This is a story of absence, an abundant nothingness, a Zen reduction.
This is one incredibly light vest.
Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O Barrier Lite is proof that design is often an exercise in thoughtful subtraction. When we pulled off the tissue paper, the vest felt almost as light as that packaging.
A size medium weighs in at 115 grams. Which seems more like comedy punch line and a specification. The reality is, the Barrier Lite weights almost nothing.
What’s left is the essential taken to the most minimal. The Barrier Lite fabric works just fine for the wind and water protection. — and it’s light enough not to overheat you. There’s an internal draft flap to seal out cold and a garage for the zipper tuck. The collar tapers from front to back for the full ergonomic effect.
All of that is worth noting but the dramatic narrative is the nothing. Remember the over-complicated design of most cell phones before Apple’s iphone? Pearl Izumi followed the Steve Jobs design philosophy: the brilliance is in what’s left out.
What you’re buying is the pro look, extreme lightness and hyper-packability. Our test rides with the Barrier Lite show it does the functional duties well. The Barrier fabric and the body-hug fit keep wind flap to a minimum. Our only negative is the fabric does have a slight plasticky feel but that’s far outweighed by the performance.
The zipper tracks up and down smoothly, the waist and shoulder elastic draws the vest in nicely. One of the higher benefits is the A+ on the “pack and stow” test with no bulge in the jersey pocket.
Is the P.R.O Barrier Lite the best wind and rain protection you can buy in a vest? Nope, not in high winds and heavy rain. But for less demanding weather conditions — a morning chill, light breezes and intermittent showers — this is an ideal choice.
What you discover is that, barring serious climatic activity, nothing is generally all that’s required. You feel fast and fitted and oh-so technical. Being able to pack the vest down is a bonus every time you ride.
In short: The Barrier Lite vest is a nothing that’s kinda amazing.