Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cycling Gear Review - Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket

As previously promised, I will be commenting on my recently acquired Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket.  This convertible jacket is designed for cyclists primarily, but works well for runners too.  By convertible, they mean you can remove the sleeves and wear it just as a vest.

The best thing about Pearl Izumi gear is quality.  They really do make quality, durable gear for the athletically minded among us.  Most of their gear is aimed at cyclists, triathletes, and runners, so it tends to cross over between sports well.   Their products are typically well designed.  Pockets are well placed, reflective accents added, quality zippers used, and high-tech fabrics  too.

The worst thing about PI gear is the fit, if you are not one who fits their dimensional models.  I probably fit a women's XL in this jacket, but I will never know, since I could never find one to try on for the fit!  So I resorted to trying on the men's version.  I don't typically have an issue wearing men's sizes.  A Large is generally ample enough in the chest to accommodate me, and narrow enough in the waist and hips not to be too baggy.  The problem is apparently I lack the male Ape-Hanger Arms necessary to adequately fit the PI men's model...the newest version of this jacket in Large, has the sleeves overhanging my outstretched fingertips!  In a Medium, the torso is a bit snug in all the wrong places, though the sleeves are usable.

Eventually I opted to go with the size Large, on a closeout on ebay, figuring I could just cut the sleeves down to fit.  Lucky me!  The closeouts were an earlier model year, and the sleeves are shorter than the current edition!  It also cost less than half the original retail amount, which made it even better.

What arrived was a very thin, light weight screaming Headache Yellow (like my helmet!) jacket.  The sleeves zip off, with little velcro bits in back to hold the caped shoulders down to the vest.  With the sleeves off, you are left with the vest, with 3 pockets, one in back and two hand pockets in front, all with zip closures.  The  upper back of the vest is a black mesh to allow for better ventilation, so you don't sweat inside it.

It is water resistant (not water proof), and wind resistant, moreso than a traditional nylon windbreaker.  It weighs next to nothing, and compresses down small enough to stuff in a jersey pocket or in my case, into the huge rear seat bag I have on the Giro.  The sleeves remove easily, and also go back on equally easily--a nice feature, since on other brands of similar gear, the zippers are a normal point of failure.

Turns out the fabric is pretty tough too.  This was the vest portion I was wearing 2 weeks ago when I got run off the road and crashed off the edge of the road.  It got a little grubby from the sliding stop, but no frays or pilling or damage to the fabric.  The dirt and grass stains washed right out.

So if you are looking for a nice, convertible jacket, be sure to check out what PI has to offer.  I suspect you will not be disappointed!


  1. Looks great. I used to have a PI vest that I really liked.

  2. pretty clever design, I find everything from blouses, coats, sweaters etc have sleeves long enough to make another sleeve from so it isn't just a European fashion thing then.

  3. Well since it survived the accident I would say you have a real winner. I like it. B

  4. Great to be able to find it at a good price. :)


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