Pearl Izumi ELITE Barrier Jacket: Look Good, Lighten Up, and Stay Protected

Man, this ‘winter’ has made it tough to plan for the right gear. I imagine most of you in the cooler climates have been on a good many rides with way too many layers. As I mature in my great pursuit of The Perfect Ride I have become a bit of a gear freak and weight weenie. Not necessarily on the bike, but clothes and accessories make me the happiest when they work well, look good, and don’t weigh me down. Enter this fine garment:

Pearl Izumi describes it thusly: “Wind-proof and water resistant, the comfortable and breathable Men’s Elite Barrier Jacket provides lightweight, packable protection from a wide range of weather conditions.” There you have it; it’s the lightweight and packable parts that put a rise in my baggies. I’ve been on enough rides in far-off locales with difficult-to-predict weather patterns that leave me too hot, too cold, soaking wet, or just plain uncomfortable. Layers are the key! But carrying all these things that allow you to be prepared for any circumstance can get heavy. Every jump, bump, and climb reminds you of the extra mass being worked on by gravity. So give me the lightest-weight technical fabrics made from hummingbird farts and the nose hairs of angels. I’ll pay for it!

Little features like the zipper garage and great-for-gloves zipper pull are pretty sweet

Despite this jacket packing down to jersey pocket size and weighing no more than a peanut butter and banana sandwich, Pearl Izumi has worked in some great features: pictured above is the zipper pull that is simple to grab and there’s even a zipper garage that keeps your neck protected from cold metal. Fantastic reflective details (pictures below) keep you visible front, rear, and side for the dark ride home from your local trails. The collar is cut ergonomically so when you’re down in the drops of your ‘cross bike you’re not getting choked out. My only nit to pick is the tiny rectangles of hook and loop that secure the back pocket: hard to know when it’s closed and won’t hold together with any heavy or bulky items back there. Another welcome feature would be the ability to collapse the jacket into its own pocket for storing in your hydration pack or jersey.

Retro reflectivity for acting the fool at night

The PI Elite Barrier jacket has become my go-to garment to grab and jam in the backpack if I know I’ll be out after dark. Super lightweight jackets are sometimes overly delicate with thin material, minimal stitching, etc. but in the course of the review I treated this one roughly and it has held up like a champ. The venting and breathable fabric do a great job of keeping you comfortable. As for water resistance it’s decent for a sprinkle; if I know it’s going to really come down I’ve got a Pearl Izumi Am-Fib jacket that is impermeable, as long as you don’t mind it getting swampy inside.

Performs well off the bike too

Be prepared, be comfortable, be protected – all without extra bulk or weight. Pearl Izumi can help you with this. When you want to start that epic day of riding at the crack of dawn, stretch it out until the sun sets and takes the warmth with it, or just be visible and stylish while committing some harmless shenanigans, arm yourself with this garment and get rolling.

Thanks to Pearl Izumi for providing the Elite Barrier Jacket for review.