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Houdini Wadi - Women's Review

A fairly standard pair that is light and flexible but has a cumbersome integrated belt
Houdini Wadi - Women's
Photo: Houdini Sports
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Price:  $80 List | $79.95 at Backcountry
Pros:  Comfortable, ultralight, versatile
Cons:  Runs large, expensive, belt is inconvenient
Manufacturer:   Houdini Sports
By Sara Aranda ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 27, 2021
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 10
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 7
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 6
  • Water Resistance - 15% 5
  • Features - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Houdini Wadi is on the more traditional side of the spectrum, with a long inseam and a simple, straightforward look. What isn't so traditional is the waistband and belt design. The waistband has no snaps, buttons, or zipper, and therefore is reliant on the belt to keep the shorts on the waist. Even though the fabric itself is ultralight, flexible, and breathable, the comfort is a little complicated due to the belt system and the overall fit. Style also isn't a major forte for this model, but performance scores are nonetheless satisfactory for basic summer hiking needs. Our testers tended to prefer other options.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $79.95 at Backcountry$64.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$64.95 at Backcountry
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$39.95 at REI$24.99 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Comfortable, ultralight, versatileComfortable, water-resistant, breathable, versatile for general outdoor recreationStylish, comfortable, versatileLightweight, breathable, athletic, low priceAffordable, water resistant, breathable
Cons Runs large, expensive, belt is inconvenientNot the cheapest, not the most stylishMinimal water resistance, minimal featuresBaggy looking, no hand pocketsUnnecessary belt, small cargo pockets
Bottom Line A fairly standard pair that is light and flexible but has a cumbersome integrated beltA versatile and high-performing pair of shorts with subtle styling and deep pocketsStyle and function combine to offer greater versatility, breathability, and high comfortA seeming hybrid between hiking and running shorts, these aerobics-focused shorts offer high comfort but no hand pocketsFunctional and fun, these shorts cover all the basics
Rating Categories Houdini Wadi - Women's Dynama 2 Bermuda Prana Alana Active Pursuits 4.5" Sandy River Cargo
Comfort And Mobility (35%)
7
9
8
9
7
Venting And Breathability (20%)
8
7
7
8
9
Versatility (15%)
6
9
7
6
5
Water Resistance (15%)
5
7
5
6
7
Features (15%)
6
7
6
2
5
Specs Houdini Wadi -... Dynama 2 Bermuda Prana Alana Active Pursuits 4.5" Sandy River Cargo
Weight (in oz) 4.6 oz 4.6 oz 6.7 oz 4.9 oz 5.1 oz
Material 56% nylon, 38% recycled nylon, 7% elastane 94% nylon, 6% elastane 95% recycled nylon, 5% spandex 86% polyester/14% spandex (liner: recycled polyester | rib: 91% polyester, 9% spandex) 100% nylon
Water Resistance Minimal DWR Minimal Minimal Perfecta Plus II quick-dry
Sizing (waist, length options) XXS - XL XS - XL 0 - 14 XS - XL XS - XL
Sun Protection No UPF 50 UPF 50 UPF 50 Yes, UPF 30
Pockets 4 4 4 1 4
Waist Strap/Fasten Integrated waistbelt Elastic waistband Double metal snap, zip fly Elastic waistband Elastic waistband with plastic snap and zipper fly, optional belt

Our Analysis and Test Results

At first glance, these shorts have hiking written all over them. When it comes to pocket space and material comfort, this piece of apparel shines. The fit runs large and sits baggy on the hips for us, which drastically impacts how this model ranks among the others tested. Made with 56% nylon, 38% recycled nylon, and 7% elastane, they are partly recycled and the brand accepts old clothing back to recycle as well.

Performance Comparison


A very casual and straightforward pair that is easy to move in.
A very casual and straightforward pair that is easy to move in.
Photo: Sara Aranda

Comfort and Mobility


We appreciate the low-profile waistband on these shorts and how the nylon is light and relatively soft to the touch. Weighing in at only 4.6 ounces, the overall feel is comforting. Mobility is also high with these shorts as the leg openings have a 21-inch circumference. The relaxed design and flexible fabric make for great apparel and we enjoy them for all-day wear, for the most part. The fit is what is awkward for us: very baggy around the hips for the size Small we tested, so we feel that they run large. Basically, without the belt, they would fall right off of us. Cinching the belt is awkward and tightening it enough for our lead tester meant crinkling the waistband, which isn't ideal for long-term wear and doesn't look great, either.

Running large in the waist, the belt system is a bit awkward and...
Running large in the waist, the belt system is a bit awkward and bulky.
Photo: Sara Aranda

Venting and Breathability


Having moisture-wicking qualities help regulate body temperature as you sweat. This metric where this pair truly shines. During testing, we were able to see light easily through the fabric and our breath test was a breeze as well. Due to the lightweight nature of the fabric and the generous leg openings, airflow is a given and much appreciated.

The fabric is lightweight and breathes really well.
The fabric is lightweight and breathes really well.
Photo: Sara Aranda

Versatility


Style-wise, the Wadi is what we would call conservative. They have a traditional traveler look, which isn't as trendy to wear around town or to dress up for dinner in (for the taste of our testers, at least). Activity-wise, these shorts fare well during floor routines, climbing, and other sports that require lots of mobility. Their length does allow for more versatility across colder temperatures, which can be a huge plus, and also if you find yourself bushwhacking unexpectedly.

Having a more relaxed fit and flexible fabric make for great...
Having a more relaxed fit and flexible fabric make for great mobility and versatility across different activities.
Photo: Sara Aranda

Water Resistance


During our testing, we found the water to absorb readily into the fabric. There was no noticeable beading, but we know that this isn't necessarily a must-have feature for hiking. The nylon dried quickly thanks to its thin and technical nature. Being able to air out so effortlessly is a true highlight all the same.

A close-up after spraying water reveals no water resistance from the...
A close-up after spraying water reveals no water resistance from the material, but at least it is quick-drying.
Photo: Sara Aranda

Features


From a gusseted crotch to its stow pocket, there are a few features to this pair. These shorts have four pockets, two in the front and one in the back, with a snap closure, plus the zippered, hidden stow pocket in the right front pocket. All of the hand pockets are extra deep, which is always a bonus. The stow pocket actually fits the entirety of the shorts, which is nice, but doing so wrinkles them badly. There are no belt loops or added sun protection. The lack of belt loops is due to its integrated belt design, which is our biggest point of contention. The belt is a G hook design, meaning there is a G-shaped clasp that you passively hook into sewn loops along the belt. We feel this system is very inefficient and cumbersome to operate. Hooking the clasp isn't very easy and for our lead tester, she had a large tail after finding the right tightness, which stuck out awkwardly. There is nowhere to tuck a tail into, plus, since the size runs so large, having a tail seems unavoidable.

The Houdini Wadi comes with its own stow pocket that we can confirm...
The Houdini Wadi comes with its own stow pocket that we can confirm does stash the entire pair of shorts, a potential advantage when traveling.
Photo: Sara Aranda

Value


Made in Portugal, these shorts retail for a hefty price for how relatively simple they are. We feel the high price is a bit steep for our practical hiking purposes, and, compared to all the other pairs we've tested, they just aren't particularly astonishing. Bottom line, if you can afford them and like the traveler look, they are still a quality item.

Conclusion


We found that the basal function of the Houdini Wadi is to provide a casual option for easy to moderate trails, notably for those wanting more leg coverage. They rank below the middle of the bunch, but depending on what you prioritize, these will nonetheless be a dependable choice.

Sara Aranda