Features: Zippered exterior chest pocket, adjustable hood/hem
This jacket fits in my other jacket’s chest pocket, no joke. At 4.3 ounces, this is THE lightest ‘shell’ or piece of outerwear I have ever owned. This versatile item deserves a place in everyone’s pack.
Let’s set the record straight – I would NOT consider this a true shell or even a soft shell. Patagonia describes this item as ‘soft, breathable, and ultra-light…weather-resistant protection…’. This is fairly accurate but I wouldn’t count on this as your sole item for protection from the elements. Even during a brief summer squall, this item gets wet fast. Perhaps right off the shelf the DWR treatment will help it shed minimal precip but keep in mind the fact that DWR treatments wear off very quickly.
My favorite application for this item is wind protection. Lately I have been using the Houdini for skiing. I wear a light-weight synthetic t-shirt, then a lightweight fleece, over that goes the Houdini, and finally a softshell layer. The Houdini does breath very well and as long as the weather stays in the 20’s, I stay very comfortable. In this application the Houdini blocks the wind that makes it through my softshell. It also helps to hold in a little more body heat which keeps me warmer. I like to wear the Houdini under my softshell to avoid ripping it on trees – it is EXTREMELY light-weight.
Because of it’s small size and minimal weight, this item is unnoticed in a pack or even jacket pocket. I have no reservations packing it on EVERY trip outdoors, in case I need just a little more then what I have. I own an older version which had a fairly constricting hood that would NOT fit over a helmet and when zipped all the way up, felt like it was chocking me. Apparently Patagonia has redesigned the hood to be more comfortable. They have also redesigned the pocket on this newer rendition. My version has an internal velcro pocket while the new version has an exterior zippered pocket.
Overall, this unique item has been very useful and would be a welcome addition to anyone’s pack. You might even be surprised at how often you use it, just be careful, it is ultra-lightweight!