So, you’re half way up Ben Nevis’s classic HVS, Centurion. It started out with sunshine but now the wind is howling and the rain drives horizontally towards the rock. You left your waterproof at the bottom to save on weight and bulk but now seek out a miraculous escape from the weather. Maybe an Alpine Houdini Jacket from Patagonia is just what you’re after?
Durability ☆☆☆ and a half
Patagonia say: “Featherweight, emergency storm protection for light-and-fast alpine endeavors, the Alpine Houdini® Jacket disappears when clipped to your harness, then deploys to shed wind and precip when your weather window closes.”
Ok, so the Alpine Houdini Jacket from Patagonia is a really versatile jacket. Because it weighs next to nothing and packs down to the size of an orange, I really don’t mind carrying it. I’ve used the Alpine Houdini Jacket both as an emergency shell on days when I wasn’t expecting bad weather but also as my main shell as well. Due to the fact that it’s windproof but also waterproof to a hydrostatic head of 10000mm I could trust that it would keep me dry and cut out any wind chill. As such I’ve used it for fell running, rock climbing, alpine climbing and ski touring. It’s certainly a pretty minimalist piece though and if you’re planning on being out in the pouring rain for hours on end, then most people will want a full on hardshell. But the Alpine Houdini is designed as emergency protection after all.
Due to the fact that the Alpine Houdini Jacket is so minimalist, it’s drawn quite a lot of attention from friends who joked that was like tissue paper and I’d be papier mâchéd if it was to rain or it was like a sandwich bag! Well, they were wrong on both counts! I’ve used the Alpine Houdini Jacket in some pretty heavy rain and snow conditions and it has kept me dry, both from precipitation outside and sweat inside. And I was sceptical about how waterproof and breathable the laminated membrane would be. I suppose the only concern I have now is about how durable the waterproofing will turn out to be as I seem to be wearing it an awful lot (yes, I do love it!) but I suppose only time will tell.
So why do I love the Alpine Houdini Jacket so much? Well, as I’ve already said, it’s light, small and protects me from the wind and rain. It’s also incredibly simple. Elastic cuffs, full length zip, awesome helmet compatible hood and one inner chest pocket that the jacket stuffs into complete with harness clip loop. The zipper has a glove friendly tab and the hood and drawcord have simple elastic drawcord closure systems. And that’s it, all in a 187g package. What’s not to like?
The only real downside is that a jacket like this won’t last forever. I’ve put a small hole near the cuff of mine already and lots of rough rock climbing probably isn’t going to do it any favours but it’s not meant to be a wear it all the time type of garment. It just so happens I have been and I suppose considering the amount of wear it has had so far, it’s actually doing remarkably well.
So to sum things up, the Alpine Houdini Jacket from Patagonia is a super light, compressible emergency rain shell. Perfect for clipping to the back of your harness for some “just in case” weather protection on long rock or Alpine routes, trail running, hiking and ski touring. Don’t expect lots of pockets and faffy features but do expect lightweight simplicity.
- RRP: £150
- Find out more at the Patagonia website.