the top of the wrist. As always hook and loop closures do carry a snag risk when paired with delicate jersey fabrics. To alleviate that risk, it’s typically good practice to put the rough side on the flap. Unfortunately Pearl Izumi doesn’t do that but it is a less abrasive hook and loop.
On the inside of the glove, the lower portion uses a low pile fleece. The whole expanse of AX Suede covering the palm as well as wrapping over the top of the first couple of fingers, is all covered with the fleece. In contrast, both the thumb material and the Polartec back of the hand do without any extra lining.
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Typically when I talk about the design and aesthetics of pretty much anything it takes me almost twice as many words as I just used. The reality is that the Pearl Izumi Summit WRX NeoShell Gloves are a very simple design. Lucky for me, I’m not here to count words but rather tell you what you need to know. Just like the design section, it’s the materials that dominate the performance section.
Polartec Neoshell is what makes these gloves what they are. Neoshell reports to be waterproof but it’s not. The waterproofness rating for Neoshell is 10,000mm meaning it should be totally waterproof. Or maybe that’s not at all waterproof? It all depends on who you ask. The range of sources out there report that 10k waterproofness could be anywhere on the spectrum. For whatever it’s worth, Polartec leans on the side of saying it’s effectively waterproof.
Despite what you might read though, I don’t find Polartec Neoshell to be at all waterproof. In my experience it’s far closer to Gore Infinium or other unbranded windstopper materials. It completely and totally stops wind but when it starts raining it won’t take long to soak the outer and stop the transfer or perspiration from inside the glove. At that point it’s unclear if you soak the glove from the inside or the rain comes through from the outside but it’s not really important.
I’ve yet to find any pair of gloves that are actually capable of keeping your hands fully dry in the rain but these aren’t even close. If it’s cold, your hands will be very cold very fast. If that’s your need you will want to jump back to the buyers guide and I’ve got a section of options for the rain.
As long as you set aside wet weather performance, these are incredibly capable gloves. As bad as Polartec Neoshell is in the rain, it’s incredible in the dry. Keep the outside dry and the breathability beats even Gore Infinium but at the same time it’s warmer. There are different variations of Neoshell but the particular density Pearl Izumi has chosen is heavier than you’ll find in competing Infinium gloves. It completely stops cold wind from affecting the internal warmth but it’s breathable enough that I can use it on days when other people might not even bother with gloves.
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As I glance out the window, it’s roughly 10C / 50F, overcast, and I would call that the perfect weather for these gloves, but it’s only a tiny slice of their capability. As long as it was a dry day, I’ve been happy with the Pearl Izumi Summit WRX NeoShell Gloves when it’s as low as 5C / 41F. At the same time I’ve also been happy wearing these gloves on fast rides when it’s sunny and 20C / 68F. That’s a huge range and that’s what makes these gloves really shine.
It’s also only part of the story in terms of what I like about the Pearl Izumi Summit WRX NeoShell Gloves. The other half is that I love the fit and the feel. A big part of that is the stretch in Neoshell but it’s also the bar feel and fit. Of those, I’ll start with fit since it’s easy. I am almost right on the line between small and medium for every company. In this case I am .2 cm into size small but rather than being annoyingly tight, size small is exactly right.
Aside from fit though, I love the bar feel with these gloves. I almost always find that whatever padding companies add, including Pearl Izumi, only makes for a pressure point. With no padding the AX suede and fleece inner is just enough to take the edge off on long rides. On the other hand, it’s still thin enough to make it feel like there’s nothing between you and the bar tape. These are just warm enough that they aren’t a great option for summer days, at least where I am, but they feel so good I sometimes will use them for early morning starts.
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As I said, I am not a fan of gloves that have padding built in. I want to feel the bars and I want gloves that enhance that rather than take away from it. That limits the available options when it comes to lightweight shoulder season gloves and it sets the Pearl Izumi Summit WRX NeoShell Gloves ahead of the game already. There are other options though. I used GoreWear Infinium mountain bike gloves until I wore them out and I’m also a big fan of the rather stylish Sportful NoRain gloves. In both cases though, Polartec Neoshell outperforms across a wider range of temperatures.
I’ve said it a couple times through this discussion but it’s the use of Polartec Neoshell that defines these Pearl Izumi gloves. It’s got enough density to handle a surprisingly low number on the thermometer when needed. At the same time it’s also breathable enough that you can manage with much warmer temps than you’d expect. That versatility is further bolstered by a great fit, excellent bar feel, and great next to skin feel. Add these to your wardrobe for all the times you can manage without a more extreme pair of cold weather gloves. Just don’t expect stellar touch performance on your phone and definitely don’t expect the Pearl Izumi Summit WRX NeoShell Gloves to handle rain.
|Design and aesthetics
|Although I focused on the fact that these are business first gloves, there’s nothing offensive about the aesthetics either. Both the design and aesthetics are simple and effective.
|Wet weather performance
|Polartec describes Neoshell as “breathable waterproof” but these won’t do more than hold off light rain.
|Cold weather performance
|For a glove this light, the low temperatures these can manage are incredible.
|Comfort and fit
|Plenty of stretch, perfect sizing, tons of bar feel and outstanding next to skin feel. I love the feel of these gloves.
|These aren’t the cheapest gloves out there but high quality and a wide range of use makes for an impressive amount of useability.
|Row 5 – Cell 1