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  1. #1
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    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.

    Looking for recommendations for a lightweight windbreaker that packs down well enough to possibly fit in a hip pack(Dakine hot laps 2L) or at least strap to it. Also and equally important is that it’s somewhat breathable/vented. I have a Endura pack-a-jak and unfortunately it’s near as functional as a garbage bag so it’s really only good for short time use during surprise storms.
    I tried and liked the style of the Deity privateer but unfortunately the fit was off as the arm length was far too short. Any help is appreciated.

  2. #2
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    The only jackets I've found that really work, are both waterproof and breathable, are Gortex/Gore ones. I'm sure there will be others, I just don't know about them ;0)

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    The only jackets I've found that really work, are both waterproof and breathable, are Gortex/Gore ones. I'm sure there will be others, I just don't know about them ;0)
    I posted this in another thread:

    “In 20 degree F temps today, I rode with 2 layered jerseys and my Arcteryx Alpha AR shell. The thing almost bankrupted me but every time I wear it, I appreciate its incredible design and tech. Not a drop of sweat today, and nice and toasty from start to finish. The thing fits like a tailor made piece of clothing and the neck design is brilliant. It keeps my neck and face warm, fits over my helmet, and is infinitely adjustable despite all its simplicity. The shell is feather light. I can’t even tell I am wearing it.

    10 out of 10, but pricey AF.”

    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-fb4d9be5-a58b-4382-89cf-5816fa429007.png

    I later posted this in another thread:

    “I sweated my ass off tonight. I think it is time to give up on the GoreTex (Pro) shell...”

    That Arcteryx shell is about as minimalistic and state of the art as GoreTex products come:

    Waterproofness - 10/10
    Packability - 9-10/10

    However, as I have found with all GoreTex products, breathability when working hard is maybe a 4-5/10 (and that may be charitable). Thankfully it has gigantic pit zips which aid in venting but sadly, despite all the GoreTex Pro marketing, this is not what I would characterize as “breathable” (e.g.; fleece).

    All that said, if waterproofness is the primary objective, the Arcteryx is probably as decent choice as any.

    Perhaps there are other waterproof products out there that are more breathable, but I am skeptical.

  4. #4
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    Anything Gore will excel at water and wind resistance. However not breath well.

    There are other marierials that breath much better, but are not as water resistant.

    If you had 10 “points” to spend on water resistance, brathabikity, and wind resistance how would you allocate them?

    Ie: breath 5, wind 3, water 2
    Or
    Wind 5, breathe 5, water 0
    Etc
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  5. #5
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    Wait. I reread the OP. Nowhere does it mention waterproofness.

    To the extent waterproofness is not an overriding objective, in the following thread, the Patagonia Houdini gets a lot of love:

    https://forums.mtbr.com/apparel-prot...g-1093655.html

    I may pick one up. Very inexpensive.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    Wait. I reread the OP. Nowhere does it mention waterproofness.

    To the extent waterproofness is not an overriding objective, in the following thread, the Patagonia Houdini gets a lot of love:

    https://forums.mtbr.com/apparel-prot...g-1093655.html

    I may pick one up. Very inexpensive.
    Packable jackets like these are great. It's all about what you think you need, I have a super-light packable one that packs down to the size of my fist (forget brand), I have a waterproof patagonia one that packs down to about double that, and a packable puffy northface that is about the same size.

    The lightest ones will help to boost your temp, give you an extra layer, help immensely in cool conditions. I tend to find these can be necessary for downhills where your body temp can just tank.

    The waterproof one becomes useful in a few situations, one is rain obviously, but when it's raining it's not very cold, 34 degrees F or warmer, so I can't wear much under it if I'm riding, since I"ll overheat. Luckily it has pit-vents and you can unzip the front, so it breaths ok, but being waterproof, it doesn't breath well and working hard you are going to get damp inside, not like the rain that's soaking the outside, but it buys you time and dries fast when the rain lets up. Otherwise, in the cold, I'll sometimes take it as an emergency-layer that I can throw on over my softshell jacket, since it doesn't breathe well, it'll trap heat pretty well, but this is only when things go cold and when it's real cold I'll substitute a down puffy for this role.

    The Northface is also for an emergency layer when things get a little cold, but not yet cold enough for a down puffy. The arms on it are very breathable, so it is a little better than the Patagonia "hardshell" waterproof as far as breathability.

