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Patagonia Houdini Wind Jacket

in Clothing - Wind & Soft Shell

Average Rating
4.70 / 5 (20 reviews)

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Zeno Martin
( ananda )
Patagonia Houdini Wind Jacket on 08/26/2005 13:34:48 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

This thing packs so small that I can fit it in my pants pocket. Super light, full zip and has a decent hood. It's extremely versatile, blocks wind, adds warmth, and is very breathable. I can't see how a light jacket could be much better.

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Kevin Sawchuk
( ksawchuk - M )

Northern California
Great Jacket on 12/28/2005 11:57:49 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Extremely light and compressible. Very breathable and water resistant. I've used mine for several years and finally (sucessfully) reapplies the DWR coating when water stopped beading on the jacket. This jacket will leak in sustained rain but it's what I take unless a big storm is likely. Hood and drawstring closures work well. Can't beat 3oz weight for the functionality! I do wish there was some sort of pit venting mechanism that wouldn't add much weight.

( mountainwalker )

SF Bay Area & New England
Patagonia Houdini Wind Jacket on 01/30/2006 21:40:47 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

My wife has had such good experience with her Houdini that I'm going to switch over from my Montane Lite-speed.

I've used my Montane Lite-Speed in almost all conditions. The material has excellent breathabilty, but there is a downside. I recently had the opportunity to test the jacket in a steady downpour while hiking for about 45 minutes, with my wife wearing the Patagonia Houdini. This was in 40-45 temps over a light fleece and thin merino baselayer. We did not like the old Patagonia Dragonfly, because the material breathed like a rubber bag (not at all) and didn't feel good against the skin (felt like a nylon bag). However, the results of the unplanned test were surprising.

My wife's Patagonia Houdini wind jacket kept her surprisingly dry. Her fleece layer was almost totally dry. I couldn't believe the jacket was so water resistant, while still breathing well. I, on the other hand, was totally soaked in my Lite-speed, which should have held out much better. Arms, shoulders, head, back and top of chest, soaked. My jacket is in excellent, like new condition and the DWR and material should have held out much better.

A good wind shirt is one of the most important pieces of gear to me. I expected the Lite-speed to be more water resistant. With the Houdini offering much better breathability than the old Dragonfly, the Houdini might be the better balanced choice.

Anyone else have any experience with the Houdini?

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Beth Correira
( Beth )

Beautiful New England!
Houdini on 02/02/2007 07:05:28 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Hands down my favorite windshirt. At only 4 oz there is no reason to leave it home! The jacket packs super small, deflects wind & light rain very well, has a great adjustable hood with good facial coverage, and it is made for women. One thing that really stands out is the fit. Most manufactures make windshirts that are so tiny that you can only fit a baselayer underneath. The Houdini is not huge with a light baselayer or snug with a midweight layer underneath -it is just perfect. My only complaint, which I can live with, is that the toggles on the draw cords for the hood swing up and hit me in the face when running. Great product which I will buy again.

Matthew LaPatka
( gungadin - M )

Pittsburgh, PA
Houdini is awesome on 02/02/2007 07:34:31 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Like the other posters, I also love the Houdini. It is a perfect example of a windshirt to me, and it is a great blend of all the major attributes for this kind of garment.

The best feature is its superb fit. Not too tight, not too big. Plenty of room for a few layers, and the sleeves are long enough to not ride up. The hood also fits perfectly and molds to the head with nice adjustability. The drawcord hem also keeps it where it should be.

The jacket breathes quite well and will resist a light rain for awhile before finally getting wet. Once wet the Houdini dries quickly. I find that the nylon fabric is quite durable for its weight. Quantum is very attractive in a jacket like this, but I needed more toughness than it provides. While one still must be cautious with the Houdini, it can shrug off light wear. For about 3.75 oz. in a size medium, it is very impressive.

The zipper is full-length and works very well. I like full zippers in windshirts for maximum venting. The zipper pull is locking so it does not flap with movement.

The jacket is also "quiet" and does not make a really annoying whooshing sound that becomes annoying.

The only change that I would like to see would be to move the chest pocket on the inside of the jacket to the outside so that it more easily accessible.

The Houdini is a fantastic jacket and defines what a "5" should be.

Edited by gungadin on 02/02/2007 07:45:41 MST.

