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Pearl Izumi Ultra Split Short Review

Pearl Izumi Ultra Split Short

Guest post by Peter Stuart @theloudmouse

Occasionally I happen on an item of running gear that works so well that I feel compelled to write about it. In the case of these shorts, they solve some problems that I didn’t even know were problems—I’d just figured out how to live with them. I’ve taken to carrying some Tailwind liquid nutrition with me on long runs and marathons in addition to a couple of gels. I’ve dealt with carrying all of this in varying ways, belts, bottles, safety pins, shorts with pockets, etc. Up until recently I was using a glove system with a soft flask and really wanted somewhere to put the flask when it was empty—my coach recommended the Pearl Izumi Ultra Short tight—which I ordered, but wound up sending back. Ultimately I just didn’t feel comfortable in a super tight compression short with my stuff hanging out there (and frankly it’s not the most flattering piece of gear if there’s any excess skin around your mid-section at all). Enter the Ultra Split Short.

The Good

The material on this short is great: super light and fast drying. The short fits well and the liner gives a compression like feel to the backside. They feel like a racing short with an additional level of support around the glutes–just enough to firm things up. I’ve had no chafing at all in these–including 18 miles straight out of the box and a very warm marathon in which I was dousing myself with water for miles. In fact, they stayed nice and light even soaking wet—didn’t notice them at all. Another great aspect of these shorts is the two side gel pockets. They’re tight to the shorts and live up to the “conform to the body” claims. Once I put the gels in I don’t feel them at all. They are snug and secure and don’t bounce—yet stay easily accessible on the run. The back pocket is really spacious—plenty of room for a soft gel flask, or even a Nathan 10oz flask. Ultimately I still don’t like to put a full flask in there, because I don’t like the bounce, but happily stored my glove and empty soft flask in there for the last 5 miles of my recent marathon. The waistband is soft, the liner holds everything in and the shorts just sort of disappear.

The Bad

The only thing I’d like to see added to these is a tiny little sliver of a key pocket, even in the liner somewhere. I’m nitpicking here, but when I run from home, it would be nice to have a place to put a single key.


These shorts fill a really nice middle ground between a race split short and a heavier duty long-distance race short. For me they’re a perfect long run or marathon short and they feel and look really good. It’s nice to be able to carry some nutrition without feeling like I’m weighed down with lots of stuff.

What Pearl Izumi says about the Utlra Split Short

The Ultra Split Short features our proprietary 1:1 Gel Flask Pocketing System which secures nutrition in an anatomic position on body. Our pocketing system is ingeniously integrated into the liner preventing the aggravating dilemma of nutrition bouncing about, allowing you to be self supported over multiple hours and long distances.

  • Transfer Dry fabric provides optimal moisture transfer and stretch with superior hand feel
  • Fully-integrated Float liner uses Transfer Dry fabric powered by Minerale™ for optimal moisture transfer, faster dry time and odor absorption
  • 1:1 Gel Flask Pocketing System secures nutrition in an anatomic position to conform perfectly to the body in motion (patent pending)
  • One zippered back pocket
  • No inseam provides optimal chafe-free comfort
  • Streamlined welded hem for comfort
  • Elasticized waistband with flat stretch draw cord for unrestricted belly breathing
  • 5” inseam (size medium)

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Alan Ashley says:

    I ran my marathon in the Pearl Izumi Ultra Short tight. For me the singlet hangs down just enough to hide most of my junk. I almost picked up the review shorts at the expo. Guess I better check them out again.

  2. John R. says:

    I always put a key in the back zippered pocket. Really the best place for it. Is it PI’s fault you want to use that pocket for something else?

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