By: Levi Opsatnic
Although it seems like State College’s spring may have taken an unpredictable route this year, I’ve certainly been encountering a slight chill to the mornings that calls for a thin, reliable jacket. And knowing that State College is so well-known for this type of brisk morning/evening climate, I decided to put myself on the hunt for a very lightweight and packable jacket that could break the chill of a sudden wind gust, all while providing a sense of overall versatility. With that criteria in mind, I began shopping. It didn’t take long before I came across Patagonia’s Houdini Jacket. The Houdini seemed to be just what I was looking for, however, I’m not always a huge fan of hoods, and for that, I continued my search. Quite luckily, I then found out that Patagonia actually makes their Houdini, sans the hood and zipper. Boom! Shopping mission accomplished.
Before receiving my Houdini Pullover, I was pretty skeptical of its design; honestly, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I could rely on a jacket that weighs a mere three and a half ounces. But leave it to Patagonia to make a jacket that weighs only one ounce more than a Clif Bar, and can take a beating and stand up to a sudden burst of inclement weather.
To break this jacket down, it was designed for the trailrunner who is serious about shedding weight. Although, I’ve found that this jacket serves me from the trout stream, my morning commute to work, and everywhere in between (including a muddy trail in the middle of Bald Eagle State Forest). This pullover accomplishes all of this thanks to a DWR finish that repels a sudden rain and also blocks wind like you wouldn’t believe. With a set of abilities like that, you may think that this jacket would carry the weight of your standard softshell or some other equivalent, but thankfully, a 15 denier thread pares the weight of this piece down to an almost indescribable amount. So it’s really lightweight, but what else can it do? On cold evenings spent waiting for a hatch of bugs, I’ve used this jacket as an outer layer with a fleece underneath, and this system has kept the cold air from chilling my core quite well. And even better, during the day, whenever it’s hot and sunny and I don’t need a jacket, I can pack my Houdini jacket into its stuff sack (which makes it a bit smaller than my fist) and stash it right in my back pocket.
After a few months with my Houdini Pullover, I’ve found that it’s the jacket that I bring everywhere. Its tiny size and impressive reliability allows it to adapt to nearly any condition that spring and summer have in their arsenal, while its clean colorblocked look and reflective Patagonia logos (on the front and back) provide just the right amount of style. Like the magician himself, the Houdini offers a powerful punch in a tiny size, and when you’re not using, it hides away so well that you may be convinced that it’s totally disappeared.