Reviews

The Alpine Houdini is a compact, lightweight all-season…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Patagonia for testing and review)

Summary

The Alpine Houdini is a compact, lightweight all-season pant that is waterproof, windproof, breathable, and lives up to the Patagonia name. These durable storm pants are ideal for hikers, bikers, runners, or anyone who spends lots of time outside and that needs emergency rain/snow protection in a compact, lightweight package.

Pros

  • Lightweight at 5.4 oz
  • Waterproof/Windproof/Breathable
  • Nice durable reinforcements in the seat and cuffs
  • Constructed with Bluesign approved fabric

Cons

  • Cannot pull on/off without removing boots
  • Noisy when walking at times
  • May aesthetically be viewed as flashy

Patagonia regularly breaks barriers when it comes to function and innovation in the world of outdoor apparel. It feels to me like they have always been there for the outdoor enthusiast.

One of the newest additions to Patagonia’s product line are the Alpine Houdini Pants, joining the Houdini range of pants, vests, jackets, and pullover jackets. They are constructed to be waterproof, windproof, breathable, and durable. No small feat, this is difficult to accomplish with a product that weighs in at under 5.5 ounces and costs under 130 bucks. The Houdini line has been a monumental success over the past several years, and after reviewing the Alpine Houdini Pants, it is easy to understand why.

Features/Specifications

  • 5.4 oz total weight
  • Fabric: 30 denier, 2.5 layer 100% nylon ripstop material that is Bluesign approved material
  • Both main body and reinforcement areas have a waterproof/windproof/breathable membrane, treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish
  • Elasticized waistband with drawcord
  • Tapered cuff with a two-position snap adjustment
  • Waterproof zipper on right thigh that also can be used as a stuff sack, included with lanyard loop


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Comfortable, stylish, and highly reflective


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The right thigh pocket is large enough to store keys, a small wallet, or other small items.


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Rear of pants


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Pants stowed in the side pocket, alongside a 32oz. Nalgene bottle for size reference.

 

Function

All of the features in the Alpine Houdini Pant function as intended. The right thigh pocket does not allow water in during use, and reverses into a storage compartment with ease. I was initially skeptical of the zipper’s durability because of this stress, but this ultimately has proven to not be a concern.

The elastic and drawcord at the waist performed their jobs, simply—as designed. Similarly, the same went for the cuffs of the pants—easy to use, flawless function. The adjustment snaps do a great job tightening around a boot and help to prevent any water intrusion.


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The side pocket keeps water out with its waterproof YKK zipper.


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The drawcord with elasticized waistband performs its job, as designed.


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Elasticized cuff with snaps are easy to use.


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Cuff set to the tightest setting.

 

Fit & Comfort

These pants have a neutral fit, neither tight nor relaxed. Men’s size Medium fit perfectly for a 5'10" 160 lb. tester. They are loose enough that there isn’t any restriction during movement like scrambling, climbing, etc. I found the pants to fit without restriction when over a pair of hiking pants and a thermal base layer. This was initially a concern noting that the inseam has no gusset.

The pants never seemed to be uncomfortable against the skin, whereas some rain gear can feel clingy or waxy. The cuffs of the pant do an excellent job creating a seal with a boot, similarly to a gaiter. Being a lightweight emergency weather pant, there is no zipper at the cuff in order to minimize weight. I would personally like to see this function in a storm pant, however I didn’t find this to be a deal breaker.

I was also initially concerned with the friction noise when walking in these pants, but the noise quickly fell into the background once they were worn after a short period. Some people may find themselves annoyed by this, but it is certainly on par with all other rain/storm pants I’ve used in the past.


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Testing the windproofness and breathability on a windy day at Catoctin Mountain National Park.

 

Adjustability/Ease Of Use

The Alpine Houdini Pant is a barebones piece of emergency weather storm gear, with very little when it comes to the "bells and whistles." A simple elastic waistband with a drawcord works to keep weight to a minimum. The cuffs also have a simple elastic band with two retainer snaps to tighten the cuff when desired. This becomes a nice feature when climbing outdoors, so one can keep an eye on their feet.


