Expert Review: Patagonia Houdini Jacket

This review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2020.

A woman sits at the top of a rocky peak wearing a red jacket. There are mountains in the background and a mailbox on the mountain.

All photos courtesy of Hunter Reed

Published on

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2020.

My take

The Patagonia Houdini is a great windbreaker for spring, summer, and fall activities! It keeps heat in during trail runs in cold weather in the fall or spring, and it protects from the wind during summer camping or hiking trips! It’s really lightweight and an easy emergency layer to toss in the daypack!

A woman dips her toe in a very blue lake. There is ice floating in the lake.

In a glacial lake with my first Houdini Jacket! 

About the piece

  • Model: Patagonia Houdini
  • Size: XS
  • Fit: True to size

About me

  • Height: 5’3”
  • Weight: 115 lbs
  • Experience: 25+ years

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: August 2020
  • Days tested: 100+
  • Where I’ve used it: Wasatch Mountains, Utah; San Juan mountains, Colorado; Sawtooth mountains, Idaho; Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Conditions I’ve used it in: Extreme wind, light rain, cold lightly windy days, cold non-windy days, warm lightly windy days

How it performs

Breathability
4/5
Comfort
5/5
Durability
5/5
Versatility
5/5
Warmth
3/5
Waterproofing
2/5
Weight
5/5

What I was looking for

I had initially gotten a Patagonia Houdini from a friend who had two. I was somewhat skeptical because it was really light and I didn’t think it would do much, but I tried it out anyway. I tested it in Glacier National Park on a short but incredibly windy hike and was so impressed. I used it all the time but I eventually lost my first Houdini, so I purchased a second one. I knew I wanted this jacket again because I am often cold when doing activities such as running in windy areas during the summer months. I wanted something that would keep me warm and protected without being too heavy.

Why I chose this gear

I chose this product because I’d had this jacket before. The one change I made was that my previous Houdini didn’t have a hood and was a pullover with snaps. When I purchased my current one in 2020, I opted for the zippered option with a hood because it offers more protection and it is easier to dump heat with the zipper. I also don’t need to take a backpack or running vest on and off to take my Houdini on and off. Ultimately, I chose this product again because it was really packable and durable, and my first one kept me warm in conditions I never expected, given how light it is.

A woman smiles at the camera. She is wearing a red jacket and there is a dog in the background.

Hiking in Colorado with the dog and my Houdini!

What I love about it

  • Fit: The Houdini fit is great. It has elastic wrists, so although it is a bit baggy in the arms and allows for layers, it keeps my hands free and available. The hood has a cinch on it, so I can fit it to my head without worrying that it will impair my peripheral vision at all.
  • Range of Motion: My range of motion in this jacket is also awesome. I don’t feel constricted at all and frequently use this for climbing and running without any issues with my range of motion.
  • Design: The functionality and design of this jacket are great. It is minimalist; it only has the necessities. There are cinches on the hood and waist that enable me to get a better fit, and only one pocket which also serves as a stuff sack that the jacket can be packed into. When packed into the pocket, there is a loop that makes it easy to clip the packed-up jacket to my backpack, vest, or even a fanny pack, as I have often done on runs.
  • Durability: Despite the really thin material, this jacket has been through some rough times with me and has never ripped or had any holes. It is made of a 100% nylon ripstop fabric that is pretty resilient. I have used this jacket for running in areas with a lot of trees that could have snagged it, as well as for climbing in areas with abrasive rocks, and the Houdini didn’t mind either terrain. I have washed it many times, and it has never looked worn or lost any of its windproof abilities.
  • Pockets: There is only one pocket since this is more of a minimalist piece, and it is on the right chest. It also serves as a stuff sack for the jacket, which I think is a great and useful feature. My only complaint is that my phone (an iPhone SE) can’t comfortably fit in this pocket with a case on it because the pocket is tiny. That being said, when it’s packed up it’s nice that the pocket is so small because it makes the packed-up version smaller.
  • Packability: When packed, it’s about the size of an iPhone. It is really small, so it’s easy to toss in a pack or vest.
  • Breathability: Despite its ability to keep in body heat pretty well, it is also surprisingly breathable. It seems to let the moisture out to avoid getting too sweaty, without letting the cold air in. There are no vents, but with the zipper version, it’s really easy to just unzip the jacket and let the heat out if I am feeling too warm.
  • Weight: At 3.4 oz, I won’t find a better and lighter windbreaker. It’s extremely lightweight.
  • Versatility: I was surprised at how versatile this piece is. It's not something I would have picked out on my own had I not been given one, but it’s become the piece I use the most when running and doing any mountain activities, especially in the summer months. It’s great for cold, snowy runs in the early spring or late fall with a long sleeve underneath, and it’s great with a tank top underneath during summer months on high alpine trails that tend to be chillier. It’s also very easy to pack or toss into a bag since it's so light and small, which makes it a great emergency layer to keep with me all of the time.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Waterproofing: This jacket is not waterproof. Although it has a durable water repellent on it, which means it can handle light rain or snow, anything heavier and it will soak through.
  • Warmth: Though it does an awesome job of keeping body heat in, especially during high-intensity activities such as running, it is not exceptionally warm since there is no insulation. It’s just a windbreaker. If I was looking for something that focused on warmth, I wouldn’t have chosen this jacket.
A woman climbs a mountain in a red jacket.

This jacket has been through some seriously rough adventures with me

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with this gear was a long 11-ish mile “hike” with my roommate in September of 2021. It was still pretty warm in the Wasatch, so we both just wore shorts and short sleeve shirts. This hike was a section of an intense 33-mile scramble across various peaks and was almost entirely on windy ridgelines. There was a lot of elevation getting to the top, so we were both really warm, but once we got to the ridgeline it was so windy. We both pulled Houdinis out of our running vests and laughed because we hadn’t coordinated this or known that the other even owned this jacket. This “hike” is pretty intense and requires some Class 4 scrambling with both hands. Had I not been wearing this jacket, my arms would have been pretty scratched up and I would have been freezing because of the wind. But much to my surprise, by the end of the hike, I had no holes or rips in the jacket, and I had stayed warm the whole time. It was a great time, and I was stoked that we both had our matching Houdinis!

Value for the money vs. other options

For only $99, I would buy this again and again. My first one I unfortunately lost, but I bought a new one within the same month because I love it so much. It’s very reasonably priced for how versatile it is. I didn’t really look at any other options since I knew what I wanted.

Final verdict

The Patagonia Houdini is a great lightweight windbreaker for anyone who finds themself recreating on any but the warmest, sunniest days. It’s abrasion-resistant and packable, and has been the perfect jacket for many mountain adventures in the spring, summer, and fall.

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Written By
Growing up in Utah makes it hard to not fall in love with camping and hiking! Lucky for me my parents got me out at a young age and I've been enjoying trails and campsites all across the west since I was little girl! There's just something special about making some dinner over a fire and going to sl...

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