    All the packable jackets can be excellent over a long sleeve jersey. Although in an ideal world it would be waterproof, windproof and very breathable, I don't think those qualities are compatible. You are always trading one for the other. The thing about the packables is they can take up little space so you can easily re-stash them. I even attach the small one externally to my camelback in the summer (in the mesh pocket). One thing I've learned is that if you think you should stop and make a clothing change, you should ALWAYS stop and do this. Sometimes there's a tendency to just want to try and "ride it out" and "deal with it", but except for rare circumstances where I'm like 2 miles from being done, it's always worth it to re-adjust, like take off the jacket, roll the sleeves up, unzip, or the opposite. It's a little inconvenient, but I find it's a lot better than being sweaty (which=cold where I live) or cutting your ride short because you get cold.
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  7. #7
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    This is my smallest, most-packable one:

    outdoor research tantrum hooded jacket
    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-outdoor-research-tantrum-hooded.jpg

    And I always buy with hoods, because you can put them under your helmet (or over if you like that) and boost your heat significantly.

    A few years ago I had a Marmot Air Lite Jacket, that was the "smallest" packable I've found, but it didn't breath well and was like putting a trash-bag on. It rolled down a 4000' vert mountain all the way to the bottom and I sure as hell wasn't going after it.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  8. #8
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    Looking for something on the lighter end of things, good for low/mid 30f just mainly for wind and temps on those crispy mornings. I have a couple of Burton jackets that work great for more severe wether. It’s interesting that it seems the most well thought out jackets for riding are not made by bike companies and that pit vents are not a common feature on all levels of riding jackets. Anyway, thanks for the responses so far.

  9. #9
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    I have an Endura Pack-a-jak, which I'm giving to a friend, because I replaced it with a Houdini. The Pack-a-jak is more windproof, less breathable and doesn't fit as well as the Houdini. If anything the Houdini packs down smaller, and easier. For me the hood is a big plus, and the looser fit lets me load up my bib pockets. The Houdini looks 3X more enduro.
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  10. #10
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    In Scotland, waterproofness is a big deal! And it's often not warm so yeah, what's good for one situation might not be at all right for another.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shredmonkey View Post
    It’s interesting that it seems the most well thought out jackets for riding are not made by bike companies
    I find this to be ultimately true. Just because something is for "riding" doesn't mean it'll be great, and you'll find great stuff that isn't "designed for riding". You look more for the features you want, fabrics, fabric weight, insulation, pockets, etc. For our colder temps, things like technical and backcountry ski pants can work great, especially with pockets for your phone to keep them warm against your thigh, or XC ski gear which breathes exceptionally well and keeps you warm. A lot of riding gear is just hype. Chamois shorts are nice and sometimes absolutely necessary to prevent saddle sores and give some comfort, but apart from that, a synthetic stretch exercise shirt at Target will work just as good as any "bike jersey". I have some bike jerseys, but also lots of cheap synthetic quick-dry shirts that work fantastic. A lot of cold weather bike-gear is somewhat confused and you can find stuff that often works better, such as climbing gear, running gear, xc-ski gear, etc.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    In Scotland, waterproofness is a big deal! And it's often not warm so yeah, what's good for one situation might not be at all right for another.
    Vancouver Island is pretty wet as well, so I have a goretex jacket as well. I am retired so I can cherry pick windows of decent riding weather and the Houdini is often enough.

    I wear bike specific shorts, shoes, gloves, and helmet. Most of my tops are are non bike.
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  13. #13
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    I have at least a dozen technical jackets, and about the same number of mid layers. Attire is critical for me because I commute 25 kms 5 days a week year round. My artillery includes Arcteryx, NorthFace, RaceFace, Kona and Dakine, among others.

    About the most breathable and versatile piece is my Arcteryx Atom LT Hoody. I wear that through all 4 seasons, skiing, biking, and casually with jeans. Lighter than air and super comfy. Of all my outerwear, I grab for this the most. By far. I even wear it indoors just lounging around.

    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-1222dfd6-6a2f-408f-a66e-8879d2bbde4e.png

    Not too bad in wind and rain, but obviously not designed with those objectives in mind. That said, I was in Golden skiing Kicking Horse over New Years and forgot my heavy ski shell back at the cabin. I skied the entire day, bell to bell with no lunch break, with my Atom LT only. Performed like a champ in some pretty adverse conditions.

