Pearl Izumi's Elite Pursuit Hybrid jacket represents a really nice blend of performance fit, water resistance and windproofing. It's not quite your Castelli Perfetto or Santini Beta Rain jacket, but then it doesn't cost nearly as much as those all-round garments either.
Let me start by defining what the Elite Pursuit Hybrid jacket is, or rather, what it isn't. It isn't a do-it-all, cool-weather, all-in-one outer garment like the Sportful Fiandre Light Wind jacket. It's better described as a lightweight outer layer that adds a little weatherproofing to your layering system.
Ostensibly, it's a beefier version of the lighter PRO Barrier Lite jacket, which I reviewed two years ago. Still relatively packable (this weighs 27g more), it's supposed to be a slightly more resilient version of the Barrier Lite that you might be tempted to rely on as an all-ride outer layer rather than a whip-on, whip-off as needed option.
The additional bulk comes from slightly thicker fabrics, including a light softshell back that adds greater resistance against wind and rain, plus more insulation, and adds to the sense of protection. Certainly, I never felt that I was being held back by the extra 27g, and it also has positives in how it sits on the body: the extra weight has the effect of reducing flapping – it has the same general cut as the Barrier Lite, give or take a few millimetres here or there, but it keeps its shape in the wind better.
It looks like a more 'quality' product as a result, and feels it too. It can stand up to repeated showers, while there's a little more stretch in the body mainly because of the softshell. That means the fit in a medium is really comfortable, even if it's a touch tight in one or two areas.
Breathability is good too. If you're in anything ranging from 5-15°C, with suitable layers underneath, it can transport moisture away competently, leaving you dry(ish) inside. Sure, it's a step down from your Gore-Tex Active or Shakedry fabrics, but if you go for either the Gore Power or C5 jackets you'll be paying significant premiums for them.
The shape of the neckline and partially elasticated cuffs give a good seal against draughts and sneaky water ingress, and the dropped tail features an elastic band with some gripper tabs to help it hold its shape and stay in place. The zip is chunkier than in the Barrier Lite jacket, and is easy to seat and work with an extended pull cord, while the tab that sits behind it keeps draughts out too.
It's not perfect: the jacket doesn't have any sort of pocket. Maybe Pearl Izumi decided against in order to maintain what packability the jacket has, but in my opinion it's poorer for it because, as I've already mentioned, I think it's better suited as a jacket that you'd keep on throughout a showery ride rather than one you pop on and off.
So, I missed the ability to store food (or even a phone and keys) in it, but that's just about the only thing I don't like about it. Sure, it's not the jacket if you're after one that provides insulation as well, but at £99.99 it'd be remarkable if it did.
It washes through well (Pearl Izumi recommends a delicate cold wash but you can get away with a 30 degree cycle with your other technical garments), and as ever I'd advise using a technical wash to maintain the water resistance of the fabrics. You can also have it in a high-vis yellow if you don't like the stealth look.
The bottom line is that this has become one of my favourite weather resistant outer layers for cool and changeable conditions, and supercedes the PRO Barrier Lite in my poor-weather clothing arsenal. For its price tag of a penny under £100, I'm suitably impressed.
At £99.99, this is a seriously competent lightweight outer layer for cool and changeable conditions
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit Hybrid jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Pearl Izumi says: "The new go-to lightweight jacket of the season. Keep it close at hand in your jersey pockets, ready to pull on for protection from wind and spray. Its close-to-body feel and high stretch fabrics provide an insanely comfortable, tailored fit that won't flap in the wind on long descents. An easy to operate 2-way Vislon® zipper makes dumping excess heat a breeze during hard efforts"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
- ELITE Barrier fabric on the front of body and arms provides superior wind protection and water resistance
- Softshell Lite fabric on the back and under arms delivers breathable wind and water protection with stretch
- Full-length 2-way Vislon® zipper for easy venting with storm flap for added protection
- Shaped collar for on the bike fit and comfort
- Elastic hem and cuffs seal in the warmth and protect from drafts
- Silicone gripper at waist holds the jacket in position
- BioViz™ high visibility colours and reflective elements
- Fabrics: 100% polyester
- Weight (Size M): 157 g
- S-XXL FORM FIT
Seems very well made with quality zipper and collar.
It's not designed to be a fully weatherproof layer, but as a lightweight garment it's impressive, just one rung below your Gore-Tex equipped big boys.
The extra weight versus the Barrier Lite jacket adds quality in this area, for sure.
It's claimed to be water resistant, and it's certainly that. It can stand up to repeated showers.
Breathability is very good, although Gore-Tex garments are probably better when effort levels really spike.
It's got a great fit for slim riders, but has enough space inside for a layer or two too.
Sizes just about perfectly for me. Buy your normal size.
156g is edging towards the heavy side for a truly packable jacket, but it's not a problem really.
The flexibility in the back especially gives a decent amount of stretch, providing a good performance fit without feeling restrictive.
Given the performance overall, I'd happily spend £99.99 on it – and you might get lucky with some retailers too.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easily enough – tech wash use advised.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Good lightweight protection, packable (to a point), relatively affordable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Not insulated, no rear pockets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Eurosport GC jacket, at £60, undercuts the Pearl Izumi on price but it's not quite the same performer. You can pay a lot more: the Gore Power Jacket is £179.99.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Even though it doesn't have any pockets (about the only thing I can mark it down for), given the manufacturer's claims and my experience with it, I prefer it over the Barrier Lite jacket that I gave 9/10 a couple of years ago, though I wouldn't give it a full 10.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding