Pearl Izumi knows a thing or two about cycling apparel. And, they know that a vest is an essential piece of every cyclists kit. That’s why their latest Elite Barrier Vest is worth a look.

Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Vest Features:

  • 100% polyester Elite Barrier fabric
  • Semi-form fit
  • Single rear pocket
  • Lifetime warranty
  • MSRP: $79.95
Early mornings in American Fork Canyon make vests requisite.

Early mornings in American Fork Canyon make vests requisite.

Keep that core warm

Most of the time, my rides are early-morning affairs. At 6:00 am, the road up American Fork Canyon is beautiful, uncrowded and well, cold. And, the tricky thing about ascending up the canyon is that the higher you get, the colder it gets. And, on top of that, there are those pesky pockets of cold air — brrrr.

To stave off that chill, I’ve been grabbing the Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Vest. It’s a fairly standard affair, but with enough little niceties to add interest. For starters, it’s available in several high-vis colors, so get one of those that fits your fancy. I’ve had the screaming green/black one and screaming is certainly the proper name here — it’s good and bright from the rear.

The fit is listed as semi-form, but lets just call it what it is — relaxed. Don’t think this is Euro sizing by any means. The size large sample fits decently (5’11” / 175 lbs), but if I was to make this a dedicated road vest, I would have sized down to a medium for a little more form-fitting piece. I wouldn’t call it baggy, but it does have a little extra room.

Don't be afraid to get this one dirty -- it's a great MTB/road vest.

Don’t be afraid to get this one dirty — it’s a great MTB/road vest.

Not only have I used the Elite Barrier Vest on the road, I’ve used it extensively for mountain biking. It can obviously go both ways, so go ahead and give it some dirt time.

The rear pocket is a little bit of an anomaly. On one hand it’s great to have an outside stash pocket instead of fishing into the jersey pockets, but it’s really difficult to access while on the bike. I tried multiple times to gain access to a GU packet and finally was able to retrieve it. But, when it came time to stash the empty packet, I couldn’t for the life of me reach back inside to deposit the wrapper. Maybe if the Velcro closure were eliminated in favor of a simple elastic band I could reach in there easier?

The rear pocket is really difficult to access on-the-fly.

That rear pocket is really difficult to access on-the-fly.

The extra length of the Elite Barrier Vest is nice as it gives just a little bit of extra coverage. The vents aid in breathability and the fabric does a good job of fending off wind and rain (within reason). The collar is the perfect height and diameter for warmth and that zipper pull sure is easy to pull up/down when needed.

The Good

  • Love the hi-vis colors
  • Good breathability as temps increase
  • Perfect collar height and diameter
  • Easily zipped up/down (great zipper pull)

The Bad

  • Sizing is a bit big — large size is quite generous
  • Hard to access the rear pocket on-the-fly (Velcro tab hinders access)

The Bottom Line: Elite Barrier Vest

Vests are one of my favorite pieces of kit and this one has some good things going for it. As always, high-vis colors are a necessity, so that is much appreciated. However, the fit is a little generous and that rear pocket is a hassle to access. But, more importantly, protection remains solid and that makes this one worth a look — granted you may want to size down.

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In Summary

8.4 Worth a Look

The Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier vest has a lot going for it. I dig the extra length, overall protection and the height/diameter of the collar, but that rear pocket sure is hard to access on-the-fly. Keep in mind that this one fits a little on the big side, so you may want to size down.

  • Protection 8
  • Visibility 9
  • Fit 7
  • Quality 9
  • Value 9

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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