Looking for the best ponchos for hiking? Then hopefully you’ll find this article very helpful.
As every hiker knows, weather is unpredictable. Which means, even if you leave the house in glorious sunshine, you can still end up caught in a sudden shower, leaving you cold, wet, and uncomfortable.
To avoid this, you might want to pack a travel coat, which can keep you warm and dry. For day trips, though, especially in warmer climates, this might be a bit too much.
Which is where a poncho comes in. They’re ideal for keeping you dry without weighing you, or your backpack, down. And it’s why we’ve reviewed five of the best ponchos for hiking for you to choose from.
Why you need a poncho for hiking
When you go hiking, there are certain things you need to take with you to make it an enjoyable day (or a couple of days) out. The first is a good backpack, one that is light to carry and can store everything you need.
You’ll also need good hiking boots or sandals (ones designed for the terrain you’re walking on). And you’ll need something that can keep you warm and dry if you get caught in the rain.
If you know you’re going somewhere, there’s a high chance of rain, and that you’ll be out in it a lot, then a travel coat is probably your best option. These can be bulky to carry, however, and can be a bit too much if the worse you’re going to experience is a short summer shower.
At the same time, as we all know, getting wet on a hike can be incredibly uncomfortable and ruin your day. This is where you might want to think about a poncho because it can keep you dry but isn’t as ‘full on’ as a travel coat.
We like them because:
- They offer protection from wind, rain, and the chill that you can get in the air on an evening.
- They tend to be bigger than raincoats, meaning you can use them to cover yourself and your backpack (which you also don’t want to get wet).
- They are lightweight, easy to carry, and easy to stow away when you don’t need them.
- They dry quickly when wet, meaning you aren’t risking soaking the rest of your belongings because they happen to be next to your poncho in your backpack.
- They are generally very affordable and easy to repair if torn.
When a poncho won’t work
Of course, there are times when ponchos won’t work for you. The first is it you are hiking in areas where you might need to do some climbing too, or are planning on combining your hike with mountaineering.
They also aren’t great for really cold days or winter weather because they won’t offer you the level of protection you need. Instead, you’ll find yourself cold or weighed down with layers (which is probably heavier overall than the travel coat you are trying to avoid taking with you).
The rest of the time, however, they make a pretty good option.
What to look for when choosing the best poncho
When it comes to ponchos, you’ll find they are generally very similar in the way they look. This can mean making a decision on which to buy trickier than you might initially think. What is more important than looks when it comes to ponchos is size, portability, durability, and the material.
Ponchos come in a range of materials, most of which are waterproof. They include:
- Sil-Poly/Sil-Nylon: These are less expensive than other options but do work well for keeping the rain out because they are coated with silicone which makes them incredibly waterproof. The coating also helps with durability as the fabric is less likely to rip or tear.
- Breathable Fabrics: One of the downsides of Sil-Poly and Sil-Nylon is they aren’t that breathable, which can be a problem on more strenuous hikes. This is because the silicone coating doesn’t let the air through. Fabrics built in layers are much better for this and Gore-Tex is a perfect example of breathable material, though nowadays there are lots of other (less expensive) options on the market too.
- Cuben Fiber: This is probably the lightest material available at the moment, which is great if you’re trying not to carry too much with you. The downsides, however, are that it also tends to be the one most likely to rip or tear, and it is amongst the most costly materials out there.
- PVC: Probably the most common of all materials when it comes to ponchos, like Sil-Poly and Sil-Nylon, you know these will keep you dry. If they do tear, you can quickly repair them with duct tape. The main downside is the feel, which can be stiff (something that also has an impact on how easy they are to pack away once you’ve used them).
- PU Coated Nylon: If you want something that is highly waterproof but a bit more flexible than PVC, a coated nylon poncho will work. There is, however, a risk you could end up feeling hot and sweating as the coating doesn’t let the fabric (or your body) breathe.
All the materials we’ve mentioned above are waterproof but to make sure you are as watertight as possible, you need to look for ponchos with adjustable hoods that can be fitted to your face if possible and taped seams, which will help keep the water out.
