Investing in a cycling jacket can be a challenging process. Some options are so specific that they become limiting. Others are just all out, ride to the North Pole and back type of thing, and the pricing is proportional. As a cycling consumer you have identify who you are, when you ride, and in what conditions you are willing roll to into. The P.R.O. Softshell 180 from Pearl Izumi is a jacket that finds the middle ground, and offers great tech and features at its price point. The 180 designation means that this Form-Fit jacket has 3 layer Pearl P.R.O. Softshell with Minerale material on the forward face of the piece. This supple, serious fabric is designed to protect you from the wind and weather, insulate, and manage moisture, while absorbing and neutralizing odor. The back panels of the jacket are built with P.R.O. Thermal fleece which is a terrific insulator, but breathes to allow excessive heat out more easily. Pearl also employs Direct-Vent panels in the fleece to accelerate this process.
Why protect the front, but not the back? Two answers. First, as you ride you face the elements and generate wind chill to the air temperature. Blocking that makes sense. Second, by leaving the back to an insulative-only material that breathes more easily, the cyclist can manage temperature variance more easily. If overheating, a half-unzip up front will allow more air through and out the back, taking excessive heat and moisture with it. Once regulated, zip back up for protection. This is highly effective and easy to control. A last aspect of the 180 concept is price. Going to a full softshell jacket adds a significant cost. That is why you need to understand your needs and rationale. If you plan to regularly ride in wet, cold conditions, you likely need a 360 degree barrier jacket. If you generally brave the cold, but not the wet, the 180 degree coverage saves you money and becomes a much more flexible piece. If you get caught out in the rain, the jacket will still insulate and protect at a high level, but your back will get wet. Of course the P.R.O. Softshell 180 offers the details you expect from Pearl Izumi: full length zipper draft flap with zipper garage, contoured sleeve hem with thumb hole mitt to keep the sleeves in place, a front slash pocket on the left chest, and a huge zippered rear pocket that has three internal dividers to keep items stable. 360 degree reflective highlights and a silicone hem gripper round out the features. Know your needs, and get more for your money on the best technology from Pearl Izumi.