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Simple, and stylish

Water Resistance/Breathability/Moisture

Patagonia has grown to stand up to a tall order over the years, and the Alpine Houdini Pants have not fallen short over the company’s quality guarantee. Patagonia uses h2no technology for their current lineup of Houdini products, see Patagonia’s video below on their processes.

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h2no!


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Closeup of DWR beading during a heavy rainstorm.

Over the last two months of testing, I noted that the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) only soaked through the material during extended exposure sitting on snow, wet ground, and when hiking hours in a driving rain. Still, the waterproof/breathable membrane performed, even after hours of medical scenario practicals during my recent WFRR (Wilderness First Responder Recertification) course.

I did not note any water infiltration, regardless of the DWR’s ability to bead the rain. These pants seemed to do a great job in the aspect of breathability; I never noticed substantial condensation buildup at any point during testing.


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DWR treatment holding up well, beading.


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Image of the pants after the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) eventually soaked after a 5-mile walk in a downpour.


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High quality craftsmanship allows these pants to be truly waterproof.

 

Warmth/Layering

These storm pants do their job—they keep you dry! Although not directly, a shell does have a purpose in keeping one warm in cold and wet weather. Layering underneath with a hiking pant and insulating layer, I found this system to keep me warm even at temperatures approaching 10°F.

This, of course, must be correctly applied to the corresponding activity, along with additional components of a cold/wet weather system, like gloves, hat, etc. The Alpine Houdini pant has enough room to easily accommodate a base layer and hiking pants.

Additionally I found these emergency pants to be comfortable during normal use layered over top of other clothing, without restriction. I have never used down-insulated pants in conjunction with the Alpine Houdini pants, but suspect they would fit without a concern.


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Plenty of room to layer under these storm pants. Note: No layers under these pants in this image.

Construction & Durability/Abrasion Resistance

Patagonia uses a 2.5 layer, 30 denier rip-stop nylon that has shown to be very durable. The reinforced material in the seat and cuffs have a little bit of stretch, where it is needed. In addition to a waterproof, breathable membrane throughout the entire product, it is also treated with a high quality DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish.


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The seat reinforcement covers from the back of the knee, up to the waistband.


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The reinforced material shown here, upper right.


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Additional reinforcements added to the inner cuff area to protect from boots.


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Closeup image of the inner material of the pant.


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Closeup image of the pant exterior.

The Patagonia Alpine Houdini Pant has been constructed using Bluesign approved fabric. The Bluesign System is a growing solution for a sustainable textile production. "It eliminates harmful substances right from the beginning of the manufacturing process and sets and controls standards for an environmentally friendly and safe production."

Bluesign approved fabric is being used by more and more companies, and their presence is rapidly growing in the outdoor community.

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Patagonia's attention to detail can easily be seen in its products.

Conditions

This jacket has been tested during winter 2016 in the Mid-Atlantic region of the USA. Worn during two cold weather backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail, taken on several day hikes, and around town in poor weather conditions. Temperatures have ranged from ~10°F to 60°F.

Conclusion

After the course of product testing, I’ve found that this lightweight pant would be ideal for a number of outdoor activities, from hiking to biking, running, or just walking the dog. Whether you are looking for a piece of storm gear that lives in the bottom of your daypack, or lives in day-in day-out rainy conditions, the Patagonia Alpine Houdini Pants will not fall short in any way!

Many thanks to the people out at Patagonia for the opportunity to test the Alpine Houdini pants for the Trailspace Gear Review Corps.

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the very helpful review, Sean! Please keep us posted on how these work out in spring and summer. Out of curiosity, did testing these pants make you want the corresponding Alpine Houdini jacket as well?


4 years ago
Sean Van Cleve GUIDE/OUTFITTER

Thanks for the kind words, Alicia! I'd certainly consider the Alpine Houdini jacket if I was looking for a lightweight storm jacket!


4 years ago
Craig Houdeshell

Superb and thoughtful review. Thanks. It told me what I need to know.


4 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

You're welcome, Sean.


4 years ago

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