Review: Pearly’s Possum Socks

Pearly's Logo

Product Tested: Pearly’s Possum Socks, Size Large

Website MSRP: $58

Specs: 45% Merino Wool
40% Possum
Durable Heel
Arch Support
Compression Fit

About Me: 6’1” 210lbs, 32 year old male. I’m a mountain biking enthusiast who enjoys rocking the 29er wheels.
Testing Grounds: All over the Southern California Trails, North Carolina, Winter Rides in the Mountains, Playing in the Snow

The color of the socks on Pearly’s website is more of a gray while the actual sock is tan. A simple clean “P” logo.

First Impressions: They’re simple with a nice, simple “P”. Very stealth except for the height, which reaches up to just below the calf bulge. Simple is what I am all about. I know that for most bikers, stealth isn’t the norm, but I like my jerseys clean and simple. I like my shorts black, gray or black/gray. Some peeps can rock the Pink Tuxedo and they look smoooooth. I can’t.

The next thing you will notice about these socks are that they’re THICK! They’re surprisingly deceiving in that way and all I could think about when I got the Pearly’s was: will they even fit in my shoes? The answer is they do fit, snugly, comfortably. The Pearly’s do compress around your foot making them extremely comfortable in the shoe. I did notice I could not ratchet down my shoes as much as I do with normal thin summer socks, but that is to be expected with thicker cold-weather socks. I never felt that my shoes were loose on my foot, though.

You will also notice the hair. Yes, there is real possum hair in there. It is a little weird to think about, so don’t. Just stick your foot in and you will realize exactly why the Pearly’s have become my go to sock in cold or wet weather conditions.

The Possum hair. You can actually see it. It is a little disturbing at first.

Strengths: Alright, let’s talk with about the elephant in the room. They’re $58 socks. Are they good enough to justify $58? That’s up to you. Hopefully this review will help you come to a decision.
The coldest I have ridden with these socks is the low 30’s, which I know is not as cold as it gets for some of our readers out there, but that’s cold enough for me. But before we talk about temps, let’s talk about comfort.
The Pearly’s are the most comfortable socks I have ever worn. Hands down, bar none. Unless it is hot outside, my feet CRAVE the warmth and comfort of the Pearly’s. The way the Pearly’s surround the feet, insulate and encase them is something akin to the blissful feeling you get when you reach the end of a physically exhausting day and climb under the covers. It is truly amazing. For this reason alone, I can see spending a nice sum on socks but $58, I think not. But this is not where the Pearly’s shine.

Where the Pearly’s show their worth is when you are out in cold or wet weather on the bike. When the temps drop to 30 degrees and all your bits start freezing off, that is when the Pearly’s come into their own. On those rides I can tell you with confidence that every part of me was cold save for my feet. During those rides, I typically start to assess my body and I realize that what I really want is for every part of my body to be warm and comfortable. If it costs me $58 for a pair of gloves to keep me warm, $58 for a head covering, $58 for leg coverings… it is worth it. So would $58 be too much to spend on socks? Not at that moment.

Works well with my short knee warmers. The gap on the right leg is about 2 inches and reflective of how they normally work. The gap on the left leg is after the knee warmers have crawled up a bit.

How the Merino Wool and Possum Hair mixture work together to make such a phenomenal sock is a little beyond my understanding. Initially, the sight of possum hair on my sock was disturbing but it works and the Pearly’s are not just cold weather socks. They worked very well when the temps heat up. On one particular ride, we started off in the 30’s and ended up in the low 60’s. I shed a lot of my clothing on that ride but never touched the socks.

They Pearly’s are also good when the going gets wet. The Pearly’s have similar qualities as wool socks in their wicking ability, probably because they are 45% wool. On one of my favorite trails, the trail crosses and re-crosses a stream multiple times. Normally my feet are uncomfortable and soaked at the end of this ride but the Pearly’s keep them warm and dry.

The durability of these socks has been impressive. I have worn nice wool socks over the years. I have had a number of pairs of Swiftwick socks, some Smartwool and a myriad of other no-name brands and name brand wool socks but the Pearly’s look like they will outlast them all. The reinforced heel and toe area is a smart move by Pearly’s to ensure durability. I have found that pretty much all my socks get holey in those two areas well before the function of the rest of the sock deteriorates. The Pearly’s, quite frankly, look as good almost one year into it as they did when I first got them. The heal and toe box are still in excellent condition, showing no signs of wear at all.

