We know, a rain poncho is not the most fashionable item to wear during a downpour. It sucks even more when it hides your carefully curated #OOTD. However, there are many reasons why rain ponchos are one of the best items you can carry on in your travel bags. While those clear ponchos you find at a 7/11 might show off your nice outfit, it does very little in keeping you warm and dry under the rain. It definitely won't hold up during a hike, either.
Rain ponchos are lighter than a jacket and thinner than a windbreaker or even a packable rain jacket. It does a very good job of keeping you dry as well as your bag. It gives great mobility during hikes, and you can easily stuff it even into a small day bag once the sun is out again. Here are some of the best picks of rain ponchos out there.
Rain ponchos may all look like shapeless tents, but there are several features that make each one unique. Some are made for specific purposes and will hold better than other on more grueling activities.
All ponchos are made of waterproof materials, but the seams, seals, and holes can make or break the gear. Watch out for closures and taped seals that keep the water out. Hoods are also prone to water inflow, so make sure there are drawstrings or overhangs to address this.
Ponchos are made to be portable, but weight can be an issue sometimes. Heavy duty ponchos weigh heavily in your bag or on your back, while lightweight materials tend to be less durable.
There aren't a lot you can do with a poncho, but little features matter. Snap closures, grommets, drawstring locks can make a big difference when you're already on a big hike. Some ponchos are also made durable enough to convert into stretchers or tents.
The Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho is a wildly popular rain poncho for many good reasons.
First of all, it comes in a variety of colors that stray away from the usual military green or traffic cone orange. While it doesn't lend much style, it also has some subtle details that make you forget even just for a second that you're wearing a waterproof tent on your shoulders.
It comes in a little storage pouch and opens up to approximately 52" x 80". By design alone, this poncho looks and feels premium. The high-quality poncho is made from wind and waterproof New Englander polyurethane that's bonded to a knit backing for durability. It has heat sealed seams that prevents water to flow into the poncho.
There are several features when it comes to fit and wearability. It comes with a hood with drawstrings and a snap placket at the neck to fit different head sizes. The sleeves are held together by snap closures, which can be easily pulled apart for quick undressing or to lay down the poncho as a flat tarp.
Those looking for a heavier duty poncho will find much use of the JTENG Rain Coat. Made of 100% ripstop polyester, this extra sturdy poncho will survive more than a few snags on an excruciating hike. It's military-grade poncho that you can use as a floor mat, a sunshade, and a blanket.
It is 59"x55" that provides ample coverage. The neck of the poncho has a zip to allow larger heads to get through easily. The hood also has an overhang for more head coverage against rain and prevents water from getting inside the hood. It has cuff buttons to seal the wrists.
An especially useful feature are the grommets on the hem. You can string thread or rope through them and use it for various purposes like a rainfly or a stretcher. It comes with a storage bag to stuff it in when not in use.
At 30 oz, it's a bit heavier than most ponchos.It's on the expensive side of the spectrum, but you get a lot of functionality out of it.
Backpackers will love the Snugpak Patrol Poncho. While most ponchos will be large enough to cover a backpack, this particular poncho remains close to your body. Even the bulkiest backpacks will remain safe and dry under the Snugpak, making this the best rain poncho for hiking and backpacking because the back is much longer. However, the back can be too long if you're not carrying a backpack.
The hood has a drawstring that protects your head in the rains. It also has actual sleeves and not the typical arm holes in most ponchos. The cuffs are sealed with elastic for better protection. Since it's made with Paratex material, it's also perfectly waterproof.
A key feature of this poncho is the front pocket covered by a storm flap. It can store your phone, tools, or quick access items, or give your hands space to keep warm and dry. It also comes with a stuff sack that packs the poncho into a 3”x8” package. This makes it easy to hang on your backpack or as a pillow when you sleep.
The Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite Poncho is another crowd favorite. With complete waterproofing and excellent ventilation, this poncho is one of the lightest and most portable rain ponchos.
With very modest pricing, this is a step up from disposable ponchos. Despite this, it functions exceptionally well on lengthy hikes. Even through difficult terrains, you won't end up sweating like a pig and it won't feel like carrying extra weight.
At 36"x54", the Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite rain poncho is a wide spread of polypropylene. It will adequately provide coverage even with a large backpack underneath. The drawstring hood secures a tighter fit around the head. The body is made of bilaminate material with sealed seams to keep water away. The snap closures under the arms make for quick removal or to convert the poncho to a tarp.
The best feature of the poncho is its weight measuring a mere 8.8 oz. It comes with a stuff sack to easily stow away the poncho. On the other hand, the thinness and lightness of the material means it wont' be as durable as others in this list. However, if you're diligent in taking care of the poncho, you'll have enough use out of it.
Out of all the rain ponchos you can find, the Totes Unisex Rain Poncho has a little bit more flair. Its translucent body and satin finish at the hems give it a bit more of a fashion statement.
The Totes Unisex Rain Poncho is very popular. So popular that there are a lot of duplicate products. Make sure you're buying from a legitimate seller as you might receive one made of cheap EVA material than the durable vinyl. At 38 inches long, this is an expansive poncho sealed by snap buttons on the sides. These are effective to connect the front, back, and arms of the poncho and keep water from seeping in even in billowing winds. The drawstring hood keeps the fit right around the face.
The poncho is also very lightweight. It packs to a mere 5.75” x 8.5” in its stuff sack and occupies little backpack space. It comes in several colors and decently durable. It's not military-grade sturdy, but you will get years of use out of it.
Rain ponchos are versatile travel items that will give you a lot of use without taking up too much space. There are definitely heavy duty options out there, but the right one depends on what you will use it for.
Long, intense, and excruciating hikes call for something more than durable. The JTENG Rain Coat is something that will not only keep you dry, but save you in emergencies as well. With this expansive material and military-grade strength, this rain coat can also be used as a tent, stretcher, floor tarp, and anything else you can think of.
Serious backpackers should opt for the Snugpak Patrol Poncho. It has enough coverage to protect large bags without billowing around too much around the legs. This poncho is not too convenient without a bag on your back, but it will be most useful when you're on the move.
If you simply want something quick and easy to carry, then get the Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite Poncho. This no frills poncho is light and easy to wear and will do the job during a downpour.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!