pearl izumi waterproof pants and jacket cover

Pearl Izumi Waterproof pants and Jacket

Photos Deniz Merdano
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By the time pants came back to mountain biking in a big way, a few years ago, my winter riding life had already been elevated by waterproof shorts. Shorts do the majority of the work keeping your thighs, and particularly your landing strip, from getting wet, muddy and uncomfortable; trousers however, took everything a level up. The big advantage to pants is that they help keep your feet from squelching by protecting your socks, and the biggest hole in your shoes, from getting too wet. You don't need fully waterproof pants to get this benefit but you do need a long cut and a close fitting cuff. Nobody cares about wet shins, but wet feet on a cold day can suck much of the joy out of your ride.

I've had limited luck finding a no-compromise pair of wet weather riding pants. Patagonia came up with the very promising Dirt Roamer pants and I loved them, until I wore the ass out of two pairs in short order. I took them to the Patagonia store to be repaired, and they came back looking great, but the replacement fabric in the ass was more sponge than Gore-Tex, making them all but useless in the wet. They had two waterproof pockets and were very comfortable, but a little pricy at 375 CAD, and sadly useless because of the ass failures.

pearl izumi waterproof pants and jacket 3

Knee pad fit appears snug but the small amount of flex in the fabric makes it perfectly comfortable.

7mesh entered the market with their 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro Thunder riding pants with some interesting but goofy-looking features like a trimmable gaiter, complete with cutting guides, almost full-length waterproof side zippers, and a no-zipper, no-opening, drop-front waistline. Don't tuck in your shirt if you are wearing these because they look pretty awful. They keep the water out very well but the Gore-Tex Pro fabric is stiff and loud and there is only one pocket. They were 450 CAD but are currently on sale for 325 CAD.

My hunt has continued and I have two solid candidates at this point; the first one is Pearl Izumi's entrant.

Pearl Izumi Summit 3L WxB Pants

I've had some mixed experiences with any Pearl Izumi clothing claiming to be waterproof in the past, so my expectations were moderate when I pulled these on. The first thing I noticed was how comfortable they felt, and this only elevated my fears. The inner fabric is soft and it has never felt clammy, even when things got a little moist from perspiration. Beyond that, the fabric has a small amount of stretch, which is pretty much unheard of in garments claiming to be waterproof. Oddly this isn't mentioned at all on the website, despite it being one of the best features. The fabric also hangs well, another distinction between this garment and most waterproof pants, particularly Gore-Tex. In fact, they feel so nice to wear that I often choose them on cool days when it's not even raining and the ground is relatively dry.

pearl izumi waterproof pants and jacket 5

The waist closure is the most polarizing element of these pants. On one hand, it is easily adjusted and stays where I cinch it to. On the other, fabric bunches up and there is no button atop the fly.

Features and Fabric

The fabric felt so good I figured I was destined for disappointment on wet days. So far that hasn't been the case and I have ended some pretty mucky rides feeling dry, aside from normal perspiration-induced moisture. That's no knock against the breathability though, which has also been first class. The front closure has a fly but no button and there is a single cinch. This means you'll have some bunched up fabric if the waist isn't perfectly your size, as I have found with the size 32, but this hasn't been uncomfortable. The cinch has a hook that mates with a loop on the other side of the fly so you can keep it adjusted when you need to drop trou' for whatever reason. Another advantage of this system is that it's easily adjustable, as things loosen up over the course of the ride. I was skeptical of this buttonless solution but so far it's been great. The one thing missing is a good hook to hang these up to dry, an omission I've mentioned before regarding PI clothes.

Features (as listed by Pearl Izumi)

  • Pedal to Zero™: Going by bike 35mi / 55km offsets the climate impact of this garment
  • Fully waterproof construction
  • Fabrics made from recycled materials
  • Main Body: 100% recycled polyester Pocket Bag: 95% recycled polyester, 5% polyester
  • Kneepad compatible
  • Trail Access pockets
  • PFC-free Durable Water Repellent treatment sheds light precipitation
  • Adjustable waistband
  • Standard fit
pearl izumi waterproof pants and jacket 2

The zippered side pockets are a good size and the cavity is supported and oriented toward the rear so whatever you have in there doesn't bounce around or get in the way. Everything I have put in there has stayed dry as well.

