Packable Patagonia 'Houdini' Jacket Gets Rain Test

If you plan to trail run, hike or climb in remote areas, it’s a good idea to carry an ultra light rain jacket in case of an unexpected storm, injury or quick drop in temperature. The jacket should pack extremely small, weigh next to nothing and, preferably, have a hood. The Patagonia Houdini fits the bill. I tested the jacket on a five-mile run during a steady drizzle. The temperature was 64 degrees at 88 percent humidity. —Sean McCoy

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The Gear: Patagonia Houdini Jacket (available now; $99)

Where To Use It: Rainy trails, windy mountaintops and packed tight in a hiking pack.

Who’s It For: Trail runners and summertime mountain climbers who need an emergency rain jacket and windbreaker.

Specs: Made from ripstop nylon with Patagonia’s proprietary Deluge Durable Water Repellant coating. Jacket weighs in at 4 ounces and packs down to the size of a wallet. Reflective logos on chest and back add to nighttime safety, and the hood adjusts for peripheral vision.

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Boring But Important: The jacket is not fully waterproof — in a heavy rain, it will eventually leak. However, this highly-breathable material can be a good compromise for runners and others who will likely get more wet from perspiration than precipitation.

First Impressions: Running my standard route in Denver, but on a very non-standard rainy, high-humidity day, the jacket kept me reasonably dry. After five miles, my polyester t-shirt was damp but not soaked. The jacket fits close and is clearly designed with runners in mind; running with the hood up is no problem.

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Our Take: This is one of several good ultralight running jackets on the market. At $99, it is reasonably priced for a high-end piece that is well made and should last for several years.

Who Should Buy It: Trail runners, mountain climbers and anyone who wants a very light, breathable windbreaker with moderate rain protection.

More Beta/Buy Now: Patagonia — Houdini Jacket

—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at Photos © Monopoint Media LLC.

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Posted by Ryan Stefani - 09/12/2013 08:02 AM

Another ultralight “water repellent” jacket. Is there something ultralight that is waterproof? Breathability isn’t as important as dryness…

Posted by Sean McCoy - 09/12/2013 09:30 AM

Ryan, once choice we are aware of isn’t on the market yet. The next generation of the Houdini, the Alpine Houdini, comes out soon, weights in at around 6.5 oz and is 10k waterproof. We will post on it as soon as we can test one.

Posted by Peter lenz - 09/12/2013 10:43 AM

Ryan – Check out the Marmot Essence Jacket. It is extremely light weight and very waterproof. I just picket up a Houdini (thank you Patagonia half-off sale!) and can’t wait to test it in the field. I grabbed the Houdini because the Essence isn’t as breathable as I would like for something I use as a wind shell and a rain jacket. Trade offs…

Posted by xVx - 09/17/2013 07:27 PM

Ryan, if your jacket does not breath and you sweat on the inside making you wet, what is the point? I mean if you are a light sweater or don’t get hot easily then you could sacrifice more breathability for waterproofness, however I think you can have both. With all the technology and science out there surely someone can come up with ultralight super breathable fully waterproof jacket. I mean the MHW Quasar pull over isn’t bad at 10oz but I feel like they could do better.

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