The Pearl Izumi Men's Pro Barrier Jacket is a great lightweight option that'll keep you dry should you need it in the summer, and will also work well as an outer layer as the days get cooler.
Unlike Pearl Izumi's Zephrr Barrier jacket (review to come), which has a fairly relaxed fit ideal for the commuter or those who like to take things steady, the Pro Barrier is designed for performance riding; it's for getting hunkered down on the bar and smashing out the power.
The cut is close, and you get a dropped tail for good coverage when it's raining, and plenty of length in the arms.
The high-stretch fabric not only provides an excellent fit, it's windproof and uses PI Dry, a hydrophobic technology that makes it both water repellent and breathable.
You can read more about PI Dry here, but essentially the individual fibres are coated with the treatment before being combined into yarns and then knitted into a fabric. This means the water resistance runs right through the material rather than just being sprayed over the outer surface, like many durable water repellent (DWR) coatings.
One major advantage is that it won't wash off like some DWR coatings – Pearl Izumi claims that it will retain the majority of its water resistance over the life of the jacket, with at least 90% of it remaining after 100 washes.
Performance-wise, it'll withstand light showers and drizzle for about an hour, half that if things do get heavier, though it still does a decent job of keeping you dry. Eventually water will get through the untaped seams, but as long as it isn't too prolonged then the majority of your upper body will remain dry. For a lightweight jacket it does a very good job overall.
Another benefit of the PI Dry surrounding individual fibres rather than being sprayed over the fabric is that it increases breathability. This time of year, when it rains it can still be pretty warm, but the overall wicking capabilities of the Pro Barrier have been impressive. Things only became a little damp when I was working really hard; backing off a touch on the climbs or just regulating a bit of airflow with the full zip (which is two-way) soon sorted things out.
When it stops raining, or if it's forecast but hasn't arrived, the Pro's small size means it can easily be stuffed into a rear pocket.
Speaking of pockets, it would be nice to have one or two on the jacket itself; this would make it more versatile for autumn and spring use where you could get away with wearing it with just a baselayer underneath rather than going for a jersey as well.
The overall quality is really good. The fabric feels great and the whole jacket is very well made.
Price-wise, it's the same as the Chapeau Club Windstopper and offers similar performance, although the Pearl Izumi is a lighter, thinner jacket, which means it's more useful year-round. The Chapeau does have plenty of pocket space, though.
It is more expensive than the £128 ashmei Men's Cycle Emergency Jacket, but you are getting a better fit and the added benefit of water repellency.
Overall, the Pro Barrier isn't the cheapest packable jacket on the market, but it is hugely versatile and very lightweight. The quality and performance are very good too.
A great performance fit, with impressive breathability and weatherproofing, ideal for showery summer days
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Men's Pro Barrier 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, "This super-packable cycling jacket blurs the line between a wind shell and rain jacket, thanks to PI Dry® water-shedding technology. A jacket doesn't have to be waterproof to keep a rider comfortable in the rain. With our PI Dry® technology, this jacket sheds all but the worst of the rain, while allowing extra breathability to keep it from feeling like a sauna on the inside. Perfect for anyone who wants a weatherproof jacket with enough stretch to fit like the rest of their kit. Thanks to its minimal bulk, it fits easily in a jersey pocket when the sun emerges."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Pearl Izumi lists:
Lightweight, high-stretch knit face fabric for a close-tobody 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 while in riding position
BioViz® reflective elements for low-light visibility
The size guide on Pearl Izumi's website is spot on.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Follow Pearl Izumi's guide and everything will be fine.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
An impressive barrier against the elements while maintaining a performance cut.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Very soft fabric and a performance fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Pockets would be a welcome addition.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Jackets can vary hugely in price, and while the lightweight design of the Pearl Izumi might make it look less substantial than something like the Chapeau I mention in the review, it's much more versatile which means it'll get plenty of use.
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
It's a very good quality, lightweight packable jacket that keeps out the elements while also being breathable. I really like the performance cut too, though a pocket or two would add to its versatility.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!