Pearl Izumi Ultra Tight

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Manufacturer Description

The Ultra Tight is built for cool weather endurance running. It features our proprietary back pocket system that will keep two gel flasks in place to keep you fueled through those extra long runs, climbs and summits. Soft interior and waterproof calf and ankle panels will keep you warm and dry.

Features

  • Thermal Lite fabric provides superior moisture transfer and warmth – 90% polyester, 10% elastane
  • Softshell Lite fabric ankle and calf splash panel features a breathable, waterproof laminate – 100% polyester
  • 20.3 cm (8.0 in) lower leg zipper with zipper garage
  • Elasticized waistband with flat stretch draw-cord for unrestricted belly breathing
  • One zippered back pocket
  • Two angled back 3 oz. gel flask pockets (patent pending)
  • Internal brief for added support and comfort
  • Protective Scuff guard
  • Form Fit
  • Recommended for temperatures between 35˚F and 45˚F
  • Tested size medium
    • Weight –275 g (9.7 oz)
    • Inseam length – 69.9 cm (27.5 in)
  • Retail – $95

YMMV Review

I have been a big fan of Pearl Izumi for some time. I really like how they offer three different levels of performance at three different price points. This makes it so you can decide where your budget is and where you want to splurge as all the pieces work well together. All the lines feature trickle down technology so while the PRO line is cutting edge, the Select range is great performance value. This fall Pearl Izumi introduced a new running collection, their Ultra Collection. This was designed with the help of their Ultra Running Team to be both comfortable and functional for long-distance running. Since these are all good for the long haul, they can also be used on shorter runs too. I want to thank Pearl Izumi for letting me test the Ultra Tights and Ultra SS Shirt in which I will write a review of a little later.

Testing

The shoulder season has been upon us for some time here in Bend; this means cold mornings and evening with the occasional cold day. Perfect weather for wearing tights. I have been getting out and running mixed roads and trails in these over the last couple months. Most of my runs were between 5 and 15 miles as I have not been able to go really long this fall due to an injury. Temperatures varied between 30 and 55 degrees with some rain and even snow thrown in.

Ultra Tights & SS Tee from the Front – Click to See Larger

Design ★★★☆☆

Appearance (20%) ★★★☆☆

Construction (35%) ★★★½☆

Pockets (20%) ★★★★☆

Sustainability (10%) ★☆☆☆☆

Weight (15%) ★★★☆☆

The new Ultra Collection from Pearl Izumi is designed for extended-distance running. According to Pearl Izumi, it has been intelligently designed with help from the Pearl Izumi Ultra Running Team. This collection is made of technical gear that is ultra light, soft, stretchable, and packable. Pockets that store food, flasks, and gear in the most natural relationship to the active body. Strategically placed abrasion details that protect without weight, restricted suppleness or pack-ability limitations. Every detail is rooted in experience. Every feature designed with pure function in mind. Constructed to enhance the natural flow of the body in motion over time, terrain, and environment. Products that – at every level – reinforce the very essence of Pearl Izumi. Ultras are long distance, multiple hours, varied terrain, self supported, and in extreme and changing conditions. The gear you use becomes paramount.

Ultra Tights & SS Tee from the Back – Click to See Larger

The Ultra Tight is designed for cool weather running. It is a mix of two different fabrics. The main fabric is Thermal Lite, which is a 90% polyester and 10% Lycra lightweight fleece. This fabric has excellent moisture management properties and will also add warmth. With 10% Lycra content it can stretch and move well while running. This fabric makes up most of the tights. The only section that uses the Softshell Lite fabric is a panel that covers the inside around the ankle and wraps around the back. Softshell Lite is 100% polyester with a waterproof laminate to keep water and mud at bay. The inside section of this panel has printed abrasion panels to add protection from shoes and debris when on the move. At the ankle, there is an 8-inch zipper with zipper garage for easier on and off. The Ultra Tight uses an elastic drawstring at the waist that not only keeps the waist secure but has a little stretch for comfort. The other really cool feature that Pearl Izumi has added to these for comfort is an integrated internal brief. I am not sure why more companies don’t have this.

