Glowingly Gorgeous: Pearl Izumi Select Softshell Gloves

It is rare to slip on a glove and feel transported to another level, but the Pearl Izumi Select Softshell entries did that for me. Pearl Izumi is a name of excellence, quality and artistic beauty born in their products; their execution proves this throughout their assorted lines.

Finishing the race, one will find it difficult to take off their special Tuscobia finisher's beanie; the softshells won't let it go.

Finishing the race, one will find it difficult to take off their special Tuscobia finisher’s beanie; the softshells won’t let it go.

Maybe a part of that is the color I selected; the company named it Screaming Yellow but I call them Blaze Green as the lime, as it looks to my eyes, stands out in the woods or streets. The other choice is jet black.

The design is epic in look with the colorful synthetic leather flowing over the wrist onto the middle three fingers with the design shifting slightly right on the right hand and the opposite on the left. Call it modern art on hand. The thumb is fleece, perfect for wiping lips. The company logo and the name “softshell” sparkle with bright visibility whenever light touches them.

One of the thoughtful features is the generous design of the wrist-covering reaching well over the wrist joint with an overlap providing a handy pull-point to snug on the gloves. They are designed so the glove fits firmly around the lower arm so a cold wind doesn’t interrupt the warmth inside.

Note the tab on the wrist to cinch the glove tightly

Note the tab on the wrist to cinch the glove tightly

Turning the gloves over, detailed stitching, also in color, really becomes visible. The finger construction reflects a layering of pieces vs. the more common, and no doubt cheaper, material that just wraps around a finger. Pearl Izumi uses a top, bottom and two side connectors locking in each finger yet allowing plenty of room. They call it an “Anatomic Fit;” a wearer calls it comfort.

A protective layer covers and supports the papillary ridges at the top of the palm, areas used regularly in work or sport.

The company is near fanatical when it comes to designing products that offer unparalleled performance for an athlete.

I found the fleeced lined gloves worked best by themselves in temperatures above 32F. They are insulated, windproof and water-resistant; that’s why they are named softshell. Pearl Izumi took the softshell idea and made it quality in the previous century as aerobic activities of modern athletes demanded it.

With layers insulating and protecting against moisture, to a waterproof laminate acting as a sealer to the knit fabric covered with a stretchable icing to block win and cold, the P.I. Softshell takes the cake.

One can add a thin inner glove with no problem allowing one to take these Pearls out while experiencing below freezing temperatures. Adding a hand warmer, like those found in sports or drug stores, between the two can lower the comfortable temperature range further.

The palm and two fingers hold grip spots making carrying a box or other container easier. I put these gloves through their paces as one can see in the photo after finishing the Tuscobia Winter Ultras. They work like a tractor but look like a million bucks all part of the personal interface design concept that drives PI. They’ll clean up well and easy with a run in a gentle cold cycle washing machine.

Note the detailed stitching and craftsmanship

Note the detailed stitching and craftsmanship

The feel of quality implies a cost well beyond the $45 to buy a pair. It’s like the Gnarly Bandit Ultra Trail Series most successful female runner, Arika Hage, told me at Runners Gate, a prime southern Twin Cities running store established by fitness authority, Phil Hoffland. She explained Travis Theide, who along with Arika and others from the store manned a key aid station at the Surf the Murph Ultra in October, would be wearing Pearl Izumi in his 75-mile run attempt at the extreme Tuscobia Winter Ultras.  “They’re such high quality and with zippers providing so much flexibility,” she explained, a key for this self-supported ultra competition.

The dichotomy of the Pearl Izumi gloves became, can anything this beautiful take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ like the fabled Timex. Today, Rolex would be more comparable as a product but the old Timex saying still rings in the ears. In tests on the trail and other lifting, the answer is like Maserati calls their racers: Pearl Izumi Select Softshell Gloves are superstars.

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About the author

Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works.
Write to him at, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.

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