Pearl Izumi Pro Softshell 180 jacket review

The Pearl Izumi Pro Softshell jacket has all the basics of a decent winter jacket, if only it fitted better

(Image credit: mike prior)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Pearl Izumi Pro Softshell jacket is warm enough to be a very good jacket, but is let down by a fit that makes it bordering on unusable.

For
  • +

    Fairly warm

  • +

    Nice details

  • +

Against
  • -

    Poor fit

  • -

    Cavernous rear pocket

  • -

The Pearl Izumi Pro Softshell jacket is a new release for 2015, and sits towards the top of the brand’s extensive range of jackets. Offering half-decent protection in dry, chilly conditions, the Pro Softshell is unfortunately let down by its very poor fit.

If you've screeched to a halt reading this review straight away, you might want to back track to our buyer's guide dedicated to the best winter cycling jackets, for our current favourites, and advice on how to find the best one for you.  

We’ll start on with the positives. As we experienced when testing Pearl Izumi’s overshoes, gloves, overshoes and bibtights in recent weeks, they can be relied upon to choose good windproof materials for their clothing. The Pro Softshell jacket is no different, with the 3-layer fabric protecting you against the wind, while also managing to keep out the odd rain shower. The interior is fleeced for a little extra insulation.

As a side note, you might want to check out our page on the best winter cycling gloves for all you need to know. 

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The zipped security pocket is a nice touch
(Image credit: mike prior)

Other nice features include the numerous reflective touches for added visibility and the taped full-length zip, which is backed by draft flap for a little extra protection and also comes with a large tab on the zipper to make it a little bit easier to use with gloves. We also liked the zipped security pocket which is centrally positioned so as to prevent heavy items falling to one side. However, we weren’t so sure about the decision to only have one, large rear pocket as opposed to three smaller ones, which made it difficult to find specific items, especially when the pocket was full on long rides.

If you're struggling to keep the other extremities warm, then visit our page on the the best overshoes for how to do so. 

However the issue with the pocket is fairly minor when compared to the main problem with the Pearl Izumi Pro Softshell jacket: the fit. Pearl Izumi claim that this jacket has a ‘form fit’, meaning that it should have an ‘aerodynamic cut for enhanced performance.’

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The sleeves are far too loose, letting in an unwelcome blast of cold air
(Image credit: mike prior)

In practice the fit was one of the worst we’ve experienced in a cycling jacket. The bottom of the Pro Softshell jacket was incredibly tight, so much so that only the most rake-like of climbers was able to do up the zip. In contrast the rest of the jacket, particularly the sleeves were extremely loose and billowey, meaning that the good work done by the windproof material was completely undone by the cold blast of air constantly being blown up the arms.

>>> For the best winter cycling jackets, click here

This very poor fit is a real shame. Pearl Izumi have shown themselves very capable of producing excellent winter clothing, and the Pro Softshell jacket could be a very good jacket, if only anyone could get it on.

For more details visit the Pearl Izumi website.

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.