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The Forgotten, Versatile Poncho

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

Multi-purpose utility with SUPERIOR rain protection!

Today we are accustomed to HIGH-PRICED options when choosing outdoor gear. High-tech choices range from titanium cookware to Dyneema fiber tents to carbon fiber hiking poles and more. Often, we just assume that the MOST EXPENSIVE option is always the best.

But there are “old school” options that have worked for generations and STILL work today. That is one of the benefits of decades of camping, hiking, and outdoor experience. My experience and trial-by-error knowledge has been cumulative before any of the modern “standards” like Gore-Tex, Kevlar, and other synthetics were invented.

One example is the simple poncho for rain protection. Ponchos are a timeless STANDARD for hiking, fishing, and camping. More than 50 years ago, my first poncho was a rubberized canvas version that was standard B.S.A. issue – and had been adapted from many decades of military usage. The reason for this standardization: ponchos simply WORK!

Now, you can benefit from the timeless design of the poncho combined with lightweight and durable materials. My new favorite is shown below. This is a SEAMLESS poncho constructed from superlight, double-coated 15D Silnylon.

Not familiar with the versatility of the poncho? What have you been missing? Well first, ponchos have ADVANTAGES for rain protection:

  • NO seams over your shoulders to leak.

  • Drawstrings at the hood opening and back of the hood for better protection.

  • Open sides with hook and loop closures for better ventilation.

  • Extended length that allows for coverage OVER your backpack, keeping the contents AND the soft shoulder straps and waist belt DRY.

  • Packs in the included stuff sack, about the size of a water bottle.

The MAIN benefit of the poncho design is that it doubles as a shelter. This poncho measures 89” x 56”. I have used my poncho to cover up when an unexpected rain shower surprised me sleeping under the stars. It makes a great ground cover when tarp camping. It also makes a good mini shelter for a lunch break in a steady drizzle – or in the blazing sun.

As a “raincoat” the open sides offer unmatched ventilation. In any activity, “breathable” fabrics have always drenched me from the inside. The poncho is 100% waterproof yet still provides better ventilation. Try one while backpacking or portaging a canoe and you won’t go back to a clammy rain jacket.

Best of all, the price for the poncho featured here is ONLY $32.90! Compare the advantages and versatility of the simple poncho to rain jackets that now routinely cost over $100.00 – even $200.00! Even with a rain jacket, you can make the case that this 220-gram package is worth adding to your kit.

There is only one downside to ponchos. The same loose design that is perfect for warm weather ventilation might be a disadvantage in cold and windy conditions. Likewise, the loose fabric advantages for backpacking and canoeing can be disadvantages for bikepacking and moto-touring.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this website are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, The Great Out There will earn an affiliate commission if you click on the link and finalize a purchase.

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