Ouraward for the best rain poncho for hiking goes to Coleman’s EVA poncho. Coleman has a long history of producing low-cost but high-performing camping and outdoor products, and their EVA poncho is no exception.
This poncho weighs in at 28 ounces and is made with tough, 0.15-millimeter EVA fabric that provides outstanding, full-body protection from the elements. It also boasts welded seams to prevent leaks, a drawstring hood that stops moisture from making its way onto your neck, and side snap closures that keep the fabric from flapping in the wind.
The Coleman EVA is designed to fit most adults but also scrunches down to a small, tidy bundle that can be squeezed into the bottom or hood of your backpack. It also comes with a handy storage sack for in-pack protection and to keep the rest of your gear dry after use.
One other lovable, non-standard feature found in this poncho is a series of metal grommets that allow you to pitch it as a makeshift emergency shelter in a bind. Not a deal-maker, maybe, but handy to have nonetheless.
Bottom Line: A hard-wearing, low-cost, and high-performing piece of kit that merits its place in any backpack, whether as a go-to first line of defense against wet weather or as an emergency backup.
Best Backpacking Poncho For Rain & Snow
Looking for the best rain poncho for wet-weather hiking?
You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:
- Why you need a poncho for hiking
- What to consider when purchasing rain ponchos
- Reviews of the seven best rain ponchos for hiking
- Our unbiased review of the best hiking & backpacking poncho on the market
Mother nature is fickle and unpredictable. One minute we’re hiking in glorious sunshine. The next minute, we’re getting drenched in the kinda deluge that has people building arks.
Ark-building aside, what can we do to protect ourselves when the weather takes a turn for the biblical while we’re out on the trails?
Well, carrying waterproofs is never a bad start. But what about those days when even these won’t keep us dry. Or on those sunny days when carrying 3 pounds of water-resistant pants and jackets seems like overkill?
Enter the waterproof poncho!
This lightweight, low-volume piece of kit has a lot to offer. They allow you to double down on waterproofing with an all-but impermeable external layer. They weigh next to nothing. They can be left at the bottom of your backpack and forgotten about until needed. Heck, in a pinch they can moonlight as an emergency tarp shelter!
Not bad for an accessory many a time deemed optional or unnecessary, right?
Making your own DIY poncho is easy to do. But for those of you with less time on your hands, we’ve drawn up a list of the top hiking ponchos on the market and included a comprehensive guide that will help you find the best poncho for hiking out there in 2021.
Table of Contents
- Editors Pick
- Best Backpacking Poncho For Rain & Snow
- Why Take Ponchos with You on the Trails
- What to Look for in Hiking Ponchos?
- Tips on How to Care for Your New Rain Poncho
- Which Poncho is the Best for Outdoor Activities?
Why Take Ponchos with You on the Trails
Are you curious why experienced hikers always carry rain ponchos? Ponchos are loose and airy. Most are large enough to cover a jacket and a hiking backpack. Ponchos also tend to offer enhanced air circulation. As such, hikers are less likely to be trapped inside a layer of sweat.
Furthermore, they are usually small enough that they can be packed neatly into a backpack or jacket pocket. Hikers can stay ahead of adverse weather without overloading their gear packs. When you’re trapped in the middle of a sudden downpour, it is nice to have a rain poncho you can quickly sling over your rain jacket and gear.
What to Look for in Hiking Ponchos?
A quality waterproof or water-resistant material is the foundation of every rain poncho for hiking.
Ponchos are made from a variety of materials, offering everything from water-resistance to waterproof protection. Popular protective coatings include DWR (durable waterproof repellent) and membrane coatings. Water-resistant materials can handle brief and moderate exposure to water, such as light rain showers. Meanwhile, waterproof fabrics can be completely submerged.
DWRs are solid coatings that are added to the exterior of rain ponchos. They prevent the fabric below them from becoming saturated with water. Membrane fabrics are sometimes also used to produce rain ponchos. These fabrics feature a network of microscopic holes that allow hot air and sweat to escape but prevent precipitation from entering.
