Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket - Review

Dec 22, 2015
by Richard Cunningham  

Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket

Pearl Izumi's 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.

bigquotesRe-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.
Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket
Arm holes are piped with soft material and the zippers are set back where they can't chafe skin.
Trail Report:

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

Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket
I used the zip rear pocket to stash my insulated gloves.
Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket
The rear rain panel and both sleeves detach in one piece.

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.
Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket
Pearl Izumi kept the design simple. I could easily convert the Elite Barrier jacket with gloves on.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesFor 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


  • 24 1
 How come no pic of the guy wearing just the sleeve and back section? everyone knows that's where the style is at.
  • 24 0
 RC doesn't go full bolero.
  • 12 0
 Never go full bolero.
  • 11 0
 That's the first thing I did when I got this jacket. That and impersonated Chris Farley's fat guy in a little coat line from Tommy Boy.
  • 3 0
 I always want to ride like that because my chest is warm but my arms are cold.
  • 7 0
 OH A 125$ Nylon Windbreaker.
  • 2 1
 It's crazy. They are all priced like that. What a joke.
  • 8 2
 Peal izumi...idk if i wanna peal anything
  • 13 0
 Aw man they fixed the typo that was top comment material.
  • 1 0
 This is one of my favorite pieces of cycling gear. I use it as my top layer while fatbiking in winter and use it for cooler fall/early season on my skinny bike. The sleeves come off super easy and stash in the vest pockets. It's super long in the back, so no crack.

Got mine at rei on the clearance rack for $75 and think it was worth every penny... even though mine is solid flouro yellow
  • 4 0
 Thats only $25 a pocket. What a deal!
  • 1 0
 Any idea where I can buy one, they only have small size left on their web page and I can't find the convertible version in the UK??
  • 1 0
 3 minutes is too long. i have a reflective sugoi commuter jacket held together with magnets. the sleeves go on and off in the same time as a shirt.
  • 1 0
 Not sure what their issue was, I have this jacket and it doesn't take nearly that long to put the sleeves back on. It's 2 zippers and Velcro.
  • 2 0
 Looks like it will glow in the dark.
  • 3 2
 I could well be converted to this
  • 1 0
 this is nice but do u have it in mens?
  • 1 1
 Just another boring biased article.

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