The darker part of the sock is reinforced with nylon which makes a difference in longevity/durability

Weaknesses: The only issue I have with the Pearly’s is the price. At $58 a pair, they are a major purchase. At the same time, when you put it into perspective, is $58 really all that much? Let’s consider a bike part that many of us give little thought to: the bike saddle. For a top of the line bike saddle, one that provides both excellent comfort and performance (less weight, in the saddle’s case), the cost could exceed $60. $100 to $200 is not out of the realm of possibility either. Even when I consider clothing, $58 socks is not exorbitant in comparison to other clothes. A great pair of biking shorts can easily climb into the $80 stratosphere and more. Jerseys can easily top $150 for the warm wool jerseys.
Is $58 for a premium pair of socks packed with technological goodness, too expensive? I will have to leave that up to you but I know that I can justify the addition of Pearly’s in my cycling wardrobe.

Conclusion: The Pearly’s are amazing socks. The combination of merino wool and possum hair makes for a comfortable, warm bed that my feet love getting in to. My normal sock problem-areas, the toe box and heel, are reinforced for extra durability and after a year of use, they look just as good as when I first got them.
As a regular sock to wear around the house or out into the cold, the Pearly’s are quite good but as a cycling sock, having to deal with the cold weather riding and wetness, this is where the Pearly’s excel. The Pearly’s rock in these conditions and has become my go-to sock when the weather turns cold or wet.

For more information about the Pearly’s Possum Socks, click here.

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Happy Birthday RL!

Boss Man RL is going for the big 2-9 today… or was that the 3-9… awwww fuhgedboutit.

Boss Man RL is turning a year older today. Not only does he have the best mountain biking blog known to mankind, RL is also a great family man and friend. We can all attest that we are better for having known RL.

Thanks for the blog, thanks for the mountain biking and most importantly thanks for the friendship. Happy Birthday, RL!!

Ibex Cycling Clothes

Ibex has been a company I’ve been watching for a while. I love their clean style and handsome clothing. Over the past few months I’ve put to the test their Indie Full Zip Short Sleeve Jersey, Giro Short Sleeve Mountain Jersey, Giro Neo Long Sleeve Jersey and the Duo Short. Riding them around all of Southern California, I’ve discovered the pros and cons of each item. Read on to find my thoughts of each item of clothing.

There are some general comments that apply to all of the clothing that I would first like to mention. I wanted to highlight this in each review but that would have been very repetitive. So here they are in summary:
The Ibex clothing have all the advantages of wool namely: breath-ability, wicking and odor resistance. I have not had to spray any of the clothing (except for the pad on the Duo Short) with my Isopropyl/Water mixture like I do with all of my synthetic clothing blends. I love that even when I’m sweating, I don’t stink. Because good wool clothing will exhibit these traits, I will not mention these attributes in the article.

I am extremely impressed with the construction of Ibex’s cycling gear. I have found the seams to be impressive and the material has been of very high quality. After months of riding, I thoroughly examined each article of clothing and I have not found a loose thread or any issues with the durability of the clothing at all. This is definitely high quality stuff.

Indie Full Zip SS Jersey

Indie Full Zip Short Sleeve Jersey: lightweight jersey

The Indie Full Zip Short Sleeve Jersey is a very good light weight jersey. I wore this jersey throughout most of the summer and into the early fall. It is comfortable and the wool material is very breathable. The Indie is definitely on the lightweight side. This is not described in the website material but it is akin to riding a normal lightweight jersey.

Pros: the Indie is lightweight material is great for the hotter days. I’ve worn this jersey in 90+ degree weather and I am quite comfortable in it. The full zip front was useful on those warmer days. I liked that the jersey never looked worn even after many washes. The 3 rear pockets are useful for very light items such as keys, gels a couple of granola bars.

lack of elastic waistband made it difficult to carry heavier objects comfortably

Cons: no elastic waistband. This missing ingredient renders the Indie useless to hold water bottles in the rear pockets which is a necessity in a jersey of this design. The times I did put a water bottle in the rear pocket, I could only put it in the center pocket and after a short time, without the elastic waist, the weight of the water bottle would drag the rear of my shirt down rendering it both saggy and uncomfortable. Not exactly a good look for me, or anyone else for that matter. I ended up never being comfortable with a water bottle in the back of the Indie.

The Indie’s lightweight material and good looks made this jersey great for warm weather riding. The lack of elastic in the waist area made it difficult and uncomfortable to carry a full water bottle. When I finished my water bottle and stuffed an empty bottle in the back pocket, the lack of elastic in the waist area was a non-factor.

