When it comes to ultimate weather protection, Gore-Tex, eVent and NeoShell are the biggest names in the game. Pearl Izumi has gone with Polartec NeoShell with their WxB Jacket and the results are outstanding. With this one, you get top-notch performance with a stretchy shell built to conquer even the wettest conditions.
Pearl Izumi PRO NeoShell WxB Jacket Features:
- Polartec® NeoShell® fabric with 4-way stretch
- Softshell feel with rain shell protection
- Fully-seam sealed
- DWR treatment to further repel water
- Stretch cuffs on wrists and arms block wind and rain
- Two-way waterproof zipper allows ventilation from top or bottom
- Zippered chest pocket
- BioViz® reflective elements for low-light visibility
- Form fit
- Weight: 265 grams (medium, actual)
- MSRP: $325
Pearl Izumi’s premium rain (and cold-weather) jacket
If you’re new to Polartec NeoShell, rest-assured that you’re getting one of the stretchiest waterproof fabrics on the market. Every time I test a NeoShell, I come away impressed with how well it breathes while remaining 100% waterproof. Other fabrics do a great job here too, but most lack the superior 4-way stretch you’ll get with the Pearl Izumi PRO NeoShell WxB Jacket. Waterproof, breathable and extremely-stretchy is a great recipe for a cycling rain jacket.
The PRO NeoShell WxB Jacket doesn’t feature much in the way of special features. No, it’s a straightforward shell with everything you need and nothing you don’t. This is intentional as the designers don’t want any extra layers, pockets or doodads to interfere with the performance of the material. While this shell can be stashed in a jersey pocket, it’s best-used as a wet or cold-weather shell.
With that, I have proceeded to test the PRO NeoShell WxB Jacket on cold rides with a variety of base layers. The primary layer I’ve used has been the Pearl Izumi PRO Alpha Layer, which allows me to take this jacket into 30-degree temps. Thinner layers or even short-sleeve jerseys underneath, can be deployed as the temperatures dictate. One of the beauties of NeoShell is the soft, brushed backing. Due to that, this jacket feels fantastic next-to-skin and never gets sticky. Even in the chin area, the backing feels cozy and comfortable without added fleece.
The beauty of the WxB jacket comes when pulling it on. Without question, this is a close-fitting jacket, so layering is somewhat limited. Once zipped, there isn’t any excess material to worry about. The fit is snug across my chest and shoulders, but the sleeves have just a touch of wiggle room that allow your base layers to stay put when pulling on the jacket. At the cuffs, you’ll find a half-elastic design that sits flat on your wrist. I do wish that the cuffs were angle-cut for added coverage on the outside of the wrist. I was able to wear the Castelli Mortirolo and the Santini Acquazero Vega Gloves with this jacket. The Mortirolo’s sit comfortable atop the cuff while the Vega’s slide underneath. Both do tend to pull away with use and can expose the side of the wrist — hence my comment about wishing for angled cuffs.
Essential to the performance of any jacket meant for inclement weather is the collar. Pearl Izumi has opted for a tall-ish collar that’s just the right diameter. Neck coverage is outstanding and it keeps warmth inside without ever feeling clammy. It’s easy to unzip for added breathability on long climbs as well.
As an added bonus, the hem is cut long to provide increased backside coverage and also allow for full pockets underneath. The grippy material back there does a great job of keeping things put. I have to give kudos to the two-way zipper, which allows easier access to inside layers or jersey pockets. All cycling jackets should have two-way zippers. Period. End of debate.
Out on the road, I simply can’t overwhelm this jacket. The harder I push, the better it breathes. Of course, if temperatures rise too high, you’ll want more airflow, but in cool or cold weather (wet or dry), it wicks moisture away from your body like a sieve. After every ride, I would take the jacket off and feel the back panel. It was always just a little damp with no buildup or beads of moisture anywhere.
Fit: I’m 5’11” and 173 lbs, and I’m comfortably wearing the size medium.
- Stretchy comfort
- Two-way zipper provides easy access
- Simple, no-frills design
- Won’t pull your base layer sleeves up to your armpit when putting it on
- Polartec NeoShell is outstanding — blocks wind and rain aplenty
- Extra hem length for coverage
- That screaming red color pops on the road
- Sleeves should be longer and angle-cut
- Premium price tag
The Bottom Line: Pearl Izumi PRO NeoShell WxB Jacket
As a premium cycling rain jacket, the PRO NeoShell WxB has the right fabric and fit. NeoShell is the star of the show with it’s amazing breathability and weather protection. This jacket has a great overall fit and delivers weather protection in even the worst weather — or as a shell for cold-weather riding.
Buy Now: Visit PearlIzumi.com
I’m in the market for a new winter cycling jacket. I have several Pearl Izumi products. They generally have good value compaed to their price so I think I’ll check this out.
It’s definitely worth a shot. Polartec NeoShell is outstanding.