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Pearl Izumi Summit Review

A lightweight trail riding short with a comfortable fit, well-designed pockets, and minimalist design
Pearl Izumi Summit
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Price:  $110 List | $70.16 at Amazon
Pros:  Reasonable price, padded liner included, comfortable performance fit
Cons:  Snug fit through the hips may not work for everyone
Manufacturer:   Pearl Izumi
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 27, 2021
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 16
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Fit and Pedal Friendliness - 20% 8
  • Features - 20% 6
  • Durability - 20% 8
  • Style - 10% 8
  • Protection - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Pearl Izumi Summit short is a lightweight trail riding short with a simple, minimalist design. These shorts have a longer, 14-inch inseam, a slim fit through the waist and hips, and slightly baggier legs. We loved the way they fit, but admit that it may not be for everyone. The low-profile waistband is non-stretch with easy access hook and loop adjustment tabs, while the Transfer Woven fabric feels good against the skin with a slight amount of stretch throughout the rest of the shorts. We found them to be very pedal-friendly, with plenty of freedom of movement and a smooth bonded and angled hem. Tow rear-loading thigh pockets offer easy access while riding and hold items tight against the body while pedaling. The Summit shorts are available with (tested) or without a padded liner short.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Pearl Izumi Summit
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Pearl Izumi Summit
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $70.16 at Amazon$109.00 at Backcountry
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$80.00 at Competitive Cyclist$71.96 at Backcountry
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Pros Reasonable price, padded liner included, comfortable performance fitTrim and clean fit, quality chamois, pedal-friendlyClean style, reasonable price, pedal-friendlyAffordable, comes with chamois liner, trim fit, clean styleRemovable inner liner, many well-placed pockets, affordable
Cons Snug fit through the hips may not work for everyoneA little heavy, below average ventilationDeep pockets allow contents to flop around while ridingHanging mesh pockets, limited ventilationNot the best quality chamois
Bottom Line A lightweight trail riding short with a comfortable fit, well-designed pockets, and minimalist designA trim pair of trail riding shorts that deliver exceptional comfort and pedal-friendliness but don't breathe particularly wellHighly functional trail-riding shorts that offer clean styling and a great in-saddle feelThese trail riding shorts offer an excellent combination of performance and affordabilityThis model is an excellent choice for the rider who demands a quality product at a reasonable price
Rating Categories Pearl Izumi Summit Troy Lee Designs Sk... Specialized Trail S... Fox Racing Ranger Zoic Ether Shorts +...
Comfort (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Fit And Pedal Friendliness (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Features (20%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Style (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Protection (10%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Pearl Izumi Summit Troy Lee Designs Sk... Specialized Trail S... Fox Racing Ranger Zoic Ether Shorts +...
Shell Fabric 4-way stretch Transfer Woven fabric 95% Coolmax polyester, 5% Lycra VaporRize woven fabric 2-way stretch ripstop fabric 100% Polyester
Removable Inner Short? Yes Yes No (can purchase with liner) Yes Yes
Lining Main Fabric 80% polester, 20% elastane AIR COMP None Removable liner 95% Polyester, 5% Spandex
Chamois SELECT Escape 1:1 Chamois TMF 4-hour None Dual Density Foam
Inseam Measurement (inches) 14 inch 12.5 inch 13.5 inch 12 inch 12 inch
Number of pockets 2 2 2 3 6
Weight (ounces) 6.52 oz 8.58 oz 7.9 oz 7.5 oz 10.2 oz
Weight Liner 3.88 oz 4.25 oz N/a 3.84 oz 4.4 oz

Our Analysis and Test Results

Pearl Izumi has been making cycling clothing for as long as we can remember. We tested a few pairs of their baggy mountain bike shorts and have had mixed feelings about them. We picked up the Summit shorts with low expectations but were relatively impressed by their comfort, minimalist design, quality construction, and solid value.

Performance Comparison


The Summit shorts are a lightweight trail riding short with a longer...
The Summit shorts are a lightweight trail riding short with a longer inseam. We found them to be very comfortable, but the fit may not be for everyone.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Comfort


The Summit shorts are quite comfortable with a slim fit through the hips and a lightweight shell material. The Transfer Woven fabric is 96% polyester with 4% elastane, so it has a small amount of stretch and a soft ribbed texture on the inside that feels really good against the skin. They come in even waist sizes from 28-38, and they have external hook and loop straps on both sides to dial in the fit of the non-stretch waistband to your exact preferences. The waistline is nicely articulated, and they feel good when in the seated pedaling position. Additionally, the knee hem has been bonded to keep it low profile and chafe-free when pedaling.

The waistband doesn't stretch, and we found it doesn't get pushed...
The waistband doesn't stretch, and we found it doesn't get pushed down by a fanny pack. The external velcro waist adjustment tabs are also secure and easy to adjust on the fly.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

We ordered a size 32 Summit short and found them to fit true to size in the waist. We do feel it is worth mentioning that these shorts do have a slim fit through the hips and they get looser through the thighs with a little taper at the knee. We had no issue with the way these fit, but riders with a muscular behind or large quads may want to try these on or consider sizing up before making a purchase as there is little extra room from the crotch to the waistband. With a 14-inch inseam, they are also relatively long, hanging over the kneecap while standing and rising just above the knee while pedaling. Also, while the shell material is lightweight and comfortable with a tiny amount of stretch, they aren't nearly as stretchy as some other shorts we've tested.

