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Thoughts on my new Houdini and R1 Hoodie
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Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Thoughts on my new Houdini and R1 Hoodie on 03/21/2008 12:43:29 MDT Print View

I'm honestly disappointed. What I'll say you all should read with a grain of salt because A) I haven't field-tested these items yet, only worn them around my house/city, and B) in terms of core performance features, these pieces are NOT deficient. I'll be more specific what I mean by that.

R1 Hoodie:
- lightweight
- warm for its weight
- breathable

- very lightweight
- blocks wind
- fairly water-resistant
- breathable

So, in terms of those core functions, I think the hoodie and windshirt are probably great.

Unfortunately, I think Patagonia got a number of other smaller things wrong, at least for me, and I'm considering returning both of them--all of which is a big surprise to me since they are both regarded as top-notch, even "canonical" items in this community, so far as I can tell.

I'll start with the Houdini. Problems:
1) Hood design
Compared with my now-gone OR Ion, the hood is disappointing. In comparison, it conforms poorly to my head movement and field of vision, doesn't feel comfortable against my chin, and is difficult to adjust (that is, easy to tighten, irksome to loosen). It also doesn't have a secondary halo adjustment for peripheral vision, a feature that I loved about the Ion's hood.
2) Chest pocket
Stupid. It's inside instead of outside, which dramatically reduces its utility while hiking, and its VEL-CRO! Why on earth this instead of a small zipper? Weight savings of .5 oz? Not worth it, imho. The small vel-cro dot in lieu of a zipper further reduces the actual carrying utility of the pocket to near zero, and adds the threat of gradually abrading the Houdini's fabric every time it is stuffed into this pocket for storage. Poor choice in my view, maybe I'm overlooking some wisdom.

R1 Hoodie:
1) Fabric
Patagonia's proprietary gridded powerstretch may be lighter and warmer for the weight . . . but it doesn't feel near as good against the skin as standard smooth-faced PS. Though not a performance issue, to me this is nonetheless a serious problem for a piece that is meant to be worn close to or right up against the skin. I can appreciate the efficiency of Paty's remix, but if it doesn't give me that cuddly emotional reaction when I put it on . . . well, unfortunately it's not good enough.
2) Hood
Again, the clava-style hood is a great performance choice. Brilliant even. Thanks Paty for innovating. Unfortunately the asymmetrical zipper and subsequent near-full-coverage hood feels weird and uncomfortable to me. The extra layer(?) behind the zipper actually has some kind of rough edge which is basically intolerable up against the face, an obviously sensitive area. And in general I just can't get the face-shield part of the hood to sit on my face anywhere comfortably enough that I'm happy with it, i.e. comfortable enough to sleep that way.
3) Cuffs
The thumb-holes just don't feel good. Too stiff, too rough, don't quite know, they just don't feel right.

All these quips with the R1 hoodie make me feel like a baby . . . but hey, it's a base layer, it goes against my skin for many hours of the day . . . and if I'm going to pay $100(!) for it, I should get a stinkin' flawless tactile reward . . . right?

So I think I'm going to return them. Can anyone confirm or defend anything? What's been your experience with these pieces?

Jay Well
(jwell) - F

Locale: Willamette Valley
R1 Hoodie-great design poor construction on 03/21/2008 13:15:00 MDT Print View

I really like the R1 hoody. It has a great fit for me and the clava style hood works wonders in the field. I thought the thumb loops were great and I don't know why more garments do not utilize them. It was a little more form fitting than I like for wandering around town, but I used it for a bunch of fall Sierra's trips, a Mexican bike tour, and winter snowshoe trips. The main problem that I had with it and the reason I don't have it anymore is that the construction was shoddy. The seams kept coming unraveled and holes developed on the seams at the cuffs and neck. It was really disappointing especially for something that in my opinion is so well designed that Patagonia would not take more care in its construction. I debated on getting another one, but I have decided just to use something else.

Edited by jwell on 03/21/2008 13:16:22 MDT.

John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Ion Hood on 03/21/2008 13:22:39 MDT Print View


I agree with you that the Ion has a great fitting hood. It could breath better though. Mine has just bit too much of the coating causing moisture build-up.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
I'm a fan on 03/21/2008 14:38:07 MDT Print View

I'm a fan of both. Sounds like they may not fit you right though. The Hoody is a bit too tight over my forearms, but then again I have large climber forearms. lol, not all clothing from any manufacturer fits everyone well/meets everyones needs.
A good reason, IMO, to try to buy local, so you can try it on.

