A quality, lightweight packable jacket that adds reasonable breathability
The Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier Lite packable jacket is a great waterproof layer that is best suited to mild conditions, or as an outer layer as long as you’re wearing a thermal layer underneath. This gives it flexibility, and is well worth your serious consideration.
A packable rain jacket is a must for cyclists, even if you try to avoid inclement weather. It’s not always possible, and having a quality shell that you can don when you do get caught when the heavens open is, if nothing else, a desirable insurance policy.
So how does the PRO Barrier Lite perform when the rain pours down? In short, admirably. Able to bead water off in the most testing conditions thanks to its DWR treatment, it’s an effective barrier against the elements, and on days when the showers come and go, it’s very good at repeating the trick.
While beading performance is best when rained on from dry, even when the jacket is already damp it’s successful at stopping water ingress (although, by its thin nature, you can feel the cold of the water through the fabric).
Only the heaviest prolonged downpours will beat it, but in that case you’d probably have wished you’d stayed at home, or worn a heavier-duty garment.
As a result, it’s not the best at keeping you warm, although it is fully windproof, with slightly thicker, softshell-like panels on the shoulders, down the middle of the back and on the flanks of the torso.
It adds only a slight amount of bulk, but does add an element of comfortable stretch to the fit, as well as an extra element of breathability.
The good thing is that the remainder of the jacket is also breathable, and is fully capable of transporting moisture out of the membrane to the outside world.
For a packable shell it’s very impressive, and while not the last word in breathability – check out dhb’s far bulkier Aeron Tempo jacket for an example of a decent standard – it’s still fine for tempo rides, especially in a sealed unit like this (i.e., without zip vents).
For a packable jacket, it isn’t spartan either. You get a flouro green-panelled rear pocket, which is narrow yet elasticated and deep, with a few flourishes of subtle branding in reflective material.
Whether these have a significant impact on overall visibility to other road users is debatable, but they look good and every little helps, as they say. If visibility is your thing, you could always plump for the full hi-vis yellow version instead, although we admit that we like the silver/grey-green in our hands.
The waist features an elasticated band with silicone patches for retention, while the front zipper is the same flouro green as the rear pocket, keeping a little front visibility along with the Pearl Izumi logo, which is also reflective.
The collar even features a chin guard, which helps not only exclude draughts but keep things comfortable. In fact, frankly, for a packable jacket it’s properly stocked up, even without the luxury of a zipped valuables pocket.
What’s most impressive though, is the overall fit. In the medium size on test, it’s snug but not restrictively so, and is therefore very comfortable to wear.
Naturally, if you wanted a little extra ‘breathing room’, a large will suit you if you straddle between a medium and large sizing, but the stretchability of the overall product thanks to the aforementioned torso panels means that it’s a decision you can realistically make.
The cut is slim, although not restrictively so, and features a longer back for splash protection; always a welcome addition in any jacket product designed to keep water at bay.
The fit extends to the arms, which are – joy of joys – long enough to not ride up when in the drops or on the hoods, and feature a half-elasticated cuff for further draught exclusion.
Overall, the Pearl Izumi PRO Lite jacket is an impressive piece of kit. Naturally, you pay for it to some extent with an RRP of £89.99, but it justifies it. And, if you shop around currently you can get it for half that – and for such a feature-laden, genuinely packable jacket, that’s very good value.
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