Most cycling jackets come in two varieties: windproof or waterproof. A lightweight windbreaker is necessary for cool mountain descents on a summer morning, but adding something that’s also waterproof does tend to add bulk and limit its use to shoulder seasons. With that in mind, Pearl Izumi has the PRO Barrier Jacket that not only provides a weather barrier, but it also breaks down some barriers with its versatility — kind of a fitting name eh?
Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier Jacket Features:
- 100% recycled polyester knit fabric
- Lightweight, high-stretch offers a close-to-body fit
- PI Dry® technology for permanent water-shedding performance
- Interior membrane for wind protection with breathability
- Two-way zipper allows ventilation from top or bottom
- Silicone rear gripper to hold jacket in place
- BioViz® reflective elements
- Pedal to Zero™: Going by bike 14mi / 22km offsets its climate impact
- Form fit
- MSRP: $150
The PRO Barrier is an “orange wonder”
I think we can all agree that versatility is a virtue when it comes to cycling kits. Yes, it’s great to have specialized jackets or bib tights for just the right temperature range or elements, but when you can find something that delivers utility across a wide range of conditions, it’s a piece of kit you want to hang onto. No question, the Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier Jacket punches well above its weight class for cold weather, while also being lightweight and packable for summer use.
The super-stretchy fabric is recycled polyester that’s backed by an interior membrane. That membrane is where the added weather protection comes from, but is also enhanced by PI Dry technology that delivers permanent water-resistance to the outer shell. This combination acts essentially like a 2.5-layer jacket — with all the goodness you can expect from that combo.
Truthfully, even 2-layer jackets of the past were sauna-like under aerobic load. Water would trap inside the jacket and you’d feel like a high school wrestler trying to make their next weigh-in. Thankfully, the best lightweight jackets are now both weather-resistant and breathable.
Throughout several months of testing, I’ve worn the Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier Jacket with the warm and cozy Pearl Izumi PRO Alpha Layer and various other long-sleeve jerseys (most recently, the Velocio Concept Merino). As mentioned, the PRO Barrier Jacket can be layered up or down, depending on the weather. Even though it is a trim-fitting jacket, there’s still plenty of room and stretch for the thick PRO Alpha Layer with a light base layer underneath. In that guise, this jacket can be worn down into the low-40’s without batting an eye. The fantastic wind protection shields the cold, while proper layering underneath delivers warmth and moisture management.
When temperatures are warmer, a long-sleeve jersey or even a short-sleeve jersey can be just right with the PRO Barrier Jacket. Admittedly, the most optimum performance will come with a long-sleeve, because moisture can then be metered out with a high degree of efficiency. Still, the stretchy material remains comfortable next to bare skin and is soft/quiet to the touch. That quiet hand is definitely a huge bonus here as it performs silently with every movement.
Kudos to Pearl Izumi for including a two-way zipper with pulls that are easily-used with full-finger gloves on. I unzipped it from the bottom all the time to access jersey pockets underneath. That being said, there are no pockets in this jacket, in case you’re wondering. I’m okay with that because pockets only add unnecessary bulk and provide areas for water penetration. Speaking of bulk, this jacket can be rolled up and compressed down to the size of a can of Red Bull.
I can appreciate the simple, ring cuffs and love how well they lay atop most light or midweight gloves. I do wish that instead of a straight cuff, they were angled just slightly to add wrist coverage on the bike. That said, there is extra sleeve length, which always afforded proper coverage.
Breathability delivers as promised. Even after the most demanding rides, the shell expels moisture efficiently and never gets overwhelmed. You’ll notice the the back panel will just be a little damp to the touch, but that’s about it. That little bit of moisture is astounding compared to multi-layer jackets of yesteryear, and is a sign that it’s doing its job to perfection. I have always felt comfortable keeping the jacket zipped and found it to always breathe like a champ.
The collar is a good height and diameter, but it could be just a half-inch lower for my tastes, and the zipper garage doesn’t always cover the zipper at the top. At speed, the jacket blocks wind and sheds moisture aplenty. But, in spite of the stretchy and form-fitting design, it does flap in the wind.
Fit: I’m 5’11” and 175 lbs, wearing the size medium (my typical jacket/jersey size with the brand).
- Fantastic breathability
- Lightweight and packable
- Extra sleeve length for added coverage
- Two-way zipper for the win
- Stretchy for seamless on-bike movements
- Can be layered up for cold weather rides
- Large, easily-grabbed zipper pull
- Flaps in the wind on high-speed descents
- Zipper garage doesn’t always properly cover the zipper
The Bottom Line: Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier Jacket
Calling this a wind jacket is definitely selling it short. It is way more than just that, and may be one of my favorite jackets ever. Layer it up for cold rides, or bring it along just in case. However you rock it, the PRO Barrier Jacket will breathe like a sieve and comfortably stretch with your every move. Plus, the permanent water-resistance ensures you’ll be kept dry on everything but a monsoon downpour.
Buy Now: Visit PearlIzumi.com