Review: In Praise of a Simple Pearl Izumi Base Layer

Generally I review every product that I get sent from a company. I talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly right here on However, occasionally a company will throw in gear that I didn’t ask for and I don’t really have any interest in reviewing, and sometimes that gear will never receive a single mention on the pages of this website.

However, every now and then, one of those products that I didn’t ask for and I didn’t think I’d have any use for becomes one of my most utilized pieces of gear on a daily basis. I mean really: think about the clothing or gear that you use the most often. You’d probably say something about your bike, or your hydration pack, or something similar. But you’re not thinking basic enough, yet. If you think long and hard about it, you’ll realize that there’s other clothing you use more often, yet never pay a second thought to: socks, base layers, underwear, gloves, hats, sweatbands… these are the unsung heroes of outdoor apparel that are cheap to buy, seemingly insignificant, and sometimes seemingly disposable. Yet when you go to prep for your next adventure and you can’t find one of your gloves or your favorite pair of socks, sometimes your entire day can be thrown off!

A couple of years ago Pearl Izumi sent over a gear care package along with a product that I requested for review. Honestly, it could have been a year and a half ago, it could have been over three years ago–I don’t even know anymore, because I’ve taken it so for granted. But in one of the boxes that Pearl Izumi sent me they included a seemingly simple base layer.

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At some point along the way I had need for a base layer–maybe my current go-to was dirty, or I needed a backup. Whatever the case may be, I unconsciously began incorporating this layer into my daily life.

Since then, I have used this base layer during literally hundreds of days of adventures. I have used this shirt for everything from mountain biking to road biking to bike commuting to the store to fat biking in the snow to hiking to running to downhill skiing to 14er peak climbs… and probably even more activities that I’m forgetting. The simple design and a thoughtful collection of features have made this shirt exceedingly versatile and always excellent in performance.

The base layer making an uncommon appearance back in late 2013.
The base layer making an uncommon appearance back in late 2013.

While visibly simple, there are several features that lend themselves to success. The tail of the shirt is cut longer to make it easier to tuck in and stay put, as a base layer should. The bulk of the stitching is on the outside of the shirt, as are the tags, allowing the shirt to ride very comfortably against the skin. The 100% polyester fabric wicks sweat and moisture away quickly, while offering a soft, familiar feel for those of us who’ve grown so used to synthetic bike jerseys.

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As you might be able to see in the photos above, there are a few pulls in the fabric from thorns, sticks, zippers, and other odds and ends that I’ve run into over the years. Despite a few really bad snags, the cloth hasn’t unraveled or formed any holes whatsoever. As for the stitching and seams, not a single stitch has come out of place or begun unraveling. After hundreds of days of use, seeing this shirt in such great condition is simply astounding!

I’ll be honest: I have no idea what the name of this base layer is, whether or not Pearl Izumi is still making this exact same shirt, or what the original cost of it would have been. (Feel free to click here and peruse likely suspects.) However, I do know this:

  1. While a base layer may seem simple, having a quality piece of clothing that performs well and can be relied on for years is a simple yet key component of traveling through the outdoors safely and comfortably in all manner of weather.
  2. Pearl Izumi has proven that they make quality products which are built to stand the test of time. Even if this same exact product isn’t still in production, I’d be more than willing to bet that this same level of quality and craftsmanship can still be found in their products today.
  3. While this shirt probably cost way more than a bargain-basement base layer from a big box store, the high quality of construction and longevity would have already more than paid for itself… and this shirt is by no means done being used!


So thank you for the care package, Pearl Izumi. And thank you, lowly base layer, for keeping me warm and dry for all these years–I look forward to many more adventures together!

Your turn: Do you have any dependable pieces of gear that you’ve used for years, but that are seemingly insignificant? Share them in the comments section below!