Patagonia Houdini Full-Zip
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $100 (on sale)
A must carry item, whether it has an intended purpose on your trip or it is just a backup.
- Effective wind stopper
- Tight fit stuffed into chest pocket
I purchased the Houdini with mountain fishing in mind. Almost every time I'm out in my packraft on a mountain lake there is some form of wind or sun that is inescapable due to being out in the open. Even on a sunny day, the wind can send you back to shore because it can bring a real chill factor.
The first time that I used the Houdini it made a significant difference in blocking out the cold wind and also the constant beating sun. The jacket is light enough to wear even on warmer days and stands up to the challenge of heavier winds and light precipitation.
I found that my wife would steal it out of my pack whenever we arrived at a lake, so I had to get her one too. The adjustable hood is another big advantage over other wind shirts with a generic hood.
I highly recommend this jacket.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $47
The end all of windbreakers.
Patagonia may not have invented the windbreaker, but they have perfected it. This is one of the products in my mind that define the standard for their category. It packs up incredibly small, and is very light. I use this as my go-to jacket for windy, chilly (40-55) days when I am pushing a stroller, carrying a pack, or otherwise being active and healthy.
This jacket packs about the size of a can of soda, mine is a size L. It blocks wind very well, the hood is perfect, and it breathes very well. All of this and style is to be expected of Patagonia, and this jacket does not disappoint. Best for drizzly days backpacking, foggy walks, windy ridges in the spring and fall, and brisk walks in the early morning.
I have many jackets, but this is in the "if I only had five jackets" section of my heart.
Price Paid: $125
less truly can be more; this might be the perfect wind shirt. it weighs next to nothing, about four ounces. It stops moderate wind, it breathes as well as any nylon shell i have owned, and it repels light rain and mist via a good dwr coating. the sizing is loose without being baggy - you can wear a base layer and light fleece underneath.
the operative word is "simple." it has a full length zipper. the hood adjusts easily and very well via one toggle behind your head, and the shock-corded hem adjusts via another single toggle. it has one small zippered chest pocket that converts to storage - the entire jacket fits in a pocket the size of a softball.
the super lightweight fabric has a subtle grid pattern that is surprisingly tough. if you care, it has a small nylon loop that you can use to attach the jacket, stuffed into its own pocket, to your pack with a carabiner.
don't expect this jacket to keep you dry in a sustained hard rain, and don't expect it to stop really strong winds - that's why we have gore tex, eVent, or similar waterproof/breathable shells. i wouldn't choose this jacket for bushwhacking, but i think it's surprisingly durable. also, the price is kind of steep for a wind shell.
on the other hand, this jacket may be more versatile than any other shell you can get for three-season use, and you may find yourself using it more than any other shell you own.
Price Paid: $120
Best backpacking jacket I've ever owned. I am trying to go lighter and this one fits the bill. It is super light, compressible. It is everything it says it is in the description. It folds into nothing in its own built-in pocket. It repels rain, but is not completely waterproof; if you wear layers though, which most packers usually do, this is no problem.
It dries REALLY fast. I would say that for 20 minutes of moderate rain you will feel no water. And I mean 20 minutes of moderate rain with a driving wind!! I tried it. A downpour would require the second layer of wicking material to help with water dispersal and warmth.
If you can believe it, the hood is actually spacious! It is extra long at the back so water doesn't follow your pack down to your butt. There are drawstrings in the hood and at your waist, which are built so as to stay out of your way. I am so impressed with this critter, that I'm going to buy another one this year in case they are gone one day.
Which brings me to my one and only criticism of the product: Patagonia items such as this are hard to get in Canada!! I had to special order this one. I encounter a lot of rain and snow where I go packing, and I would still consider this jacket a viable lightweight alternative to the usually sweaty, bulky, stiff and unenjoyable rain jackets out there.