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Review: Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertable Jacket

by on November 30, 2010

From the Pearl Izumi website:

This versatile wind and water resistant shell jacket quickly converts to a vest, and features connected zip-off sleeves for ultimate convenience.
  • ELITE Barrier fabric provides superior wind protection and water resistance
  • Direct-Vent panels provide superior ventilation
  • Full length internal draft flap with zipper garage seals in warmth
  • One-hand pull elastic draw cord at waist
  • Two hand pockets and one chest pocket
  • Reflective elements for low-light visibility
  • One-piece integrated sleeve construction for ease of use and storage

Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertable Jacket

My Review:

I purchased the Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertable Jacket in early October for use during the cooler fall rides.  I was originally looking for a wind vest only, and was having a tough time justifying $100 for a vest alone.  The people at Race Pace Bicycles in Columbia, MD showed me this jacket, and I begrudgingly handed over a Ben Franklin for it.  I wanted yellow, but it didn’t come in my size.  This was the most useful purchase I’ve made for cycling since the bib shorts reviewed earlier.

I first began wearing this jacket only as a wind vest.  The arms zip off and remove quite easily.  There is a large mesh panel in the back of the jacket/vest that is exposed once the arms are off, and it ventilates like a dream, without causing a chill.  The two front pockets zip up to close, and down to open.  I like that arrangement.  There is a pocket at the left breast that has a similar configuration.  The added bonus to these three pockets is that they are lined with a mesh material.  When open, they add to the cooling effect, allowing wind to enter.  Closed, they are nearly seamless and cause no noticeable flapping.  The larger pocket in the back (is that really what they call the full length draft flap?) is accessible through another zippered opening to the right.  It is as large as the three pockets in my jersey, and is lined with mesh.  The pockets are designed so that when zipped closed, there is no access even from inside the jacket to the items in the pocket.

The jacket has a draw cord at the waist that I’ve not used.  In fact, I forget it is there.

With the sleeves attached, there are 4 hook and loop fasteners to keep the back flap in place, and they do a nice job.  This back flap covers the ventilation panel in back, but there is plenty of ventilation for vigorous rides even with the sleeves on.  Note that the sleeves and back flap are one piece, making it very convenient.  A high, fabric-lined neck can be zipped to provide warmth when needed.

I’ve ridden with this jacket configured as a vest in temperatures from 60-40 degrees F., and as a jacket from 50-25 degrees F., and haven’t yet been disappointed.  Certainly, that depends on the various layers I’m wearing, but the arms in this jacket will comfortably replace the need for arm warmers or a long sleeve jersey down to about 45 degrees for me.  I’ve not tried that much below those temperatures.  Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

The jacket is well constructed.  The reflective strips do catch the light pretty well.  I’ve seen flash photos of me wearing the jacket.  I’ve had only one incident where the front zipper got caught in the fabric near the zipper, jamming it, and once I stopped, I was able to free the zipper without damaging the jacket.  I’ve washed it a dozen times and it still looks great.  A drop of water on it still beads.  I’ve not really tested it’s “water resistant” capabilities, choosing to ride with something else in the rain.

At least one other rider in the Severna Park Peloton wears this jacket, and also likes it.  I consider this jacket my “workhorse” for cool – cold weather riding.

I have not received any compensation or consideration for this review.

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