Pearl Izumi is a brand you probably know for its hi-vis jackets and techy training gear - but recently the company launched its new, more casual Versa line aimed at commuting and the the transitions on and off the bike.

We’ve been testing a few of the jackets from the line, and the Versa Quilted Hoodie has emerged as a clear favourite, with its flattering fit and subtle bike-friendly features. 

The Quilted Hoodie is a colder-weather jacket with primaloft insulation around the core for warmth, and water-resistant but breathable softshell panels along the sides and arms. It’s very stretchy and feels snug and soft, but also blocks wind like a shell - I wore it standing around at a gusty cyclocross race, and was impressed by the shelter-like feeling I got by simply turning my back into the wind. Of course, the softshell material also efficiently dumps extra heat, so you don’t get too sweaty while pedaling.

The sleeves have laser-cut liners to help block any drafts that might sneak in between your gloves, and the hood is low-profile enough to fit under a helmet (though it’s a little shallow when worn without one). A single zippered back pocket gives you jersey-style accessibility for small items while riding, but without screaming “I’m a cyclist!” like three-pocket style jackets typically do.

 

 
 
The drawstrings for the hood feature reflective fibres, and small strips on the sleeves, back, and chest pocket add more visibility.  The reflective material Pearl uses is incredibly powerful when hit directly by, say, car headlights - but it looks matte black in more diffuse light, so you don’t have to worry about glowing in more casual settings.

And trust me, you will want to wear this jacket in almost every setting: It’s like having your own personal micro-climate that always feels comfortable, and always looks good. I’ve used this jacket for plenty of chilly morning commutes, but I’ve also tossed it in a pack for camping, and I’m sure I’ll be nordic skiing in it next winter.

At around AUS$290 it’s pretty expensive for a jacket, but for what it can do I think it's well worth the investment.