    This is the description at Arcteryx’s site:

    “Insulated, mid layer hoody with wind and moisture resistant outer shell; Ideal as a layering piece for cold weather activities. Atom Series: Synthetic insulated mid layers | LT: Lightweight.”

    Despite the description, this piece is an awesome outer layer as well. Apart from skiing, I wear this as an outer layer all the time, through 4 seasons. The insulation is very light and very breathable.

    Pretty much every skier I know has an Atom LT. I think Arcteryx’s site has 325 reviews, which is an indication of its popularity.

    https://arcteryx.com/ca/en/shop/mens/atom-lt-hoody

    All this having been said, despite commuting year round for a decade or so, I still struggle trying to find the best combo most suitable for the prevailing weather conditions, which can vary greatly by the day (chinooks in Calgary can result in a 40 degree Celsius temperature swing in a 24 hour period). I have learned a lot from this site and continue in my pursuit of the perfect riding attire.

  14. #14
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    All this Houdini talk...

    I am going to go check them out today.

  15. #15
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    That Houdini looks nice.

    I've got a 12 year old Columbia (hoodless), full-zip, packable jacket that is lightweight nylon front and stretchy thin softshell rear. I've found it works great to put on when you're sweaty from a long climb and need a wind breaker for the long descent back to the car (very common on trails near Denver). Quite helpful on after-work fall rides when the temp is dropping the whole time you're out there.

    It'll handle a quick/light shower, but not much more. I've got eVent jackets for actual rain (but then you sweat your butt off if you're doing anything aerobic).

    Honestly, for mountain biking (and running), I'm more tolerant of wearing a jacket that'll allow me to get wet if it means more breathability. Cannot stand the trashbag feel for high aerobic activities.
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by 06HokieMTB View Post
    Honestly, for mountain biking (and running), I'm more tolerant of wearing a jacket that'll allow me to get wet if it means more breathability. Cannot stand the trashbag feel for high aerobic activities.
    ^^This. Lately my go to jacket for mildly chilly weather is a Zoic flannel. Super breathable which is good and bad. Completely tolerable for climbing but the wind cuts right through it so depending on the temp it can feel really good or totally pointless. Not to mention that it has 0% packability.
    Maybe I’m being a little picky but after switching to a hip pack two seasons ago I really am trying to avoid wearing a camelbak again just for toting around a jacket.
    Houdini looks interesting and the Arcteryx looks good but dang pricey.

  17. #17
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    I checked out the Houdini. I had no idea it was going to be so minimalistic. For that style of whisper thin shell I would go for the RaceFace Nano, which is a very techy, bike specific shell. For my money, and based solely on first impressions only of the Houdini, the Nano trumps it.

    The one thing though - and this may be huge for some of you - the Nano is NOT full zip, while the Houdini is. Nonetheless, I would still likely go with the Nano. Then again, I am a long time RaceFace fan.

    I appreciate that this seems to be a little off the prevailing view here. Apologies for being contrarian.

  18. #18
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    I have used Houdini's for years. Great jacket, no negatives, packs small.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rushman3 View Post
    I have used Houdini's for years. Great jacket, no negatives, packs small.
    Yeah. I should maybe temper what I said above. The Houdini seems to be a great shell. It’s not what I was expecting. That kinda threw me off.

    That or the Nano would work well for the intended purpose. Take your pick. The obvious advantage of the Houdini is the full zip.

    Here is a pic of the Houdini:

    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-5062460-bal01.jpg

    Here is pic of the Nano:

    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-fullsizeoutput_a1.jpeg

    EDIT: another option in the same category as the Houdini and the Nano is the Sombrio Squall 2 (mens) or Chinook 2 (womens). I bought my daughter the Sombrio for Christmas.

    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-5056283-bk000.jpg

    I have since done a bunch of reading. Yup - as usual, you guys appear to be bang on, at least in terms of what I have gleaned from online reviews. That Houdini has almost a cult following. Definitely the safe bet. Looks like the Nano and Chinook 2 would be outlier alternatives to the Houdini.
    Last edited by mtnbkrmike; 01-28-2019 at 06:34 AM.

