Patagonia’s Houdini Jacket is a simple, lightweight, weather resistant shell that almost disappears into its own pocket when it’s not being used. While advertised as a shell for runners on Patagonia’s website we tested it on some multi-pitch rock climbs where weight and bulk are the enemy. The Houdini worked very well as a wind resistant layer and kept me dry during a few short rain showers. But what I really love is that it packs away into a soda can size package that easily clips to the back of my harness while it weighs next to nothing. This leaves no reason to not have it with me on a climb and it’s so worthwhile to have when the weather changes.
The Houdini is made of a light (1.2 oz., 15 denier) ripstop nylon fabric and treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. I found that the resulting light-weight breathable jacket felt good next to my skin, as I often wore it over a tee-shirt, and would not stick to me when sweaty. The DWR finish stood up well during rain showers and would dry quickly.
There is only one pocket on the jacket situated on the left breast. The pocket doubles as the stuff sac and so is fairly small, just large enough for a cell phone or a few energy bars. The loop of fabric used to clip the jacket to a harness or pack feels a little flimsy but I haven’t experienced any issues with it.
The cuffs are half elastic half not. Basically they stretch on the palm side of the wrist and are smooth on the back of the arm. I liked this feature as I found they were just loose enough to let in a little air and allow good freedom of movement but could easily be slid up my arms so that they were out of my way when crack climbing.
The hood has a single draw string that is quite effective at holding the hood secure on my head while maintaining peripheral vision. Unfortunately it doesn’t fit over my helmet but would fit under it. Another issue I had with the hood, due to its light weight, was that when not being worn it would catch the wind and flap annoyingly. I tucked it back down into the neck of the jacket when this occurred at it seemed an ok solution to the issue.
I’m 5’-10” tall, 175 lbs and tested the Medium. It fit snug (as I wanted it to) but stayed tucked into my harness when climbing and never restricted movement.
Pros: Extremely light, small and breathable hoodie.
Cons: Hood tends to flap in the wind and doesn’t fit over a helmet, no hand pockets.
Overall: An extremely versatile layer that is so light and small that there’s never a reason not to take it. One of those layers that I just keeping finding more uses for and am always glad to have with me.
A test sample was supplied by Patagonia but this in no way influences the review.