The Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier Lite Vest is a lightweight gilet that offers excellent windproofing and packs small enough to store easily in a jersey pocket.
It's made from two different materials. The yellow rip-stop polyester fabric is windproof and it makes a big difference to your body temperature, especially on fast descents when cold air could otherwise quickly rob you of warmth.
It's water resistant too. The fabric won't keep out heavy rain, but if you're caught out in a storm no gilet is going to keep you particularly dry anyway. It does, though, provide a reasonable amount of protection for those times when it's drizzly and not quite wet enough for a jacket, and it's certainly adept at keeping road spray from soaking through, and that's the key point for me.
That yellow fabric isn't stretchy but the black side panels – which are also polyester and windproof – have a lot of elasticity so you can get a close fit whether you're wearing just a short sleeve jersey underneath or something more substantial. I had a little bit of bunching around the stomach when bent over in the riding position, but not enough to flap around.
The armholes are much more stretchy than I expected, so there's no tightness there even if you're layered up, and the bottom hem is elasticated to avoid draughts too.
Although there's no stretch at the collar, I found it to be close fitting and comfortable, not so tight that it's going to throttle you. The front zip comes with an easy-to-grab puller and a garage at the top stops it from scratching your neck, irritating your stubble, or whatever.
As mentioned, by keeping the wind off your torso, the Pro Barrier Lite Vest makes a big contribution to keeping you comfortable in cooler temperatures and the fact that it packs down small is a definite plus. It takes up only about half a pocket's worth of space.
That means you can easily remove and store it mid-ride if the temperature rises or you hit a big climb, and it's equally convenient to carry in your pocket on an evening ride to be brought out when the temperature dips. You won't even notice the weight so this is a gilet you can tuck away just in case for rides when the weather is likely to be changeable.
Bear in mind that the rear of the Pro Barrier Lite Vest is made from the same windproof fabric as the front. Some people prefer a mesh at the back for more breathability – not that breathability is a problem here. That's a matter of personal preference; I've got on with this gilet just fine over the past few weeks. I've been using it when the temperature is anything up to about 14 or 15°C (other people will do away with windproofing well below that) so that covers summer mornings and evenings as well as spring and autumn rides.
If this colour option doesn't do it for you, black, red, white and yellow/blue versions are available too. All of them feature reflective trim along the sides of the back to help you get noticed in low light conditions.
As for cost, it's well priced at £69.99, but it's exceptional value at £41.99 – as currently listed on Pearl Izumi's UK website.
Lightweight windproof gilet that packs down super-small for easy stowing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Mens P.R.O. Barrier Lite Vest
Size tested: Medium, Screaming Yellow/Black
Tell us what the product 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?
It's a lightweight windproof gilet in a slim cut.
Pearl Izumi says, "One of the most vital pieces in any cycling kit, the P.R.O. Barrier Lite Vest offers warmth and protection from wind and cool temperatures in a super light, packable piece.
"The P.R.O. Series was created to fit the needs of the more competitive athletes who expect the best from the products they train and race in. The P.R.O. (Performance & Race Optimized) Series is 3D Motion Engineered for the demanding athletes with the highest standards for leading edge apparel design, construction and craftsmanship. Products from the P.R.O. Series feature a Form Fit designed for a more efficient and aerodynamic garment for athletes who value every second."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pearl Izumi lists these features:
* Easy to carry in a jersey pocket, it packs down so small you'll barely know it's there. Pair it with arm warmers for versatile weather protection that's great for long descents or changing weather conditions
* P.R.O. Barrier Lite fabric provides lightweight wind protection and water resistance
* Softshell Lite panels for improved fit and stretch with optimal wind and water protection
* Full-length zipper for venting with zipper garage
* Elasticised hem and arm openings
* Reflective elements for low-light visibility
* Lightweight and packable
* Form Fit
* Fabrics: body 100% polyester clear rip stop; panels 100% polyester; weight 32 g/m2
* Weather Forecast: Cool and windy
* Temperature Rating: 15 degrees
I had a little bit of excess fabric around the middle when leaning forward on the bike, but not enough to be an issue.
It's good value at its RRP of £69.99, but exceptional at £41.99 - as currently listed on Pearl Izumi's UK website.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's simple to wash and comes out looking the same as when it went in.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does a great job of keeping cold air out and keeping road spray off.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The lightweight windproofing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a very good windproof gilet, currently at an exceptional price. I don't think it does quite enough to warrant a 9, but it's one of those pieces that just cracks on with its job without issue.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.