By Laurel-Lea Shannon
How Obtained: Sample from company
Available: Company website, online retailers
RBR Sponsor: NoTime tested: Several weeks
Versatile 3-Season Jacket in One Stylish Package
If you want a cold-weather cycling jacket that can go the distance no matter what the weather throws at you, the P.R.O. softshell 3x1 jacket is it. Pearl iZumi calls the jacket a "cold-weather system." They sure got that right.
Keep winter out
The P.R.O. softshell 3x1 jacket comes in two parts, an outer softshell jacket and an inner liner jacket. The outer shell is waterproof, and although Pearl Izumi's website says it "provides optimal wind protection," to me it feels solidly windproof on the bike.
The liner is made from Primaloft, a cold-busting barrier material That's super-light. Together the shell and liner can handle cold-riding temperatures between -12C (10F) and -1C (30F), but with a heavier base layer I've used it at -15C (5F). No more excuses for staying cooped-up indoors on winter days - even for sissies like me (Toronto has lots of cold winter days, so there are ample opportunities to wimp out!).
You'd think a jacket that can handle rain, wind, sleet, and snow on a bike at temperatures below freezing would be bulky. Not so. The form-fitting P.R.O. Softshell 3x1 jacket is light and comfortable, with just enough room left over for base layers and a long-sleeved jersey underneath. Pearl iZumi hasn't scrimped on style either. The white jacket with its red and black trim is a real eye-catcher.
The nuts and bolts
The liner is attached to the shell by three snap closures - one at the neck and one at the bottom of each sleeve - ensuring the liner and shell jacket move in unison. Both have articulated elbows with contoured arms. The sleeves are longer on the top of the wrist, providing optimal coverage between the jacket and gloves. The jacket collar is high enough to provide good coverage on your neck without interfering with helmet straps. And a fleece lining on the collar keeps your neck warm. The front zipper has a full-length internal draft flap to keep the wind out and seal in warmth.
The pockets are a design feat in themselves. There are a total of six - two side-zippered pockets and one zippered back pocket. Inside the back pocket there's one large pocket and another layer of pocket with 3 dividers. The zippers at the sides of the jacket appear to be side pockets but are really located at the back of the jacket. When you reach into a side pocket your hand goes back into the pocket, not forward. Designing them that way keeps the front of the jacket looking sleek and form-fitting, no matter how jam-packed the pockets are.
A three-season jacket
A price of $350 may turn some buyers away, but consider this: When you buy the 3??1 jacket you're getting three jackets in one, and a jacket you can use over three seasons of cycling. Take the liner out, and the attractive shell jacket can be used on its own for late fall and early spring rides.
On days when it's not so cold, consider taking the light and packable liner jacket along in a back pocket as an extra layer in case you need it.
With the P.R.O. softshell 3x1 jacket the designers at Pearl iZumi have achieved a perfect balance between form and function for cool- and cold-weather cycling. This jacket makes itself useful as part of my outdoor riding season over a large portion of the year.