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Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket
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Tyler Hill
(tyreal1978) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket on 04/03/2007 16:27:21 MDT Print View

I know, age old question to you veterans.
My wife and I call ourselves three season when really we're about a one and a half (summer and early fall). Well, I want to change all that, gear up for spring and late fall conditions. Seems to me the poncho is great for warmer conditions, and rain jackets for colder. Some say they hate ponchos because they flap and snag, and others love em due to breathability and tarp options. I live in Oregon and pack mostly in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho...the mountains and rainforests. Opinions, suggestions? If poncho any lightweight suggestions, heck, if jacket and rain pants suggestions welcome as well.

Thanks everyone!

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket on 04/03/2007 17:24:49 MDT Print View

It is drier in the Colorado Rockies, but I prefer the poncho. It keeps your pack dry, it can be used for a hammock fly, and can become a tent vestibule, or dinning fly. I also carry a Drop Stopper jacket (6.5 oz.) to wear around camp when the poncho is busy doing other things. I do not consider them to be duplicate gear. The jacket is also a vapor barrier if the temperature drops and a wind jacket. They both are multi-use gear.

You can carry both for only a small weight penalty over traditional rain jacket (Marmot PreCip - 12.5 oz.).

GoLite poncho (10.7 oz.) or Campmor Extended UltraLite tarp/poncho (9.3 oz.).

The poncho works much better if you put a cord lock on the hood draw string, put some cord finger loops on the side guy loops so that is keeps your forearms dry, and a web belt to hold the poncho in the wind.

abdon gonzalez
( - F

Locale: Misawa, Japan
Get the poncho on 04/03/2007 18:14:35 MDT Print View

Get a poncho, you won't regret it. The things you can do with a poncho are legion. Heck, one day you may even decide to leave the tent behind :)

One thing in particular I like is that if it rains, it takes 10 seconds to setup, and it keeps both me and my pack dry. It is a small annoyance but an annoyance none the less to un strap your pack, lay it on the wet grass, put your rain jacket/pants on, put a cover on the pack, put it on your back, and then readjust the straps. If your weather is like mine you know it will stop raining 2 minutes later, and you end up overheating because you don't want to go through the hassle again in case it rains again.

Best bang for your buck is the Campmor Silnylon Poncho-Tarp ( They got two styles, a regular plus one designed for backpacks with an extension that snaps out of the way when not in use. I got the larger one and now regrets it; way too big.

Richard, would you care to elaborate on the drop stopper? I may be in the market for something just like this.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket on 04/03/2007 18:46:18 MDT Print View

DropStoppers or DriDucks (and also the slightly heavier FrogToggs) are lightweight but not terribly sturdy. For on-trail use, though, they should hold up. I prefer a poncho because I hike warm; I only wear a base layer under it even in sleet. For a good poncho-like design that works great as rainwear, as well as doubling as a solo shelter, consider the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape. I really like the way it fits and keeps my sides dry.

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket on 04/03/2007 22:20:28 MDT Print View

With today's options, it's hard to go wrong. I like a poncho, though because they're simpler, cheaper, and more ventilated. They also have more camp function, whether as primary shelter or a supplementary vestibule for your tent.

Abdon hit on another great point about ponchos: the ability to don and doff the poncho without needing to stop or to remove your pack. If you're out there for a couple days, this can become a huge blessing. Wind flapping can get annoying, yes. I don't suggest you add a belt, though--just tie the rear corners around your waist.


Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket on 04/04/2007 00:18:28 MDT Print View


Edited by Otter on 04/04/2007 00:24:19 MDT.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Tyler, poncho vs rain jacket on 04/04/2007 01:07:24 MDT Print View

You mentioned Washington and Oregon as destinations.
I have some experience with ponchos breaking brush in the rainforests on the West side of the Cascades. The physical contact with the vegetation will eventually soak your clothing, and that will wick up eventually into your top layers even when covered witha poncho. So in that area, WP/B clothing is preferrable. In the dryer less vegetated Eastern half of those states, a poncho would be fine based on my experience in the topographically similar TX, AZ, and CA.

Personally I haven't used a poncho in years, and now that I learned about windshells here at BPL, my windpants and windshirt are good enough for light rain/wind/brush, and my DIAD and rain pants are reserved for the heavier stuff.

A poncho is multi-use, certainly, but so is a DIAD or other light WP/B shell. It cuts the wind, insulates at about clo 1, and is completely waterproof. Personally I don't want to have to take off my shell to pitch my shelter. And with a poncho you are going to carry rain pants anyway, right?

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket on 04/04/2007 06:31:17 MDT Print View


I should have been more specific about the belt. I carry a piece of .5" webbing with a side release buckle. The webbing goes through the guy loops on the rear of the poncho and is buckled over the poncho in front.

When the webbing is through only one poncho guy loop it become an adjustable guyline.

I have crossed some passes above timberline in heavy wind and rain and both my pack and I stayed dry.

Pant pants are location specific. The only time I carry rain pants in the Rockies is for a vapor barrier in the winter.

