How obtained: review sample
RBR sponsor: No
Time tested: 4 months
Short-Sleeve Rain Jacket Breaks the Mold, Delivers Versatility
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. This is a short-sleeve rain jacket. Yes, you read that correctly. It has elbow-length short sleeves, and Pearl makes no apologies for it. The company took the leap of logic that if you are wearing this jacket in the rain (assuming it’s not a really cold rain), then you probably don’t care if your forearms are wet. (It’s sort of the same principle as knickers.)
Doing away with that additional material allows Pearl to save weight and focus on making the jacket packable. As you can see in the photo below it will pack down into a very small and neat bundle, fitting easily into a jersey pocket.
But much more than that, form and materials make the jacket effectively a combination wind jacket and rain jacket in one. You’re just as likely to grab it on a perfectly sunny, cool or cold day as you are on a warmer rainy day.
The jacket has a high neckline for blocking out the elements, both wind and rain. The material is highly breathable and waterproof. All seams are fully sealed to prevent any weather infiltration.
In terms of looks, you are going to get noticed in this. The jacket is available in hi-viz pink or green, and when Pearl says hi-viz, they really mean it. There cannot be any claims of not being noticed when wearing this. I personally really liked the green I tested; however, the pink was a little much for me (it may well appeal to others, of course). We didn’t see a women’s version on Pearl’s website, by the way.
Out on the road
The temperature range is surprisingly wide when used primarily as a wind jacket. I found that combining with a base layer, a regular cycling jacket and with the Pearl jacket on top I was able to ride in 25F (-4C) weather and be comfortable. By using just a regular cycling jersey and arm warmers, and again with the Pearl jacket on top, I was comfortable up to about 55F (13C).
Above that temperature, all bets were off as zippers were being quickly lowered to prevent overheating. Interestingly, with a temperature of 52F and with wind, it proved to be ideal due to the excellent wind-blocking qualities of the garment.
Previous rain jackets that I’ve tried have led to a build-up of condensation and sweat by the end of ride. It’s an age-old problem for so-called “breathable” rain gear.
Pearl has managed to overcome that problem with this jacket. When they claim that sweat wicks, they mean it. I arrived home dry on the inside every time. This means that the jacket locks in warmth for the entire ride, preventing any chance of cooling down by holding dampness next to the skin.
The jacket has a long drop tail and, again, this is an area where the attention to detail shines through. Reflective tape is well-placed at the bottom of the tail where it will be visible to motorists. (See photo.) The long tail also really helps with heat retention.
But does the jacket keep the rain out? Because of the fairly dry fall weather where I live and ride, I wasn’t able to extensively test the jacket in the rain. But I did have a few rain rides and damp occasions on which to put it through its paces. And, to answer my own question, yes, I stayed dry and warm on those rides, with no infiltration of the exterior moisture.
Form-fitting garment, to be sure
The jacket will reveal if you are prone to any late-night trips to the kitchen (what can I say, have you tried Kirkland’s vanilla ice cream?!). I usually wear a medium jacket, which is what I reviewed. However, this medium was snug on me, which has both pros and cons. On the plus side, the jacket causes very little drag; however, on top of additional layers it could move beyond snug and be constricting. If you’re racer-thin, you’ll be fine with the typical size you wear. But if you’re a little broader, I would suggest sizing up.
The jacket also seems uncomfortable when you’re standing up. It pulls awkwardly at the shoulders. This is a form-fitting design detail, as it turns out. Put your hands on the hoods or, better still, in the drops — and the fit is transformed. It’s built purely for cycling, perfectly fitting your form in the riding position.
One drawback, though!
The jacket packs down small. To save weight and to make it so packable, Pearl looked to trim material. This is the one (and only) area where I could find fault. The jacket has no pockets, which I found was somewhat of a drawback. You need to lift up the rear seam to access your jersey pockets, and since the fit is so snugly, this is not necessarily easily accomplished.
Pearl took a different tack with this jacket – and it works. It’s incredibly well-thought out. It fits wonderfully and it is quite versatile. You’re apt to wear it just as often as a wind jacket as you are a rain jacket. And it delivers equally high-end performance in both roles.
The only criticism that for me stops it from being great is the lack of any rear pocket. I can’t think it would add that much extra bulk, and for me it would make the jacket an automatic No. 1 choice for most rain and cold weather rides.
However if you’re searching for a higher end, wind-proof and water-proof garment, the Pearl Izumi short-sleeve jacket should be on your list.
Paul Smith regularly reviews products for RBR. He’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in thePiedmont area of North Carolina. He commutes often, and his car is worth less than any of his bikes. Click to read Paul’s full bio.