  20. #20
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    I have a mec farpoint jacket (I'm sure REI has something similar) super light and minimalist, packs down really small (fist size or so), pretty cheap. I've warranteed it once when the zipper gave up, when it's new it comes with a waterproof coating that holds up to rain ok, but that wore off eventually. Pretty happy with it I use it a ton for riding, way more than any other jacket.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin267 View Post
    I have a mec farpoint jacket (I'm sure REI has something similar) super light and minimalist, packs down really small (fist size or so), pretty cheap. I've warranteed it once when the zipper gave up, when it's new it comes with a waterproof coating that holds up to rain ok, but that wore off eventually. Pretty happy with it I use it a ton for riding, way more than any other jacket.
    Looks good except for the under the helmet hood. I prefer over the helmet hoods, but not everyone does. However it is no longer available.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    The one thing though - and this may be huge for some of you - the Nano is NOT full zip, while the Houdini is.
    Not being full zip would drive me nuts (and not only from a taking on/off perspective). The front zipper works great as a vent and I'm constantly using the zipper to regulate temp.
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  23. #23
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    Looks like they’re releasing a Houdini air that has more breathability but the cut is a little different.

    https://gearjunkie.com/patagonia-houdini-air-review

    In the meantime the OG Houdini seems like a no brainer because it can be picked up on the cheap and that I can go try one on easily enough. At 5’10” M/L sizing is always a gamble.
    On side note looking for opinions on modifying the Houdini by adding some small grommets to the pit area for venting. Would the material hold? Still having a hard time understanding how this is not a more common feature on athletic windbreakers.

  24. #24
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    Dark horse candidate?

    Merrell Torrent

    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-merrell-black-torrent-windbreaker-jacket.jpg

    FEATURES
    • Light weight ripstop
    • Durable Water Resistant (DWR) finish
    • Laser perforated back neck and underarms for venting
    • Packable
    • Side stash pockets
    • Back zip packable pocket
    • Printed Lycra binding at neck and sleeve cuffs
    • 3M reflective logo
    • Athletic fit
    • Fabric: 100% Polyester - 44g
    • Length: 30" center back
    Last edited by 06HokieMTB; 01-29-2019 at 09:46 AM.
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  25. #25
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    The Marmot Essence is the most breathable & waterproof jacket I’ve found. I used it while skinning up 1700 vertical feet on Sunday and was impressed. It was cold and windy, no need for waterproof (PERFECT for a breathable windbreaker!) - but I wore the jacket to see how breathable it was (and my left wrist is still in a cast from a mountain bike wreck in August, so I can't get my left hand through the sleeve a few of my jackets right now ). I typically can’t wear waterproof jackets for high output activities like back country skiing and snow showing, but have been pleasantly surprised by the Marmot Essence.

    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-capture.jpg

    Outdoor Gear Lab’s review is what prompted me to buy it:

    https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/revie...marmot-essence

    Our Analysis and Test Results
    The Marmot Essence rain jacket represents the state-of-the-art in ultralight construction and breathability. Those seeking a compact, waterproof jacket that is breathable beyond compare will love this product. High energy fun is what this jacket is designed for, and it's our choice for everything from trail running to light and fast summer alpine climbing. The minimalist design feels barely-there, and we rarely take off this jacket.
    Last edited by 06HokieMTB; 01-29-2019 at 09:34 AM.
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  26. #26
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    Man, sometimes you just nail it. It snowed early today, but it turned to rain in the afternoon. Due to how cold the ground is here, the snow on the ground and trails doesn't really melt, even with a bunch of rain, so the trails were decent, but it was raining the entire time, light to moderate at the end. I wore my Patagonia packable rain shell and my Marmot full-size-zip pants. These were just the perfect outer layers in these conditions. I find that if it's not raining, these types of shells are just too much, but the rain keeps you cool and the protection of these layers keep you dry. It can be tricky right around freezing when it's raining, but man this was super comfortable and I was just loving it. I'm a little slower right now recovering from ankle-surgery, so I wore an ultra-thin base layer with a sweater on top, thinking that if necessary, I'd dump the sweater and pull a thicker base layer out of my frame bag, but I never had to. Being slower I'm a little over-dressed. The pit-zips on the patagonia are perfect. On the bottoms I wore a thin base layer under the shell pants. Again, if it isn't raining, this is often too much and I'll overheat, but it worked like magic tonight. I use the full-side-zip pants as packables just like the top layer, for the ultra-cold days if I get cold, I put those on over everything and I can do it easily because of the size-zips. They block the wind and create big warm pockets in between. Pogies for my hands, but part of the time I had them rolled up.

