Houdini Come Along Wind Jacket Review
The humble wind jacket is one of my favorite layers. While it won’t replace a full-on rain jacket for wet weather protection, this versatile garment excels across a wide variety of conditions. Aside from my crusty board shorts, sun hoody, and hat, nothing I wear sees more use or abuse than my wind jacket. I deploy this über-comfort weapon on cold mornings or windy passes. Even after warming up, I often forget that it’s on. The wind-blocking yet breathable fabric keeps me in my Goldilocks zone when I would otherwise be too cold in just a shirt, or too hot in a puffy.
The Come Along Jacket from Houdini (women’s) is a unique addition to the wind jacket market with some interesting features in a purposely feature-bare clothing category. Between the thumb loops, 100% recycled nylon, and European-style zipper, there is plenty to keep a gear nerd (read: me) interested. However, the things that really matter are weight, wind protection, and breathability. I had ample opportunity to test out all these things on the trail and in town. What I confirmed is that wind jackets rule, and that I will carry the Come Along on my next thru-hike. Read on to find out why.
Houdini Come Along Jacket At-a-Glance
Weight: 4 ounces, size small, measured at home (3.5oz W’s M)
Type: Lightweight wind protection
Material: 100% recycled, Bluesign certified ripstop nylon with DWR
Available Sizing: XS-XXL men’s, XXS-XL women’s
Country of origin: Estonia (fabric from Japan)
In Houdini’s own words, “if you can bring a small orange or a power bar, you can bring this shell jacket.” The Come Along Jacket is designed to be a minimalist layer that is small and light enough to bring along just about anywhere. Don’t expect it to keep you dry in a downpour, but the thin nylon fabric blocks the wind and a DWR finish repels light precipitation. With a focus on mobility, it is designed to allow for the freedom needed to recreate comfortably, from mountain biking to climbing and hiking. In backpacking terms, this jacket will cut the chill on cold mornings or the wind on a blustery pass when warmer layers would be too aggressive.
Circumstances of Review
During my first overnight trip with this jacket, I surprised myself by keeping it on at literally all times that I wasn’t in bed. That was during a three-day yoyo of Portland’s Wildwood Trail and included a wide range of temperatures, from a freezing morning to midday temps in the 60’s. Direct sun and deep shade with many miles of dappled forest in between.
I put the jacket’s breathability to the test during a spring summit of Mount Adams, when bright sun and reflective snow baked me into a state of dehydration. The Come Along jacket has also lived up to its name by being my primary protective layer during cycle commutes and dog walks. Portland’s fickle spring weather has helped me occasionally exceeded its limits, mostly on purpose.
Houdini Come Along Wind Jacket Features
Ultra-lightweight nylon: The windproof fabric is made using 100% recycled ripstop nylon, which is freaking rad. Combined with the fluorocarbon-free DWR, which adds water resistance, the fabric is Bluesign certified. It’s also super smooth relative to other ripstops.
Adjustable hood: The hood cinches tight around the crown of the head with a single shock cord adjustment on the back of the head. This keeps it on in moderate winds. Three inches of non-adjustable elastic on each side of the face provide freedom of movement even when the hood is tight, and a lightly structured brim keeps it off the forehead.
Adjustable waist: A shock cord around the waist hem helps seal out drafts when wandering on blustery ridges or stepping over city vents.
Elastic cuffs: Basic stretch cuffs keep out most things while being comfortable, lightweight, and unobtrusive.
Thumb loops: Hook your thumbs through the hole in each sleeve to keep it in place and protect the back of your hand from sun, cold, and bugs.
Two-way zipper: The full-length zipper screams’ European’, and will confuse the American user in subtle, yet unsettling ways. The first applies only to those who wear men’s clothing, with the zipper pulls hanging on the opposite side (left). Zippers are unisex in other parts of the world, including in Sweden where this jacket was designed. The second is the two-way capability that is a familiar feature on sleeping bags, but not on clothing. Zipping a jacket open from the bottom is a novel concept for me, and I can imagine scenarios where it makes sense. Exotic quirks aside, the full-length zip is useful for venting and layering.
Chest pocket: The only pocket on the Come Again is of the zipper variety, located on the chest. It’s just big enough to fit my 5.5” phone and is very handy for storing that, as well as other important items like a wallet or snack.