Manufacturers use hydrostatic head ratings to classify how much water a garment can handle before leaking. Hydrostatic head ratings range from 1,500 to 30,000 millimeters. The lowest ratings are suitable for light rain showers, whereas the higher numbers can handle heavy downpours. As the ratings exceed 20,000 millimeters, they begin to lose some of their breathability.
Breathable & Lightweight
High-quality hiking ponchos keep you and your gear out of the elements. This can lead to a lack of airflow around your body and eventually evolve to sticky, itchy conditions. Breathable membrane, liquid coatings, and DWRs can be applied to a rain poncho to ensure that water runs off its surface.
Keep in mind that extreme waterproofing measures tend to detract from a poncho’s breathability. In particular, DWR coatings lack breathable pores. On the other hand, pricier laminate membranes permit moisture and hot air to travel out of but not into a rain poncho.
Another essential consideration is a rain poncho’s weight. Cuben fiber, polyethylene, and sil-nylon fabrics tend to be incredibly lightweight and flexible. Lightweight materials should offer adequate water-resistance, waterproofing, and breathability.
Size & Fit
Many ponchos are one-size-fits-all or, more accurately, one-size-fits-most. Check the dimensions of a poncho to ensure that it offers you adequate coverage from your head down. Many rain ponchos boast extended backs panels. These are intended to cover large gear packs.
Ponchos may be designed to drape fall just below the waist or past the knees. The arm coverage also varies significantly between models. Consider a rain poncho’s cut and dimensions to determine how it will fall on your body. The product should fit loosely and never inhibit your natural movements.
Storage Size & Weight
It should be easy for you to pack your poncho in a small space. Many ponchos come with complimentary storage sacks. These sacks tend to feature lockable drawstrings. These elements enable users to compress their rain gear into a compact bundle. The complete package should easily fit into a jacket pocket or backpack pouch.
Like most outdoor gear items, the price of a rain poncho is determined by its several elements, including brand, material, extras, and warranty. You’ll pay more for a durable poncho that can handle several outdoor excursions. There are also plenty of inexpensive options on the market.
While extras like zipper pockets, insulated liners, and secure cuffs bulk up the price of rain ponchos, these all-weather clothing essentials are still relatively inexpensive. Ultimately, you are sure to find a reliable option within your budget range.
Pockets, grommets, and sleeves! These are just a few of the extra features that have us drooling over our favorite hiking ponchos. Many hiking gear manufacturers go out of their way to expand the possibilities of their rain ponchos lines. As a result, many models are designed to double as sunshades and shelters.
Tips on How to Care for Your New Rain Poncho
You should clean your wet weather clothing after every use. Use a mild detergent or dish soap to scrub off dirt. Allow the gear to drip dry in an indoor area. Do not place your rain poncho in direct sunlight. High heat may melt or discolor synthetic fibers.
Consider spot cleaning your rain poncho before giving it a top to bottom scrub.
How should I store my hiking poncho?
Never pack a wet poncho. Trapped moisture creates smelly mildew and mold. Allow the poncho to drip dry before packing it.
How can I be sure that a poncho will fit?
Make sure to check the dimensions of a poncho before purchase. Most rain ponchos are designed to fit average-sized adults or individuals between 5 and 6 feet in height. Responsible manufacturers suggest that rain ponchos are one-size-fits-all.
Sleeves typically prevent a poncho from being one-size-fits-all.
How do I know if I can use my poncho as a shelter?
Some manufactures say that their rain ponchos can be used as emergency shelters, sleeping bags, and waterproof pads. Usually, this only applies to sleeveless selections. Guy hooks and corner grommets make it easier to transform a poncho.
How do I get the wrinkles out of my poncho?
When a poncho is packed away in a compressed sack, it develops unsightly folds. The heat and movement of your body may release the folds over time. Use a garment steamer to release the unsightly creases even faster.
Which Poncho is the Best for Outdoor Activities?
Coleman EVA Poncho
Coleman’s rain poncho is made from high-quality 0.15-millimeter EVA with welded seams. The product does not contain any PVC or other inferior fillers. It boasts an adjustable drawstring and below-the-arm snap closures from enhanced water-resistance.