    That particular Patagonia packs down to (male with bear-hands) about fist-and-a-half size. I had an OR Helium that I was using for the same purpose, except the zipper handle came off and the zipper itself had no hole to stick something else in it like a paper-clip. When you stuck the handle back in and tried to crimp it, it was never as strong as original and due to the design, the handle would just pop right off again, so I ended up taking it back and getting the Patagonia, which is working much better.

    It was a true "there is not bad weather, just bad clothing" ride, and the clothing was right on the mark!

    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-img_6063.jpg
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  27. #27
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    I use the Yeti jackets and like them a lot. I have a simple windbreaker that packs down very light and breathes well which you can also layer up for when it's colder, and a light rain jacket is 'water resistant' rather than 'waterproof' that has a hood and pack downs relatively small.

  28. #28
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    Horrible conditions here on Vancouver Island. Yesterday I had to slip on the Houdini for the road bit from the end of the trail to my house.

    I have worn the Houdini a few times and am impressed. Very packable, breathes well, cut enough wind to keep warm, but not so much I overheat. I only wear it once the big climb is over, but its' great on the flats, or going down hill.
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  29. #29
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    I've been using this jacket from REI, which has similar features to the Houdini and is dirt cheap right now:
    https://www.rei.com/product/127665/c...ed-jacket-mens

    It is light, packs down tight, has an over-the-helmet hood, is great against the wind, and ok against light rain. It doesn't have vents, but the full front zipper allows me to vent it as necessary.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgltrak View Post
    I've been using this jacket from REI, which has similar features to the Houdini and is dirt cheap right now:
    https://www.rei.com/product/127665/c...ed-jacket-mens

    It is light, packs down tight, has an over-the-helmet hood, is great against the wind, and ok against light rain. It doesn't have vents, but the full front zipper allows me to vent it as necessary.
    Whoa. $27. I don't even need a jacket, but I'm buying an orange one!
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  31. #31
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    That looks like a winner.
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  32. #32
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    I’ve had a Houdini and Atom LT for years both excellent but the Atom Lt is not very breathable. It’d be fine on the downhill though. I also have the OR Helium almost as packable as the Houdini and waterproof but of course not terribly breathable.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by geraldooka View Post
    I’ve had a Houdini and Atom LT for years both excellent but the Atom Lt is not very breathable. It’d be fine on the downhill though. I also have the OR Helium almost as packable as the Houdini and waterproof but of course not terribly breathable.
    What do you prefer between the Houdini and helium?

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin267 View Post
    What do you prefer between the Houdini and helium?
    Houdini is a more versatile jacket for active use. But if I could only take one shell on an extended trip it would be the Helium.

  35. #35
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    Have to say my OR Realm I picked up early last year on closeout i(50% off retail at Steep & Cheap) is the best shell I have come across for a highly breathable waterproof hooded shell (i've used Showers Pass and Gore shells in the past). Not as packable as the Helium but still packs down fairly well. I like the trim cut on the jacket as well.
    The AscentShell fabric they use is the real deal in terms of breathability (i'm a sweaty SOB so that is pretty important for me). Best I have come across for waterproof shell.
    The Interstellar is the replacement for the Realm and is pretty much the same jacket except for some minor changes. Still uses the AscentShell fabric, but has gone down to one chest pocket instead of two on the Realm.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSH View Post
    Have to say my OR Realm I picked up early last year on closeout i(50% off retail at Steep & Cheap) is the best shell I have come across for a highly breathable waterproof hooded shell (i've used Showers Pass and Gore shells in the past). Not as packable as the Helium but still packs down fairly well. I like the trim cut on the jacket as well.
    The AscentShell fabric they use is the real deal in terms of breathability (i'm a sweaty SOB so that is pretty important for me). Best I have come across for waterproof shell.
    The Interstellar is the replacement for the Realm and is pretty much the same jacket except for some minor changes. Still uses the AscentShell fabric, but has gone down to one chest pocket instead of two on the Realm.
    That looks promising for a more full featured waterproof shell. It’s significantly less packable than the Helium and much less packable than the Houdini. But it’s clearly geared for a different use case. I’ll be keeping an eye on that for the next replacement cycle, claims to breathability I consider worthless. Living in the perpetually humid coast I have yet to find a waterproof material that is sufficiently breathable.

