I have been using the North Face Verto wind jacket/shirt for over a year now and have got to say that I have been quite pleased with it. It is light weight, blocks the wind and is fairly water-resistant. As far as breathability, I cannot really complain about that either… on the few occasions that I have “overheated” inside it, this was quickly remedied by simply unzipping the front zipper. It fits me well and I can layer it with the rest of my clothing as I want it too. If there is anything I can complain about on this jacket, it is the hood and the elastic wrist cuffs…and maybe the chest pocket.
So, really though, everything was fine and dandy, until I started reading a recent thread about wind shirts over on BPL…
This thread has some real, actual, measured numbers concerning breathability of a few various wind shirts, and to no surprise, the Patagonia Houdini seems to offer a nice marriage of both being breathable as well as windproof. Now, I will say, the Houdini was in the running when I initially bought my Verto, but, what really spoke loudly to me about the Houdini at that time was the fact that they were $125 (more $ than the Verto) and on average 4.3 oz (also heavier than the Verto). So, in the end I went with the Verto, obviously.
However, earlier this week, REI decided to clearance their clearance, which means heavy discounts! The (Spring 2012) Houdini was knocked down from a strong $125 to a smooth $37.83… so yeah, after reading the above mentioned thread, and considering the ridiculously low price, I picked one up quick! After reading some threads on fit, I decided to go with an XL (as opposed to my Large Verto) and the only color available was “Red Delicious” (but at $37, I can’t complain…and it could be worse…) And it arrived today!
So, how about some initial comparisons based on my personal preferences:
- Weight: The Verto is 1.6 oz lighter.
- Feel: The Houdini has a much softer, more comfortable next-to-skin feel.
- Pockets: The horizontal pocket on the Houdini holds items more secure when wearing.
- Wrist cuffs: I do not like the elastic wrist cuffs on either jacket
- Hood: The hood on the Houdini is a much better fitting hood.
- Waist cinch: I prefer the simple, elastic waist cinch on the Verto.
So, for me, this is going to be a tough call. There are features that I like about both jackets, but, they are not all together on one… Maybe if the Verto had the better fitting, adjustable hood, or if the Houdini had the simpler, easier to use waist cinch… and lets not forget lighter weight…
But, what I really wanted to find out was the breathability vs wind blocking abilities of the Houdini. According to the numbers in the thread above, the Houdini sounds like it will be more breathable, but I question its ability to block the wind like I want it to. So, I plan to carry the Houdini with me on a few hikes I have planned starting in January through the end of May of 2013, and then I can make my decision from there…
UPDATE: I cut the cord lock, the nylon ribbons that held the cord lock in place, and about 10 inches of the shock cord off of the cinch around the waist. I simply tied the ends of the shock cord together to keep a little tension around the waist. Now, in my opinion, this is both easier to use and works better than before, and the fact is that this dropped an amazing 0.2 oz off the total weight of the Houdini, so now my XL comes in at 4.3 oz!
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: I paid for this jacket with my own money. I am not obligated to write about this jacket.