PRIMAL COMIC BOOK THERMAL ARM WARMERS
The Primal Comic Book Thermal Arm Warmers are supposedly optimised for freezing conditions, though still wearable in temperatures 23 degrees, yet pack down compactly in jersey pockets. There’s a lot to like here, including the price and they do a good job of bridging the comfort gap during changeable autumn and spring rides.
Pros: Funky design, cope well in cool conditions, accurate sizing.
Cons: Can turn a bit clammy in milder weather, less capable in extremes of temperature.
These are made from “Traverso”, which is a 90% polyester/ 10% Spandex, 245gsm weave - nothing particularly unusual for arm or leg-warmers. However, as with other materials, there are different grades and properties. Traverso employs a mechanically brushed back fabric and a dyed black back which acts like a stopper, preventing “grin-through” when the fabric is stretched.
According to Primal, these arm warmers have an effective operating range between –6 and 23 degrees, which is quite a claim. Silicone grippers and ergonomic cut means they’ll should stay put. The thin pile fleece lining promises to retain warmth, while working to evict unwanted rider generated coolant.
Now Primal ae renown for funky styling. Styling that really speaks to me. In terms of aesthetics, the monochrome blends beautifully with black and white jerseys, such as the Prendas Ciclismo Bordeaux Paris Short Sleeve Jersey , but also other, solid colours.
Primal’s sizing chart is comprehensive, so judging by ours (and indeed, older Primal garments) online purchases shouldn’t present any unwelcome surprises. Ours were medium and I am relatively willowy. The fit is, as you’d hope, second-skin close, but sensibly stretchy, so bunching, or gathering hasn’t been an issue. Talking of size, should the temperature rise too high for comfort, they’ll pack down small enough to fit in a jersey pocket, although the middleweight density means the bulk is more apparent than some.
Overall performance has been favourable. February’s freeze was perfect for assessing their ability to retain warmth when the mercury really plummets. These tests were over successive days, wearing short sleeve base layers, jerseys, and 7 Mesh Cypress Hybrid Jacket and, really pushing the envelope, I switched the jacket for a winter weight gilet. The first scenario was tolerable, but for the last 30 minutes, my forearms were stinging.
Much the same story with the gilet, although I was acutely aware of the cold after twenty minutes at –2. Things were much better when temperatures crept into single figures, especially with wintry sun thrown in for good measure. I’d been able to cruise along at 18mph for 90 minutes, able to concentrate on enjoying the ride. Second-skin close, there’s been no issues with wrinkling, let alone flutter. Silicone grippers do their thing reliably and without branding.
Winding things up to 25mph plus on the descents, chill returned, but, thankfully, fleetingly. This song remained consistent on windier but relatively mild conditions. 13-14 degrees and the fabric remained temperate but didn’t wick so well and this was more apparent during showery episodes. Peeling them off at the end of a dry ride and my forearms were quite clammy, yet this was never apparent during the ride.
Talking of showers, they seemed to turn tangibly damp after 20-25 minutes, on par with that of a long sleeve jersey. Get them sodden, in a fierce downpour and they’ll take a while to dry out - 90 minutes or so, at room temperature. Then again; if these conditions were forecast, chances are we’d be reaching for a micro jacket anyhow.
Solid construction is something I’ve come to expect from this price point and Primal generally, so I wasn’t surprised to find ours looking fresh a few months down the line. That’s despite my usual pattern of mixed terrain detours and the inevitable, minor skirmishes with thorns and similarly prickly, scratchy stuff. The shades do a decent job of making very minor, oily patina following a quick bit of rest stop/post ride fettling. I’ve given these a quick pre-wash tickling with a toothbrush dipped in a gentle concentrate, such as Squirt Biodegradable bike Cleaner Concentrate. Otherwise, popped in with the regular wash load at 30/40 degrees, they’ve emerged clean, fragrant and still fitting.
£22 is pretty good value, when everything’s factored into the equation. Hackney GT Love offer fleece-lined, warm and windproof arm warmers (or indeed, their Royal Camo Thermodress counterparts) come in at £20. Some say these are better at keeping chill and icy blasts at bay. DHB Blok Arm Warmers are another micro-fleece design and a little cheaper at £15. Obviously, you can pay a lot more. GripGrab Classic Thermal Arm Warmers are a more traditional design with a breathable brushed fabric in black and come in at £34.Continuing the more traditional theme, Endura Pro SL II Arm Warmers are windproof, breathable and also feature a DWR (durable water repelling) coating- rrp £35.00.
Subjectively, I’m a big fan of the Primal Cartoon Thermal Arm Warmers - they're fun, close fitting, and great for cooler weather. That said (maybe middle-age is turning me soft) I’d need to be wearing them beneath a long sleeve jersey and with a laminate training jacket atop when its minus 5.
Verdict: 3.5/5 Fun arm warmers for cool but not bitterly cold conditions.
PUBLISHED APRIL 2021