Samuel Winebaum
( samwine )

Houdini on 02/02/2007 07:38:29 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I concur with Beth and others on the Houdini. I have had all kinds of light shells and this one is the most versatile and lightest. I stuff it into its pocket and easily tuck into a bike jersey or wind pants pocket when I trail run. The fit allows layering. The fabric is quiet and the water repellency really good except in a downpour. I do have a bit of a problem with the bottom hem drawstrings. The loop dangles when tightened and I often get my fingers or other things snagged in them. This is a minor quibble. The only thing I might add to the product is some more substantial front and back reflectivity. Every outwear piece should have reflectivity.

Edited by samwine on 02/02/2007 13:38:13 MST.

John Adams
( scsjohn )

Great Windshirt--breathable and packable on 02/08/2007 12:29:22 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I have owned this for about a year and I really like it. I have used it in both winter snow activities and in the summer. It is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing I own. It weights less than 4 ounces and packs to about the size of a baseball.

It really blocks the wind and is water resistant enough for lite sprinkes in the summer.

Great Product.

René Jeninga
( renjen )

Near the coast in the Netherlands
One of the best! on 02/23/2007 07:25:35 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Bought one on sale this week,and love it! it has a full zipper and a hood and weighs next to nothing (108grams in size L on my scales).Patagonia has made in my opinion one of the best full zipper-hooded windjackets around.I live in the Netherlands and it can get windy all of the time,so i'm gonna put this jacket through the test this year.butt for so far all i can say is buy one,you won't be sorry!

Brett .
( Brett1234 )

Initial thoughts on 03/01/2007 01:40:12 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I just received my Houdini. Here are my initial impressions.

Fabric/Air Permeability: Good air permeability; I was able to breathe slowly through the fabric. This is sufficient to assist with water vapor transport, so the vapor does not have to condense, travel through a solid layer, then evaporate on the other side. The fabric is 1.1 ripstop nylon with a DWR coating.

Weight: Advertised 105g, actual 101g.

Water resistance: TBD. Being a wind shell, I only demand a little resistance to rain to be acceptable. Edit; it wets through after about 5 minues rain; adequate, I think, for a windshirt.. enough time to get your shell out, and put it on.

Hood drawstring mechanism: This uses an interesting design. When the string is pulled, it slides through a foam disk which is captured in the rim of the hood. In this manner, the string will not pull back out under normal tension, allowing single handed tightening. Other windshells, such as the Marmot Ion, for example, put the foam disk outside the hood brim, requiring two hands, or dextereous fingers, to accomplish the tightening.
Hood adjustment strings:
Patagonia designed the pull strings inside the edge of the collar, so when the jacket is zipped up, the strings will not flail about in the wind, whipping you in the eye. The M. Ion, as a counter-example, has the strings on the outside.
Chest pocket: Present; Important for self-stowing the jacket. I am not sure why Patagonia placed this inside the zipper seam; placing it outside, and replacing the velcro fastener with a zipper would allow it to be used for other purposes more easily and securely.
Hem/cut: 'Normal' fit, IMO. For example, I am a medium in most manufacturers products, and this M fits me perfectly. I like the long drop tail for wind and rain protection.
Hood: sufficiently large for over/under helmet use.

Summary; Patagonia gets a bad rap for designing.. well, designer clothing, but this jacket seems to be well thought out for use by climbers and backpackers. They avoided obvious mistakes like putting drawstrings on the outside, and did use appropriate fabric for the construction.

I expect this jacket will replace my Montbell Windblaster and my Marmot Ion.
I give it a 5 as of now; and will add results of water resistance later.

Edit. I have worn this jacket from -5C to 25C, in sun and rain. This is the first time I have really experienced the concept a breathable rain-resistant windshirts. Amazingly, I hiked at-5C in falling snow, with only a wool 1 crew and the Houdini on top. I was comfortably cool, and more importantly, always dry. I basically leave it zipped up, and it still vents the moisture through the fabric. (a silicon encapsulated nylon similar to epic)

Another day I loaned it to a friend on a hike alternating between cold windy shade, and sunny warm exposure; the Houdini blocked the wind, added a few degrees of trapped warmth, and vented all generated moisture. All without adding/removing layers. She was sold on the 'windshirt' concept, and so am I. It has replaced my 2005 Marmot Ion and my Montbell windblaster. Even if I am carrying my DIAD, I will carry my 100 gram Houdini as my most versitile piece of clothing.

Edited by Brett1234 on 04/15/2007 22:10:19 MDT.

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Arapiles .
( Arapiles - M )

OK, but ... on 04/05/2007 14:09:08 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

(Actually I'd give it a 3.5 if that was an option.)

I'm trying to replace a now very old Patagonia pneumatic anorak but the Houdini doesn't quite get there.

Positives: it's very light and compact, it's windproof unless the wind is very strong and has a good cut.