Despite their length, we found them to be very pedal-friendly and...
Despite their length, we found them to be very pedal-friendly and suitable for any length of ride.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Fit and Pedal Friendliness


As mentioned above, the Summit shorts have a relatively slim fit in the waist and hips with baggier legs and a 14-inch inseam length. They come in six even waist sizes from 28-38, so you can typically get a more precise waist fit than with other shorts that come in S, M, L, and XL sizes.

We thought these shorts fit great, and they also proved to be very pedal-friendly. The material has a small amount of stretch, with a smooth and soft interior that slides easily over the skin or liner shorts. The hem at the knee has also been bonded and angled up in the back to keep it low profile and prevent any unwanted chafing on top of the knee from stitching or contact with the calf.

The backloading thigh pockets can easily fit a modern smartphone and...
The backloading thigh pockets can easily fit a modern smartphone and are easy to access while riding.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Features


The Summit shorts aren't exactly feature-rich, but the few features they do have help to improve the riding experience. The first and most obvious feature of these shorts is that they come with a padded liner short. While it doesn't have the best chamois pad, it's not terrible either, and it's far better than riding with none at all. These shorts are also available as a shell only for a slight reduction in price so you can wear them with your favorite liner.

These shorts have a total of two pockets. The Trail Access pockets are situated on both hips with vertical zippers and a convenient back-loading design. The mesh-lined pockets are relatively large and can easily fit a modern smartphone, and they hold the contents tight against the body so nothing flops around while riding. The non-elastic waistband is very low-profile, and it features two external velcro tabs to adjust the tension with a simple button closure. They also have a smooth bonded hem at the knee, with an angled cut to prevent contact with the calf while pedaling. The outer material is also treated with a DWR (durable water repellant) to shed water and moisture and dry quickly when you inevitably sweat in them. They don't have any ventilation, but the material is quite lightweight and quick drying.

A touch of fraying at the bonded hem is our only durability...
A touch of fraying at the bonded hem is our only durability complaint. Once we trimmed it off it was no longer a problem.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Durability


After several hundred miles of riding, we've been quite impressed by the overall durability of the Summit shorts. The fabric is lightweight and soft against the skin, yet it's not so light and stretchy that it can't handle brushes with trailside branches or bushes. The fabric has a pretty tight weave that seems very resistant to pulling or tearing. The DWR treatment also works well, and there are no signs of staining from mud or sweat.

All of the stitching is nice and clean, with no loose ends or pulled threads to speak of. Quality control and craftsmanship appear to be top-notch. The hook and loop waist adjustments are one area of concern because velcro can sometimes wear out quickly. The Velcro used on the Summit shorts, however, appears to be very strong with a tenacious grip. Our only really durability issue has been that the shell fabric on the inside of the shorts where they are bonded at the knee hem is fraying just slightly. That said, we just trimmed off the fraying ends with some scissors and it hasn't been an issue since.

These shorts don't look overly technical or flashy, but we aren't...
These shorts don't look overly technical or flashy, but we aren't huge fans of the black panel between the legs or back of the waist. Fortunately, they come in 2 solid color options.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Style


The Summit shorts have a slim fit through the waist and hips with baggier legs and a 14-inch inseam. We think they look relatively good both on and off the bike. The "forest" colorway we tested is an olive green with black panels on the inner thighs and the stretch panel on the lower back with small, subtle logos on the outside of each leg. This colorway does look pretty sporty and whispers "mountain bike shorts", but doesn't scream it. These shorts also come in solid black and "loam" color options which have an even more subdued look.

The leg openings aren't huge, but these shorts do play well with...
The leg openings aren't huge, but these shorts do play well with low-profile knee pads and the 14-inch inseam prevents any pad gap.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Protection


The Summit shorts are about average in terms of protection. They are made from a relatively lightweight material with a minimalist design, but the 14-inch inseam hangs down right around the knee. The coverage they provide will certainly protect from UV rays and minor encounters with trailside bushes and branches, but that's about it. The material isn't quite as burly as more protective gravity riding shorts but is adequate for the trail riding intentions of the Summit. One nice thing is that they do play well with lower-profile kneepads without any dreaded pad gap and the low-profile bonded hem doesn't tend to hang up on them either.

Value


We feel the Summit shorts are a pretty good value. Not only are they comfortable and perform well on the bike, but they come with a padded liner short at a fair price. They aren't the least expensive shorts we've tested, but they fit better and seem to be well made and ready to withstand several seasons of riding.

The Summit is a quality pair of shorts at a fair price.
The Summit is a quality pair of shorts at a fair price.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Conclusion


The Pearl Izumi Summit is a quality pair of lightweight, minimalist trail riding shorts. They hug the waist and hips comfortably with a low-profile non-stretch waistband and two well-designed pockets. The fabric is lightweight and comfortable against the skin, pedal-friendly, yet surprisingly durable. We feel these are a good option for the trail rider looking for a minimalist short with a longer inseam.

Jeremy Benson