The Patagonia Houdini is one of the lightest running jackets we've ever tested, and packs down into a package that you can hold on the palm of your hand, but still does a remarkably good job at cutting out wind chill. It can be stashed almost anywhere, ready whenever you need some extra warmth. The only drawback is the lack of reflective details, which is a surprising omission for an otherwise brilliantly designed jacket.
Effectively cuts wind chill
Generously sized adjustable hood
Elasticated cuffs and adjustable hem
Packs down extremely small
Super lightweight (around 100g)
No reflective details
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Meet the expert
Cat is an England Athletics qualified run leader, and has plenty of experience training in windy, wet British weather. She's been putting the Patagonia Houdini through its paces for two years and counting, using it to keep the chill at bay throughout the fall and winter months.
Patagonia Houdini Jacket: first impressions
The Houdini is an ultra lightweight windbreaker that packs down super small, and is an excellent addition to your running gear, ready at a moment’s notice whenever you need some extra warmth.
• List price: $109 (US) / £100 (UK)
• Weight: Women's: 3.4oz / 96g; Men's: 3.7oz / 105g
• Colors: Women’s: Black, Subtidal Blue, Coho Coral, Salamander Green; Men’s: Black, Phosphorous Green, Pufferfish Gold, Vessel Blue, Nouveau Green
• Fabric: 100% recycled nylon
• Sizes: XS-XXL
• Compatibility: Cold to mild, windy weather on trails and roads, any distance
It’s named for its ability to escape, miraculously, from its own breast pocket, which inverts to form a miniature zippered stuff sack. Once packed away, this tiny bundle can be stashed in the pocket of your bag, hydration pack, or even a waist belt. Anywhere you could fit a small water bottle, you can keep the Houdini.
Like all the best running jackets, the Houdini has a relatively snug fit (I tested the women’s M, which is my usual size for Patagonia gear), particularly around the bottom hem, and won’t blow around causing unwanted wind resistance on the move.
The hem has a slight drop-tail shape, which helps ensure it doesn’t ride up, with a shorter front giving good freedom of movement with no bunching of fabric (though it's not long enough to keep your rear end dry when cycling).
The sleeves are excellent too - surprisingly long for a packable windbreaker, and finished with elastic around half of the cuff to keep out the chill and prevent flapping in the breeze. The hood is generously sized (large enough to fit over a baseball cap), and can be adjusted with a toggle at the back to prevent it blowing down and allow it to move with your head.
There are no side pockets, but the breast pocket can accommodate your house key, cash and a bank card (your phone would weigh it down too much, and is better stashed in a pocket on your leggings or shorts).All zips have a pull cord, so they’re easy to use mid-run with cold, wet, or gloved hands.
It doesn’t require any special care; just machine wash on a cool, gentle cycle and then tumble dry on low. Easy.
Patagonia Houdini Jacket: on the road
Unlike some running jackets, such as the SOAR Windbreaker, there’s no soft lining here, or indeed any lining at all. The warmth comes entirely from a single layer of nylon ripstop material finished with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating – and it’s surprisingly effective.
Despite its ultra lightweight design (the jacket tips the scales at around 100g depending on size), the Houdini is amazingly warm, all but eliminating windchill. Worn over a long-sleeved base layer, it’s all you need in everything but the frostiest weather conditions. Unpleasantly icy weather becomes perfectly pleasant, and it's a tremendous help if you need to pause for a snack or comfort break. Just whip the Houdini out of your pack and it's ready to go.
Small but thoughtful design choices make all the difference. The Houdini's slim but tough nylon coil zipper prevents drafts, and can be fastened right up to your chin. If the bottom hem feels at all breezy, you can tighten it with a small toggle on the right hip.
Unlike some lightweight running jackets, such as the Adidas Terrex Xperior Windweave, there are no areas of extra breathable material in hotspots like the underarms, so you'll need to push up the sleeves and unzip the neck a little if you're getting too warm; not a worry thanks to the half-elasticated cuffs and zippers with knotted string pulls.
In downpour you definitely will get rather soggy despite the Houdini's DWR finish (I speak from experience), but that only happens in truly torrential conditions. The Houdini offers good protection in short showers.
The biggest drawback of the Houdini is its lack of reflective details. Combined with a generally subdued palette of color options, this makes it less practical for evening or early morning runs, which are often when you'll need it most. It’s a surprising omission.
The jacket does also rustle somewhat while you run as well, though unlike cheap running jackets, it's not like wearing a plastic bag.
The material and zips are all extremely durable; my Houdini has seen two years of heavy use and regular washes, and is showing no visible signs of wear. The zippers have never jammed or separated, the seams are holding strong, and there's no fraying in sight.
The Patagonia Houdini certainly isn't cheap when purchased at full price, but you can save some serious cash if you’re willing to settle for one of last season’s colors or patterns (this particular one is Stellar Blue, purchased in 2022).
Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.