Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Product Review: Pearl Izumi Elite In-R-Cool Tri Suit

At the beginning of this month I was given the chance to review the Pearl Izumi Elite In-R-Cool thanks to Outside PR. I agreed to wear it in my first race of the season and review it for fit, comfort, and performance. I wore it in my April 3rd race, but wore it again for a run this weekend to put it through one last test.



Fit
I was hesitant at first about using a one piece suit, first there is the obvious and well known problem of the difficulty of using the bathroom. Second I wondered how it would work with someone who is not built with measurements of a pro triathlete. I have a 34 inch waist, a much bigger gut, and then only slightly bigger shoulders. Do I pick suit that fits my waist and shoulder and let it be tight around my stomach? Or vise versa and let it be baggy. I chose one based on my waist and shoulders. It fit great, I was worried it would be uncomfortable in the areas I am bigger in but it was not. Honestly, I almost felt naked it was so light and fit so well. The only thing unpleasant about the it was the zipper opening does not open quite wide enough for my shoulders. It is quite a squeeze to get my upper half though the small opening.

Comfort
This is what I think is a standout feature about the suit. It felt so natural. When it first arrived the first thing I wanted to check was how it was assembled. My favorite bibs have a seam directly down the center, unless I wear compression shorts underneath it chafes. This was the first thing I checked- for a race suit this was a go, no go feature (see below). The only thing I could say negative about comfort was that once full unzipped it pulls in an odd manner. Anything more than half zipped and it was uncomfortable across my shoulders. I did not have a place to change back out and it was comfortable enough to throw gym shorts and a tee over and wear home. I was just going to wear it home including to our planned stops at GAP and to get cheese steaks, but CB made me put the clothes over it.




Performance
During the swim I felt no noticeable drag. The chamois was a good thickness and a good shape. Once on the bike it provided good padding and the material dried within a few minutes. For it's performance on the run the comfort section sums up everything. As I stated above, this weekend I put it through one last test. My last race was a mild temperature and this suit is designed for hot weather. After several fails (rained out) attempts, Sunday I went for a 14 mile run wearing it in 83+ degree heat. The two things I wanted to test were how well the upper mesh wicked and if it the mesh was thick enough to prevent sunburn. The mesh does in fact keep you cool. In fact, I think it could be improved by increasing the mesh across the chest and maybe a little lower similar to the back. It was also thick enough to prevent sunburn.


What's the grade? A

I think it is great for performance and fit. I am so impressed that I want to know what improvements can be made that set the P.R.O. suit apart. At $130 it is more than I would probably care to spend on a suit, but I now reconsider as I believe it is worth the price. Great wicking, great compression, low drag,  and saves major time in transition.

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