In the Saddle

On the trail the comfort continues. Nothing bunches or binds and these pants are as comfortable as shorts. The pockets are easily accessible and have decent capacity but I'd like an open front pocket for keys and other items you may want to keep handy. Four discrete pockets is a great number for riders wanting to leave their pack at home. I had concerns about the unusual front closure but none of them were realized and it works very well.

pearl izumi waterproof pants and jacket 4

The cuff has an elastic insert so you can pull it over your foot to undress rather than the "peel like a wetsuit" procedure some other pants require. I am wearing a size 32 and have a 33" inseam. The length is adequate but not generous, but certainly better than this photo with my knee lifted suggests.

Waterproofing and Breathability

Do they keep the effing rain out you ask? I've been in some never-ending drizzle and some short deluges wearing the Summit 3L pants and they have kept the water out very well indeed. I haven't yet been in a never-ending deluge thus far but that's not where most of the trail riding drenching comes from; it comes from your rear wheel. I've had plenty of experience getting sandblasted by the fire hose of high speed riding on wet trails and my ass remained comfortable and never became soaked. I haven't yet been in fully biblical conditions so I can't say these could compete with three-layer Gore-Tex, but thus far they have been damned close. I have more expensive waterproof pants that make more monumental claims, but I'm just as happy to reach for these so far.

These pants are also damned good at transferring water vapour through the membrane. Part of what makes them so comfortable to ride, even when it's not raining, is their excellent breathability. I have never felt like I'm wearing a boil in the bag pouch wearing the Summits, and I've ridden on some some fairly mild wet days. I'm not a super sweaty dude but I can generate some heat when I'm on the pedals. Full points in that category as well thus far.

pearl izumi waterproof pants and jacket 12

The welcome stretch and the knee gussets combine to make these the most comfy waterproof pants I've worn. If you are built of burlier stuff than I am (and who isn't?) you may want to size up for kneepad space, but these have been great for me wearing Fox Launch D3O pads, which aren't super burly but are the thickest I wear regularly. I'm wearing a size 32 waist here and I'm 6'/183cm tall and I weigh around 168lbs/76 kg

The best thing about these pants might be the price. South of the border these are on sale for 138.75 USD, down from 185. Here in Canada you can pick up a pair for 185 CAD, down from 249. There is also free shipping on both sides of the 49th currently if you order online, but if you go to a shop you'll be able to try a pair on. I was unable get information about pricing in other locales at this time unfortunately. It also seems there isn't currently a women's version of these pants, although there is an alternative in the Women's Monsoon WxB Pants which are also on sale. We haven't tested these yet I'm afraid.

Men's Summit 3L WxB Pants

Men's Canyon 2.5L WxB Rain Jacket

While I've had some disappointing times with waterproof pants, I've done very well with jackets I've tested. The current leader in my books is the 7Mesh Skypilot. It's a 3 layer Gore-Tex shell that keeps you dry deep into any stormy adventure while delivering excellent venting, and solid features. You might expect that from a heavier jacket, like the 7Mesh Revelation, which is made from Gore-Tex Pro, but the bonus of the Skypilot is that it's made of Gore-Tex Active 3L and it will easily pack into a small space, like a bum bag. The Skypilot's downside is the 550 CAD price tag. I'd say it's worth every penny, but that's still a lot of pennies.

Those are big sleeves to fill and I haven't been amazed by Pearl Izumi waterproof jackets in the past so again, I tempered my expectations.

pearl izumi waterproof pants and jacket 11

Pearl Izumi does a great job with subtle styling cues and I really like that look of this jacket. Or I would on other people at least. The medium fit me perfectly but be aware that my ape index is less than 1.0.

Like the Summit Pants, the Canyon 2.5L Jacket uses a no-name fabric. This fabric isn't exactly Pearl Izumi's answer to Gore-Tex because they claim to have had slightly different aims in terms of comfort and breathability. As a result Gore-Tex should perform better once the animals start lining up in pairs, but this may do better if you're trying to head for higher ground because it is more breathable. It also incorporates a little stretch for comfort and so it can be used in tighter fitting garments, like a Speedo.

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The hood works fine and stays out of the way for the most part.

This is a pared down jacket in terms of features. There are no drawstrings or Velcro straps. Instead elastic inserts do the job at the waist, the wrists, and in the hood. Thus far all have been comfortable and effective for me. I've even had to deploy the hood over my helmet and it did the job well. Fabric flaps are used rather than waterproof zippers and I think I prefer this system, assuming it continues to keep the water out. When you are getting sprayed with water and mud, waterproof zippers tend to get sticky, which is less than ideal if you are trying to gear down or up without losing your buddies. They also add expense.

pearl izumi waterproof pants and jacket 7

The pockets are generously sized and there is a second pocket on the inside behind each one. The pockets are tacked on each side but are open at the top,* so you can easily put a spare glove in each. Don't put anything small in those inner pockets though because there is a second vent at the bottom that is big enough for a small key to slip through.