The product is designed to fit most adults. However, some consumers may find the neck and arm sections to offer inadequate coverage. It includes a reusable drawstring storage sack. The packed parcel is small enough to fit in a hiking backpack or jacket pocket.
The hunter green color is ideal for tactical trail activities. Most adults can wear a thick jacket and backpack under the poncho. The waterproof sheath holds up well in acclimate weather. Versatile metal grommets enable users to turn this poncho into a makeshift emergency shelter.
- Made from durable .15 millimeter EVA
- PVC-free material has a better feel
- Adjustable drawstring-clad hood keeps water off face and neck
- Side snap closures prevent the poncho from blowing up in windy conditions
- Neck is tight
- Sleeves are on the short side
Snugpak Patrol Poncho
Snugpak’s Patrol Poncho boasts an impressive full-coverage unisex cut. The over-sized Paratex Dry fabric boasts a jumbo water-repellent backpack smock. Paratax Dry is SmugPak’s proprietary waterproof material. It boasts a hydrophilic polyurethane coating with a hydrostatic head rating of 1,500 millimeters. Unlike traditional ponchos, the Patrol is equipped with fully enclosed sleeves. Fully tapered seams prevent water from seeping below the surface of the poncho.
The poncho weighs just 13 ounces. It is 52.7 inches wide, 63.4 inches from front to back, and 56.7 inches long. The synthetic fabric is windproof, waterproof, and breathable. The material is exceptionally breathable, transmitting as much as 7.5 liters of moisture every 24 hours. The poncho comes with compressible drawstring sack.
We love the addition of the Velcro chest pocket. It’s the ideal place to store a trail map, GPS, or smartphone. This super-soft poncho is also resistant to wind.
We’re also incredibly confident in this poncho’s hood, which features adjustable drawstrings. The poncho’s cuffs also feature reinforced cuffs and protective thumb loops. Color options include black and olive.
- Shoulder width: 52.7 inches, depth: 63.4 inches, length: 56.7 inches
- Compressed parcel measures 8 by 4 inches
- Weighs just 0.8 pounds
- Adjustable good and thumb loops in sleeve cuffs
- Velcro map pocket
- May be very baggy on some adults
- Somewhat restrictive
Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho
Best for Day Hikes
The Charles River Apparel Pacific Rain Poncho is a waist-height waterproof cover that is ideal for modest hikes. This product is made from waterproof polyurethane with heat-sealed seams. That top layer is bonded to a soft .33-millimeter polyester knit backing. Heat-sealed seams provide the poncho with unmatched durability.
The protective hood features snap closures and drawstrings. You can easily cut down on slack to prevent water spray from entering the poncho through the neck hole. Also, there are identical snap closures under the arms.
The poncho fits into a small matching storage bag. It is compact and easy to carry. You can wash it by hand to remove dirt and debris. Consumers get a choice between six color options, including black, navy, and a few bold alternatives.
Charles River also produces coordinating pants. As such, this is an excellent choice for hardy hikers looking for head-to-toe protection.
- One size fits most
- Fully waterproof fabric with a soft polyester knit lining
- Hood with adjustable drawstrings
- Side snaps for increased security
- Six color options
- No pockets for quick access to gear
Terra Hiker Waterproof Rain Poncho
Best Nylon Model
The Terra Hiker is a durable sleeveless nylon poncho with an adjustable hood. It consists of two 43.3-inch by 55.1-inch squares. It’s made from 210T high-density polyester fabric with sealed seams and a 3,000-millimeter DWR rating. When fully extended, it makes an excellent waterproof mat, fishing sunshade, or emergency shelter.
The hood is equipped with adjustable drawstrings and snap closures. Metal grommets protect the nylon material from pull string-derived damage. The cover also comes with a handy drawstring storage bag. The entire poncho can be folded into an 8 inches long, 3 inches wide, 2 inches thick square.
This product boasts fully waterproof sealed seams. The back is roomy enough to accommodate a 60-liter hiking pack. The poncho’s cuffs are reinforced with lengthy Velcro strips. Three-layer thickened eyelets provide additional reinforcement.
