Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Gear Review: Patagonia Houdini

Once again, I have pored over countless reviews and investigated the various attributes of multiple running products before settling on a purchase that I wished to add to my running gear bag. This time, the focus was a water-resistant windbreaker for trail running, hiking, and early morning runs. In searching for the perfect product, I considered multiple areas.

The Houdini has an athletic fit and doesn't constrict my movements, even mid-race!

The Houdini has an athletic fit and doesn’t constrict my movements, even mid-race!

  1. Cost- I knew I could spend hundreds of dollars but couldn’t justify the cost, so I needed a good value!
  2. Fit- windbreakers seem to end up fitting like garbage bags on me, and if I wanted that sort of fit, I’d just wear a garbage bag. I wanted to find something that was more form-fitting and wouldn’t get in my way.
  3. Lightweight and Packable- I don’t mind wearing heaving running apparel when it’s cold and snowy outside, but wanted something that would provide the protection I was looking for, and at the same time, not even alert me to its presence on my body. Fools errand?
  4. Water-Resistant and Breathable- I was aware that a fully waterproof running jacket was going to be much heavier and not necessarily breath as well, so I was quite content with a level of resistance for a light shower or cool mist. I am also well aware that I sweat profusely, so I need a jacket that isn’t going to drown me in my own sweat.
I'd say this qualifies as lightweight and packable!

I’d say this qualifies as lightweight and packable!

With these four characteristics in mind, I set out on my quest. I read reviews and watched video reviews for a number of jackets, ranging from the Stoic Wraith shell to the North Face Better Than Naked Jacket, as well as the Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer jacket. Eventually, I was won over by the Patagonia Houdini. On paper, and from the reviews of fellow-runners, it seemed to have everything I was looking for, and wasn’t going to break the bank. I pulled the trigger.

The hood fits well, and zips up high without the need for elastic.

The hood fits well, and zips up high without the need for elastic.

I couldn’t be more happy with my decision! The Houdini has met and exceeded my expectations in every area. I purchased the medium, and opened it with a bit of trepidation, hoping it would fit like I wanted. Nothing drives me nuts more than the hassle of returning online purchases (ok, many things irritate me far more, but most of them aren’t running related!). I slipped it on, and it immediately felt great. The length was perfect, it was form-fitting, but allowed me a full range of motion, the sleeves wrapped around my wrists but allowed some stretch via a ½ elastic band design, and the hood fit well and tightened up nicely. I was eager to take this new third skin for a spin 🙂

The 1/2 elastic wristband fits wonderfully.

The 1/2 elastic wristband fits wonderfully.

After several runs ranging in length from 5K to 50K, I’m extremely pleased with my decision. The Houdini seems to flow with me while I run, without me really noticing that I’m wearing it. Whether I’m wearing a pack, or simply carrying handhelds, the jacket performs quite well. It breathes like a champ, and doesn’t end up sticking to my skin when the sweat begins to roll off of me. It has held up nicely during light rain, and I’ve been able to visibly see the water wicking off courtesy of the water-resistant coating.

The single zipper on the chest provides access to the pocket for packing up this lightweight marvel.

The single zipper on the chest provides access to the pocket for packing up this lightweight marvel.

When I’m done, it dries very quickly, and packs down into its own pocket to easily fit in your hand for storage in a pack. It will even fit into my Ultraspire waist pack if I’m running extra light. Some folks may wish for a few more pockets, but the lack of more pockets actually appeals to me. They end up just adding weight, and I’m not going to be storing anything in the pockets of a jacket while I’m running anyway so I’m happy Patagonia decided to go without them. If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive (for the quality product you are receiving) and high-performance, lightweight running jacket, then I’d definitely suggest giving the Patagonia Houdini a try!

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