At the lower back there is a horizontal zippered pocket, but this is not the coolest pocket on these tights. Pearl Izumi has developed their new back pocket system which I have found to be really cool. The integrated back pocket system features two, strategically placed gel flask pockets that secure nutrition close to the body. These pockets sit on the hips just around the back from the center. They are an elastic mesh that sits flat when not in use and can stretch to accommodate your flask. There is not much in the way of reflective elements on the tights. Only the small writing on the calf is reflective. According to Pearl Izumi, they have rated the Ultra Tight to be ideal in temperatures ranging from 35 to 45 degrees, but this does not mean it will not be great at other temperatures.

Integrated Pocket – Click to See Larger

The one drawback I have is that the Ultra Tight is not made of recycled or sustainable materials. I have also found that looking around Pearl Izumi’s website, there was not much on any corporate initiatives surrounding sustainability. I have heard that they are going to be building a new North American Headquarters that will be state of the art and energy efficient. That is about all I have heard on that. I do have to give Pearl Izumi credit for being a brand that endorses getting outside and also the use of bikes as an alternative form of transportation.

Fit ★★★★☆

Comfort (35%) ★★★★½

Cuffs (10%) ★★★½☆

Ease of Movement (20%) ★★★★☆

Inseam Length (15%) ★★★☆☆

Leg Sizing (20%) ★★★½☆

First off, I way to say that I am a fairly modest guy. I am not into short shorts as they show much more leg than I want to show or see on other guys, for that matter. Tights are a little different as they are full coverage but generally are fairly tight, hence the name. I like to run in tights but often opt for a pair of basic shorts over the top for a bit more coverage so to speak. This leads me to the Ultra Tight. These are made to be form fitting with a snug but not compressive fit. I am normally a medium-size and, that is what I tested in these tights. I must say they fit me really good. They felt plenty snug when I got them on and with the stretch of the fabric and zippered leg it was easy to get them on. None of the pulling and stretching that is involved when putting on compression tights. One thing to note is that these have an internal brief. Not only does this brief add support, but it also makes for a seam-free layer against your important parts. Unlike many other tights I have worn, I did not have to wear any running underwear under my tights as it was built in. This makes for a much more comfortable experience, in my opinion. One less layer to possibly rub you the wrong way. As with any other pair of tights I have worn, after about 1/2 a mile, or so I need to adjust but then they are good from then on.

Pocket with 8 oz Flask – Click to See Larger

I was really impressed by the elastic drawstring as well. With details like this you can tell they actually worked with athletes themselves to get the product correct. The waist band is soft and comfortable. I never had any discomfort even when I carried stuff in the pockets. While I did not put in as many miles as I am sure the Ultra Running team did, I can say that on all my runs, I found the tights to be very comfortable. The fabric was soft and did not cause any chafing. Even around the lower legs where there is a softshell panel, this was comfortable too. The stretch in the fabric helps them move well with you, whether running, walking, or power hiking up a climb. You will notice that the inseam is on the shorter side but do not be alarms. Tights always have shorter inseams as they are supposed to go down to about your ankle bone. This is unlike pants that you may want to cover part of your shoes.  So even though I am a 32-inch inseam regularly, the 27 ½ inch inseam on these worked really well for me.

Performance ★★★★☆

Breathability (15%) ★★★★☆

Durability (15%) ★★★½☆

Hydration Pockets (20%) ★★★★★

Moisture Transport (10%) ★★★☆☆

Reflectivity (5%) ★★☆☆☆

Support (15%) ★★★★☆

Warmth (20%) ★★★½☆

This may start sounding like a glowing review, and that is because it is. Not only did these tights fit well, but they were awesome to run in as well. I mentioned above that I normally wear shorts over my tights for modesty. With the Ultra Tights, this is a bit more difficult to do if you want to have full use of the integrated flask pockets. For this reason, I actually went shortless during my testing. It did make me feel better knowing that there was extra liner material in there. This added brief not only adds comfort but also supports really well. Not once did I have any support issues. Once again, I wonder why more manufacturers do not add this to their tights.