I would prefer a stiffened brim on the Houdini but it is a wind shell after all. Also, the R.5 hobo mitts are nice under a glove, but pull them back if your climbing, they get abraded fairly quickly when used on rock.
IMO a velcro and its position as an inside pocket make the Houdidi's pocket reasonably secure. I use it for granola bars ect, it is a climbing/running shell and I put anything valuable in my pants pockets. I would like a key clip in there though, would be a nice feature.

Edited by nanookofthenorth on 03/21/2008 14:39:46 MDT.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Hoodie alternative on 03/21/2008 15:01:13 MDT Print View

If you're unhappy with the Houdini, you might want to look into the Montane Lite-Speed Jacket. It's a hooded wind shirt and it's got the outside-the-jacket zipper closure on the chest pocket like you're after. And the hood is likely to have a different (hopefully better) fit.

It's cheaper too.

Good luck with whatever you choose.

Edited by Ramapo on 03/21/2008 15:46:50 MDT.

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: R1 Hoodie-great design poor construction on 03/21/2008 17:23:44 MDT Print View

I had the same problem with my R1 Hoody as Jay. I returned one and the seams were unravelling so I got another and the same thing is happening. I will return it as soon as I get a chance.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Thoughts on my new Houdini and R1 Hoodie on 03/21/2008 17:58:05 MDT Print View

Hi Ian,
I've been using the Hoody since Dec,07, for snowshoeing and winter hiking. So far I have been ecstatic with the design, quality of workmanship, and especially its performance in the field. I have found it to be warm, confortable NTS, breathable with good venting from the deep zipper, and it fits me like a second skin. In all but full on blizzard conditions, I have yet to add anything more than my Mountain Hardwear Transition vest over it. My only complaint is weight. At 11 oz(medium) it is too heavy for the other seasons, so I wish Patagucci would come out with a R.5 version. Maybe you just got one that slipped through QC?

Frank Perkins

Locale: North East
Re: Thoughts on my new Houdini and R1 Hoodie on 03/21/2008 19:37:23 MDT Print View

Hey, how did you get your R1 for a bargain of 100 bucks? I paid 130 + shipping.

I had to return my first Hoodie because some of the threads unraveled. Not an issue though because the Patagonia store took it back no problems.

I do agree though, the construction should be better and I hope that my newer version will last longer. Worse case I keep returning it every 6-8 months which isn't so bad either.

I haven't noticed any of the comfort issues you had, but I do wish it was a little lighter. A .5 Hoodie is an awesome idea. I would also love to have it in a gray/silver color because black is impossible to keep hair free due to my cat which seems to like to sleep in it every chance it can find it laying on a chair. Perhaps Smartwool will come back with their hoodie so we have more options and a wool version. Hrm.. or maybe North Face since they have been surprising me lately.

For the houdini, I never actually tried to use the pocket. I just assumed it was to stuff itself into, but a zipper would probably make more sense.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
R.5 hoody on 03/21/2008 21:24:57 MDT Print View

They made one, but it was womens only...

Edited by nanookofthenorth on 03/21/2008 21:31:05 MDT.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Re: stuff on 03/21/2008 22:53:56 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the follow-ups guys. My heart's grown a little less vengeful on the R1 hoody, or something. Maybe reading your feedback had a subconscious effect on me, because I'm wearing the R1 now and all the gripes I had earlier don't seem to be bugging me too much right now. I think I'll keep it, especially since I got a decent deal (Frank, it came from AJ's Sporting Goods, you can google it). So . . .

That leaves the Houdini. I'm a little more torn. I still hate the pocket, and the hood, which leads me toward the OR Synapse, the full-zip update to their Ion from a few years ago. Actually, I wish I could just get an Ion again and have somebody alter it for me so it's full-zip. Is that an easy sewing operation? Any suggestions of who I can get to do it for me?

What may get me to stay with the Houdini, its last hope, might be if the genre-trumping reviews of the fabric's performance are true. As you guys know, some find this the end-all of windshirts today because of the good h20-resistance and exceptional breathability of the jacket. I've worn it in wind already, and felt a little creeping through--evidence that the breathability claims are true. Check.

Now the water-resistance is a different thing. I've read Richard's experiments and fabric analysis, I know about the lightly-encapsulated thing that Paty's done . . . all of which suggest that with some seam-sealing this lightweight could be a great, long-lasting shower shell. Or that's what Richard has suggested, at least--and his bathtub results are good, of course.