Paul Wozniak

Locale: Midwest
Re: Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket on 04/04/2007 07:24:07 MDT Print View

Your question is timely for me. I have recently purchased SIL nylon from Walmart and am attempting to build something similar to the Integral Designs Silcoat Cape. Hoping to come in at 7 oz. Not intending to use it as a tarp, but am intending to use is it as a wind breaker. Features: front zip, just big enough to cover a small pack, belted for windy conditions, snaps to form sleeves, hooks to allow rolling up the sides ala a muscle shirt.

Literally decades ago, I spent a mostly wet spring month on the AT in a poncho. I stayed pleasantly dry and ventilated. It handled mists and downpours wells and did OK in moderate winds.

Somewhere down the line I switched to WP/B jackets, with pit zips etc. I'm never as comfortable as I was in that poncho due to heat and damp buildup. I really miss that poncho.

Questions I hope to resolve: How will it do bushwhacking in moderately dense brush? Will it snag too much? Tear too much?

A poncho is limited in fierce winds. We rode the top deck of a ferry in 40 mph winds and 12 foot waves. My jacket cinched down nicely and I stayed pretty comfortable. No such hope for a poncho. So if you expect dangerous, windy and cold conditions I would say no go. For that reason I would worry about extended and exposed Pacific beach and mountain ridge hiking, but have no real experience with these.

Gearhead Alert: You may end up with both a poncho and a WP/B jacket in your arsenal. Select the one most appropriate for the trip you are taking.

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket on 04/04/2007 08:54:48 MDT Print View

Richard, I understand you. I think we still disagree on poncho belt philosophy, but that's no big deal :) I admit that I never thought about multi-purposing the belt for guyline use. Clever!

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket on 04/04/2007 08:57:12 MDT Print View

Tyler... you summed it up well. Poncho vs. Rain Jacket seems to be a very personal decision... which points out that none of the options at that good :-( No matter what the weather is, I seem to end up with a very damp chest due to condensation inside the poncho, and wet sides due to wind blown rain and/or brushing against things. I am a Rain Jacket type. I would recommend DriDucks / Dropstoppers or a light weight eVENT jacket. For more detailed thoughts see
Mark's thoughts on clothing / raingear.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Wind on 04/04/2007 09:43:16 MDT Print View

Where I live and hike... along the Atlantic coast... it can get pretty gusty on some days... so I don't think a poncho would be so good in those conditions. I use an O2 top and chaps... or a full O2 suit.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket on 04/04/2007 09:47:07 MDT Print View


I am going to give your technique a try.


Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Micropore rainsuits? on 04/04/2007 09:47:58 MDT Print View

I'm pretty sure Dropstoppers became Driducks, which I think was in turn bought by FroggToggs. I read on Gossamer Gear's website that the DriDucks rainsuit is being discontinued in its current form and that the manufacturer (FroggToggs) is replacing them with another suit made of a different fabric. I'm hoping FroggToggs didn't buy DriDucks up to eliminate competition for their own (less UL-friendly and more expensive) rain suits. Does anyone know about this?

Jaiden .
(jaiden) - F
Re: Micropore rainsuits? on 04/04/2007 09:57:26 MDT Print View

This is on gossamer gear's web site:


Jaiden .
(jaiden) - F
Re: Re: Micropore rainsuits? on 04/04/2007 10:05:09 MDT Print View

Given how cheap the driducks are, and how well reviewed they are, and the fact that they may be going away, I just ordered a set

$16 with free shipping from


Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Re: Re: Micropore rainsuits? on 04/04/2007 10:11:06 MDT Print View


I love my Dropstoppers. For hiking on trail or in clear terrain, I don't know why anyone would want to spend 10 times the amount for something that probably doesn't function any better. I just hope they don't go away as they definitely need replacing every now and then!

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Poncho vs Rain Jacket on 04/04/2007 12:39:15 MDT Print View

I tend to use the jacket more and the poncho less, despite southeastern humidity. I primarily use my poncho in warm weather when I am hammocking. However, I mostly just use it as a fly for the Hennessy. Above about 75 degrees in humidity, even my Integral Designs Silponcho is uncomfortable for me, and I usually prefer to just get wet. The poncho is OK for pulling over during a short rest break, but is limited otherwise.

This summer I intend to try my luck with a SMD Gatewood Cape on the Tahoe Rim Trail. If I like it in the lower temps and less humid conditions there, I will also carry it on my John Muir Trail Thru-hike. If not, I will go back to my SMD Lunar Solo for shelter and my Golite Phantom for raingear.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Poncho vs Rain Jacket on 04/04/2007 13:11:30 MDT Print View

Off topic:
When will you be doing the Tahoe Rim Trail? I'm going to be leading groups in the Tahoe area starting July 27 returning every two weeks through late September. Maybe we could cross paths.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Poncho vs Rain Jacket on 04/04/2007 13:53:53 MDT Print View

I'm actually starting the last week of June and finishing around the 4th of July. Sorry.