  37. #37
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    After a quick trip to REI to try on some goods I ended up pulling the trigger on the jacket that Jayem mentions in post #26, the Patigonia Stretch Rainshadow which is possibly a gamble as I’ll explain later. I went in mainly for the Houdini after hearing all the hype but a couple of downsides became dealbreakers. The first thing is the sizing is all over the place. At a 5’10” average build the medium fit like a wetsuit and I had to go xl to get the arm length that still reached the wrist when stretched out on the bike. Secondly, and I had a feeling about it, but pit vents are just a must for me for true wearability while climbing. To the Houdini’s credit I must say say it is an unbelievably light jacket but too similar to the pak-a-jack as it feels more like emergency back up gear and not truly designed to be comfortably worn for extended periods.
    As for the rainshadow being a gamble a quick search reveals an uncomfortable amount of one star reviews of folks stating that the jacket has zero water resistance and soaks through immediately in a downpour. Luckily the the climate where I’m at is generally pretty dry and the jacket will hopefully serve well against some light moisture, chilly temps, and harsh wind. Other than that the jacket really checks all the boxes, roomy fit (L), pit vents, hood over helmet use, hand pockets, and packs down like a Houdini but weighs 10 oz. As an added bonus the stretch material is a very nice touch which gives the feel of a soft shell and not a rain jacket. Lastly, I was not planning on spending what it cost full retail but luckily I found one online for half-price so I figured what the hell.
    Thanks again for the suggestions and I’ll check back in with some thoughts once it gets put to some use.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by geraldooka View Post
    That looks promising for a more full featured waterproof shell. It’s significantly less packable than the Helium and much less packable than the Houdini. But it’s clearly geared for a different use case. I’ll be keeping an eye on that for the next replacement cycle, claims to breathability I consider worthless. Living in the perpetually humid coast I have yet to find a waterproof material that is sufficiently breathable.
    Fair enough. I'm basing breathability comments on my own experience with other jackets. The reviews out there on the Realm (and Interstellar) also seem to back that up, but understand your environment (humid coast vs CO where I am) is probably more challenging

  39. #39
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    I bought the REI Co-Op cycles jacket. USPS says it'll be here tomorrow.

    There's an REI in town, but there was a pair of softshell pants on crazy discount as well and they weren't available via in-store pickup... so free shipping it is
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shredmonkey View Post
    After a quick trip to REI to try on some goods I ended up pulling the trigger on the jacket that Jayem mentions in post #26, the Patigonia Stretch Rainshadow which is possibly a gamble as I’ll explain later. I went in mainly for the Houdini after hearing all the hype but a couple of downsides became dealbreakers. The first thing is the sizing is all over the place. At a 5’10” average build the medium fit like a wetsuit and I had to go xl to get the arm length that still reached the wrist when stretched out on the bike. Secondly, and I had a feeling about it, but pit vents are just a must for me for true wearability while climbing. To the Houdini’s credit I must say say it is an unbelievably light jacket but too similar to the pak-a-jack as it feels more like emergency back up gear and not truly designed to be comfortably worn for extended periods.
    As for the rainshadow being a gamble a quick search reveals an uncomfortable amount of one star reviews of folks stating that the jacket has zero water resistance and soaks through immediately in a downpour. Luckily the the climate where I’m at is generally pretty dry and the jacket will hopefully serve well against some light moisture, chilly temps, and harsh wind. Other than that the jacket really checks all the boxes, roomy fit (L), pit vents, hood over helmet use, hand pockets, and packs down like a Houdini but weighs 10 oz. As an added bonus the stretch material is a very nice touch which gives the feel of a soft shell and not a rain jacket. Lastly, I was not planning on spending what it cost full retail but luckily I found one online for half-price so I figured what the hell.
    Thanks again for the suggestions and I’ll check back in with some thoughts once it gets put to some use.
    It's a light packable jacket, it's not going to stand up to driving rain and to function 100%, you really have to maintain and replenish the water-resistant coating on any "waterproof" jacket. But I find it works great in light to moderate rain. For driving rain, I don't know that anything other than heavy rain gear will actually hold up. I have used this stuff (plush my waterproof shell pants) in heavy driving rain riding home, yeah, didn't hold up after a while, but it still kept me warm. I was so sick of not riding because of rain I just decided to ride my bike through every puddle while it was raining cats and dogs Those kind of conditions are not what I bought it for. I live in Alaska and it rains/gets wet quite often in the summer, for the times I've used it on rides, it's worked great for me. And still, my disclaimer is that I have several different packable jackets and depending on conditions, I switch them around. This isn't my super-lightweight summer jacket that I use for descending down somewhat chilly peaks in the summer, it's my shoulder-season and warm-spell-in-the-winter rain protection. And my other disclaimer is that you have to look around and choose what best suits you. The Helium didn't work for me because the zipper failed, but before that happened, I thought it was a great packable jacket too. If there's any threat of liquid precipitation, I usually take the rain shadow.
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  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSH View Post
    Fair enough. I'm basing breathability comments on my own experience with other jackets. The reviews out there on the Realm (and Interstellar) also seem to back that up, but understand your environment (humid coast vs CO where I am) is probably more challenging
    I didn’t mean your claims. I believe it works for you. I was referring to manufacturers claims about these materials. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by 06HokieMTB View Post
    Whoa. $27. I don't even need a jacket, but I'm buying an orange one!
    I picked one up at REI last night. Haven't had a chance to test it but it seems great! Lightweight and packable with a nice hood. Can't wait to ride!

