Patagonia Houdini Air Review – Super Light and Packable
I have used and loved the Patagonia Houdini for years. It has been in my kit for almost all adventures. Heck, it packs up super small and weighs just a few ounces. There is very little reason to not bring it! When I saw the new Houdini Air at Outdoor Retailer, I was very intrigued. Now, with a full month of using it almost non stop, I can say – this is the best active wind shell I have used!
Houdini but better
Like I have said, and others can attest to, the Houdini is a great wind jacket. I have friends that have used it on the highest mountains in North and South America (you can hear more about those adventures in my interview with Eric Frohadt NAVY Seal). My grey Houdini is still going strong after 5 years of use and abuse. The only maintenance I have had to do to it has been a little Tenacious tape on a rip from one of our dog claws.
The OG Houdini was great at blocking wind, but it was not great at breathing and letting heat out. I prefer breathability to wind resistance (in most situations) and was super stoked to see Patagonia took a page from their Airshed Line and made this a highly breathable jacket.
Not as wind resistant as OG Houdini
There is a trade-off. The new Houdini Air is not as wind resistant as the OG version. Personally, I do not mind this at all. In fact, it opens up a lot more uses for the Air version. So, take this trade-off into consideration when purchasing either one of these wind jackets.
I lived in this jacket for days (well most of the day and night) as it felt that good. I took it to the mountains of Colorado for some hiking, then camping, then more hiking, then driving back to town, then inside while writing this review. It is that comfortable at different temps and conditions.
Sizing and function
It fits over other layers very well and it even feels good directly on the skin. It is not as trim of a fit as some more technical pieces. And I am very OK with that! I have a bit of trouble fitting into some high-end technical cloths. I am not a slim guy, but I am not overweight either. For reference, I am 6’1″ 210lbs 45″ chest 33″ waist 36/37″ arms and the XL is a great fit for me.
I like the stretch and softness of the new version as well. The old version was more stiff and smooth (which was great for wind protection). The cuffs are elastic and did a great job of staying put when washing hands and other activities.
The Air does not have hand pockets, just like the original Houdini. It does have one chest pocket that can hold a medium phone (probably not the best place for a phone) and acts as a stuff sack for the jacket. There is a nice, adjustable hood as well. Not too tight, not too loose, and adjustable via a simple pull cord in back.
Who is the Patagonia Houdini Air for?
I believe that the Air version of the Houdini is great for active to very active people who want a minimalist jacket to protect them from most wind, some snow or light rain, and prefer breathability. For these requests, the Houdini Air is perfect. Plus, it looks good on the mountain and in the city.
Of you need more windproof, waterproof, or want hand pockets, you will want to look elsewhere.
The price ranges as it is often on sale. Below are some links to grab one!
Patagonia Houdini Air from $85 on Patagonia.com
from $118 on REI.com