If you don’t have a go-to vest already, it’s time to get with it and find yourself a light, wind-resistant vest for cool mornings and mountain descents. They don’t have to cost a fortune and the new Pearl Izumi Attack Barrier Vest is a versatile choice for cool days on the bike.
Pearl Izumi Attack Barrier Vest Features:
- Made with ultralight Barrier ripstop fabric
- Two-way zipper
- Elastic hem with silicone grip
- DWR treatment repels light rain
- BioViz® reflective elements
- Hang loop on collar
- Colors: Black or Sunfire (tested)
- Weight: 2.2 oz (medium, actual)
- MSRP: $75
Ultralight but not ultra-racy vest
Packing along an ultralight vest is almost always a great idea. It’s amazing what that little wonder can do when the weather turns or you take that impromptu mountain route. After a couple of cool morning mountain bike rides under my belt, I did just that as I tested the Pearl Izumi Attack Barrier Vest. Temperatures were chilly to start (mid 50’s), but as I climbed up Utah’s American Fork Canyon, it got colder and colder — which shouldn’t come as a surprise when you start inching towards 8000 ft. elevation in the Wasatch Mountains in September.
But, that beautiful morning ride in one of the most beautiful areas I call home wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t wearing the Attack Barrier Vest. So, off I ascended wearing the Velocio Concept Merino Long Sleeve Jersey and up into the mountains. As the cool breeze pushed against my upper body, I was grateful for wind protection, but I was also grateful for the ventilation ports on the backside of this vest. Both work well to block the advancing chill while allowing sweat to evaporate.
On my initial mountain bike rides and now on the road, I did appreciate the generous, comfortable coverage the vest provides. It’s not a race-cut and even as Pearl Izumi calls it “form fit,” I’d beg to differ. This is definitely what I would call a “club fit” as it has lots of room to spare for dad bods or extra layers. But, unlike some vests, the Attack Barrier Fabric doesn’t offer any stretch, so the fit actually needs to be a little oversized. Packing it away in a jersey pocket is a breeze as it squishes down to about the size of a pack of playing cards.
The collar height is great for coverage and yet is low enough to not interfere with helmet straps or rub against my neck. Because the fabric and collar lack structure, unzipping does usually require two hands, or a persistent single-hand. Once started, it does unzip easily, but zipping it back up will sometimes capture the backing and get stuck. So, unfortunately, the zipper isn’t the smoothest up/down I’ve tested in a vest. Thankfully, Pearl Izumi has included a two-way zipper to access inner jersey pockets either on or off the bike. The Attack Barrier Vest is streamlined and lacks any pockets whatsoever, so accessing your jersey stash is a must. The simple, elastic hem does the job and the silicon gripper keeps the vest in place.
Coming back down American Fork Canyon, speeds reach 40-45 mph on several stretches. At those speeds, the vest does block the cold mountain air, but there isn’t much insulation, so you do still feel the cold pressing hard against you — just not the airflow. As mentioned, that generous fit does turn into quite the flapping experience at speed as it tatters away in the wind.
Fit: I’m 5’11” and 173 lbs, wearing the size medium (my usual size in Pearl Izumi). I may actually be able to use a small, for a racier fit.
- Weighs next to nothing
- Comfortable to wear
- Orange color offers classic visibility
- Breathes well (laser-cut vents are great)
- Packs super small so you don’t have any excuse not to bring it
- Two-way zipper
- Fabric flaps in the wind at speed
- Zipper can be hard to get started and easily catches on the fabric
- Fabric doesn’t stretch (hence the generous fit)
- Don’t count on the light DWR treatment in the rain
The Bottom Line: Pearl Izumi Attack Barrier Vest
It’s amazing what a simple vest can do on a cold morning. The Pearl Izumi Attack Barrier Vest allowed me to have an amazing morning ride deep into the Wasatch Mountains on a whim. Without it, I would have turned into a popsicle on the descent but with it, I made it down comfortably. Keep in mind that this particular model does feature a generous fit for comfort, due to the lack of natural stretch.
Buy Now: Available from PearlIzumi.com