By T.C. WORLEY
Outerwear companies now crank out lightweight shell jackets that can be packed easily and weigh about as much as your cell phone. One such offering, Pearl Izumi’s new jacket for the cycling crowd — the P.R.O. Barrier WxB — weighs just 150 grams and tucks in your jersey pocket until the first drops of rain start hitting your cheeks.
I’ve tested this jacket for several months in weather ranging from blowing snow to sunny and 50 degrees. It has been my companion on miserable rainy rides, and on glorious but chilly spring training days. I even wore it on a 105-mile gravel road race a few weeks ago, and it kept the early morning chills off until the sun finally came out.
The WxB jacket is a handsome piece, available in a svelte black or the more visible red. The fit is close and exact. The waterproof fabric is soft, quiet, and it moves with you as you ride.
When a quick ride to the store turned into a sloppy slog through a spring downpour, the jacket performed like a champ. I was wet from the waist down, but my torso — including my cell phone in the chest pocket — was dry as a bone. I also appreciated the jacket’s retractable tail. It saved me a few gallons of gutter water passing through my saddle area (if you know what I mean).
I did not care for the removable hood. It looks ridiculous. Function-wise, it works and is waterproof. Fashion is another thing here.
Another point: I’d like to see a small interior pocket in addition to the front chest pocket. Removing items from the chest pocket while hunched over the bars made it hard not to drop whatever else was stashed in there.
Breathable? Like every shell I have ever used in an active setting, this one trapped sweat. It breathed well for a shell, but expect to notice some sweat when the road turns uphill.
Overall, I love this jacket. For shaky weather forecasts, it is now my go-to piece. Retailing for $250, the jacket is moderately expensive. But for its weight and performance, Pearl Izumi makes a solid contender in its WxB. http://www.pearlizumi.com