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The Pearl Izumi Men's Zephrr Barrier Jacket is made from 100 per cent recycled material and offers a more relaxed fit than many lightweight windshells at this price. It works well in terms of keeping you dry in light rain and showers, and it feels comfortable – just bear in mind that its shape will suit those who ride a little more upright rather than those who like to make the most of the drops.
The Zephrr is a lightweight windshell jacket that comes with the added bonus of a bit of water repellence thanks to Pearl Izumi's PI Dry technology. It's a hydrophobic treatment that unlike many water-repellent treatments, coats each individual fibre rather than being added as a coating to the fabric. According to Pearl Izumi, this means that it'll never wash off or lose its effectiveness, maintaining at least 90 per cent of its original performance after 100 washes. There's a bit more detail about it here, if you'd like to know more.
In use, the treatment keeps light rain and showers at bay for around an hour or so, about 25-30 minutes in heavier stuff before it starts to seep in around the seams. It's ideal for those days when it's breezy and there is the risk of showers, its small size meaning it can easily tuck into a rear jersey pocket when not needed.
Breathability isn't bad either: the test period has been quite warm, so I've been wearing it for late evening rides when the temperature has started to drop off. Things were comfortable unless I was really hammering it, although that isn't really what this jacket is all about.
The cut is quite relaxed, with room to wear a couple of layers underneath, and if you aren't at your leanest the fit is flattering. Most noticeable is the length of the sleeves – there is a lot of material going on here, probably a bit too much unless you have a very stretched out riding position or use the drops a lot. If you do, you might notice that the rear section isn't much lower than the front, so when you do get in the drops you don't have much coverage at the rear to protect you from road spray.
To further customise the fit, the Zephrr comes with hem cords either side that you can adjust.
Overall, the quality is really good, with neat stitching throughout and tidy detailing around the cuffs and neck. There is also a two-way zip and a small zip garage at the top to protect the front of your neck.
Many packable windshell jackets don't come with pockets, but on the Zephrr you do get a single mesh one that can be closed with a horizontal zip. There is plenty of room to carry your essentials, like a phone and simple tools, tube and so on.
At £99.99 the Zephrr is just a penny less than the Specialized Deflect Jacket with SWAT, which follows a similar theme when it comes to its design and intended use.
It's cheaper than the ashmei Emergency jacket at £128, and Mike wasn't massively impressed with the fit.
On the whole, the Zephrr does a decent job of keeping you warm and dry but works best for those rides when you aren't really pushing it. It'd be ideal for use while commuting or for stuffing into a pack when out on long distance rides.
Relaxed-fitting jacket that does a good job of keeping the wind and light rain out
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Zephrr Barrier Jacket
Size tested: Medium
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, "Made from recycled material and featuring our PI Dry® water-shedding technology, this lightweight cycling wind shell will get heavy use year-around. The way you make a wind shell more versatile is by adding a measure of rain protection. We treated this lightweight ripstop nylon jacket with PI Dry® to make it handy not just in the wind, but in light showers as well. The fit is generous for easy layering and we include drawstrings for easy adjustability."
It is a versatile jacket that offers long term protection from the elements.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Pearl Izumi lists:
Ripstop polyester fabric made from 100% recycled material
PI Dry® technology for permanent water-shedding performance
Two-way zipper allows ventilation from top or bottom
Silicone rear gripper to hold jacket in-place while in riding position
Dual side hem cord locks to adjust fit at waist
BioViz® reflective elements for low-light visibility
True to Pearl Izumi's size guide.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Pearl Izumi recommends a 30 degree wash and I had no issues following that.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The windproofing works well, as does the water-repellent treatment.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The 100% recycled material feels soft against the skin.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The arms are quite lengthy when you are riding on the hoods.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It is similarly priced to the Specialized mentioned in the review, and cheaper than the ashmei. Many jackets that are designed for more casual riding are often cheaper, but less breathable and heavier.
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
Overall it's a good option; the cut limits it to quite upright and relaxed riding, but even the performance rider will find benefit in its small, packable size as an emergency jacket.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!