Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Great fit and style, cool fabric, very versatile, great at keeping out wind and light rain.
Cons: Expensive, not quite as compactable as Houdini
Best Uses: Alpine climbing, running, hiking, trekking, sailing, backcountry skiing
This was our Editor's Choice windbreaker because it's just so versatile. We felt we could use it in pretty much any activity, from skiing to biking to hanging at the beach. While it's not the absolute lightest, it seemed to have the best balance of weight and features. It also uses a fabric that feels really cool. That may sound shallow, but when you're spending well north of $100 for a windbreaker, it's important that you feel like the money is going somewhere.
It was a tough call whether to give the Editors' Choice to the Squamish or the Houdini. The Houdini is a little lighter and does fold into a smaller size. If being the absolute lightest is most important to you, get the Houdini. However, we like the fact that the Squamish has wrist cuffs, articulated arms, a better hood, and overall just feels more like a jacket. We used the Squamish skiing in the back country, but were less likely to use the Houdini or other windbreakers for such intense activities.
This jacket is really expensive. For less than half the price the Marmot Trail Wind is a great option. It didn't perform quite as well but it performs well enough that for some it will be hard to justify spending $150 on a windbreaker. That said, this is now one of the layers we use the most. So if you break the price down into dollars per day used, this Squamish is one of the best deals out there.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
We love the look of this jacket. The articulated arms and hood design make this seem like a really lightweight hard shell where some other jackets look like thin stuff sacks with arms. The material also holds up better to constant packing and unpacking. It doesn't crinkle as quickly as other jackets in the review.
This is one of the lighter jackets we tested but it still manages to include some bonus features that other jackets did not. It has Velcro on the cuffs to seal out the cold when skiing, bike riding, or in generally windy conditions (no other sub 5 oz. jacket we tested had this feature). This is one of the reasons why we felt comfortable taking this jacket in the Lake Tahoe back country in winter. It has a real bill on the hood for keeping rain and snow off your face.
While it does not compress as small as the Houdini, it does stuff into its chest pocket as a relatively small package. This makes it very convenient to throw in your pack or suitcase for any occasion.
The Houdini pocket barely accommodated an iPhone. But with the Squamish we easily fit an iPhone and more; scrolling through our NPR podcasts was a breeze.
We like the colors this comes in. Black for those for whom style is most important. Yellow for the uber bike safety conscious. Plus our personal favorite, the bright orange. We especially like this orange since Patagonia discontinued theirs and few other companies offer it. What is this love of orange? It is a great color for having cars see you without being one of the thousands of bikers in a bright yellow top.
The same generous chest pocket also means that this jacket does not compress as small as do some of the others. It's by no means bulky, it's just not as compact as the Patagonia Houdini.
While overall we like the Velcro cuffs, they do add weight and are a little annoying if you never use them. We use them and so we love them. Some people may find them unnecessary, especially for an ultra ultra light jacket.
This is the most expensive jacket in the review. We never thought there would be a jacket that made the Patagonia Houdini seem affordable! But you get what you pay for.
The sizing of all the wind shirts really threw us off. The Cirrus Small was way too small. The Patagonia Houdini Small was just right. The Arc'teryx Squamish Medium was way too big to be worn over a base layer and thin fleece. It did layer well over a puffy jacket. But our main tester (5' 10" 155 lb.) would go with a Small next time around.
— Chris McNamara
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Most recent review: August 4, 2013
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