Road Cycling Clothing

Review: Pearl Izumi Softshell 180 Jacket

With it’s fleecy lining, water-resistant and windproof panels, and athletic cut, the Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell 180 Jacket is a great choice for road cyclists who don’t want to let changeable spring weather stop them riding.

I find the wind-chill factor one of the main issues when it comes to staying warm in the spring; the day might look warm, but when the wind picks up you can really feel it. The wind proofing in this jacket was very effective at keeping the internal temperature stable and cosy, with a storm flap behind the front zip acting as an additional barrier against the breeze.

A fairly high collar sits snug against neck, not too tight, not too loose, and is seam free with a folded top hem. This combined with the soft zip garage meant no cold breezes down the top, and no chaffing either.

The jacket isn’t fully waterproof, with only the front panels featuring a water repellent membrane. I tried it out in some lightish rain and the water beaded pleasingly on the surface, and didn’t penetrate through.

Pearl Izumi describes the jacket cut as ‘semi form fit’ which means fitted but not race cut tight. It’s cut to the female form, and the fabric panels do a good job of loosely hugging the body, which means the jacket stays in place while you ride.

I tried the size Medium, which I’d say sizes up to towards the top end of a UK12. If you like your jacket fitted, you might be best going down a size. There was plenty of room underneath for a chunky wool baselayer, and the jacket was nicely warm with one.

The raglan cut of the sleeves bagged a little around the shoulders while upright, but sat better when in the riding position. The cuffs are also just a straight seam, with no elastic, Velcro pull-tabs or similar to allow a better seal around the wrist. Consequently, I got quite a chill draft up my arm. On a jacket at this price, I’d like to see something a bit more technical.

The length of both the torso and sleeves on the jacket was spot on. I’m 5’8 tall, and the jersey sat down over my hips while standing and covered my lower back while on the drops of the handlebars. However, the jacket doesn’t feature any grippers silicone grips patches or similar which are useful for holding the helm down in place. I personally didn’t experience any issues with the jacket riding up or moving about too much, which is testament to the cut and the stretchiness of the fabric panels, but this might be an issue for some.

The Elite Thermal Fleece fabric on the Elite Softshell 180 jacket keeps the warmth in nicely, and does a good job of wicking away sweat. It’s also apparently odour resistant, and happily it has indeed avoided the dreaded armpit pong (which is more than I can say for my base layer).

The Jacket has one main pocket that’s opened by very easy-to-use pull tabs which consist of a longish cord and plastic toggle. This made the pocket super easy to open one handed behind your back while the weather is pouring down and you have gloves on. There are two toggles so you can open it easily either way.

Inside the main pocket are two small and one large additional pockets separated by mesh, which were handy for stowing inner tubes, snacks and essentials. This mesh kept the pocket contents secure so even fully loaded the weight stayed central on my back and didn’t move around while pedalling.

The jacket comes in two colourways; the red, black and grey one pictured, and also a purple and blue option. The white side panels aren’t the most flattering, I have to admit, but the overall sporty look is great if you want something that has a flash of colour but isn’t too lairy.

Price: £119.99, available from Pearl Izumi.
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colours: Black/Red, Purple


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