I have been searching for a new lightweight wind jacket to use for running workouts and as extra insurance on ski days where the weather is likely going to be fine but I want a shell layer as well just in case.
I had just ordered a Patagonia Houdini Jacket when I saw the Eddie Bauer version on sale for the exceptionally low price of $19.99. I figured I would give them both a try and see what was better, the expensive and presumably well made jacket or the cheap and presumably poorly made version.
Patagonia Houdini Jacket: Reg $125 Sale: $88
Nylon treated with DWR finish. 131 Grams. One breast pocket.
The Houdini fits well and has two elastic drawstrings. One around the waist, and another in the hood. The zipper come right up to my chin and does not rub uncomfortably. The arms are long enough but not quite long enough to pull my hands into when its really cold (remember to wear gloves). It seems to shed light rain well and even heavy rain decently. There is a certain point where saturation is inevitable. The breast pocket is big enough for a GU and my mini MP3 player but not much more. When the pocket turns inside out, the jacket can be stored inside. Stuffed, the jacket is roughly the size of my Garmin Etrex GPS – so not very big.
Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sirocco: Reg $49.45 Sale $19.99
Nylon. 151 Grams. Two hand pockets.
The Sirocco also seems to be performance fitting but has no adjustable drawstrings. The bottom of the jacket is elastic. The face hole in the hood seems to be slightly smaller to account for this though. The zipper works well on the Sirocco also and does not rub. Similar or very slightly longer arms compared to the Houdini. The jacket does not seem to stop rain at all – it comes right through. It is very effective at cutting the wind. The two hand pockets are big, one can be turned inside out and the jacket stored inside. With double the pocket size of the Houdini, the stuffed Sirocco is about twice the size of the stuffed Houdini. It could easily be packed down more though. Though the jacket is heavier (possibly due to two pockets) the fabric seems more fragile compared to the Houdini. Sarah got hers caught in the velcro on her camera case and ended up with a decent sized tear that had to be sewn back together.
Both jackets would benefit from thumb holes. The Houdini is definitely the superior jacket, mainly because of its water resistance and that it seems to be more robust. The smaller packing size is also a plus. I think it will be my go to jacket for serious trips in the alpine while the Sirocco will be a good backup or used when I am expecting no rain and the possibility of abrasion that might ruin the more expensive Houdini.
Patagonia Houdini action shots: