Patagonia Houdie Jacket Review

by nomeatbarefeet

For a while now I have wanted to find a jacket I could run in that would block at least some rain. I tried the Stoic Wraith Shell but it just did not work all that well. So when I heard about the Patagonia Houdie Jacket I was really excited. How would stack up against the Stoic Wraith? Does it work on the trails? How durable is it?

Details (straight from the Patagonia site)

  • Featherweight 100% nylon ripstop with a Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
  • Zippered chest pocket converts to stuffsack with a reinforced carabiner clip loop
  • Hood adjusts in one pull and won’t block peripheral vision
  • Durable half-elastic cuffs; drawcord hem
  • Reflective logos at left chest and center back neck
  • Can be worn over baselayers and light midlayers
  • 1.2-oz 10-denier 100% nylon ripstop, with a Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
  • 113 g (4 oz)

The Houdie is incredibly lightweight—you might not even notice that you have it on. It is part of Patagonia’s Trail Running line of clothing, but easily fits the bill as a windbreaker that you can wear just about anywhere, which is exactly what I have been doing with it. It is great at blocking out the wind or as a light layer in slightly chillier weather (or even just as a sun block). I have been bringing it with me everywhere because it is so easy to stow in a pocket or bag and throw on just in case.

I searched long and hard to find the Tupelo Yellow color as well—since apparently no Patagonia store had it in stock—but I eventually found it online at Altrec.com. It was the last one, so I got it just in time. (Note: If you get a lighter color (read: anything but black) the material will be a bit see-through, so clothing worn underneath will show through a bit; just an FYI.) I was stoked to finally get it and to see what all the hype was about.

Sadly, however, my overall experience with the Houdie has been rather sour. The first time I tried to stow it in its own pocket the zipper tore a hole in the jacket. Really? Patagonia is great about dealing with quality issues and they took the jacket back and repaired it for free. Awesome. I got it back, wore it around, and when a nice cool day came I decided to test it out on the trails at Hard’ack…and afterwards found another hole in it (probably from a stray branch). Well that sucks.

Add to this the fact that the Deluge® DWR finish seems to only work in the very lightest of rains. Like I said, I brought this with me everywhere (e.g., for after the 0SPF Trail Half Marathon, and walking around the Shelburne Museum for 4 hours in on-off rain), and it did work great as a light shell against some of the elements; but once the light rain turned a bit heavier or if I happened to be walking in light rain for too long my shoulders would get damp and I would notice wetness under the jacket. Nuts.

What about breathability? While running the Houdie was decently breathable for a little while. The temperature was probably in the mid-to-upper 50s, but in cooler or colder weather the Houdie might be much better. Since there are no pit-zips or vents it predictably heated up, leaving my arms sweaty. While not running the Houdie was great; I never overheated or got too sweaty.

Positives

  • Great as a windbreaker. It can be layered or worn by itself. I love the color, though some people might not like the fact that it is translucent.
  • Incredibly lightweight; probably the lightest jacket I have ever had.
  • Easy to stow and carry anywhere.
  • The elastic cuffs and the drawstring at the waist make the fit really nice. Plus, it is a bit slimmer which I really enjoy.
  • A hood. With a drawstring. Lots of these kinds of light jackets do not have either of these, so its a nice feature.

Negatives

  • The nylon ripstop was really fragile, ripping twice. For being part of the “trail running” line of clothing the material should be much sturdier.
  • There is a fine line when the Deluge® DWR finish doesn’t hold up and water seeps through.
  • The stow pocket is a bit too small. Perhaps that is why the zipper tore a hole the first time.
  • Breathability was a bit of an issue during runs, but if worn in cooler/colder weather (especially with a thinner long sleeve shirt) this might not be an issue.

Fixes

  • Improve the quality of the nylon ripstop to avoid tears. (Actually, Patagonia has a Nine Trails Jacket that looks to be a bit more durable. [I talked to a Patagonia rep and they confirmed that it “should” be more durable.”] I will have to check it out when I return the Houdie and let you know.)
  • Double the thickness of the material across the shoulders where the most moisture will collect.

Conclusion I really want to like this jacket; and I really want to recommend it, but for the price ($99) and the quality issues that I experienced I just cannot. The Houdie is a great windbreaker and barrier against light rain. But it should be kept far, far away from any trails that have branches or bushes that can snag a hole in it (so most trails in the North East).

If you are looking for a jacket to take trail running you should probably look elsewhere.

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