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Gear review: Pearl Izumi ELITE Thermal hoody & Thermal LS baselayer

Pearl Izumi ELITE Thermal hoody
Pearl Izumi ELITE Thermal hoody

Pearl Izumi ELITE Thermal hoody


This time of the year it’s cold. Windy. Dark. So many time-honored, socially-approved excuses not to go outside and ride.

But the latest excuse buster from Pearl Izumi’s 2013 fall line is the ELITE Thermal hoody ($120).

If you’re a cyclist and a coffee lover, the ELITE Thermal hoody is just the little gem you've been looking for. It’s made of 35 percent S.Cafe® fabric—recycled coffee grounds. It was discovered that coffee grounds, when combined with fibers, can not only control odor, but insulate, transfer moisture and speed up dry time.

For this review, I’ve been using this hoody on a near-daily basis since late September for commuting and mountain biking and it’s been funkless. I think I washed it once but I can't be certain. What I am certain of is that it's luxuriously soft, warm, comfy, moisture-wicking and stretchy cycling jacket with a hood.

I thought the hood was a little superfluous at first. It isn’t exactly helmet compatible. Or…is it?

One morning when I rode to work, it was about 50 degrees and beautiful. No balaclava needed.

Sometime in mid-afternoon, the temperature plunged to the thirties with frigid winds. Having no balaclava, I pulled the (ponytail-compatible) hood on under my helmet, hoping it would work as a balaclava to protect my head and ears.

It did.

I won’t throw away my balaclava just because I have this option—head movement is a little restricted with the hood—but in a pinch, it’s brilliant.

A few other cool things that I like:

  • Amazing fit and pretty silhouette. The sleeves and back are long to prevent exposure of my wrists and lower back. It’s form fitting without being constricting, even when wearing a heavy baselayer. I’ve been testing it with the Thermal LS ($75), which, for a garment not made of Merino wool, provides excellent insulation, moisture transfer and odor control.
  • Large zippered back pocket with three inside dividers to hold my ID badge, keys, iPod and phone.
  • Versatility. I ride and run in this jacket. If you’re going to drop $120 on a jacket, it’s good to know you can use it for more than just cycling.


  • It really needs a small chest zippered pocket with music port because it’s cumbersome to reach into the zippered backpocket to fiddle with my iPod.

As far as warmth goes, here’s what I’ve found. I can wear a short-sleeved jersey under the hoody and be comfortable in temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees. Adding the Thermal LS baselayer, or any other kind of Merino wool baselayer, keeps me comfortable between 35 and 45 degrees.

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