The Patagonia Houdini jacket has become an essential piece of kit that I take with me nearly any time I leave the house. Its main function is as a windbreaker, but the DWR-treated nylon fabric works well in light rain. With that being said, in a downpour the jacket will wet out. But because its so thin and light it dries astonishingly fast, especially when compared to my bigger, heavier, rain jacket that feel wet for hours.
The jacket weighs around 3-ounces, and packs into its own chest pocket forming a baseball-sized bag that takes up minimal room. The fabric, despite being ultralight, is tough enough to survive most branches and scrapes seen while hiking, and it has found a permanent place in my pack while camping.
Above all else, it is the versatility of the Houdini that really sings. In the spring, I only need a light base layer and the Houdini when I go out. If I get chilled I toss it on to cut the wind and stay warm. Alternately, it works beautifully in the summer after a hot day when the temp starts dropping, or when I need a bit of lightweight sun and wind protection at the beach.
There are no doubt cheaper wind breakers out there, but for my money the Patagonia Houdini provides an incredible bang for the buck. Not only does it work just as well in the spring as it does in the summer, but its so light I know I’ll actually have it with me when I need it.