1. it costs too much: there's no excuse for the price Patagonia demand;

2. I find that the DWR doesn't seem to work in drizzle and it wets out much quicker than you'd expect. Also, I get damp spots under pack straps etc if the weather is other than completely dry, i.e., in freezing London fog;

3. the hood is a pain in the wind: if it's windy and you're not using it then it flaps everywhere unless you tuck it under the neck, which then exposes your neck to the wind: it'd be better if it tucked into a collar or could be rolled down and secured with a toggle;

4. the hood drawcords get in the way when I'm getting things out of the inner pocket;

5. the pocket should be zippered and should be accessible from the outside;

6. I can't help but wonder about long-term durability.

Edited by Arapiles on 04/05/2007 14:28:20 MDT.

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Andrew King
( drewboy )

A nice fitting, breathable jacket on 04/06/2007 10:25:01 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I normally wear a size M men's in most garments. I came across a really good sale for the Patagonia Houdini in women's sizing. I decided to gamble and order size L in women's and found a color that was not too dazzling (Radar Blue). The gamble paid off and the fit was perfect for me. I agree with other posters that this fabric feels really good against the skin. The jacket stows into the hidden chest pocket very easily into a fist sized form factor. I found this jacket to be very effective at blocking out the wind. I was able to effectively manage my body heat and moisture over a wide range of condiitons during a long day hike at the Grand Canyon. The full zip is nice for making fine adjustments for venting as the exertion level and/or temperaure increases. This was the first time that I was able to see what a truly breathable material is capable of. I had this layered over a merino wool base layer and was amazed to see my body heat passing the water vapor through this fabric without condensing on the inside. I realy pushed this garment to the limit as I climbed back up the S. Rim at the end of my hike. I am sold on the windshirt concept and agree with other reviewers that the Houdini is one of the best out there. Too bad they are so pricey, but you can catch them on sale.

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Russell Swanson
( rswanson )

I love the material but have encountered flaws on 05/03/2007 16:33:57 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I don't need to add to the comments about the jacket's usefulness and breathability. I practicaly live in mine on the trail. I'm dinging the perfect rating down to a 3/5 for two reasons; one point deducted for each.

First, price. $125 bucks is too steep. I know you pay a premium for Paty products but the price tag was almost too high for me to swallow....almost.

Second, I have had the waistcord drawstring break on me twice. The cord is attached inside the seam to the front corner of the jacket near the zipper and I have had it pull out from the right side on both jackets I've used. I returned the first one, which broke during my first use of the jacket. The replacement also broke after a few days. Both incidents happened when tightening the drawcord, using no where near what I would consider excessive force. I've never read of anyone else encountering this problem so maybe I just got a bad batch. Both jackets came from Moosejaw and were the same color and size (Stainless, Large), so it might be a flawed run. Or maybe I'm just too hard on my gear...but it still should've held up better than it has. I'll call Patagonia directly and see what they say. The design seems to be flawed to me...the attachment of the cord is too weak. Seems to me some bar tacking would be in order on this high stress location.

Other than that, this is the best windshirt I've ever used. With a lightweight merino baselayer, I'm comfortable from 30 degrees to 70 degrees. Amazing versatility.

Update: I just spoke with Patagonia's customer service and the rep told me they had absolutely no Q/C issues with the jacket pertaining to the drawstring so I guess I'll blame it on my heavy-handedness. They suggested returning it directly to them so they can make sure I get one from a different production batch. As soon as I can find a 3 week window during which I can live without the shirt, I'll do so. In the meantime, the broken drawstring doesn't really impair the jacket's performance all that much. In light of this I feel it only fair that I upgrade my rating from a 3/5 to 4/5.

Edited by rswanson on 05/08/2007 15:53:25 MDT.

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Michael Church
( machurch - M )
Houdini Wind Jacket on 05/18/2007 06:36:30 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I recently purchased this jacket and wore it on a 7.4-mile hike in Great Smokey Mountains National Park. In good Smokey Mountains fashion, the last half of the hike was steady, non-stop rain (not quite a gulley-washer but approaching it). The Houdini performed better than expected in this situation. Some water, of course, penetrated through the jacket but it was minimal. I wore a Patagonia Capilene 1 t-shirt under the jacket and stayed both warm and reasonably dry (the air temperature was in the high fifties/low sixties). I have heard a lot of hype concerning DWR treatments on both wind shirts and rain jackets. In truth, the DWR treatments are pretty much useless in all but the most minimal of drizzles (very light, intermittent drizzle, not steady drizzle). The Houdini's DWR is no different from all the other DWRs I have experienced down through the years. The one drawback I have with this shirt is that the hood should have some method of rolling it into the collar when it is not in use. Another feature I like about the Houdini: the long tail, which covers my butt well.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Patagonia Capilene 1 T-Shirt - Men's priced at: $19.49 - $39.00
Patagonia Capilene 1 T-Shirt - Women's priced at: $19.49 - $39.00
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George Matthews
( gmatthews - M )
Beauty is only fabric deep on 03/24/2008 11:22:54 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I bought it last May because it was on sale at sierratradingpost for about 1/2 of the regular price.

