Patagonia Houdini vs Houdini Air: Breathable Jacket Upgraded

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Most outdoor enthusiasts know by now that Patagonia make some of the best outdoor gear you can find. That doesn’t mean that some of their products don’t cause a good deal of confusion when it comes to deciding which one to actually buy.

One example of this is the Patagonia Houdini and the Patagonia Houdini Air. Both of these jackets have pretty much the same name and are very similar in many ways.

The Houdini Air is the newer model of the original Houdini Jacket so, in essence, Patagonia have made some modifications to the original version to make an even better jacket that is suited to be being worn in a whole host of outdoor environments.

In simple terms, the main difference between the Houdini and the Houdini Air is the level of breathability each one provides.

The original Houdini is less breathable and has lower levels of weather resistance. These have both been improved upon in the newer Patagonia Houdini Air Jacket. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Houdini Air is the better of the two jackets though – it simply means that in certain situations, it can be a better choice for you.

In this article, we compare the Patagonia Houdini vs Houdini Air in terms of their features, the materials they are made from, and what outdoor activities they are best suited to. By the end of it, you should have a much better understanding as to which one is the best choice for you.

Patagonia Houdini vs Houdini Air: Specifications


The Patagonia Houdini (buy here from Patagonia) is made from 100% recycled nylon. The material looks very thin and is partially see-through but thanks to the ripstop design, it can actually handle more of a beating than you might expect.

As Patagonia put all of their products through vigorous testing, it does make sense that the Houdini is more durable than it looks. That being said, it is still made from 1.2-ounce nylon so if it has to put up with sharp outdoor gear, jagged rocks, or if you fall over on rough terrain, it might not be able to handle it as well as other jackets out there.

The Houdini Air (buy here from Patagonia) is made from a slightly different material mix than the original Houdini. The Houdini Air uses 90% nylon and 10% Polyester in its construction. A point to note here is that 51% of the nylon used in the Houdini Air is recycled. Compared to 100% recycled nylon being used in the Houdini, the Houdini Air could be seen as a slightly less environmentally-friendly jacket.

Both the Houdini and the Houdini Air have been fair-trade certified which is always a very positive thing!


Patagonia have made the Houdini Jacket very good at protecting you from windy conditions. The ripstop nylon construction offers good levels of wind protection but this does come at the cost of breathability.

The original Houdini is extremely lightweight so it’s not a thick jacket that doesn’t let any air circulate. However, it definitely isn’t as breathable as some other jackets out there.

Patagonia seem to have understood that sometimes the Houdini comes up short in breathability so they have made some changes for the newer Houdini Air.

The double weave with a texturized back construction of the Houdini Air does a good job of increasing the breathability of the jacket. This increased airflow makes for a more comfortable jacket to wear when doing more intense outdoor activities such as running or a challenging hike.

Water resistance:

When it comes to water resistance, the key thing to remember here is that both of these jackets are designed to be used as wind breakers rather than waterproof jackets.

The Patagonia Houdini has a DWR coating (durable water repellent) that does a good job of helping the water from light rain bead and roll off the jacket. It can quickly become saturated and unable to deal with heavy rain though.

It’s a very similar story with the Houdini Air. The durable water repellent coating offers some water resistance but anything more than a light shower might become an issue.

When either of these jackets is used for its intended use, they are fantastic in their own right. However, if bad weather is forecast during your next outdoor adventure – a fully waterproof insulated jacket will be needed too.


Patagonia have designed both the Houdini and the Houdini Air to be simple and minimalist jackets. That’s why they both have just one chest pocket.

This is suitable for small outdoor accessories.


The chest pocket on the Patagonia Houdini and the Patagonia Houdini Air doubles as a stuff sack.

This is a handy feature as it means you can easily store your jacket in a compact bundle without taking up much room in your kit bag.


The hood of the Patagonia Houdini is adjustable with a toggle located on its back. It fits nicely and offers enough protection to keep you reasonably dry and comfortable during light rain showers. It can roll down into the collar of the jacket for storage too if you don’t want it flapping around behind you.

The hood of the Patagonia Houdini Air is similar to the Patagonia Houdini in that it is adjustable with a single toggle and can fold down into the jacket’s collar when not in use.

While neither of these hoods is helmet-compatible, they are ideal for their intended use of keeping light rain at bay and off your head and face.

Reflective features:

The logo on the chest of both the Patagonia Houdini and the Patagonia Houdini Air is reflective to help you be seen in the wild at night.

While the logo is relatively small so you’ll still likely need more reflective gear with you, it certainly shows that Patagonia are doing all they can to cover all bases with these jackets.


The Patagonia Houdini Jacket weighs in at just 3.7 ounces so is an extremely lightweight jacket.

The Patagonia Houdini Air weighs in at 4.1 ounces so is slightly heavier than the original Houdini but is still very light regardless.

Patagonia Houdini Full Review

Patagonia Houdini
Patagonia Houdini
Patagonia Houdini
Our Score

The Patagonia Houdini is made from 100% recycled nylon ripstop so has good levels of wind protection and all-round weather resistance.

Half elastic cuffs on the wrists help to seal them from any water but also keep them in place when rolled up.

The hem is also adjustable with a drawcord to make sure you can find the best and most comfortable fit for you.

It has a single chest pocket that can be used to keep small outdoor accessories but it also acts as a stuff sack for easy storage and transportation. This also has a tough clip that can be used to attach the stuffed Houdini onto your backpack for extra convenience.

  • Fair-trade certified so the people who make the jacket are paid fairly for their work
  • DWR coating allows the Houdini to handle light precipitation as well as offering good levels of wind resistance
  • A lightweight wind jacket that can be used as a rain jacket in light rain

Patagonia Houdini Air Full Review

Patagonia Houdini Air
Patagonia Houdini Air
Patagonia Houdini Air
Our Score

The Patagonia Houdini Air is a wind jacket designed to be slightly more breathable than the original Houdini.

It offers good levels of wind resistance and is made from 90% nylon and 10% polyester. The double weave and texturized back increase airflow for enhanced breathability.

The drop tail hem makes sure your backside stays covered and protected from the wind and rain too.

There is a slight stretch to the Houdini Air which makes it very comfortable to wear and the adjustable hood helps ensure it fits you in all the important places.

As far as wind jackets go, it has most bases covered with wind protection, breathability, water resistance, and durability.

  • Fair-trade certified
  • Wind-resistant
  • Makes for an ideal jacket to wear over base layers when extra protection is needed

Patagonia Houdini Air vs Houdini: Our Verdict

Both the Patagonia Houdini and the Patagonia Houdini Air are awesome lightweight jackets.

The Houdini is ideal for wearing on days out in the wild where you will be going at a slower pace and want a light jacket to keep you dry and protected from the wind.

If you are planning a bit more activity for your time in the wild, then the Houdini Air can offer similar levels of protection as the Houdini but with increased breathability and comfort.

Patagonia Houdini vs Houdini Air – both are very impressive and are both good choices depending on what you plan on doing while wearing them.

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Rob Harvey is an experienced outdoor writer with a passion for using and writing about all the gear that makes camping, hiking and fishing fun. He's been a freelancer writer for more than five years and loves sharing his experiences with readers.
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