*Presumably this is to aid ventilation

pearl izumi waterproof pants and jacket 1

This seam on the upper chest (which is taped on the inside like all the others) doesn't seem to perform any task but it breaks up the expanse of fabric and adds a little trail-side class. The pants have similar details.

Since I've worn this jacket in parallel with the pants, it hasn't been atmospheric river-tested yet either, but I've certainly worn it on wet days with success. It has kept me dry and it vents very well indeed. It's also comfortable (thanks to both breathability and stretch) and very packable, taking up about a third less volume than my already very squish-able 7Mesh Skypilot when packed tight. It also weighs 20 grams less (240 vs 260 grams on my scale). A downside to this breathability, aside from a little less protection from the rain, is a less robust wind barrier. On a cool day you are going to feel a little more of the weather wearing this jacket when compared to Gore-Tex, but since you should sweat less, it may end up even.


The slick fabric on the inside is the only element I'd take to task with this fabric. When things get a little steamy it can feel a little clammy against the skin. I've only noticed this once, because for the most part I've been wearing long sleeves underneath, but it's worth noting if you live somewhere wet but warmer than North Cascadia.

Men's Canyon 2.5L WxB Rain Jacket 2

Thank you Pearl Izumi! I have been complaining for years about jackets without hooks for drying. If there is a hood, you can hang it from that but you can't hang another jacket on top, and in an active house in the rainforest that's essential. Now about the pants...

I honestly didn't think I'd like this jacket much when it arrived but it too has exceeded my expectations. It fits very well, packs very small, and is incredibly comfy. On top of that it performs very well both keeping water out and letting it escape in vapour form, just like the pants. The only downsides thus far have been an occasional clammy sensation when bare skin touches the smooth inner fabric and some minor pilling showing up on the elastic fabric at the cuffs. If we get hit by a weather bomb, particularly along with cooler temperatures, I'll reach for the SkyPilot, but in some other cases, I'll be perfectly happy wearing Pearl Izumi's Canyon 2.5L. A bonus is that this jacket is priced even better than the pants. It normally retails for 160 CAD or 125 USD but it's currently on sale for 120 CAD and 94 USD.

This product isn't available in a women's version but Pearl Izumi has some other choices for women.

Strangely, this is jacket is tough to find on Pearl Izumi's website.* Fortunately the google found it for me: Canyon 2.5L in Canada and Canyon 2.5L in US.

*Perhaps a consequence of the turmoil that accompanies a change in ownership
Cam McRae

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 170lbs/77kg

Inseam - 33"/84cm

Ape Index - 0.986

Age - 57

Trail I've been stoked on lately - Lower Digger

Bar Width - 760mm

Preferred Reach - 485-500mm (longer with 27.5 wheels than 29)

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+4 BarryW Cam McRae GB AJ Barlas

Great comprehensive review Cam!  Interesting vid about Gore-Tex:


+5 Jerry Willows Cam McRae GB Andy Eunson AJ Barlas

Thanks for sharing that. 

If you are buying and using waterproof garments it's incredibly important information. 

I have used and sold Gore-Tex for quite a few years of my life, sat through numerous training clinics (often from Gore employees) and worn the highest level products. (I'm so stocked up on Arc'Teryx Gore-Tex it's silly). But none of them last decently. None of them breathe when you need it to and other than the brand recognition it just isn't any better than the 'no name' 3 layer fabric used here for the reviewed garments. 

The ONLY thing you are buying is the warranty and in my opinion that's not even close to worth it after spending 3x or 4x for Gore-Tex. Especially when the single biggest thing you can do to keep your Gore-Tex working is to keep it clean and regularly treated with DWR. 

And I say this as a sea kayaker that regularly uses drysuits. Once the fabric gets wet (you know, every second of kayaking in any weather) the fabric no longer breathes. So it becomes all about layering to effectively handle that moisture in a way I will be comfortable and not feel wet. No matter how damp I am after a few hours.


+4 Cam McRae BarryW GB dhr999

if it's high humidity out (not raining), your $700 jacket isn't going to breathe either (basic physics).  That's why pit zips and/or vests are a must have


+2 Jerry Willows jaydubmah

Amen! Pit zips and vents that don't leak in the rain are the only real 'waterproof AND breathable' around.

+1 Jerry Willows

That vid is great Jerry. 

Awesome to see Dave O'Dowd in there. I saw him filming for Fortnine on Bobsled the other day.


+2 BarryW Cam McRae

>If you are built of burlier stuff than I am (and who isn't?) 