Giro SS Mountain Jersey

Giro Short Sleeve Mountain jersey, half zip, very comfortable

The Giro Short Sleeve Mountain jersey is a heavier weight short sleeve half zip jersey. It does not rock the deep pockets found on the Indie, but instead has a small pocket in the rear offset from the center for keys, although my wallet fit comfortably as well.

Pros: Without deep rear pockets, I used this jersey on longer rides when I would carry a hydration pack. As you can see in the picture below, the rear pocket was not in the way of my hydration pack. I also used it on shorter rides when I could carry enough hydration on the bike. The Giro shines with or without a hydration pack. The breathability of the jersey is key for this and the wool material does a great job feeling comfortable even with a full hydration pack on. The lack of pockets does not really bother me, rather it helps me define when to go with the Giro jersey: when I want to wear a hydration pack. I did get to crash test this jersey and it held up fine during a mild tumbler.

One small offset pocket in the rear made wearing hydration bags very comfortable

Cons: The offset rear pocket is only useful for very light items. Heavier items will be felt and since it is offset from the center (back right), you shirt will definitely feel a little off-balance. I originally stuck my wallet in the back pocket. My wallet is always heavy with at least a few dozen Benjamin’s and about the same number of credit/id cards. This immediately felt awkward and unbalanced. It pulled on the jersey a tad bit which, after a few miles, became annoying. I found a better spot for the wallet, the side of the trail (j/k!), and tossed just my car keys – which I always trim down to just the key + keyring for rides – into the rear pocket for the remainder of the ride. This worked out a lot better and I kept that in mind for rides in the Giro sans hydration pack.

The soft but heavier wool of the Giro made for a versatile jersey that could be worn in a larger temperature range than the Indie. The high quality material was resistant to my fall and the design made it easy to know when to choose this jersey to wear: when I need a hydration pack. The lone offset pocket made for a comfortable hydration pack to back interface but when in use, the offset pocket could really only hold VERY light objects.

Giro Neo Full Zip LS Jersey

Giro Neo Full Zip Long Sleeve Jersey. Easily, my favorite wool jersey

The Giro Neo Full Zip Long Sleeve Jersey is a looker. In fact the first thing I asked my wife when I got the clothing from Ibex was: can I wear this instead of my jacket out to dinner tonight? She promptly said “no” and probably mumbled under her breath about my lunacy. Understandable response but the Giro Neo was and is a handsome jersey.

Pros: sharing the same thickness of wool as the Giro Short Sleeve Mountain jersey, the Giro Neo’s long sleeves meant that I was riding with this into much colder weather (down to the upper 40’s) without issue. On a day that started in the thirties and hit the upper 60’s, I started off with the Giro Neo and a jacket, then switched to the Giro Neo solo and was able to stuff my cycling jacket into one of the generous back pockets. With the full zipper down the front I was really able to stretch the usefulness of this jersey into the upper 60’s before the long sleeves became too warm. The Giro Neo does have a well functioning elastic waistband so I was able to stick water bottles in the rear pocket.

A little bit of pilling action due to sending it through the dryer. Ibex clearly states not to send it through the dryer… doh.

Cons: not suitable for the dryer. OK, I’ll admit it: I don’t wash my own clothes. For the most part, the wifie does it for me and for that I am very grateful. However, because she washes my clothes for me, she does tend to forget that certain clothing should not go in the dryer, namely my wool. What happens, it tends to pill a little and not look as smooth. Does it affect the functionality of the clothing? No but the pilling detracts from the finish. I admit it, I am vain. I still rock the Giro Neo and will continue to do so because it is an awesome jersey otherwise.

The Giro Neo has been my favorite item of clothing from Ibex. It is versatile and the rear pockets are much more useful than the Indie Full Zip SS jersey. The pilling is really my fault but I still like the Giro Neo anyway.


Duo Short: comfortable and versatile, can be warn in hot or cold weather

The Duo Short is not all wool. It has some lycra in certain panels to give it some stretch which was surprising but welcome. As a mountain biker I tended to wear these Duo Shorts with a shell.

Pro: I was admittedly apprehensive wearing these shorts when the weather was warm. I should not have been. This short works well in both cold and warm weather. Over the past few months I’ve ridden them in 80 degree+ weather as well as down to the mid-30’s. They work great in all situations in between. I really liked the pad too. The pad is extremely comfortable and has held its shape/design well after many uses and many washes.

Its not all wool: left side of picture is lycra, right side is wool. This allows for a certain amount of stretch in the right places

Cons: I would make the leg elastic slightly more grippy. I don’t even know if this is a worthy con since I never felt it to lack in grippiness. When wearing knee or leg warmers, the leg elastic held my warmers in place. I only noticed this when I pull on the shorts and make a mental comment that the grip around my muscular thighs is not as tight as found on my other shorts.