  43. #43
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    I gotta give some props to Patigonia. I received my jacket from an online retailer(eBay killer deal)with no receipt. I soon realized it was a size too big. Stopped by the location in town and they swapped out to a newer 2019 jacket no issues.
    It’s still a little too snowy and muddy here to ride but excited to try it out. As you can see it’s pretty nice quality and packs away just small enough. Fits in the Dakine 2L with my iPhone 8+, mini pump, multi tool plug kit, energy gel, and keys.


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  44. #44
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    So...I was at MEC today and out of the corner of my eye, I could see a rack of Houdinis staring back at me. Calling my name.

    I broke down and bought not one, but two - one for me and one for my daughter.

    You guys are right. For the intended purpose, the Houdini seems to be killer. I will have to wait to see how it performs in real world conditions but for now, yeah, by all appearances it is very nice. Among other things, it scrunches down to the size of a tennis ball.

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    Based on almost 10 years of experience w/ the Dragonfly, you will not be disappointed.

  46. #46
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    I've used both the Rainshadow and Houdini. I can confirm the Rainshadow cannot handle more than 1-2 hours riding in the rain, depending on the volume, and how well your DWR is kept up. Overall it's a decent jacket when there is a threat of rain, or you ride mountains and need decent protection. This year I'm going to try Patagonia's Dirt Roamer Jacket, which is 85g lighter and has a knit backing, which should make it feel nicer on the skin and breath better. Its sort of combines the attributes of the Rainshadow and Houdini, and Patagonia claims it's a put-on and forgot about jacket, so we shall see.

    I was skeptical of the Houdini at first, but its become the go-to, just like most of the reviews claim. I think the biggest attribute is the feathery, breathable feel on the skin, so when temps climb into the 50s/60s, you can wear it over a short sleeve shirt and it never feels clammy.

  47. #47
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    The pacakability and feather light weight of the Houdini is insane.

    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-85024b46-c6d9-4c32-bdb5-3074fe336b9e.jpg

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    I tried on the houdini at the store and it just didn't fit me quite right. The chest and stomach were fine, but the arms weren't quite long enough. It might have worked as a normal hiking jacket, but it would have been especially short while hunched over on a bike. I'm tall and lean so this is a common problem for me.
    I ended up finding a RAB windbreaker for cheap online. I had heard that RAB tends to have longer sleeve length than other brands. Similar weight and packability as the houdini, but the sleeves are a couple inches longer. It also had had pockets which are nice while walking around.

  49. #49
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    We were in Whistler about a month ago and my buddy pulled his Houdini out of his hip pack (while riding the cold, blustery lift to the Top of the Word trail). I didn't even know he had it with him - it packs down that small.

    I've come full circle. I was killing some time at an REI today and tried on a Houdini. I bought the light/pale green one. I'm swimming in jackets - but the sheer pack-ability of that jacket had me flabbergasted.
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by 06HokieMTB View Post
    We were in Whistler about a month ago and my buddy pulled his Houdini out of his hip pack (while riding the cold, blustery lift to the Top of the Word trail). I didn't even know he had it with him - it packs down that small.

    I've come full circle. I was killing some time at an REI today and tried on a Houdini. I bought the light/pale green one. I'm swimming in jackets - but the sheer pack-ability of that jacket had me flabbergasted.
    100% agreed. My pic above in post #47 is illustrative, and I can scrunch it down further from that if required.

