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review

Pearl Izumi Womens Elite Escape Convertible Jacket

8
£119.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Versatile and protective lightweight weatherproof jacket AND gilet – and worth the cost
Light
Breathable
Good weather protection
Compact and packable
Cut on the small and slim side
Sleeve zips feel a little flimsy
Weight: 
219g

A lightweight jacket/gilet combo is a godsend for year round use, and the Pearl Izumi Women's Elite Escape Convertible Jacket combines low weight, a compact pack size and good levels of protection in a performance fit. Check the sizing though – it's a slim fit.

Available in two extremely visible colours, this lightweight top is great for being seen while keeping dry and warm. As it has zip-off sleeves that are part of a bolero-type affair that fastens to the main jacket with Velcro, it's ideal for mild or changeable days too.

> Find your nearest dealer here

It's made from a very light 100% polyester fabric – Pearl Izumi call it ELITE Barrier – that's windproof and water repellent. It packs down very small and just about fits into a jersey pocket, or it can be rolled into its own zipped pocket (which also has a strap for fixing it to the bike).

2020 Pearl Izumi Womens Elite Escape Barrier Convertible Jacket - pocket detail.jpg

The rear pocket has a mesh lining and reflective trim, while the two side zip pockets are also mesh lined and useful as extra ventilation. The sleeve section also has mesh ventilation where it fastens to the shoulders.

2020 Pearl Izumi Womens Elite Escape Barrier Convertible Jacket - sleeve detail.jpg

Elasticated wrists help keep out wind and water, and there's a gripper at the softly elasticated hem for a secure fit. The front zip has a storm flap and a glove-friendly zip pull.

2020 Pearl Izumi Womens Elite Escape Barrier Convertible Jacket - riding.jpg

I found it a neat, close fit (it's not the right size for the model in the pics) – streamlined and athletic, rather than the 'semi form fit' Pearl Izumi claims. If you're borderline on sizing, or want space for winter layers, consider going up a size.

2020 Pearl Izumi Womens Elite Escape Barrier Convertible Jacket - sleeveless back mesh.jpg

That said, the contoured fit is flap-free and great for performance, and there's good length in the torso and sleeves. The fabric hits the sweet spot of windproofing and breathability, and I never overheated even when working hard – something I put down, at least in part, to the ventilated shoulder section.

2020 Pearl Izumi Womens Elite Escape Barrier Convertible Jacket - collar velcro.jpg

The water repellency is reliable and effective, even in heavy rain, although a dedicated waterproof obviously outperforms it at the expense of extra heat and weight.

2020 Pearl Izumi Womens Elite Escape Barrier Convertible Jacket - unzipping sleeves.jpg

The sleeve section removes and attaches reasonably quickly and easily, but the tiny zips are a little too fiddly and flimsy-feeling for on-the-fly attachment. Once off, the sleeves stash easily in a rear pocket, and if you take it all off it's small and light enough to easily stow. The low weight, handy packsize and high visibility meant it very quickly became my iffy weather garment of choice.

2020 Pearl Izumi Womens Elite Escape Barrier Convertible Jacket - cuff.jpg

Convertible jackets are thin on the ground, so it's no great surprise this looks expensive for a windproof and water repellent jacket. However, if you look at it as a lightweight performance jacket AND gilet, it's a much more palatable price, and actually very good value.

> 29 of the best winter cycling jackets - stay warm and dry when it's cold and wet

It compares favourably with the Ashmei Men's Cycle Emergency Jacket and the Assos Mille GT Clima Jacket Evo, as well as cheaper jackets combined with cheap gilets such as the Liv Delphin Rain Jacket and Endura Pro SL Lite Gilet II. For a two-in-one protective garment, it's great value.

2020 Pearl Izumi Womens Elite Escape Barrier Convertible Jacket - collar.jpg

What's more, at the time of writing Pearl Izumi is selling it discounted at £69.99.

The Pearl Izumi Women's Elite Escape Barrier Convertible Jacket works really well. It's light, versatile and very useable, and the slim fit is aero yet unrestrictive. You may need to size up if you're on the cusp, and some care is needed with the tiny sleeve zips, but beyond that it's a cracking choice and great value.

Verdict

Versatile and protective lightweight weatherproof jacket AND gilet – and worth the cost

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Pearl Izumi Womens Elite Escape Convertible Jacket

Size tested: Large

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, "Versatile like no other, this jacket can easily convert into a vest mid-ride, or even stuff into itself and, using an integrated strap, be stored directly on your bike."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?

100% polyester windproof and water repellent ELITE Barrier fabric

Two zipped mesh-lined side pockets

Rear zipped mesh-lined lumbar pocket with strap to fasten jacket to bike if desired

Refelective accents

Zip-off sleeve yoke

Converts to lightweight gilet with mesh panel at shoulders

Elasticated cuffs and hem

Hem gripper

Athletic fit

Available in sizes S-XL

Machine washable at 30

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Fabric is high quality, though sleeve zips are very lightweight and feel a little fiddly and flimsy.

Rate the jacket for performance:
 
8/10

Performs very well as a windproof and water repellent jacket, and also as a gilet.

Rate the jacket for durability:
 
7/10

Pretty tough and should last well, although sleeve zips could be a long-term weak point.

Delivers excellent levels of wind protection and keeps water (even heavy rain) out for reasonable periods.

Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
8/10

Surprisingly breathable for a windproof jacket. Creates little overheating.

Rate the jacket for fit:
 
7/10

Neat and contoured with good torso and sleeve length.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
5/10

Comes up small – if you're borderline on sizes, or wear a lot of layers, consider sizing up.

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
9/10

Very lightweight and packable.

Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the jacket for value:
 
7/10

Worth the investment for its versatility and performance.

How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Washes very well at 30 degrees, easy to look after.

Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Effective and versatile.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

Style, versatility, weight and pack size.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

Fiddly zip fastenings for sleeves, price.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's more expensive than most convertible jackets, but very highly specced and higher performance too. Functioning as both a lightweight performance jacket AND gilet, it's actually very good value. It compares favourably with the Ashmei Men's Cycle Emergency Jacket and the Assos Mille GT Clima Jacket Evo, as well as with cheaper jackets and separate gilets such as the Liv Delphin Rain Jacket and Endura Pro SL Lite Gilet II.

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

This is a light, well-made and well-considered jacket that works really well in either form. It's very versatile, comfortable and an easy eight.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 1.65m  Weight: 73kg

I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi  My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling. 

Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other. 

She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting. 

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