Pearl Izumi Launch Shorts & Summit Gloves
Reviewer: 5’10”, 143 lbs.
Size Tested: Medium
Materials: 94% nylon, 6% elastane
- Durable nylon ripstop fabric built for trail abuse
- DWR treatment blocks dripping trees or a light drizzle
- Removable liner includes 3D Tour Chamois for long-ride comfort
- Multiple pockets secure a phone, snacks, and a multi-tool
Test Duration: ~5 months
Test Location: Colorado Springs, CO
I first tried on a pair of Pearl Izumi’s Launch Shorts a few seasons back, and they’re still some of my go-to shorts for anything that could be loosely considered Trail, Enduro, or Park riding. I agree with everything Noah Bodman said in his review of the shorts, especially his assessment of the shorts as having a cut worthy of bike park use, but using material light and breathable enough for long trail rides. The Launch Shorts have also proved to be more durable than their thin construction would suggest; I’ve spent a decent amount of time sliding on the ground in them and they don’t have much to show for it.
So I had a pretty positive experience with the previous Launch Shorts, and this season Pearl Izumi updated them. The new version features a thicker and stretchier material and forgoes the front zippered vents that the previous version featured. Instead, the new version has a cargo pocket on the leg and two low-profile zippered pockets on the hips.
I typically wear 32W x 33L pants, and the size Medium Launch Shorts fit just as Pearl Izumi’s sizing chart predicted. I tightened the Velcro cinch on the waist of the shorts by about a half-inch and they stayed in place perfectly.
The Launch’s cut is baggy, but not so baggy that you get lost inside the shorts. The size Medium gets you a 15” inseam, which helps the shorts accommodate both lightweight Trail- and bulkier Park-oriented kneepads without leaving much excess fabric hanging off around the kneepad.
Comfort and Performance
Like all of Pearl Izumi’s mountain bike shorts, the Launch comes with a removable chamois, and the “3D Tour Chamois” that comes with the Launch Shorts is one of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. It stays in place, provides just the right amount of padding, and doesn’t soak up much sweat.
Despite using thicker fabric than its predecessor, I’m quite happy with how well the new Launch Shorts breathe. I did find myself missing the old Launch’s zippered vents on hotter days, but the fabric itself did a great job keeping my legs cool.
The fabric is also stretchy enough for comfortable pedaling and stays in place over a lightweight kneepad.
The new fabric is also surprisingly water resistant. In both snow and rain showers, the fabric didn’t soak up moisture and kept me almost completely dry. I certainly wouldn’t recommend these shorts for all day rides in freezing rain, but as a short that also does well in hot weather, this is an added bonus to the Launch’s already impressive versatility.
Similar to its predecessor, the new Launch Shorts have been quite durable during my use, despite their lightweight materials. After 5 months, I’ve taken a few good spills in the Launch Shorts, but they are still holding up very well.
The updated Pearl Izumi Launch Shorts are a great option for riders that wear kneepads and seek out long days in a variety of weather conditions. Not only is it comfortable on long, hot climbs, the Launch Shorts are also fairly water-resistant and so far seem durable enough for occasional bike park use. All in all, they’re some of the best mountain biking shorts I’ve ever worn.
Pearl Izumi Summit Gloves
Size Tested: Large
- Back: 78% polyester, 18% rubber, 3% nylon, 1% polyurethane
- Palm: 65% nylon, 35% polyurethane
- 1:1 Glove fit maximizes finger dexterity for shifting and braking
- Neoprene on back of hand for lightweight impact protection
- Synthetic leather palm with heel reinforcement palm is soft and durable
- Hook and loop closure for great fit
- Silicone screened fingertips for a performance grip
- Soft low–profile wiping surface on thumb
Test Duration: ~5 months
Test Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Pearl Izumi designed the Summit as an all-around mountain bike glove for XC, Trail, and Enduro riding. The glove is focused on providing good grip and protection, while still maximizing dexterity.
Construction and Features
Pearl Izumi uses a mixture of polyester, rubber, nylon, and polyurethane in the Summit Gloves. A bit of extra material is used to provide protection on the knuckles, but it’s relatively minimal in order to stay breathable.
Pearl Izumi advertises that the fingers and thumbs work on touchscreens, and in fact, they do much better with touchscreens than most gloves I’ve used that make similar claims. As a very rough estimate, I’d guess that a lot of other “touchscreen compatible” gloves I’ve tried only work about half the time (and sometimes less if moisture or cold weather is involved). I’d say the Summit’s success rate is closer to 80%.
It’s also worth noting that the Summit Gloves are available in colors that range from flashy to subdued.
Although I appreciate the Summit’s design and features, the fit of my size Large gloves simply doesn’t work well with my hands. The ratio of palm size to finger length seemed a little off, meaning that, for me, the palms fit well, but the fingers felt comparatively short.
I double checked Pearl Izumi’s sizing chart, which confirmed that a Large was still my recommended size. So either Pearl Izumi kind of missed the mark on the cut of these gloves, or they just designed them around hands that are shaped differently from mine. Either way, I’d recommend trying on the Summit before purchasing.
As a side note, I’m usually pretty happy with size Large gloves from Fox, Dakine, and Giro. If you’ve tried a glove from one of these brands and been disappointed by its fit, then maybe the Summit will work better for you than it did for me.
I’d rate the Summit as pretty average in the breathability department. The Summit Gloves certainly don’t circulate air like a glove with a mesh backing, but I was comfortable wearing them in 80+ °F weather. Given that they’re still pretty comfortable on chillier days, I think Pearl Izumi struck a happy medium here.
The neoprene padding on the knuckles of the Summit does a decent job of warding off branches and plants that I tend to brush in most corners on my local trails. That said, the padding isn’t going to do much if you punch a tree or graze a boulder. But Pearl Izumi is going for a middle-of-the-road, all-around glove here, and for this purpose, this level of protection seems totally adequate.
After 5 months of use, I’ve managed to tear through the thumb of one of the Summit Gloves. It’s possible that they tore prematurely because of the gloves’ fit, but since this is about how long gloves from most brands last for me anyway, I can say that the Summit is at least on par with its competition.
The Pearl Izumi Summit Glove’s mid-weight construction offers a decent amount of protection without being miserable in hot weather, and the touchscreen fingertips are a useful touch. Although the fit of the gloves didn’t work perfectly for me, the design and features of the Summit make for a solid all-around mountain bike glove. Just try them on before buying to see if they work well with your hands.