A poncho is more than a raincoat, it is a survival gear that you must have in your bug out bag. Although I would agree with you that most ponchos don’t look visually pleasing, what makes them stand out are their usefulness and practicality when it comes to survival.
Other than keeping you and your stuff dry, some ponchos can also be used as shelters in the wilderness. It is light-weight and can be packed easily in your bag. You will not regret taking a poncho with you.
Through this article, I will share my thoughts on the best ponchos, how to choose the ponchos, other purposes of ponchos and the frequently asked question (FAQs).
How to Choose
There are some considerations that you will need to see before choosing the suitable poncho for you.
This is the number one thing that I will consider when choosing a poncho. After all, it is what poncho serves to function primarily. The ability of water resistance depends on the built material and seams of the poncho. For example, taped seam would provide better water-resistant than other seams. Other design such hood will also give more coverage to protect you from the rain.
Size of the poncho
Most of the ponchos are designed to be “one size fits all”. Some ponchos are designed to be gender-specific and some are customized for the kid, so their size would differ. There are also ponchos which only covers your upper body while some give you coverage until the knee section.
Of course, how you plan to use the poncho would determine which poncho size you should go after. If you are taking a big pack with you during your journey, you should choose a larger poncho to cover your pack. A large poncho is also capable of more functions. A smaller poncho, however, would be easier to pack and carry around. The tradeoff exists so you should get the balance right.
The bottom line of a good poncho is its durability and versatility, balanced with reasonable price. A poncho can be made from different materials. The usual materials are PVC, PU-coated nylon, cuben fiber, silicone nylon, silicone polyester, polyester, and polyethene.
PVC is sturdy against adverse weather condition but it is quite uncomfortable to wear on a hot day, and it is less environmentally friendly. The contrast is polyethene where it is more friendly to the environment but not as strong as the PVC. PU-coated nylon is durable and provides good resistance against water but it is also noticeably hot while wearing it. A cuben fiber is a combination of plastic mylar with other fibers. This makes the poncho light but more expensive at the same time. Silicone nylon or silicone polyester, on the other hand, is affordable and durable. Polyester ponchos are lightweight, durable and can retain its shape well after wearing.
The other material you should consider is the Ripstop fabric. Unlike normal fabric, this material doesn’t allow the spread when you accidentally rip the poncho or make a hole in it. This prevents further damage to the poncho.
This choice depends on whether you want to be seen easily in the wilderness.
If you are going hunting, you should go for green or dark colored poncho to camouflage and blend in with the surrounding. If you plan to wear poncho for survival purpose, it would be good to wear the poncho in bright color such as red, yellow, or any color that contrasts with the environment. During the night time, a suitable poncho would be the neon poncho that can reflect light.
Some ponchos come with grommets and eyelets. This is important if you want your poncho to be multifunctional. With the help of the grommets and eyelets, you can hang the poncho between branches and use it as a roof to shelter yourself from the rain.
The pocket feature is also useful if you want to store small items without reaching the bag. When a hood comes with the poncho, you should see whether drawstring is attached around the neck area. The drawstring can adjust the size of the hood and keep the water out more effectively. Besides, some ponchos have attached Velcro straps or buttons at the sides to give you a better fit.
Types of poncho
You should also consider whether you want to have a disposableor long-lasting poncho. It would depend on your purpose of having the poncho. Normally, the long-lasting poncho would have higher quality but also more expensive. The lower budget poncho often comes in cheap bundled pack but they are quite flimsy in windy condition.
The price range for poncho is large, it can go from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars due to the difference of materials used to make the poncho. The better the material, the higher is the price of the poncho. The features would also affect the price. Ultimately, all purchase decisions will come to how much you can afford.
Best Military Poncho
The Terra Hiker Rain Poncho is designed to be versatile. As a ‘3-in-1’ poncho, it is suitable for various outdoor activities, be it camping, mountaineering or fishing. It is also capable of being converted into a mat or sunshade with the use of thickened eyelets on the hem.
The poncho is made of 210T high-density polyester and fabric which is rated as PU 3000mm, making it a waterproof poncho. The seams of the poncho are also tested with a caulking treatment to prevent any seepage of water through the poncho. The hooded design further protects you from exposure to water.
The design of the poncho also enables your backpack to get covered so you won’t face any issue in your trail. The poncho, which weighs at 0.68 pounds, can be folded into 8 x 3 x 2 in, this makes storage in the bag easier.
The poncho comes with 4 striking color. The army green and dark blue versions featured cuff with Velcros while the black and orange versions come with built-in pockets. The black and orange versions give more space (80L) than the army green and dark blue versions (60L).
|• Issue with fitting|
• Vulnerable in windy conditions, especially at the lower half of the poncho
• Coverage is not sufficient compared to other ponchos
• Some contained chemical odour
The Mil-Tec Waterproof Ripstop Poncho is a 100% nylon military poncho and it is aimed to prevent rips in the product. It is one of the heavy-duty ponchos which you can rely on in the toughest weather condition.
This poncho only comes in a single size and has the dimension of 84inches long with 56 inches wide, this would give you an idea of whether this is the product for you. The poncho is also designed to be multifunctional. It can be converted into a shelter with the use of eyelets. The press-stud poppers at the sides of the poncho allow it to be used as a sleeping bag cover. Although it weighs 1.5 pounds, it is considered lighter than other military ponchos. This poncho can be folded into 9 inches long and 7 inches wide for carriage.
|• Durable and heavy-duty|
• Reasonable weight
|• The wearer may experience heat due to the material of the product|
The name of the product tells you its main feature – it is ultra-light! It was reported to weigh at only 0.475 pounds (7.6 ounces / 218 grams) which makes the weight negligible. Credits should be given to the nonwoven polypropylene material.
