When looking in our gear room or in our closet, I can truly say, the Patagonia Houdini Jacket is one of the most important piece of gear I own. Sure, there are a few sport specific items like skis and climbing harnesses that I physically can’t take part in the sport without, but when it comes to all-around utility and effectiveness, the Patagonia Houdini Jacket takes the top prize.
The Houdini Jacket labeled as, “The 100% recycled nylon, take-it-anywhere jacket with weather-resistant protection for high-output endeavors. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn.” And what that really means is, it’s a wind breaker and a slight-rain jacket. With that underwhelming of a summary, you’d be hard pressed to think this jacket is my favorite piece of gear. Especially when there are way better wind shells and much better rain jacket. The reason I’m in love with this jacket is the size and it’s ability to come on any adventure!
Weight & Size
Weighing in at 105g or 3.7oz, which is equivalent to 20 Nickels or 4 AA batteries, it’s essentially negligible. But light weight isn’t everything, it’s ability to pack down into it’s own chest-zip pocket is everything. Having the integrated stuff-sack, like most jackets these days, is crucial to it coming on every adventure. It packs down to roughly the size of a Pear, making it perfect to fit, really, anywhere. The Houdini will come with me on nearly every mountain bike ride, fitting easily into my hip pack or hydration pack, just in case the weather changes, the temps drop, or if the wind picks up. Similarly on any hike or trail run, when I know I’ll be out for a long time or up in the alpine, the Houdini always comes along. Because of it’s size and weight, it’s a no-brainer, that I don’t even have to question whether or not I’m bringing it along.
Houdini vs Puffy Jackets, Technical Shells & Rain Jackets
I don’t want to mislead you, the reader, into thinking that this jacket would replace a puffy jacket for warmth, a technical shell for unforgiving terrain, or a dedicated rain jacket for torrential downpours. The Houdini, rather, is sort of the jack of all trades, master of none. This jacket, as described by Patagonia, is meant for high-output endeavors, which isn’t just marketing for “extreme stuff.” Instead, what they mean by that, is the Houdini will trap heat inside the jacket when your output is very high. It will not retain heat like a puffy jacket, keeping you warm at all times. You really need to be moving to generate enough heat for this jacket to work. Similarly, its wind resistance is great, and will help keep you from getting surprised by warm or cold wind up on a mountain top, but should not replace a dedicated technical shell for a long day in the mountains when wind and weather are unpredictable. And lastly, it’s meant to withstand the light drizzle, small rain storms that you might encounter, not a full on down-pour when in the Pacific North West. But the Houdini, for all the things it lacks, makes up tenfold for its size and packability that no other dedicated jacket can match.
The Jacket runs true to size. And by that, I mean the jacket is meant to fit over you while wearing a shirt or a thin base layer. It’s not meant to go over a full size jacket or multiple layers. Of course, you could always size up if that’s what you’re looking for, but then you’ll sacrifice it’s performance when you’re only wearing a t-shirt and then put this on. Layering is all about keeping the layers as close to your body as possible to retain heat and venting (when applicable). The hood actually works quite well, I’m not the biggest hood fan because they all tend to either be too restrictive, or too tight. The Houdini’s hood feels very natural, and if it’s at all too big, there is a cinch strap in the back to really secure it to your head. And lastly, there is a chest pocket, which is great to hold anything you need quick access to lick a pair of small gloves, a buff, or snacks. Otherwise, it’s too small to put anything in, EXCEPT, the jacket itself. The chest pocket is used as the stuff sack. That is; however, the only pocket in the jacket. I would love to see a model where there are stomach pockets as well.
The jacket is amazing for what it is designed to do. It’s meant to be the jacket you can wear all year long in the mountains and when you need it the most. Don’t think it’s the jacket to end all jackets for every scenario, but it really is one that you can bring along with you for every scenario. And for that reason, you can always find me in the mountains 100+ days a year with it in my pack or in my pocket.
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.