The Patagonia Men’s Houdini Wind Jacket is not something I would normally purchase. In my mind, my raincoat is the windbreaking layer that I wear over merino wool t-shirts or other thermal layers. I dropped by an REI Garage Sale one Saturday and they really didn’t have anything that I needed. As I was leaving, I saw the Houdini on sale for around $80 (after my additional coupons) and bought it on impulse when I saw how light it was and how small it packed. This was one of my better choices of gear.
The Houdini is a great product that fills a niche I didn’t realize was empty. I prefer hiking in the late fall, winter, and early spring. In the southeast, most people get excited about the changing leaves. I get excited about bare trees. There are few other people on the trail, there are almost no bugs, you can see farther, you get more sunlight and the sounds of the woods aren’t muffled by the ruffling leaves. I can squeeze in a day hike on a Saturday morning and make it home in time for the 3:30 p.m. SEC football game on CBS.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve headed out into the woods with a fleece jacket only to wind up carrying it in my arms most of the hike. You’d think I’d learn, but I’m stubborn like that. Once I start hiking, I get hot. What makes me feel cold is when the frigid air hits my sweat. The Houdini cuts the wind and is so breathable that I don’t sweat at all unless I’m doing some strenuous elevation and my heart rate gets up. I’ve finally learned to leave the fleece in the car and take the Houdini instead.
This jacket weighs a mere 3.84 ounces. It packs into its own internal pocket. If it’s too warm to wear, you can clip it to your belt loop, slide it into your back pocket, or stuff it into your pack. If you start to get cold, if the bugs get bad, or if the sun is starting to burn your skin, it takes only seconds to put on. I really can’t imagine a scenario aside from heavy rain where this jacket doesn’t play a role in my layering system. I typically wear it over simple merino wool shirts on winter afternoons. I’ve worn it over my puffy jacket just to cut the wind from sneaking through the baffle seams on cold mornings. It’s a game-changer.
No one walks around in a rain jacket unless it’s actively raining. You’ll notice that people put their pack covers on at the slightest hint of rain clouds, but they wait until the drops start to fall before donning their rain jackets. That’s because there’s really no such thing as a jacket that’s both waterproof and truly breathable. I have zero problems hiking for hours in the breathable Houdini wind jacket. Because of that, it has earned a permanent place in my pack.
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