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poncho vs rainsuit and packcover
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Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 13:58:36 MDT Print View

I'm sure this has been a matter of debate before but its been 5 minutes and now there's new stuff, new tricks etc. So... how do ya'll keep dry? I'm talking east coast GSMNP and SNP 3 season type conditions. Does anyone do the no pack cover, pack liner only thing?

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Rainsuit and pack cover on 04/29/2009 14:12:39 MDT Print View

I myself use a pack cover, pack liner, and raingear. While this may seem a bit excessive I’ve found it to be the best possible and dries system for Northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan where I tend to backpack. I don’t use ponchos in the areas I hike as the terrain and foliage tend to catch on the ponchos making for a rather frustrating hiking experience.

I place all of my down clothing and anything that must stay absolutely dry inside my pack liner. All of my other gear is placed outside the pack liner. Once my pack is loaded up I place my pack cover over my backpack regardless of the weather. I figure why pack it when it can simply be’ worn’. I’ve found that keeping the pack cover on allows my backpack to stay cleaner, resist wear, and allow me to simply place my pack down anywhere on the trail without having to worry about wet ground.

While using both a pack liner and pack cover may be redundant I do have a method to my madness. In addition to using a pack cover to shed water I a also use it to protect my pack from the wet ground when I’m in camp. Upon setting up my shelter I take the cover off the back of my pack and place it over the shoulder straps and padding. By doing this I’m able to set my pack on the ground and still have easy access to gear while keeping the packs shoulder straps and padding clean and dry.

This is of course my preference and what you like do for your area and style of hiking may vary.

Edited by chadnsc on 04/29/2009 14:13:10 MDT.

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 14:16:34 MDT Print View

I'm using a poncho/packliner combo now and the poncho is a bit of a pain with wind and branches. But my stuff is dry,

(simontew) - F

Locale: Snowdonia/Lake District/Peaks
Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 14:55:49 MDT Print View


I've used a poncho in the UK, and it worked quite well when walking on the flat, even in gusting wind and driving rain.

However, I discovered that, for me, it was a problem when ascending, and even more so when descending rough terrain in bad weather.

Gusts of wind tended to make the poncho flap around and obscure your feet. It was unsettling enough for me to think - this isn't going to work!!

For mostly flat terrain, I think they can be quite good, but I came to the conclusion there were better options for the walking I do. Namely, a short jacket.

I think Roger Caffin has described his design of poncho which seems (from what I remember, so I could be wrong) more like a short jacket with room for a rucksack. Might be worth checking out?

With pack covers, I don't bother any more. When walking through cloud, everything seemed to get soaked anyway, regardless. I've also had a pack cover ripped away by the wind - it actually wrapped itself around my head - I was pretty confused for a couple of seconds I have to admit, alone there in the sudden darkness.

Now I use a set of different size and colour Exped dry bags to sort my dry gear. A tiny orange one for personal effects, a small yellow one for my down quilt, and a large red one for a belay jacket, gloves, hat and whatever. I haven't used my XL blue one yet - maybe next winter. It makes finding things much easier and quicker. They weight about 50g each, on average. I did try a single large plastic dry-sack, and it was lighter, obviously, but I found it less convenient.

A pack cover did seem like a good idea, but in the end I found it was extra weight that didn't actually provide sufficient protection in the wet UK, and which also made it harder to access stuff in the rucksack when you wanted to.

I'd probably take one for casual day-walks with the kids, as the Exped bags wouldn't cope with all the clothes they hand me 1/2 a mile from the start :o)

Hope this helps a bit.

Cheers, Simon

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
done both on 04/29/2009 15:02:50 MDT Print View

I used to do the poncho thing but after getting soaked too many times I have gone to full gore tex and pack cover. The suit also gives you more warmth when layering is required.

Probably all depends on where you're headed, though.

Scott White
(sdwhitey) - F

Locale: Smoky Mountains
umbrella and pack liner on 04/29/2009 15:28:05 MDT Print View

I was in some heavy rain last month on a three day trip in GSMNP and I used a snowpeak umbrella and packliner. It was my first time backpacking with an umbrella and no rain jacket but I was very happy with the result.

Edited by sdwhitey on 04/29/2009 15:44:59 MDT.

Chris Chastain
(Thangfish) - F

Locale: S. Central NC, USA
poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 15:36:39 MDT Print View

The pack cover I tried allowed water to eventually run into the bottom where it was held against the pack, resulting in a damp down bag. Seems like the grommet drain hole can never be counted upon to be in the correct position.

I have hiked in a poncho (which fully covers my pack) in the rain for days on end, setting up and breaking camp in the rain, and all my stuff stayed dry (except for sweat on the real steep sections). I haven't really had trouble with silnylon snagging on stuff. I keep a short piece of very thin elastic cord with a tiny cordlock to use as a belt for the poncho in cold and/or windy conditions. It also allows you to see your feet just fine when ascending. I also use chaps when needed.