Made to Move design: This is Houdini’s way of saying that this jacket is fit for active pursuits. This includes pre-bent sleeves and thumb loops for keeping them in place no matter what you’re up to whether it be climbing, biking, or hiking. In my experience, ‘Made to Move’ translates to a generous cut that does a good job of promoting freedom despite the low stretch of the thin nylon fabric.
Houdini: Recycle, Rent, Repair, Reuse
Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Houdini has been churning out outdoor apparel for over a quarter-century. A self-proclaimed “progressive outdoor company”, Houdini focuses on ushering in the era of a sustainable outdoor industry through recycling, renting, repairing, and reusing.
Until now, I was admittedly ignorant of the brand and their mission. Upon inspection, it looks like they’re up to some cool stuff. Though only available to Swedes, Houdini offers clothing rentals, which lowers the financial barrier to getting outfitted and reduces the one-and-done effect that clogs our closets. Houdini also offers product recycling when their garments reach the end of their useful life. Combined with sourcing recycled material for manufacturing new gear, building a circular supply chain by using the old to make the new helps keep trash out of landfills, lowers energy and water consumption, and reduces dependence on the damaging extraction of virgin resources. Additionally, in collaboration with Polartec, Houdini developed a new fleece technology that reduces microfiber shedding by 80% versus conventional fleece.
While this might read like blatant propaganda, it is unsolicited and used for a purpose. More important than the specifics of any one brand’s claim of sustainability or environmental responsibility, is consumer awareness. Everything we purchase comes with a cost far greater than the dollar amount we pay at checkout. By design, these costs (environmental, social, animal welfare, human health, etc.) are obscured, and it is up to each of us to ensure that the things we do and the things we buy do not unduly violate the code of ethics or morals that we value as ‘good’ people. No brand is perfect, but the ‘good’ ones are easy to spot.
But why a wind jacket?
The name “wind jacket” says it all. It is a specific tool for a specific job, and the Come Along Jacket is great at blocking wind. Wind chill factor is often ignored, but it is super important to consider wind speed when heading outside. A warm day will quickly turn chilly, and a cold day will turn dangerous if the wind is whipping. A lightweight wind jacket will complement other layers by allowing them to do their job instead of having their hard work erased by wind.
Other well-known layers are capable of the same job (i.e. rain jacket for wind, extra mid-layer for warmth). However, the humble wind jacket is perfect for some conditions in a way that those other items will never match. A rain jacket will block wind, yet no matter how much marketing claims “our most breathable waterproof fabric yet”, it will never be a great choice for high-output activities unless you don’t mind doing them in a puddle of your own sweat. An extra base- or mid-layer—a lightweight fleece, for example—might boost warmth, but won’t block the wind. Or if a mid-layer does have windstopper properties, it will be too hot on warmer days. A wind jacket is also virtually guaranteed to weigh less and pack smaller than either a rain jacket or fleece.
It is true that consistent precipitation will quickly outmatch a wind jacket. Also, the ultra-thin fabric warmth benefits are marginal. However, a wind jacket excels in the right conditions. And for all their limitations, I reach for my wind jacket far more often than my favorite rain jacket or fleece.
Size and Fit
The Come Along Jacket’s defining feature is the super smooth, lightweight fabric, which feels great on bare skin. However, that’s not the point. In fact, this jacket is best used as a performance booster for the layers worn underneath rather than as a next-to-skin layer. When the wind cuts through more permeable fabrics, this wind-stopping fabric puts an end to that nonsense without adding bulk or getting clammy. The baggy fit and long arms make it compatible with puffier layers and do not restrict motion in any way. Unfortunately, these characteristics also result in excess material that is noticeably flappy. This is especially apparent when not wearing a pack. I prefer a slimmer fit for cycling or running.
Likely contributing to this effect is that the sizing of this jacket is significantly oversized, even for an outer layer. My size small Come Along feels equivalent to a medium, or maybe even a large, from some other brands. I heartily recommend sizing down.
Breathability: This is important. The whole reason this garment class exists is to offer extreme breathability relative to rain jackets, in exchange for sacrificing waterproofness. With high hopes and unreasonable expectations, I was pleased to discover that the Come Along Jacket is pretty darn breathable. I am stubbornly minimalist when it comes to layering, and I kept this jacket on from dawn until dusk for three straight days of backpacking. This included frosty mornings and relatively warm days that would normally see me strip to just a sun hoody. This jacket helped maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the day, and I rarely needed to open the zipper to let out steam.
