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.
- warm for its weight
- very lightweight
- blocks wind
- fairly water-resistant
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.
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.
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.
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?