It seems like the word “hoodie” has gone from its original meaning — a hooded sweatshirt — to become synonymous for anything with a hood. Thank God there are companies like Houdini around that refer to an item for what it is. The Houdini Power Houdi is a hooded sweatshirt through and through, with a warm fleece-like feel and a pliable material all the way up through the hood. But make no mistake, the Power Houdi isn’t your grandma’s hoodie.
My fall-back hooded sweatshirt has traditionally been a five-year-old cotton jobbie I got when the Oregon Ducks football team went to the 2011 BCS bowl game. It’s not especially warm or waterproof, but it’s gotten the job done for half a decade and become like a close companion on campouts and hiking trips. Then Polartec sent the Houdini Power Houdi to review. That UofO hoodie hasn’t seen anything but the inside of my closet since.
The most obvious and superficial difference is their price. I paid about $20 on the discount rack for the UofO cotton hoodie. The Houdini Power Houdi costs 190 Euros, or about $205 depending on the exchange rate. So yeah, there’s that. But with that in mind, I knew darn well that Houdini‘s top had to perform exponentially better than what I’d been using. I was skeptical, in part because I’m notoriously cheap. But it did outperform, and I’ve no doubt its useful life will blow past the five-year benchmark of my old cotton hoodie. That said, it’s not flawless.
First, the good. For those of you who’ve not experienced Polartec‘s Power Stretch Pro material, let me tell you right now it provides an ideal balance of warmth and thinness. The Houdini Power Houdi is about half as thick as the cotton hoodie I had been using, but it provided enough insulation that I stayed warm for three hours snowshoeing in 30-degree temps with nothing on top except a thin undershirt, the Power Houdi and an outer rain shell. Normally I wouldn’t be so bold, but my inner skeptic wanted to see if Houdini’s top would deliver. It did. I didn’t expect that level of heat from a hoodie so thin, but that’s exactly what I got.
The material’s also pretty breathable, as evidenced by the moisture not on my arms or torso but on the inside of my rain shell. (The lack of shell breathability is a story for another time.) That breathability extends to the hood, which is made of the same material and fit my head better than any hood I’ve ever experienced, whether on a jacket or a hoodie. Loving a hood sounds like a simple, and perhaps even a stupid, thing. But the Houdini Power Houdi hood fit my cranium perfectly, with no facial overlap and no unnecessary gap on the top or sides. It also flexed and turned with my head, allowing me to turn and look around at the landscape without struggling to “peek around” the outer fringes.
Houdini’s top incorporates a variety of creature comforts like thumb holes on its long arms, hood-tightening cords on the interior of the hood, and a headphone-holding loop just below the left chin area to keep you from strangling yourself with cords. The only oddball from a design standpoint is the zipper being on the left-hand side, which will only be odd for American men who don’t wear European-designed clothing very often.
Clearly I think there’s a lot to like about the Houdini Power Houdi, but as I said above, there are also parts that left me wanting. While the zipper was a minor nuisance, the material soaks up water like a sponge and takes a long time to dry out — and that’s far more than a nuisance. This was most apparent in the wrists, where the material is nice and thick. Although that adds a nice coziness when dry, the area by your gloves is the area most susceptible to getting wet. This meant that, when wet, my wrists got a bit colder than I would’ve liked. You’ll also want to make sure you wear or bring a rain shell. Like a cotton hoodie, the Power Houdi is only suitable as an outer layer if there’s no chance of rain.
Another issue is sizing. You know that joke about “fat Americans”? Well, if you don’t order one size higher than normal, that’s exactly what you’ll feel like in this hoodie. I normally wear an XL, but the XL Houdini Power Houdi was so tight in areas that I felt a bit like a sausage. This isn’t a shortcoming, per se, but it’s definitely worth noting so you order the appropriate size.
But all things considered, the Houdini Power Houdi is easily the best hoodie I’ve ever worn. Some would say for $200 it’d better be the best, and I couldn’t argue with that. But if you’re planning to really live in your clothes, to have year after year of adventures in them, it’s worth investing in quality. And quality is absolutely what Houdini offers in this hoodie. This is a go-to hoodie for winter adventures, and it’s going to see plenty of night-time camping action in the other three seasons of the year.
The Houdini Power Houdi was provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links.
Houdini Power Houdi Hoodie
- Incredibly warm, even by my cold-dude standards
- Great hood that fits a head like a glove
- Nice breathability
- Simple yet elegant design
- Pricing will scare some people off
- Soaks up water in inopportune spots
- Sizing's tight by U.S. standards