Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest Product Review: Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket

When the weather is unpredictable and quickly changing, like it frequently is in the Fall and Spring, it can be tough to know how to dress for a ride. When commuting to work, I frequently find big changes in the weather between my morning ride to work and my afternoon ride home. Temperature changes can swing twenty degrees or more, and showers can develop without much warning. For these unpredictable weather conditions, one of the most versatile pieces of gear that I have is Pearl Izumi’s Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket. This jacket is lightweight, packable, wind-proof, and even water-resistant. In addition to all that, the sleeves can be zipped off in seconds, turning it into a vest.

The Barrier fabric is great at sealing out wind, and there are covered vents on the back to allow some breathing. Although the jacket isn't specifically a rain shell (remember – it’s “water-resistant” – not “waterproof”), I have been caught in a few unexpected light showers and found that it does a good job of repelling the wet stuff. I don’t know how it would do in an extended heavy downpour, though, but it isn't intended to be a substitute for serious rain gear. Pearl Izumi calls the fit “semi-form fitting” which is close enough to minimize wind flapping, but loose enough to allow easy layering underneath. The collar comes up fairly high on the neck and there is elastic at the cuffs to keep the cold wind out. For convenience, there are zippered hand pockets on the sides. It also has some reflective detailing to help with visibility.

I find that this jacket works for a wide variety of weather conditions. Paired with an insulated jersey and a base layer, I use it in temperatures down into the low- to mid- 30s. As temperatures rise, the sleeves can be taken off to keep just my chest shielded from wind. The whole jacket can be packed away into a seat bag or handlebar bag without too much trouble, too. Pearl Izumi makes a regular “non-convertible” version of this jacket as well, but in my opinion, the added utility and functionality of the convertible – being a vest and jacket in one garment – really makes it worth the extra dollars.

About the author: Kyle Brooks lives in Akron with his wife and two daughters, and works as a teacher in Medina. He has a collection of bikes, mostly vintage or classic styled steel road bikes, and even keeps a couple of bikes on display in his classroom. He maintained a bike-to-work average of 57% from August through December. His favorite bike shop is the Century Cycles store in Peninsula, though the new Medina store is super nice.

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