Heavy rain got you down? Want to get outside, but you just can’t muster the willpower to go out and get soaked, sitting squishy and cold on the saddle for the umpteenth time? It’s not all about rain jackets, folks. A pair of reliable waterproof riding pants could unlock some of those hard-rain days for surprisingly fun riding without the sad compromise of a wet butt. It should come as no surprise that Pearl iZUMi can help with that.
Pearl iZUMi Summit 3L WxB Pants Features:
- 3-layer waterproofing for all-weather protection
- PFC-free DWR coating sheds light precipitation
- Made in part from recycled materials for sustainability
- Compatible with kneepads
- Adjustable waistband with built-in belt for a snug fit
- Elastic cuffs
- MSRP: $185
Dry in the Wet
If the Pearl iZUMi Summit 3L WxB Pants are anything, they’re reliably dry. I’ve been wearing them for a few months now, and it has been rainy. Tis’ the season up here in Bellingham, Washington. Rainy days are our Fall, Winter, and Spring norm for the in-town trail systems. As a result, the Summit pants have seen their fair share of water and mud. And for all the other parts of me that have gotten soaked, my legs and seat have always been nice and dry when wearing these pants. No exceptions.
In fact, I took the Summit pants out for a particularly long day in mid-Fall for some XC-style riding. It rained all day. I fell in mud a couple times. My buddy and I were moving for 7 continuous hours over all kinds of wet terrain, perched on our wet saddles much of the time. When I got home, my whole lower half was completely dry. So, my point: these pants are reliably waterproof even in conditions where other waterproof options might start to show their gaps. And they breathe well, too. Like any waterproof layer, they’re at their most breathable when they aren’t wet. That said, they’re pretty dang breathable all the time.
Beyond the big trait that might draw a person to the Summits (the waterproofing) these pants are comfortable. The next-to-skin feel is especially notable. The inside of the pants is smooth against skin and doesn’t have any odd seams or hang-ups that I noticed over the course of riding in them.
Flexibility needs a mention. These pants don’t have much of it. The pants’ material has some give to it, but not a lot of give. I did find myself slightly restricted during testing at times, especially when trying to swing my leg over the bike or dismount at odd angles. For the most part, the relatively straight-cut fit allowed enough space for movement despite the material not wanting to stretch, but at other times, I ran up against range of motion limits that the pants set in place.
The fit is generally good. They have articulated knees and an otherwise straight-ish cut that allows you to wear a thermal layer underneath them, if desired. The more generous fit also means that the two zippered pockets are easy to get things into. Elastic cuffs tighten things up at the ankles well, but aren’t so restrictive that getting the pants on and off is a challenge.
Pearl iZUMi decided to integrate a fitment system for the Summit’s waist, which lets them cover a wider range of waist sizes with a single pair of pants. The result is functional, but not my favorite solution for cinching a waistband down. My pair felt somewhat unsettled in its fit at the waist throughout testing. The movement of riding shifted the waist and often started to pull at the pants a bit. Cinching down on the adjustment band also resulted in extra, folded over material, which is less than ideal. I would’ve preferred an elastic waist, an adjustment system like that seen on pants like the Prana Zion, or just a belt setup like we’ve seen so well executed on the Velocio Trail Access pants. To be clear though, the Summit’s waist adjustment system works; I just find it a bit less refined than other options out there.
A couple other things to note about the Summit pants: While gray is a nice color, and the aesthetic of the pants is pretty good, it does show grease stains from the chain. All the mud of all my rides washed out, but there’s certainly a nice black chain stain on the pants’ right inner calf. Pearl iZUMi currently only offers the pants in gray, but I think a black option would be well-received and would hide grease stains a bit more. And lastly, these pants are many good things, but they aren’t quiet. Work hard in the saddle, and you’ll be listening to your own swish, swishing as the material rubs against itself. Some may be bothered. I got used to it.
Fit: I’m 5’11”, a lean 170 lbs and typically wear pants with a 31” waist and 32” inseam. I tested the size 32 here, since 31 wasn’t an option. The waist adjustment was juuust right for me.
Buy Now: Available at Backcountry.com
The Bottom Line
The Summit pants are tuned for a purpose: they’re here to be waterproof. And while they’re truly exceptional when it comes to waterproofing, some other aspects of the pants could stand to improve. For me, flexibility and waist adjustment are at the top of that list.
- Waterproofing absolutely works
- Comfortable next-to-skin feel
- Good fit
- 2 zippered, waterproof pockets
- Material isn’t very stretchy
- Integrated waist adjustment isn’t perfect
- Grease stains show on the gray fabric
- Can be a bit noisy while riding