All ponchos will be water resistant. Not all will be waterproof. This is the difference between staying dry in a shower or a downpour. The higher the waterproof rating, the better a poncho will be.
The minimum you want to look for is PU2000mm, which will keep you dry in a light shower. Beyond this, you need to go for PU3000mm. To make sure you stay dry whatever the weather, look for ones with a PU5000mm rating.
Each of the materials we mentioned also has different levels of durability. One school of thought with ponchos is that durability isn’t too much of a worry because they are cheap enough they can be thrown away if they are torn or ripped.
However, more and more people are moving away from the idea that things are disposable (especially those made of plastic); if this is you, choose a poncho made of material made to last.
One of the best things about ponchos (when compared to travel coats) is how light they are. For hikers, it is a case of the lighter, the better so even a few lbs can make all the difference when it comes to picking the right one for you.
Ponchos tend to come in standard sizes. You need to pick one that covers you and your backpack (they don’t work well if you try and put your backpack on top of the poncho). Also, think about any extra kit you take with you; again, you want your poncho to cover these.
At the same time, too much fabric and you could have problems on the trail so don’t just choose the biggest available assuming it’s the best.
When your poncho is covering your backpack or extra kit, there is a risk it will ride up, which means rain could get in. The best way to avoid this is to find a poncho that is a longer length than you might think you need because this will ride up when the backpack is on but not so much that you will get wet.
Read user reviews too, as even if you get the right length, some ponchos move more than others.
While these aren’t essential when it comes to buying a poncho, there are added extras; it is nice to have. Pull ties to keep water out of your hood, for example, a hood that can be used to attach your poncho to your backpack while it dries or vents to help air flow and keep you from getting overheated.
Our pick for the five best ponchos for hiking
As you can see, there is more to buying a poncho for hiking than it might first appear. Size, durability, portability, and added features all need to be taken into consideration. As does what is probably the most important aspect, the material the poncho is made from.
We’ve looked at all of these factors here when picking our favorite five ponchos for hiking.
1. Terra Hiker Rain Poncho
While this poncho won’t work for those looking to take on more strenuous hikes, it is ideal for those who are heading out on a day trail or don’t expect to experience any particularly adverse weather. It is lightweight, making it easy to carry and easy to stow away, but strong enough to keep you dry in a downpour.
The high-density 210 T polyester is durable and will easily last more than one trip, even if you don’t treat it too kindly. In fact, it’s so durable that, thanks to grommet holes on each corner, you can use it as an emergency shelter if needed, or a picnic blanket on warmer days. Remember, though, this is emergency use only and will shorten the ponchos lifespan overall.
Available in orange, blue and green, the Terra Hiker Rain Poncho comes in one size, which is fairly large. It can cover you and a 60L backpack easily and has a PU3000mm waterproof rating.
It also offers a good amount of ventilation as well as protection from the wind. The hood is elasticated and fits well around the face, helping keep the rain out.
- Lightweight (0.68lb)
- Easy to stow away (folds down to 8 x 3 x 2 inches)
- Offers flexibility – can be used as an emergency shelter and picnic blanket
- Ideal for weekend activities, including day hikes, days out, and fishing.
- Large size can cover a 60 L backpack.
- Made of 210 T high-density polyester, making it waterproof up to PU3000mm
- Elasticated hood and Velcro cuffs
- Made of high quality, high density 210 T polyester, making it waterproof to PU3000mm and very durable
- Has capacity for a large backpack
- Includes elasticated hood and Velcro cuffs for additional waterproofing
- Thickened eyelets support durability
- Can be used for emergency shelter or a picnic blanket
- The one size means it won’t be suitable for smaller people (though there is a kids version available)
- Can get caught in the wind and need readjusting to keep you dry.
2. Anyoo Waterproof Military Rain Poncho
While the name might suggest this poncho comes in a camouflage design, it is one of the best out there for people looking for a poncho that will stand out in the crowd. It comes in around 30 colors and designs, offering a range of choices for men and women (there is even an option that covers you and your bike versus you and your backpack).