The product comprised of two layers – where the outer layer is resistant to water, and the soft inner layer gives you maximum comfort. The side snaps and hood with cord locks allow you to get a better fit to the poncho.
The product measures at 40 inches (bottom of the hood to bottom of the poncho) by 52 inches (arm to arm). For a person who is 5ft 11 inches, the poncho could reach the person’s knee and elbow. On this basis, you should be able to know if the size fits you.
The ultra-lite poncho comes with 4 colours, carbon black, khaki, dark green, and blue. My personal favourite is the khaki, see for yourself and you will like it too.
|• Very light|
• Comfortable to wear
|• Potential issues with snaps on the poncho|
• Thin construction
The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Tarp Poncho is the most premium ponchos in our picks. We believe despite the price tag, it is still a competitive product.
First, it is one of the most lightweight ponchos in the market. The use of 15 denier-rated fabric makes it only weighs at 0.5 pounds (8 ounces). The poncho also provides good coverage for you. The big size (57 inches x 104 inches) not only shield you but also your backpack.
The waterproof is impressive because of the tape-sealed and double stitched seams, nylon at the exterior and polyurethane inner coating.
The poncho is also described as “2-in-1” as it could be converted into a tent for sunshade or shelter. The shelter could house 2 people. The other features such as sides snap and 3-panel hood construction enable better protection and better fit.
|• Packed with features|
• Well ventilated
• Provides decent coverage
|• Could do better under windy conditions|
• Price could be a deal-breaker
The M-Tac Military Army Ripstop Poncho for Men is a tactical poncho tailored for military men and this means the product would be simple and multifunctional.
Featuring the ripstop nylon fabric, the poncho is ready for heavy-duty missions. Product durability is the last thing you should be worried about. The poncho is ready to be used under many circumstances, such as ground tarp, sunshade or shelter, that is made possible by the corded eyelets and the large size of 87 inches in length by 57 inches in width. Other features such as drawcords, metal grommets, cuff buttons, and a hoodie are also available in this poncho. In short, it is a well-balanced poncho with a special focus on its longevity.
• Well-balanced poncho
|• Needs improvement on cordage|
• The coverage at the back could be longer
• Confusion over the manufacturing country
|Product||Terra Hiker Rain Poncho||Mil-Tec Waterproof Ripstop Poncho||Frogg Toggs Men’s Ultra-Lite 2 Ponchos||Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Tarp Poncho||M-Tac Military Army Ripstop Poncho for Men|
Other Purposes of Ponchos
Besides keeping you dry, a poncho is also versatile in other emergency uses, credits to the strong and waterproof fabric.
The strength in the fabric can be used as a shelter against rain and storm. All you need is your poncho, paracord and some branches to set up the shelter.
With just two 20ft. paracord, you can make yourself a hammock and have a sound sleep between the woods.
The strong fabric of the poncho enables it to be the natural choice in transporting an injured person. With some sticks and paracords, a simple stretcher is ready.
The poncho would be a useful bandage thanks to its waterproof ability. The injury could heal faster and the risk of infection is lower if it is not exposed to water.
This deals with swollen injury areas. To make a cold compress, fill the poncho with some snow or cold water and wrap the poncho into a sachet bag. The cold compress is ready.
Be it water from river or rainwater, the poncho can be turned into a water container. The collected water can be further heated under the sun. The water can also be distilled if you know how to make fire. Distilled water can be collected by placing poncho above the boiling water.
If you have extra poncho with you, you can use the poncho as a tarp to keep you or your item from getting wet. For example, if the ground is wet and muddy, you can cover the area with a poncho and sleep on it. That way, you can keep dry and clean.
Poncho is also useful as a carrier either in as a bag or sledge. When you have too many essential items with you and the room of your bag is limited, you can always put some of the items to the poncho. In this case, the poncho becomes your second bag.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Difference between rain ponchos and rain jackets?
A: Essentially, both products serve the same purpose. But ponchos are more versatile in the emergency or survival situations. If the poncho is big enough, it could also cover your bag from the rain, something that could not be done by the jackets.
Q: Difference between waterproof and water-resistant?
A: Waterproof means the product repels water and there is no risk of water getting into the product. Water-resistant product could withstand splashing of water but water is likely to seep through if the product is exposed to water for far too long time.
Q: What is a taped seam?
A: This is a seam that covers the holes from the stitching so no water can seep through. It is done by melting the tapes over the seams.
Q: What to do if I still feel cold after putting on the poncho?
A: To keep yourself warm, I would advise getting a poncho liner (aka woobie) as the second layer of your poncho by putting it underneath your poncho. It could trap the heat and give necessary warmth to you. You can see more about poncho liner here.
Q: How to make a shelter from the poncho?
A: The variation of shelter is more than you think. They include the plow point wedge, the lean-to shelters, the alpha tent and the A-frame. Watch this and this for a hands-on guide to build a shelter.
Getting a quality poncho is handy for you in the case of SHTF. With a poncho, you would be able to either keep moving in the rain to continue your journey or have a shelter set up to wait for the rain to stop. Either way, you stay dry and warm.
The ponchos that I have recommended were picked from the vast choices. It would be hard to choose the best poncho and it all depends on your needs. Each chosen poncho would have their special features and I believe that at least one of them would attract you.