The Duo Short has moved to the top of my list of shorts I wear. I still haven’t tested it in 90degree + weather yet but I will do so this summer and I have no doubt that the Duo Short will perform with flying colors. I always feel good in these shorts, never muggy, no matter the late summer/fall/winter So. Cal temps we have had. The pad is excellent, comfortable and not showing any wear from my riding. The mixture of wool and lycra panels works perfectly and save for a slightly less grippy leg elastic, which has not detracted from my riding, it is pretty much perfect.

Thanks to Ibex for allowing me to review their clothing. For more information on Ibex Outdoor Clothing, click here.

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Being Social

Thought this was funny. Wow, is mountain biking going mainstream?

Ibex Wear: First Impressions

Brown Santa (aka RL) stopped by my office last week to drop off a nice little package from Ibex Wear.

I have always appreciated simple jerseys. When I first started off mountain biking I liked simple synthetic mountain biking jerseys but now I have also come to appreciate wool and the roadie-jersey with back pockets. Ibex Wear has always been one of those companies I drool at from afar. Just looking at the pictures, I could see the craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Back to Brown Santa’s nice little pacakge: What did I receive?

Indie Full Zip Short Sleeve Jersey in Asphalt / Sea Grass

Giro Mountain Jersey in Soil / Limon

Giro Neo FZ Long Sleeve Jersey in Soil / Deep Lake

Duo Wool Bike Short

What I instantly noticed about all the clothing is the attention to detail. The little extra bits of color, the flat seams or the flap that covers the zippered pockets are all nice touches that really set apart Ibex Wear. Each zipper has a bit of rubber with the company logo! This is not even mentioning the fact that all these clothing pieces are made out of very soft merino.

Indie Full Zip S/S Jersey features contrasting color flatlock stitching. I dig ’em.

I found that the Ibex Wear’s sizes run pretty true. If you look at their size chart at 6’`” and just over 200lbs, my measurements are on the high side of Large. Because I prefer slightly larger jerseys and all wool tends to shrink in the wash, I asked for XL sized clothing.

Nice burst of blue on the Giro Neo FZ L/S Jersey

My only thought after putting everything on (not all at once!) was that the shirts end a little lower than expected (inches below the waste) and the shorts are quite a bit longer than what I am used to. Again, with a little shrinkage in the wash I think they will be fine but I will definitely keep you posted on how these clothes fit after a few washes.

Mountain Jersey has a rear zippered pocket on the bottom right. Perfect for keys and a small cell.

Overall, my first impressions are that the the wool is quite comfortable, the clothing has excellent stitching and I really dig the small touches and functionality. We will see how the Ibex Wear clothing fits over time and how they do under normal usage I will put them through over the next few months. Keep checking back for a full review.

Ibex Wear can be found here.

Open Letter to KONA!

To Kona,
I’m DIGGING it! Two very sweet Kona 29ers came out on your Kona World blog. First is the Satori, A 130mm travel Full Suspension 29er and the second bike is the Honzo, a slack angle 120mm 29er Hard Tail. I love what you’re doing at Kona.

Kona Satori. 130mm of 29er travel. I really dig the RAW finish.

Why am I loving it? Because you’ve decided not to follow the 29er trends but to create your own and for that, I APPLAUD you. When many in the bike manufacturing world decided to come out with “me too” 29ers, you decided to push the envelope and develop a 130mm full suspension 29er and a slack steel HT.

A departure from Kona’s walking beam linkage, the swinging link gives Kona the ability to go 130mm

I know – but then again I don’t know – that designing a full suspension 29er is tough. I get that the bigger wheels take up more space, change the handling characteristics and, in general, have to be accounted for in every little design element. I like that you have the capable Hei-Hei 29er with 100mm of travel. Its a great bike and one I’ve recommended to a few people.

But, I am happy that you decided not to rest on your laurels and have pushed the envelope in developing the Satori. Changing from your traditional walking beam linkage to a swinging link design was BOLD. This shows out of the box thinking on your part, recognizing that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Going to 130mm is… WOW. With only two other production 29ers with 130mm of travel or more, this is really a great step to get in on the ground floor of where 29ers are going.