Looks aside, this is an excellent poncho for hiking because it offers great protection. Like the Terra Hiker, it is made of highly durable 210 T polyester but this time with a PVC coating, which reduces the risk of rips and tears. Again, there is PU3000mm waterproof protection.
A hood you can adjust with a cord enhances protection from the rain, making it the perfect fit for covering your face. There is also probably better ventilation than with the Terra Hiker thanks to armholes, and the loose bottom which lets air circulate (without letting water in).
Size-wise, this is a one size fits all poncho, which might be too big for some people out there. However, this means that it is ideal for covering larger backpacks. To make this covering more secure, there are side fasteners, which is a big help. The weight helps too, coming in at 0.62lbs, this is easy to carry and comfortable to wear.
- Easy to stow away
- Capacity to cover a large backpack
- Can be used as a ground sheet or picnic blanket
- Made of high quality 210 T polyester with a PVC coating, making it incredibly waterproof
- Heat sealed seams
- Adjustable hood, sides and sleeves created with three snap closures
- Comes in a range of colors and designs
- Cord adjustment hood
- Adjustable sides and sleeves
- Made of durable material that is PU30000mm waterproof
- Offers good ventilation
- Has the capacity to cover a large backpack
- Can be used as a ground sheet or picnic blanket
- One size can make it too long for some people
- Has a plastic visor that doesn’t work that well.
3. REDCAMP Waterproof Rain Poncho
Available in a range of colors, the Redcamp poncho is another that will easily cover a large backpack (meaning it could also be too large for the smaller among us). It is a multi-use poncho; not only can it keep you dry, but you can also use it as a picnic blanket and a tarp or emergency shelter if needed.
Made of PU, it has caulked seams that help keep you warm and dry in a sudden shower. It is also very lightweight, coming in at 0.59lbs. It has a hook and loop tape fastening so you can create sleeves that fit your body, but still leave you enough room to move.
Compared to the previous two ponchos we’ve looked at, however, the material isn’t entirely as waterproof. It is made from 190 T Polyester, which offers a PU2000mm waterproofing, which means you’ll need to think about where you are using it and if it will stand up to expected conditions.
- Can be used as a poncho, ground sheet or picnic blanket
- Made from 190 T polyester
- Has caulked seams
- 55 inches long
- Has the capacity to cover a large backpack
- Very lightweight (0.59lbs)
- Comes with 100% money back guarantee and a 365-day limited manufacturers warranty
- Comes in a range of color options
- Waterproof to PU2000mm
- Caulked seams
- Very lightweight, making it easy to carry and easy to stow away
- Multiple uses including groundsheet
- Has the capacity to cover a large backpack
- Not as waterproof as other ponchos in the same price range
- Too large for smaller people
- Fabric isn’t as durable as other ponchos / is prone to ripping
4. Sotical Veamor 3 in 1 Poncho
Sotical’s Vearnor 3 in 1 Poncho is another made of 210 T polyester, meaning you’ll get great water resistance. The 3 in 1 comes from the fact it’s a poncho you can also use as a ground sheet or tarp shelter for emergencies. Four holes (one in each corner) mean you can hold the poncho down when using it as a ground sheet or tarp.
With a waterproof rating of PU3000mm, rubber treated seams, an elasticated hood and Velcro sleeves; you can be sure to be dry in this poncho, especially when you add in the three-layer thicken eyelets. Plus, the hood has an extra fastener to hold it in place, which is a nice feature.
The Vearnor 3 in 1 is lightweight and easy to carry and stow away. Designed to be used with big backpacks, which is the only downside to this poncho as it doesn’t work well for smaller people.
- Multi-use poncho (can be used as a ground sheet or emergency shelter)
- Ideal for day hikes, days out or fishing
- Made of 210T polyester making it highly durable
- Machine washable
- Has a PU3000mm waterproof rating
- Folded size: 8 x 3.15 inches
- Elasticated hood and collar with extra fasteners
- High-quality fabric
- Waterproof to PU3000mm
- Machine washable
- Elastic hood and collar
- Rubber sealed seams
- Velcro cuffs
- Three-layer thick eyelets
- Too large for smaller people
- Only available in one color
5. TriWonder Reflective Backpack Rain Poncho
This is one of the most rugged ponchos we’re featuring and is designed for not just day hikes but ones where you might be out for a few days or on rougher / more strenuous trails.
