National Cycling Jacket Month is in full swing here at Gear Gals! Today we’re honoring the Pearl Izumi ELITE Barrier Convertible ($110). It’s a highly visible (you can be seen from Saturn) and lightweight cycling jacket with an aerodynamic fit that accommodates a cyclist through a range of temperatures and exertion levels (<<<gasp, pant, long sentence, I know). Kind of in line with the Sugoi Versa.
My raison d’être for liking it…
- Sleeves zip off to wear as vest or shrug/sleeves
- Aero-dynamic fit
- Good ventilation
- Rear zippered pockets holds detached shrug/sleeves
- Bright color for excellent visibility
…and my justification for nit-picking it
- Snug through the arms and shoulders
- No zippered chest pocket
- Provides minimal warmth in cooler weather
Weather-resistance: The fabric is wind- and water-resistant and I found that it did protect me in light to heavy wind and drizzle. I never rode in a downpour with this jacket but then why would I? Even a blind, illiterate person can see it isn’t waterproof. But seriously, if it was waterproof, it wouldn’t be very breathable. Which brings me to…
Breathability: It’s pretty breathable. The mesh vent panel on the back allows air to circulate when wearing as a vest. When wearing as a full jacket, direct vent panels extend from the back to upper arms to help transfer moisture.
Function: I like that it is three key pieces of apparel in one: a jacket, a vest and a shrug/arm sleeves. The shrug/arm sleeves are attached via a zipper. Removing the sleeves from jacket is relatively simple and is easily done while wearing the jacket. However the zippers, and the three Velcro patches on the back below the collar have to be lined up perfectly to re-attach. This makes it difficult to re-attach the sleeves while wearing the jacket. The main zipper is easily grasped with full fingered gloves, but the pocket and shrug/arm sleeve zippers are too small to grab while wearing gloves.
Watch as I demonstrate from beautiful Lebanon Hills in Minneapolis, MN!
Fit/Comfort: This two criteria points always seem to go hand-in-hand. As you can see, it’s a very well-fitting cycling jacket. This has its good points and bad. The good, obviously, is that you’ll have less wind-resistance. The bad is that you’re limited in the weight of the shirt you can wear under it.
I think I got the right balance between comfort and fit with an Icebreaker Zone. Heavier baselayers made the jacket feel tight in the shoulders, upper arms and across the back. If you live in colder climates and still want to wear this jacket through the winter, just maybe purchase next size up to better accommodate heavier baselayers.
Packability: It’s packable! The full jacket, as well as the shrug/arm sleeves, packs softball-size into the rear zip pocket rear pocket.
Durability: The lightweight fabric does have a tendency to get caught in the zipper and rip if tugged too hard.
Final thoughts: I really do like this jacket. It’s super lightweight (12.6 ounces for the small size) and very visible. At least the color I tested sure is. It’s also comfortable to wear because it does such a good job of being breathable. It remains to be seen how far into the winter I can ride with this jacket. I’ll report back in December.