I isn't. The quoted measurements match mine to a T. This is why I'm always interested in your clothing reviews, if you have a fit gripe or highlight I'm all ears. 

On that note... What's the fanny pack in shot? And is it annoying when filled to capacity?

+1 Velocipedestrian

Likely separated at birth.

That’s a CamelBak Repack LR 4. I reviewed it in 2018 so it’s been very durable. I have yet to find anything I like better. I don’t use the bladder so it can shrink down quite small on days when I’m only carrying a shock pump but expands well to hold a jacket and a second set of gloves. It’s also nicely organized for tools and has very useful side pockets for things you want handy, like a multi tool or a flask. I would say I wear it about half the time and the rest I go fanny free.

It carries a load well but too much weight is never great in a fanny pack in my books. The supplemental cinches keep the load close and secure though.


+1 Cam McRae

Cheers for the Repack info. 

>Likely separated at birth. 

Not quite at birth... Though I'll be pleased to maintain the weight and height another 14 years.


+1 Cam McRae

Thanks for this Cam. I just ordered a pair of these pants because of your review.

+1 Lowcard

Cheers. Hopefully your experience will be as positive as mine!



Always a mixed experience with pearl stuff for me. The price (especially when on sale) can be great, as can the actual products at times (Launch Pant).  Mixed in there is an immediate zipper tear (Elevate Pant) and blown BOA eyelets on a Launch shoe after limited use.. So much seems to be who was watching the batch manufacturing on a particular day, methinks..

+1 BarryW

Sorry to hear that mo. I have had good luck in terms of durability. The shoes in particular have been awesome, although I haven’t got on with their flat pedal shoes in terms of grip.



Agreed on the shoes - I loved them until their untimely decline and they still held on for a while with one less eyelet - I shoulda mentioned that



Thanks for the timely and thorough review Cam. 

I've been looking at those pants for a while and might give them a shot due to your experience. Also, I get a pro-deal with Pearl Izumi so it makes them an even more tantalizing prospect. 

I would also point out that your 'garment drying loop' on the pants is accomplished by hooking the belt closed and loose and that's your hanging loop.

+1 BarryW

Thanks Barry!

I have used that loop, because there is nothing else, but it takes up too much hook room making it awkward to put anything else on top or underneath. It works in a pinch though.






Rooo as in kangaroo :)



Patagonia usually does a good job backing  the products they make .  Fixing the ass with non waterproof materials?  I would contact Patagonia with my displeasure. 

In my opinion the front panels of the legs on pants and the back, ass, ahould get durable 100 percent waterproof material . 

Pit zips should be mandatory imo on jackets .   Why not zippers on pants legs to offer excess heat/ moisture to evacuate quickly.? I have pants and shorts with this feature. Elastic cufs on pants legs and jackets?  Cheap and annoying.  

Water proof breathable pants inevitably splashed with rain and mud ,we are talking about mountain biking .Are no longer waterproof and probably don't breath sufficiently.  

The tight cut of those affordable pants would be perfect if I was into ballet or the outdoor " jock" look.


There are a few waterproof jackets I've worn that haven't needed pit zips and this is one of them. The 7Mesh Skypilot is another. I also find that when I'm riding and over the bars I can just open the front zip if I am too warm. Obviously this isn't practical for other activities but on the bike it works great for me. 

As I mentioned though, I don't tend to be as sweaty as some of my buddies. Or maybe I just layer better? I definitely layer better than Trevor Hansen, who seems to wear twice as many garments as I do despite running hotter.


+1 BarryW

Zippers and additional fabrics/panels add some combination of complexity, weight, and failure points. They also add cost. Zippers in particular can add significant manufacturing costs, water ingress points, chaff/rub, etc. 

So while useful in some scenarios, you're pulling from other parts of a potential design brief for any particular item.

There's no free rides.



Hey Cam thanks for the reviews, was just looking at some of these products, so I'm happy to hear the first-hand experience. 

Quick heads up: your review says the Pearl Izumi Summit 3L WxB Pants, but your link was to the Pearl Izumi Summit SL WxB Pants. They appear to be the same product (images, sku, item details all the same). Just wanted to give a heads up in case any confusion came of it.


+1 arca_tern

Thanks Arca - and good eye! 

I saw the two product listings and assumed the SL one was a mistake. I chose that one because it had five product reviews and the other had none so it seemed more useful. 

I will follow up with the PR person about the issue. 




My 7mesh waterproof shorts did not retain their waterproofness very long. Soggy butts resumed.


+1 Cam McRae

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