But then others have said that the DWR on the Houdini is really just about on par with other windshirts with good DWRs, and it wears off in time just like the others as well. I've got a WT Epic hooded windshirt now that I love to use for my real-rain shell, so I'm not exactly trying to fill that niche with the Houdini . . .

I'm rambling. Anyway, the point is, I'm considering replacing the Houdini with an OR Ion or Synapse, which have a very light PU coating as I understand it, but I'm not sure how long it lasts in the field since the first one I owned I accidentally washed away with regular detergent. I'm familiar with the breathability and field performance of the OR fabric, in any case, and I've enjoyed using it in the field before.

The only thing that will keep me from sending the Houdini back and getting an OR windshirt would be if somebody can make substantiated claims about the Houdini really being exceptional in the field, in a way that other windshirts maybe aren't (?)

I spent too long getting to the point, sorry.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Houdini on 03/22/2008 08:45:05 MDT Print View

The Patagonia Houdini is a excellant wind shell, in my opinion. I've owned two and the shell performs great for the intended use. Is it an exceptional piece of gear? I would say no. I could think of two or three alternative wind shirts in the same price range and weight that would perform as well in like conditions. As for the pocket it works well as a stuff sack for the jacket and not much else. I have found Patagonia's fabrication quality in general to be good in most cases but have had issue with fit on many occasions. If you like the fit and the fabrication appears to be satisfactory I would keep the Houdini.

Edited by thomdarrah on 03/29/2012 19:41:32 MDT.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Re: exceptional-ity on 03/22/2008 09:31:20 MDT Print View

Thom, thanks a lot for the feedback, I think that's what I was waiting for to actually sell my Houdini and go for an OR windshirt, or maybe even a Montbell.

Hey, I hear the MB windshirts are A) quite water-resistant and B) not very breathable. Anyone who's used one--is the breathability so bad that it's a deal-breaker? What's been your experience?

René Jeninga

Locale: Near the coast in the Netherlands
Houdini hood on 03/22/2008 09:42:19 MDT Print View

Ian, i also owned a Houdini but sold it, Reason why? The hood! I didn't like how it fit and when not in use, some wind and it starts flapping and hoovering behind your head!


Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Re: hood on 03/22/2008 09:48:51 MDT Print View

I hear you René, and I think that's the single biggest thing that I can't get over with the Houdini. Well that settles it, I'm getting rid of it.

Any commentary on the MB windshirts? And/or the difficulty I might face lengthening the zipper on an OR Ion?

Bill B
(bill123) - MLife
Houdini vs Montbell Windshirt on 03/22/2008 10:34:11 MDT Print View

Houdini hood is terrible alone, but works perfectly with ball cap. If the hood flaps in the wind, tuck it in behind the jacket. MB is much more water resistant but breathability is poor. Pocket on MB is much better. I own both and pttefer the Houdini.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 03/22/2008 18:09:14 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 11/20/2014 14:52:58 MST.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: houdini. on 03/22/2008 23:53:45 MDT Print View

How hard would it be to convert the inside pocket on the outside?

Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
agreed on houdini hood on 03/29/2008 01:59:30 MDT Print View

I agree with the complaints about the Houdini hood, it's my only beef with it. It got a bit better when I cut off Patagonia's attempt at a 'brim', because it was obscuring my vision.

Although to be fair in an ultralight piece with very thin + floppy fabric it's probably hard to get right. My next windshirt might just be hoodless.

Randy Cain
(bagboy) - MLife

Locale: Palmdale, CA
My Houdini wets out VERY fast! on 03/29/2012 19:07:12 MDT Print View

While hiking in some strong winds in the Mt Rogers area this past fall, the Houdini was amazingly efficient at helping me control my core temp. It was my first outing using a wind jacket. The full zip made for superb venting, and the hood would take my achingly cold ears to comfortable in just a few minutes. I'm truly amazed that such a thin, lightweight article of clothing could make such a difference in how I felt on the trail. The entire trip I kept thinking to myself that the Houdini was my new favorite piece of clothing!

So that's in the wind, but how about the rain? As I was coming out of a gas station the other day, it started to rain pretty hard. I was parked directly in front of the doors of the station, and I only had to walk (run) about 4-5 steps to my car door. When I got in my car, I noticed immediately that my arms felt wet and discovered that several large patches of the material had already wetted out. So at least in my experience, the Houdini rocks in the wind, but if you think it's going to do any sort of double-duty as even slight rain protection, you're probably in for a less than pleasant surprise, unfortunately.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: My Houdini wets out VERY fast! on 03/29/2012 19:09:40 MDT Print View

How much did you wear it before the rain? Have you washed it to clean and renew the DWR?