by Don Wilson | 2006-01-21 03:00:00-07
Patagonia's Houdini Full Zip windshirt is the latest in a series of lightweight windshirts Patagonia has developed over the past several years. The Houdini is a full zip, hooded windshirt that weighs 3.8 ounces (107 g, as measured, Men's size L).
Everyone who has seen my Houdini windshirt makes the same comment when they first touch it; "wow, that is a really nice and soft fabric". And I concur. The textured, 1.1 ounce, 15 by 25 denier, triple ripstop fabric is softer and more comfortable on the skin that any windshirt I've tested. The fabric is treated with Patagonia's Deluge DWR treatment. The full zipper is slightly offset at the chin for comfort when full zipped up. The hood has drawcord adjustments at each cheek, and the hem also has an adjustable drawcord. The cuffs have simple elastic closures. A small internal pocket is located on the left chest. The pocket has limited volume and is suitable only for small items such as keys or energy bars. There is a dime sized velcro closure on the pocket. The jacket stuffs into the pocket for compact storage.
I recently had perfect windshirt testing conditions on a weekend in California's San Bernadino mountains. The temperatures were in the mid 30's, the sky was spitting snow and freezing rain, and the wind was howling between occassional rests. I generally wore my Houdini Full Zip over a Micropuff vest and a wool base layer and had plenty of room. The cut of the Houdini has a drop tail to give you extra coverage in the rear. The DWR treatment easily repelled the snow and rain, but the precipitation was not enough to soak through most windshirts. I took full advantage of the ventilation provided by the full zipper while climbing some long hills. In such a cool wind I cooled off very quickly when I opened the zipper. The hood fit easily over my skullcap, and cinches down tightly. A small lip on the hood helps to protect your eyes in light rain, even when the hood is fully closed. A stuff sack is not included. With the limited testing to date, all in cold weather, I can't make definitive comments on the breathability of the fabric.
The Houdini is an good combination of features and light weight. The full zipper and adjustable hood make it more versatile than many pullover style windshirts that don't include a hood. And at 3.8 ounces the Houdini weighs a little but under Patagonia's specification of 4.0 ounces. The soft fabric is another nice touch (pun intended!).
Left Image: The hood cinches down nicely with adjustments on both sides. Lower Image: An internal velcro closure pocket can hold keys or other small items.
"Patagonia Houdini Full Zip Windshirt SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Don Wilson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/patagonia_houdini_windshirt_spotlite_review.html, 2006-01-21 03:00:00-07.