Thursday, December 8, 2016

Pearl Izumi: SELECT Escape Softshell Jacket Review

If you are a cyclocross (CX) person, then fall and winter are your much-awaited seasons. But for the majority of cyclists, riding a bike during that time of the year is always a challenge. I personally find it hard to go out even for a short 40-mile ride when it’s really cold outside. I could either hop on the trainer (roller) and just do a quick work out or get out and ride. I have nothing against riding on the trainer but I still prefer the beauty of being outside and feel the road underneath me.

I know that most cyclists are not fond of bundling up, but it’s necessary if you want stay warm and toasty so that you can enjoy the ride, otherwise you might suffer from hypothermia. Pearl Izumi is cyclists #1 choice when it comes gears and apparels. They’re in this business for five decades and they know exactly what it takes to deliver quality products when it comes to endurance sports especially cycling. If you want to find out some of the items that I reviewed in the past, you can click here,  here and here.

One of the products that they let me test this fall season is the SELECT Escape Softshell Jacket. This softshell jacket is thick enough to block the cold wind with temperature ranging from 45oF to 50oF yet provides sufficient breathability.   

·      Main Body: 100% Polyester, weight 290 g/m2
·      Thermal Panels: 100% Polyester; weight: 167 g/m2

·   SELECT 3-layer softshell fabric is windproof with superior warmth and water resistance
·   Thermal panels provide insulation and breathability
·   Full length internal draft flap with zipper garage seals in warmth
·   Single chest pocket with envelope closure for additional storage with quick access
·   Single zippered back pocket
·   Reflective elements placed for maximum visibility on the bike
·   Semi-Form Fit

Fit and Functionality
One of the hardest parts of cycling is getting the right fit. It is sometimes confusing and frustrating to know that the apparel you choose doesn’t fit you right. The SELECT Escape Softshell Jacket is a semi-form fit cut which means that it has enough room like a club cut but not too tight like a race cut. So to make it easy, think of it like a regular T’s that sits close enough to your skin. Their sizing is cut based on the industry standards so their measurements stay true.

This jacket is made from 100% polyester that is meant to provide breathability, wicks moisture, and dries fast. It is combined with a thin layer of thermal fleece on the inside which provides high water and wind resistance yet offers a lot of breathability and freedom of movement. If you are not familiar with the Pearl Izumi, they have three different series (categories) on how they rank their apparels, and the SELECT is their lowest category. But don’t be fooled just because of how it was categorized. The features and materials used maybe different from the P.R.O and Elite series but it is pack with the same level of performance with a “budget friendly” price that most cyclists will surely appreciate.

Going into details, this softshell jacket is equipped with two pockets. The first one is the chest pocket secured by a Velcro. It is small enough where you can put your gel, car key, credit card or some cash. It’s there just in case you need to get a quick access on those items rather than fumbling around at your back jersey pockets. I think PI can actually get away without putting this pocket but for the sake of design, I think it makes it more pleasing to the eyes.

The second pocket is located at the back secured by a zipper with a flap. This flap prevents the moisture and water from coming in. I love the idea that PI put a decent string along the zipper for easy access, this is really helpful when you’re wearing some thick gloves and need to get something really quick. You’ll also see that the inside portion of this pocket is made of a mesh material which means that sweat from your body can dampen any items you put in this pocket. It’s important to note that this jacket is water resistant but not water proof, so make sure that any electrical gadgets (phone, iPod) is protected with some plastic or waterproof bag to avoid damage.

As you can see, the full zipper is made of a very robust plastic zipper that is convenient to zip up or down on the moment when you need to ventilate. There is also a piece of cloth that runs underneath the zipper to keep the zipper from rubbing into the skin and it also acts as a barrier from cold air coming in.

The circumference of the cuff is fully elastic but it doesn’t constrict my wrist, leaving a small gap where air can get thru. Take note that there is minimal venting areas on this jacket, so having this small gap helps to get some fresh air in and keep your core temp at bay.

Common to all cycling apparels are the hem portion which is always longer than the front. This is also true on jackets to keep your back side dry from any water splash (rooster tails) or mud. There is also a decent amount of silicon gripper along the hem to keep it from riding up and prevent from getting caught under the seat

PI gears and apparels won’t be complete if it doesn’t offer a 360 degree reflective materials. These reflective materials are located along both arms, at the back, and the PI logo on the front to keep you visible during low light conditions.

The temperature has dropped since the last few weeks (but not yet freezing), this softshell jacket (along with jersey and base layer) was able to keep me warm and comfy even on those days where the temperature was at 40oF. It’s amazing that I didn’t feel that “bulkiness” of clothing though I had 3 layers on me…it’s light enough in my opinion. Insulation is the key when riding on cold season and this jacket just provides a good barrier from cold wind and resistance from light moisture in the air. One thing that make this jacket so great is that it didn’t inhibit any movements, it simply moves along with my body.  

My Verdict
Pearl Izumi is synonymous to “perfection” and that reflects on all their products. Rest assured that their materials are made with the highest standard and built to last a lifetime. With all their different gears and apparels that I have tested, I have never been disappointed with Pearl Izumi, even with this softshell jacket that I tested.

With all the features and functionalities that this jacket has to offer, it only comes with a decent price of $125 which I think is worth the investment since you’ll be using this for a longer time. This is a budget friendly price that performs like their top-notch apparel, this softshell guarantees that it will meet your demands and will not disappoint.

You can grab yours directly on their website or go to retail stores near you. Better yet, visit your local bike store and give your support by purchasing it directly from them.

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