Elite Barrier Convertible jacket is a versatile wind shell with concealed zippers that allow the sleeves to be removed should the weather warm enough to warrant a vest instead of a full jacket. Made from lightweight treated polyester fabric with breathable mesh panels, the Elite Barrier Convertible weighs only 72 grams, packs down small enough to stash into its own rear pocket, and can be easily stowed in the pocket of a hydration pack or other suitable space.
Small items like food, wallets, winter gloves, and smart phones can either be secured in the rear zip-pocket, or in zipped pockets in either side of the jacket in front. Two internal pockets are also included and the waistband has an elastic drawstring to gird against the wind. Reflective accents boost night-time visibility in traffic. Colors are green, yellow, blue, red, and black. Sizes are small, medium, large X-large and XX-large, and the jacket sports an MSRP of $125 USD. Pearl Izumi.
|Re-constructing the jacket was a three-minute operation - easy enough to convince me to take a moment to put the arms back on when temperatures dropped significantly.|
A trip to Squamish, BC, in November gave me plenty of time to evaluate winter clothing. I first grabbed Pearl Izumi's Barrier Convertible jacket because I brought my smallest hydration pack and it was the only wind shell that I had laying around that would fit inside its diminutive main pocket. Turns out I used the jacket on a number of occasions each day to deal with zero degree morning temperatures and uncertain weather that swung from sunshine to rain in thirty minute intervals. The well-constructed Barrier jacket is form-fitting, so it works well under a hydration pack, but there is no binding when working steeps or tricky drop-ins that require decisive body English. If you carry your water and tools in cargo bib-shorts, though, you will want to buy up a size to ensure that there is additional room for those items
The thin polyester shell is well ventilated, so it never feels like a steam room while laying down power on extended climbs. When temperatures dip near freezing, however, it will keep the rain and wind out, but it does little to maintain heat. Pair it with a thermal under-layer, and as long as you keep moving, the combination maintains heat without producing the dreaded green-house effect.
Much of the comfort of the Elite Barrier jacket is due to the large rear louver-style rear vent and that there are few places for cold air to enter from the front. The main zipper is well baffled and for the windiest days, there is a draw-string waist.
Un-zip the sleeves and both arms detach from the jacket in one piece, so you only have one item to stash in your pocket and one less item to lose. The process is simple in both directions, and the end result is a comfortable vest that is cleverly designed so that the arm-zippers are set well back from the arm-holes and are never felt by the rider. Re-constructing the jacket was a three-minute operation - easy enough to convince me to take a moment to put the arms back on when temperatures dropped significantly.
|For those who can appreciate the value of a well-made garment that fulfills its intended purpose, Pearl Izumi's $125 asking price for the Elite Barrier Convertible jacket may be money well spent. I have a few options when it comes to wind shells and light rain jackets, but as I would soon discover after using this one, there is a tangible difference in the fit and performance of Pearl Izumi's product that sets it apart. I have been told that the designers use living models to form their patterns and in doing so, they ask them to pose on and actually operate bicycles to ensure mobility and a comfortable fit. I am inclined to believe that is true. - RC|