I have also tied the poncho between two tarp tents, as a sort of community cooking area vestibule, so we could have a little camaraderie during a long wet evening.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 15:40:59 MDT Print View

Poncho, semi-waterproof pack, and waterproof stuff sacks.

Yes, loose ponchos can flap around and be a problem. Mine has a velcro tape passing under the pack which keeps the back half in place in a gale. And that keeps the front half under control very nicely. Anyhow, it's half-way to a parka anyhow :-)

As for keeping dry - well, it rarely happens! You get wet even inside the most expensive 'guaranteed to keep you dry' Goretex parka. Water gets in at the cuffs, down the neck, up underneath ... and you sweat. Fact of life.


Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 15:55:55 MDT Print View

What worked for my wife and I on our NH trip was good ol' umbrellas. We used these with some pack liners. In the event of some really heavy stuff, I intend to throw on a wind shirt as well.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 17:05:55 MDT Print View

Rain jacket & pants and S2S ultra sil dry sacks for bag and clothes. Works well for me.

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 17:40:52 MDT Print View

Dan does your pack get heavy and waterlogged?

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Re: Re: Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 17:49:17 MDT Print View

Not really, it's a nylon pack. The Vapor Trail body is all 70D ripstop with 210D cordura reinforcements in a few places. Those materials don't seem to absorb water. It gets wet, but not soaked l like a shirt or pair of pants. I can't imagine it gains much weight when it rains.

Inside it's a silnylon Lunar Duo, sil nylon stuff or dry sacks, cooking gear, and a hydration bladder. There really isn't anything there to absorb water.

Edited by mn-backpacker on 04/29/2009 17:50:03 MDT.

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: Re: Re: Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 17:57:56 MDT Print View

I guess i could wear my mariposa shower and weight it.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 18:07:26 MDT Print View

LOL! I was actually thinking the same thing when I was posting that! Ahhh... backpacking gear geeks. :)

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/29/2009 19:55:05 MDT Print View

It's a poncho for me when hiking in the Eastern forest of the US where I'm usually sheltered from the wind. I made my own irregular hexagon shaped poncho that covers my pack but is short, just to my hips, so I can see my feet better. Strategically placed velco keeps it under control. I always wear the poncho with Golite Reed rain pants, so it doesn't need to be long.

I don't take any raingear in summer, just get wet and love it! All gear is in waterproof sacks.

I simply sweat too much, even in winter, with a rain jacket.
I've never tried umbrellas, but I hike in areas that it would catch on tree branches and I also use trekking poles so my hands are full.

Edited by mad777 on 04/30/2009 19:12:30 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Poncho/Tarp on 04/29/2009 21:51:47 MDT Print View

Poncho (with a cord belt in wind), and now cuben sacks for precious items inside pack.

Kevin Lutz
(mtntrailrunner) - F
Poncho on 04/29/2009 22:32:32 MDT Print View

Anything that absolutely, positively has to be kept dry goes into a thick plastic garbage bag. After that I use a Dri Ducks poncho. They only cost about about $15 and since they breathe they can double as an extra blanket at night if they're dry. I have hiked for hours with one in heavy rain and my pack remained bone dry.

But the drawback with a poncho, for me, is keeping my forearms warm and dry especially when I'm using poles. I'm OK in moderate temps but when the mercury falls I switch to a rain suit and everything in my pack goes into garbage bags. No cover as my Vapor Trail is reasonably water resistant.

Edited by mtntrailrunner on 04/29/2009 22:33:41 MDT.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/30/2009 05:40:01 MDT Print View

I use a poncho in mild weather and a rain jacket in cold weather.

I carry a 5." webbing belt for my poncho and put finger loops on the side. No problems in the wind an mostly keeps my arms dry.

I use the liner bag to keep the contents of my pack dry.

Temperatures between 30 and 40 are difficult. Water is much easier to manage in the solid state. In that difficult hypothermia range I lean to a wind shirt and poncho. However, for day hikes when I do not worry about keeping my pack harness dry I use a jacket.

Add a new question. It seems to me that DriDucks get brittle and fragile in cold weather. What do you think?

Paul Wozniak

Locale: Midwest
poncho vs rainsuit and packcover on 04/30/2009 07:11:20 MDT Print View

Ditto Richard's comment; poncho in mild weather, rain jacket below 40F. I never use a packcover but use a trash compactor bag for dry clothes and sleep bag.

Joe Swanson
(Joemt) - F
Poncho / doubles as my ground cloth for sleeping on 04/30/2009 08:23:57 MDT Print View

I use a rain poncho (ultralight backpacker long). It doubles as my ground cloth under my tarp. I have been very happy with this setup over the years. I also get warm easy and in warm weather I die in rain gear, way to warm...I need the air flow.

almost all of my hiking is in the Bob Marshall...(40 miles from my house).