We were delighted with the Terra Hiker’s performance during brief showers, but we wouldn’t recommend this poncho for those hiking through torrential downpours. It provides full head to knee coverage for most adults. However, the hood and arms are not entirely impervious to water.
The bright blue color isn’t much help during hunting and fishing. Nevertheless, the company also offers black and dark green options.
- Made from rip-stop nylon
- Thickened eyelets for increased durability
- Resistant to abrasions and tears
- Measures 86.6 by 57 inches
- Doubles as a waterproof picnic or seating mat
- Not ideal for heavy rain
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Tarp Poncho
This product’s name says it all. The Sea to Summit is made from 15D Ultra-Sil Nano fabric. Ultra-Sil is siliconized nylon with a soft texture and low density. The double-stitched, tape-sealed seams prevent water from dripping beneath the surface. Snap closures help seal in the sides for 360-degrees of protection.
Guy attachments points on the corners enable users to turn this tarp-like model into a two-person emergency shelter. A topmost layer of silicone serves as an impenetrable waterproof seal.
An adjustable drawstring enables users to raise the hem of the poncho when it is not paired with a backpack. Otherwise, the large coverall is roomy enough to accommodate an overnight bag and a bulky rain jacket. The hood features three panels for more comprehensive overhead coverage.
Weighing a mere 8.1 ounces. It is 57 inches tall and 104 inches wide. It is available in lime green and blue.
Despite offering incredible full-body coverage, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil fits in a small and lightweight storage sack. Our only complaint is that the featherweight fabric is easily tossed around in the wind.
Overall, we love the look and feel of this over-sized outdoor poncho. The three-panel hood funnels water in all the right directions. It’s an excellent option for water seasons.
- Coverts into two-person shelter
- Can be paired with the company’s bug tent for an even more breathable shelter
- Features snap closures and adjustable hood drawstrings
- Large enough to accommodate an over-sized hiking backpack
- Easily tossed around by the wind
FROGG TOGGS Ultra-Lite
As we near the bottom of our list, we’re excited to share the Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite Poncho. Durable waterproof material makes this a protective clothing item with a promising lifespan. This product is made from non-woven polypropylene with bi-laminate technology. Side snaps provide exceptional coverage beneath the arms. An integrated hood with cord locks offers lots of tight overhead coverage. The fabric lets sweat out while ensuring that water beads on its surface.
This product comes with a matching stuff sack. Despite its size, the entire product only weighs 9 ounces. It is made from breathable non-woven polypropylene. The seams are welded for enhanced protection.
This one-size-fits-most sheath will keep you dry in almost every environment. The budget-friendly pricing makes it an excellent option for group hikes and outdoor gatherings.
Color options include green and clear.
- Dimensions: 40 inches long, 54 inches wide
- Packable, lightweight material
- Integrated hood with cord locks
- Side snaps for extra protection
- Includes a packable stuff sack
- May be too small for some adults
Best For Hunting
The Jteng rain poncho is made from 100% PVC rip-stop polyester material. The material is lightweight and waterproof. A zipper closure prevents water from entering the neckline. This is a one-size-fits-most piece of all-weather protective gear. It is 55 inches long and 41 inches wide. The back is large enough to cover a large gear pack. It is available in hunter green and brown.
Grommet-clad corners enable you to turn your Jteng into a makeshift shelter. You can also pair this with a military poncho to create an emergency sleeping bag. It comes with a matching storage pouch.
These incredible pieces of rain gear will protect you from hypothermia and other rain-induced ailments. The lengthy coverall will drape over your knees and upper legs. Since the product is sleeveless, you can easily access your pack without exposing it to the elements.
- Elastic Band prevents from blowing
- Reinforced Eyelets
- Back is big enough to accommodate a large backpack
- Grommet corners enable users to turn it into an emergency shelter
- Armholes have the potential to let in water
When you need new duds to wear on the trails, make sure to check out our other in-depth guides!
Last update on 2021-03-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API