I'm between a L and XL for most clothing and took a chance on a Patagonia Houdini Men's XL Yellow (only size and color available at the time).

Was not crazy about the greenish-yellowish putrid color, but the price was right. The fit is fine for me. I've been satisfied with the Houdini's performance. Excellent wind protection and adequate water resistance.

It has worn well. No problems yet.

( sheilabaynes )
... on 05/13/2008 16:21:39 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5


Edited by sheilabaynes on 10/30/2014 11:47:49 MDT.

Paul Iracki
( piracki )

San Francisco
Breathable & Wind Resistant on 09/15/2008 16:04:51 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I just finished the John Muir Trail and wore this windshirt every day. Very breathable going uphill to mountain passes for 2-3 hours with a full pack. I can't comment on the rain protection as it was sunny (aside from the snow day), but the breathability & fit excelled. Look for it on sale (got mine for $75 at the Patagonia store in San Francisco).

Steven Friese
( sfriese )

pricey but highly functional on 12/29/2008 15:18:23 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I love patagonia's gear, I live 1/2 mile from the original factory and am willing to put out extra for a good cause and company. but $125 is truly outrageous. that said, it's a fine coat. Wore it nearly every day of the colorado trail, and it held up well to the abuses of 40+ mile days. Perfect for cool weather hiking. Nearly useless as soon as it gets wet, which would be as soon as the first raindrop falls out of the sky. Small and light and well made it is what it is and does it well: a windshirt with a hood. Don't expect it to be more than that and you will be a happy camper :).

David Chenault
( DaveC - M )

Crown of the Continent
almost perfect on 01/29/2010 20:08:48 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Note 1: This is a review of my 2005/6 Houdini. It's longevity is revealing (it may have been the Dragonfly back then, even).

Note 2: If the price is outrageous, no one would buy it! The protestations reveal that Patagonia's pricing is market effective.


In the summer of 2007 the original zipper on my jacket blew up. Sent it back to Patagonia, three weeks later I've got my old favorite back with a new, burlier zipper. I don't just pay for top notch design and innovation, but for impeccable customer service (that adds fewer worn out things to the landfill).

I also don't like the little plastic toggles on the end of the hood drawcords. They flew around and thwacked me in the face until I cut them off and sewed the ends of the cords to the jacket with a few tiny bartacks. Better, and lighter.

The cut is a blessing and a curse. My medium is a bit baggy, but then again I can also wear a fat fleece under it on the rare occasions that is desired. I'm whiling to suffer a bit of sleeve flap on 30 mph bike descents for the winter versatility.

I have a hard time deciding whether I like it better and use it more in summer or winter. For active winter pursuits, the Houdinis superlative breathability is key to staying dry and comfy. In the dry southwest, I often brought the Houdini as my only shell, figuring that in rarified t-storms I could just get wet and cold. On almost any trip it is stuffed in my pack somewhere. The few times I don't bring it, I miss it.

That's really the best indicator of a classic piece of gear: a thing that gets used every week, year round, for years on end.

Mike M
( mtwarden )

probably the best article of clothing I own on 02/10/2010 21:19:03 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

best- as in most useful

packs small, performs large

very breathable, but cuts the wind amazingly

the DWR finish is very good, for lighter rain/snow- nothing more is needed

pricey- sure, but this is one piece of kit I don't have any buyer's remorse at all

I wish they made a matching pair of pants!!!

Sean Walashek
( caraz )

bay area
The right piece on 12/12/2010 18:28:55 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've been wearing my Houdini hard for about three years, holding up fine. It is my goto piece the grand majority of the time. For backpacking but also around time and hiking. I will layer it over an r1 hoody if its at all chilly and it turns that combo into something magical. It performs as a windshell perfectly, it is beautifully light, packs down into its own chest pocket to about the size of my fist, sheds light rain and dries quickly. The tail drops slightly making it great for moving around and sitting down, the hood toggles are soft and unobtrusive (made of a neoprene type material) the zipper tracks great and hasn't had any hiccups, it's a solid piece and the right one for me most of the time.

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