Walking in the great outdoors is a brilliant way to clear your mind. When the rain comes, however, it can turn into a wet disaster as all your belongings become soaked. There are a few great ways to protect yourself against the rain but is a poncho one of them?
A poncho is great for backpacking as they are light, take up minimal space, and are easy to use. There are times when other outer layers may be more suitable and we’ll explain all that here.
Why You Should Carry a Poncho
There are a few great reasons why carrying a poncho would be a great idea. Depending on the conditions, there are times when it’s better to wear a waterproof jacket. Here we look at the times when a poncho is the best option.
Ease of use
One of the biggest reasons to carry a poncho is their ease of use. They are easily accessible and can be placed over your head very quickly, giving you instant protection. Their simplicity allows you to get them on, even the conditions are cold and wet.
A poncho also takes up a minimal amount of space. They can be folded up tightly in your backpack, giving you more room for other essentials. It makes them perfect as an emergency backup if you’re not sure whether or not you’ll encounter rain.
Comfortable to wear
Ponchos aren’t going to restrict your movement or feel too heavy. If it’s raining and the temperature is quite high then a full rain jacket may make you sweat and feel very uncomfortable.
As they are lightweight and breathable, these aren’t problems you’ll have to worry about with a poncho. The ventilation remains high and you won’t feel sticky. They allow you to have that rain protection without the usual downsides.
The biggest reason to wear a poncho is clearly due to the waterproofing you get. You know that once that downpour is over, you’ll be able to take that poncho off and be completely dry underneath.
Backpacking ponchos can be made from a few different materials but they will all allow the rain to run off your poncho and away from your gear underneath. They are able to do that without the weight associated with rain jackets.
How to Choose the Best Hiking and Backpacking Poncho
Not all ponchos are made equal and it’s important to know what you should be looking for should you choose to buy one.
Quite a few materials can be used for a poncho and we’ll take a brief overview of them here. While waterproofing is the most important feature, comfort is also essential.
PVC – This material is often found on the cheaper ponchos. It has a good level of waterproofing but the durability often isn’t the highest and the material isn’t breathable.
PU nylon – Commonly used for the likes of tents, PU nylon is lightweight and flexible while also being relatively cheap.
Dyneema – This is relatively expensive but it’s extremely strong and lightweight, making it a brilliant option.
Silnylon – This is a mixture of silicone and nylon. You can also mix silicone with polyester to get silpoly. These materials are quite tough but with less flexibility.
Whatever material you are using, the most important thing is that they have a high level of waterproofing. This isn’t just about the material used but also looking at the seams and the overall build quality. Also, look for ponchos with a hood for ultimate rain protection.
Cheaper ponchos can tear fairly easily and rip. This can ruin a hiking trip and make your life miserable. You want to ensure that yours can stand up to the rigors of backpacking and hiking. If you’re using your poncho often, it makes sense to spend a little more on a high-quality model.
All ponchos are slightly different and there are a few different features that you can look out for to make them even easier to use.
Having a storage bag can make them very easy to pack away as they will squeeze down very small. Other backpackers just prefer to use a small pocket for their poncho.
Other features aim to make it more like a jacket with drawstrings, pockets and zippers. These can all be potential weak points for tears and water ingress and therefore some prefer to not have such features but they can make them easier to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who makes the best rain poncho?
There are many great makers of rain poncho out there and you want to make sure you’re buying quality, not just a brand. That being said, there are names you can trust such as Frogg Toggs, Charles River and JTENG but there are plenty of other great makers out there.
Do rain ponchos work?
Rain ponchos are extremely efficient at keeping your dry. If you looked at them from a top-down view then you’d see that the rain only has one place to go and that’s to the floor. They are especially good in downpours where you would otherwise get soaked.
What is emergency poncho?
Emergency ponchos are usually cheap, thin and not built to last. They are there as a protection measure should be caught out in a storm. There are some that can be reused but often they are disposed of after they’ve been used once.
What is the best rain poncho?
Everyone is going to have different demands and there is not one poncho that is going to be the best for everyone. The best rain poncho will be the one that meets all your needs and makes you the most comfortable when you’re on your hiking or backpacking adventure.
Are ponchos flattering?
When people think of ponchos, they will often picture cheap or disposable ones. The best ponchos for hiking and backpacking come in a range of different styles and colors. Some of them look great while also giving you the protection from the rain that you need.