We like it because it is a cross between a poncho and a coat, plus it’s made of highly durable 200T polyester taffeta, which offers a PU5000mm waterproof rating.
You’ll be spotted easily if you get stuck in harsh conditions as it’s made of reflective material, which is another nice feature. If you are in harsh conditions, you can be confident you’re going to be dry and warm in the TriWonder poncho.
The poncho comes with an adjustable hood that has a transparent brim, which means you can keep water from your eyes but still see where you are going. A strap can adjust the brim on the wrist. The sleeves had adjustable openings too, meaning you are even more protected.
Unlike other ponchos, this one doesn’t merely go over the backpack. It comes with a separate backpack cover, meaning the poncho won’t move no matter the size of your kit. If you don’t need it, you can also hide the backpack cover, again, a nice feature.
Something else we liked is that thanks to air vents and a double zipper, this extra protection doesn’t come at the loss of comfort because you are unlikely to overheat.
It does, however, come with a slightly heavier weight than some of the other ponchos we’ve looked at, something you’ll need to weigh up in your decision making.
- Comes in a range of colors
- Made with 200T Polyester Taffeta, making it highly durable
- Looks more like a coat than a poncho
- Made of reflective material
- Waterproof to PU5000mm
- Has TPU brim that lets you see even in the rain and you can adjust from a strap on the wrist.
- Adjustable hood and cuffs
- Separate backpack cover
- Offers good levels of air circulation
- PU5000mm waterproof rating
- Made of high-quality 200T polyester taffeta
- Adjustable transparent TPU brim hood
- Adjustable hood, sleeves, and waist
- Separate backpack cover (which you can hide when not in use)
- Design is more light a coat than a poncho
- Reflective material means it can keep you safe if walking at night.
- Heavier than other ponchos
- One size meaning it might not work for smaller people
Final thoughts on the best poncho for hiking
When it comes to keeping warm and dry on a hike, ponchos are a great alternative to travel coats because they are easier to pack and much lighter to carry.
Most look the same (and aren’t necessarily that attractive if we’re honest) so the key to buying the right one is looking at the fabric, how durable and waterproof it is and whether it will work well with the backpack you plan on carrying.
We looked at all these features here to choose the best ponchos on the market right now, coming up with five we think would work for most people.
They are all unisex, though smaller people may need to double check the sizes before they buy as they can run large, and all but one come in a range of colors.
They also all come with slightly different features that can make the difference between you having a good experience on the trail and an uncomfortable one. The Redcamp waterproof rain poncho, for example, is incredibly light, meaning you won’t struggle to carry it or stow it away in your backpack.
The downside is it’s waterproof rating is only PU2000mm, the lowest we think you can go to safely stay dry (though even then only in a shower).
So the winner is..
You are much better off with a higher rating, and all the other ponchos we’re reviewing today offer that. Best of all is the TriWonder Reflective Backpack Rain Poncho which has a rating of PU5000mm (and you can’t get much better than that).
The TriWonder also has the benefit of looking more like a coat and offers a range of additional features including a PCU brim to aide visibility and adjustable hood, collar, and sleeves. It also comes with a backpack cover you can hide when not in use.
It’s hard to beat these features, though Anyoo Waterproof Military Rain Poncho comes close. We liked that this one (like the TriWonder poncho) seemed built to manage even the most adverse conditions and that you could use it as a ground sheet or picnic blanket.
Saying that, you could say the same about the Terra Hiker and Sotical ponchos too. In the end, it came down to what we wanted in a poncho, which was something that was easy to carry, easy to store, and yet kept us dry.
For us, that was the Anyoo Waterproof Military Rain Poncho, which won out because of the weight. At the end of the day, the TriWonder is just too heavy for what we want and made us think, if that’s what we we’re buying, we might be better off with a travel coat.