    I had a bunch of other jackets I was A/B'ing against the Houdini. Returned every one of them. If you can find it on sale, even better. I picked up 2 of them (for me and my daughter) at 25% off each.
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  51. #51
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    I would have to add my vote for ArcTeryx. I love my ArcTeryx gear. My latest add is the Atom SL Hoody. It is super lightweight, but still lightly insulated. Cuts the wind, breathes super well, and the DWR coating is great in a light rain or mist. It probably wouldn't last long in a downpour though. If it's really wet, I add my Mountain Hardware Stretch Ozonic jacket over the top. It's another awesome and packable jacket. Not as breathable but the huge pit zips help.

    I plan to add one of the warmer Atom jackets to my collection this winter to replace an old puffy jacket that is much too big for me now.

    https://www.arcteryx.com/ca/en/shop/mens/atom-sl-hoody

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by mLeier View Post
    I would have to add my vote for ArcTeryx. I love my ArcTeryx gear. My latest add is the Atom SL Hoody. It is super lightweight, but still lightly insulated. Cuts the wind, breathes super well, and the DWR coating is great in a light rain or mist. It probably wouldn't last long in a downpour though. If it's really wet, I add my Mountain Hardware Stretch Ozonic jacket over the top. It's another awesome and packable jacket. Not as breathable but the huge pit zips help.

    I plan to add one of the warmer Atom jackets to my collection this winter to replace an old puffy jacket that is much too big for me now.

    https://www.arcteryx.com/ca/en/shop/mens/atom-sl-hoody
    I own a fair amount of Arcteryx, including a Alpha Goretex Pro shell and a couple of Atoms. I have other pieces as well. They are all excellent quality but in a different category than a Houdini on a bunch of different fronts, including packed size, weight and breathability. Although I disagreed at first, I now agree with the late great Travis Bickle on this - it’s almost as though the Houdini is THE perfect biking shell.
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  53. #53
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    Has anyone used a jacket made from Gore Shake Dry? Reviews are stellar on breathe ability AND waterproofness.
    The best defense against bullsh*t is vigilance. If you smell something, say something.
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  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by June Bug View Post
    Has anyone used a jacket made from Gore Shake Dry? Reviews are stellar on breathe ability AND waterproofness.
    I have not. But I would bet you a beverage of your choice that it's not very breathable.
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    Im looking at getting a new jacket for riding in the high country this summer. Based on this I've narrowed it down to the Houdini but have also looked at the Raceface agent jacket. Has anyone owned one of these?

    Hoping for breathability and some water proofing.

  56. #56
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    I believe I have an Agent. I have 3 RaceFace jackets. None are in the same league tech-wise as the Houdini. I use the Houdini to ride, and the RaceFace jackets when I am off my bike. And never vice versa. Don’t get me wrong - the RaceFace jackets may be worth getting as well, since they make for pretty sweet casual attire.
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  57. #57
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    Lots of choices ~ https://www.pinkbike.com/news/12-rai...and-rated.html

    Packable and breathable jacket recommendations.-p5pb16681342.jpg

    Had some gift cards so tried the Patagonia Dirt Roamer jacket this year. It's basically part Houdini, part stretch Rainshadow. Quality is top notch, bike-specific cut is great, still fairly burly at 220g. It wets-out a bit quicker than true rain jackets, but the material breathes better and the soft fabric backer feels much nicer on your skin. I'm all about the feels...in which the Houdini still rules for warmer or no rain weather.

    The Shakedry jackets are crazy at 100-120g. I'm a bit of a slopster though, so I'd crash and kill that $300+ jacket on the first ride.

    A mate loves his TLD Crank jacket for $70. I've always wanted to try Endura gear as they are from the rain capital...but I've read their quality has really gone down recently? Plus Patagonia's warranty is just too good to pass up.

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    i've been on the search for a windbreaker or light rain jacket. specifically looking for orange since it's hunting season.

    recently order the kuhl and the fox racing jacket, but they didn't fit me well, so i returned them.

    i ordered a marmot precip eco jacket and an acrteryx incendo jacket next, hopefully they fit.

    right now, i'm using an older fox racing windbreaker which seems to be ok. def packable and helps with the wind, but it's black color so that doesn't help.
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