Pocket with 5 oz Flask – Click to See Larger

I tested the tights in temperatures ranging from 30 to 55 degrees even though they were rated for 35 to 45. I tend to be cold unless I exercise, and then I am hot. It makes figuring out my layering system a struggle. This has to be one reason I liked the Ultra Tights so much. Not only did they add enough warmth for running on 30 degree days, but I also did not overheat on the 55 degree day. Some of this I am sure has to do with wearing the appropriate top, but I also think the tights just breathe well too. The Thermal Lite fleece fabric is a good weight for being both warm but not too warm. The lower leg panel itself is much too small to have any real impact on breathability. The fabric also seems to have a good amount of moisture management to it. That is pulling sweat off the skin to evaporate off. My legs do not seem to sweat as much as my upper body does so this is a bit harder to tell for me. For the most part, I always felt dry, now whether that is from a lack of sweat or the wicking properties of the tights, I cannot be sure.

I really like the smart additions to the Ultra Tights. Additions such as the printed on abrasion panels are a small thing but definitely help with durability. I find that when running trails, and especially technical trails, I will occasionally have times where my shoe rubs the inside of my ankle and over time that can affect the tights. With this extra layer in place I never had any issues with durability. I must say that I have not put a tremendous amount of miles in these, so I will have to check in if anything changes. Here in Bend is fairly dry, but I was able to get some wet weather running in and did not notice any wetness getting in at my lower legs. There was not any terribly wet days so it was hard to truly test the waterproof panel.

Waterproof Ankle Panel – Click to See Larger

The coolest part of the Ultra Tights has to be the pockets. The center back pocket is nothing extra special, but it does carry things rather well. It is even big enough for an iPhone and does not bounce if you put one in there. That is one area where I do tend to sweat so my phone would get a bit foggy if I chose to run with it in the pocket. The angled side pockets are where the true innovation lies. These little stretch pockets are really easy to get things out of and only a little more difficult to get things back in. I tired these pockets with smaller gel flasks and also some 8-ounce hydration flasks and was pleasantly surprised how well both worked. The 8 oz flasks had a concave shape to them which I think helped them sit snug in the pockets. If they were more rounded, then the increase size may have been an issue. I do know that using a 5 oz flask in the pockets they carried well and did not bounce. By putting the pockets right on the waist band, Pearl Izumi has figured out a way to make them stable even with weight in there. This is awesome. One important thing I noticed with the pockets is that they are mesh so be careful with putting things in there that may snag like keys. I did this once, and it took some effort getting my keys unsnagged without damaging the pocket. I hope that Pearl Izumi can integrate these into more of their offerings like triathlon shorts or longer inseam running shorts.

Ultra Kit in Action – Click to See Larger

Overall ★★★★☆

Overall, these are the best running tights that I have used. While I am still not a huge fan of wearing only tights, especially before and after my runs, I will make an exception when they perform as well as these do. The Ultra Tights are very comfortable and seemed to work across a wide range of temperatures which I appreciate. I find that some gear is a little too tightly segmented so having a wide range is nice. The two things that really set these apart for me have to be the internal brief and the integrated pockets. Both work great and very different than anything else on the market. If you are looking for some good running tights, these are the ones. The Pearl Izumi Ultra Tights retail for $95. They are the best I have tested but as always, your mileage may vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Soft and stretchy main fabric
  • Zippered ankles
  • Elastic waistband
  • Integrated flask pockets are awesome
  • Internal integrated brief
  • Printed abrasion panels at the ankles

Cons

  • Not very modest
  • Only one small reflective logo

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About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

2 Responses to “Pearl Izumi Ultra Tight”

  1. Great review, thanks for posting. I just ordered a pair of these last night and am really looking forward to trying them out. I waffled between the med and large, but ultimately went with the large (I wear 32w/34l pants and am 5’9″/~145), so hopefully this will work.

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