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Pearl Izumi PRO Softshell 180 Jacket

Reviewed by Sarah Bonner

PI-180-jacket-frontI finally bit the bullet a week ago and hauled out my winter cycling clothes. Leg warmers, mittens, rain booties, and, the newest edition to my wardrobe, the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Softshell 180 jacket.

The jacket is form-fitting but the fabric is smooth, thin and stretchy so it is comfortable and easy to move in. It protects against wind, rain, and cold temperatures and has moisture transfer qualities. There are small reflective details for increased road visibility and a zipper garage to protect your chin from chafing. The jacket looks stylish and comes in white, black, red, and dark purple for the suggested retail price of US$190 in sizes small to extra large.

My favourite thing about the jacket is that it does exactly what it promises: it’s windproof, waterproof, and warm. The balance between wind and water protection and breathability is a true highlight. The inside is a cozy thermal material and the outside is a soft and relatively thin waterproof and windproof material. Along with well-placed under arm and side vents, the fabric breathes well and I was comfortably warm throughout my ride, even as my body temperature fluctuated.

I wasn’t able to test the jacket in anything colder than 11 degrees but the manufacturer claims the jacket is designed for temperatures between 35F and 45F (1-7C). Although I can’t comment on how the jacket performs in colder temperatures, one issue would be the tail flap. The longer tail of the jacket didn’t fit tight enough to keep the wind out, especially when standing or in the drops, and in colder weather this would be a problem.

I was only able to test the jacket in light rain so I put the sleeve under the kitchen tap to see what would happen. As it did during the road test, the water beaded right off and I was dry underneath. After another minute directly under the tap on full, I did feel some moisture coming through but, since rain isn’t as harsh as a direct tap, it seems the jacket would keep you dry in those unexpected torrential downpours.

PI-180-jacket-zipperThe angled cuff is designed to keep the wind from coming up your sleeve and it does this fairly well. It is, however, hard to ignore that the men’s version comes with an inner sleeve (and an additional front pocket) for an extra $10 that would do the trick much better. Another small detail was the zipper draft flap. Unlike other jackets I’ve tried, the zipper flap was lined with a rubbery material to not only keep the wind out but also to stop the rain getting in. The rubbery material also seemed to keep the flap in place so it could do what it was designed for.

PI-180-jacket-pocketsThe back pocket is one big open space with three smaller mesh pockets sewn in. The internal pockets are a bit small and fiddly but were usable. I’m not a fan of using a one big pocket since things bounce around so, depending on fit, this could be an issue for some. I really appreciated the longer zipper pulls that made the pocket easier to open with mittens on.

I followed the manufacturer’s instructions and washed the jacket in cold water on the gentle cycle. The jacket washed well and came out looking a little softer but no worse for wear. It says that you can tumble dry on low heat but since I hang most of my kit to dry the jacket had the same privilege. When it gets colder and a jacket is necessary on every ride, it’s a major plus to be able to dry the jacket without fear of it falling apart. I hung it to dry and it took approximately the same amount of time to dry as my cycling shorts so it would be quite quick in a tumble dryer. Pearl Izumi do claim the fabric is odour resistant which is a bonus since most people won’t be washing their jacket after every use.

Bottom line: Great jacket that does what it promises but try it on for size and maybe get the men’s if it fits properly.

Pearl Izumi PRO Softshell 180 Jacket
Sarah Bonner


Sarah Bonner the author of a new e-article, The Clean Girl’s Guide to Cycling: How to Clean Everything from Bar Tape to Sports Bras, has lived and cycled in Canada, Africa, and Europe. Currently, she splits her time between the Netherlands and South Africa where she trains and competes at an amateur level. With a Masters in English and a Diploma in Sports Management, Sarah combines her love of writing and passion for cycling to share honest advice and inspiring stories. Follow her at sarahkimbonner.wordpress.com

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