The Honzo. A slack steel 29er hardtail

The Honzo, though, is what really got my appetite going. When I saw it, my mouth dropped… lower than when I saw the Satori. And yes, the Honzo is what prompted me to write to you. The Honzo is VERY cool. Other companies have danced around the idea and a couple of small manufacturers have gone out and done slack 29er Hardtails, but Kona, you’re the first biggie to get behind the idea and announce it. The key features of the Honzo that caught my eyes are steel, ISCG tabs, short chainstays, SLIDING dropouts and room for 2.4″ tires on wide rims. I have already talked to a couple of friends who own nothing but boutique bikes and they are drooling over the Honzo.

Could that be a 2.4″ Maxxis Ardent?

Kona, you’ve done well. You are pushing and leading the way (raise for the PM’s?). As a 29er fan and advocate, I applaud you and wish you the best of luck with these new bikes… with all of your bikes.

Jeremy, 29er rider

P.S. I really like that you showed the Honzo all dirty. GREAT touch.

Maple Springs to Motorway

Up above the clouds. We think the mountain seen on the top left of the picture is Catalina

Wow, what a beautiful Saturday it was above the clouds. As it is many times in Southern California in June, we were experiencing a bit of June gloom. I woke up on Saturday morning and left the house to a very slight drizzle. When I arrived at the trailhead, the drizzle had passed but the clouds were still present. Dan and I readied ourselves in the empty parking lot as we knew this would be a strenuous ride.

Heading into the canyon on the Jet9. This portion of the climb up Maple Springs is on pavement.

This would be my first time doing this route: up Maple Springs, connect to Main Divide then down Motorway back to the car. Frankly, I was a bit concerned but also excited. I wish all rides would have me feeling this way! The proposed route would cover almost 3,800 ft in climbing in a total of 16 miles. Maple Spring would cover 7 miles and steadily climb about 2800 feet. The next 6 miles would be a beautiful undulating ride along the Main Divide. The last 2 miles, Motorway, would be a fast singletrack fest back to the car.

Maple Springs was not too bad. Yes, there was a lot of climbing but we got to Four Corners, the start of the Main Divide portion of the trail, in 1:37 which means we were moving at about 4.3 mph. The climb was 3 miles of asphault and 4 miles of fireroad and not particularly steep at any time. It was really a grind though.

Amazing views along the Main Divide. The trail snaking its way up the mountain is Maple Springs. Its always nice to see where you came from.

The next portion, Main Divide, went longer than I thought. It was not until I got back home and examined my GPS did I realize that the MD was 6 miles long. I thought it was about 4 miles and this led to both Dan and I searching around for the turnoff to Motorway a couple of miles early. What hurt though, was the last two climbs on the Main Divide. After blasting out the first 2800ft on Maple Springs and another 200ft along the rolling Main Divide, the last two miles had two short climbs of about 400ft each. OUCH.

Dan, Airborne Goblin and the Main Divide sign. The green on the Goblin is SHARP. I likey. The pricepoint for the parts is impeccable. It reminds me of 2007 when I bought my X-Caliber for nearly the same price but the Goblin has better brakes and a nicer paint job.

Motorway was a great reward. Mildly technical due to some exposure and kitty litter over hardpacked with some smaller-than-babyhead rocks. Dan & I cruised back to the cars enjoying the flowy fast descent. But our cruise was curtailed by a tear of my new rear Specialized Fastrack Control. Thankfully I didn’t lose control and we were able to boot and tube it.

Almost all the way down Motorway. This part wasn’t even all that. I was really hauling through here when the slice occurred. Somewhere, a rock is grinning mischievously.

Quick update on the Niner Jet 9: The Jet9 did very well on this voyage, its third since being returned. She was waiting on a new cassette which held it out of service for a couple of weeks but I’ve put nearly 50 miles and over 7,000ft climbing in the week she has been back in service. I am really enjoying her 80mm of CVA suspension which has been efficient and comfortable although not as plush as the Voodoo Canzo’s 100mm it replaced. I have not noticed any lack of stiffness as compared to the Canzo, either.

Up next, as part of the agreement with the insurance company, the Jet 9 will be receiving new wheels (current wheels are from another bike) and new lowers on the Fox F29 fork to go from QR to 15mm T/A paid for by me.

Its Back…

The Jet9 Returns!

… and I got to ride it today. No pictures on the ride, but it was a good ride, nonetheless. I spent most of the time fiddling with the saddle height, the rear derailleur and I don’t have the rear pressure dialed in to my liking yet but I got to ride her, I rode her hard and I liked it, lots!

Thanks for all your kind comments. Big PROPS to the commenter who tipped me off to my bike being on ebay. I am enjoying the bike immensely and thank you very making this happen.