DWR: The efforts of the DWR finish on the Come Along Jacket to repel light moisture are admirable, yet quickly outmatched by consistent precipitation. In all but the briefest encounters with moisture, the fabric wetted out after a few minutes. When that happened, breathability plummeted. Expecting better wet weather performance from a wind jacket is foolish, so make sure that if the weather looks iffy, bring the right tool for the job, bring a rain jacket.
Durability: The fabric is gossamer, yet survives the regular abuse of stretches, pokes, and abrasion. Houdini does not list the denier of this fabric (they use 37g/sqm instead), but I refuse to be bested by the metric system and so converted that value to 1.1oz/sqyd, roughly equivalent to 20D fabric. For lightweight nylon, that’s on the heavier, or more durable side, and also contributes to the strong wind-blocking powers of this garment. And for what it’s worth, my jacket has exhibited zero durability issues so far.
Houdini Come Along Jacket Pros
Recycled: The fabric is 100% recycled nylon. That is awesome. It’s also some of the smoothest fabric that I’ve ever felt.
Thumb loops: These keep the sleeves in place when you’re moving and also provide protection from wind, bugs, and sun for the back of the hands. I am a big fan of thumb loops.
Breathable: The Come Along Jacket is highly breathable. As long as the weather is mostly dry, this jacket can be used for moderate-output activities without steaming up.
Lightweight: My size small jacket weighs 4 ounces on my scale. That’s a little heavier than some other options, but it is a small number for such a versatile piece nonetheless. A wind jacket is arguably a luxury item, and the more I use one, the more justifiable those few ounces become.
Packable: This jacket stuffs into its own chest pocket with satisfying ease. The result is a squishy rectangle about the size of a loaded pb&j sandwich that takes up about the same space as a spare pair of socks. Bringing it along is easy peasy.
Full-length zipper: The full center zip is crucial to modulating venting and temperature. Even though the fabric is breathable, the zipper has an important roll to play and dramatically increases the range of conditions that the jacket can handle comfortably.
Houdini Come Along Jacket Cons
Sizing: I am a size small in just about everything I wear these days, but the ’S’ in this jacket is huge on me. Some sizing variation between brands is to be expected, and with the Come Along Jacket it feels like Houdini is using a different scale entirely. I strongly recommend sizing down, at least for this jacket. People in Sweden must be bigger than this puny American.
Zipper: Starting the zipper flummoxed me about 50% of the time. Generally, I feel like I’m pretty skilled when it comes to zippers (average at least), so I was extra confused when I struggled to line up those first few teeth. It still only takes about a minute when I’m off my game, but in those instances, a minute has never felt longer.
Price: At $180, the Come Along Jacket is a pretty big investment no matter who you are. There’s a lot to love about the Houdini brand and this jacket in particular, but that price tag is prohibitive, especially with other great wind jacket options for much less. However, in purchasing this jacket, you are also voting for conscientious apparel. I’ve wasted more money on far less.
Color options: Both women’s and men’s versions of this jacket are only available in two colors: Misty Beach and Black. The former is unique and I like it, but some will feel their personality squelched by such limited choice.
Houdini’s Come Along Jacket is a solid option in a surprisingly competitive wind jacket market. The fabric is a true highlight with a smoother-than-silk touch and high performance in wind protection and breathability metrics. The thumb loops, chest pocket, and full-length zipper are small yet important features that I appreciate despite this being a minimalist jacket.
If the Come Along stumbles anywhere, it is in how it fits. The mobility afforded by the looser cut is excellent, but the extra fabric in the sleeves and body just felt sloppy on me. I am confident that I would be comfortable in a size smaller while maintaining the ability to layer a bulky puffy underneath. The high price tag is also a potential issue. The premium price is in part explained by Houdini’s commitment to ethical and environmental responsibility. Ultimately up to the consumer to decide if this is justified.
For my part, wearing recycled material is a pretty cool feeling. I am excited to see brands adopting these lower-impact fabrics. The low weight, packability, and versatility make it an easy choice for me to bring the Come Along Jacket even when I don’t expect to use it. It’s surprised me before, and I’m sure it will again.
Similar Wind Jackets
Read our review of the Tepona here
Cotopaxi x Teva Teca Windbreaker
Weight: 5 ounces
Material: Polyester taffeta with DWR
Sustainability: Constructed with remnant fabric (scraps)
Disclaimer: the Houdini Come Along Wind Jacket was donated for purpose of review.
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