With winter fast approaching, the weather is getting worse in many parts of the world, and more rain can be expected. If you enjoy spending time outdoors throughout the year, you’ll know how essential a form of rain protection is. While there are hundreds of different raincoats on the market, the rain poncho is the most lightweight and portable option out there. If you travel anywhere in the world which experiences heavy rain, having one of these on hand will save you and your belongings from getting damaged. They are the perfect cover for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking and take up little space in your backpack when rolled up.
A great advantage of rain ponchos is their size, as they are generally made from a large, loose piece of material. This means you can wear them over your backpack, or worst case, use them to shelter under. While you can buy disposable ponchos cheaply online or in vacation destinations, these are worse for the environment, and in the long run, will be more costly. Today we’re going to share our complete guide to rain ponchos. First, we’ll discover what you need to look for when shopping for the best rain ponchos, and then our top recommendations.
What is a rain poncho?
You may be wondering what a rain poncho is if you’ve never worn one before. A poncho is an outerwear garment that’s designed to keep the body dry and warm. They also come in a blanket or woollen material, but today we’re focusing on ones that will protect you from the rain. They are made of a watertight fabric that protects the body from getting wet.
Why would I need a rain poncho?
If you use a raincoat currently, you are someone who could benefit from a rain poncho. They are lightweight and foldable, which makes them much more portable than other options. If you go on vacation or take days out regularly, this is one of the best rain cover options for you on the market. They also aren’t affected by the wind, unlike umbrellas, which can easily blow inside out, rendering them useless.
Who can wear a rain poncho?
Rain ponchos are perfect for men and women, as well as children. Their loose-fitting style means they are suitable for any body shape and are comfortable to wear. Children will find them really easy to put on, and less restricting for playing outside in.
What to look for when purchasing a Rain Poncho
There are many important things to consider when purchasing a new rain poncho. Here are the features that are most important to consider and compare when looking at different models.
What type of material is the poncho made from?
The most important consideration for a rain poncho, regardless of what you plan to use it for, is the material it’s made from. Naturally, the material it uses will affect its performance and cost. These are the top materials you can expect to see rain ponchos made from:
- PVC – This is usually the option used in cheaper models and provides reasonable waterproofing. It can be quite sweaty inside PVC, and it’s not as breathable. These are what disposable ponchos are often made out of, so don’t expect them to last more than a few uses. PVC will tear much easier than the other materials listed below. Another alternative to PVC is polythene. It’s not as strong but it is better for the environment.
- PU-Coated Nylon – This is an affordable yet durable material for a waterproof rain poncho. It’s made of a synthetic fabric which is coated in a waterproof cover. This means it makes flexible and light ponchos.
- Sil-nylon or sil-poly – These are really hardwearing options, perfect for anyone backpacking or wearing a poncho for a long time. Choose from nylon or polyester as your base material, with both being strong and durable options.
- Cuben fiber – If you’re looking for a lightweight model, cuben fiber is your best bet. It can be more expensive than the other options but is good for anyone using it in hotter climates.
- Breathable laminates – These are breathable and waterproof materials, which are made from underlying layers and a group of nylon exteriors. If you’ve heard of the brand Gore-Tex, they are a good example of using this fabric in their products.
- Polyester – Polyester is made from a combination of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. Polyester ponchos keep their shape well, as they are resistant to stretching or tearing. They are another good lightweight option.
- Paratex Dry – If you cannot risk getting yourself or your belongings wet, paratex dry ponchos are one hundred percent waterproof. This is due to their hydrophilic polyurethane coating. They are also very strong yet breathable.
Size and Fit of a rain poncho
Many rain ponchos on the market just come in one size. This one size fits all approach works for most body shapes and sizes, however, doesn’t work for everyone. When you are comparing ponchos, you’ll see the dimensions listed on most product pages or descriptions. Double-check the length of the poncho, as you can get models which stop at the waist or ones that go down to the knees. Depending on what you plan to use it for, you’ll know which is best for your body. Naturally, the ones down to the knees will offer added protection, which is good if you are walking around for the day in it.
What are you planning to use your poncho for? This is an important question to ask yourself when you’re considering measurements. If you are carrying a backpack or day bag with you underneath it, make sure there’ll be space to accommodate it. If you’re traveling to a particularly cold region, you’ll also need to factor in the extra thermal layers you’ll be wearing underneath the poncho each day.
The main reason you are purchasing a rain poncho is likely to keep yourself dry from the rain. Therefore, make sure you are buying one that’s going to do its job efficiently! Look for taped seams and a tight-fitting hood to keep you fully protected from water.
Flexibility and additional features
The more expensive rain ponchos on the market offer zips, which will help make them more breathable and pleasant to wear. The great advantage of ponchos over jackets is their ventilation due to their loose-fitting design. They are perfect for activities where you may get hot and sweaty, as you’ll still have some air moving through them.
You’ll find some ponchos come with additional special features, such as drawstrings to tighten the hood. This will help decrease the chance of any rain seeping in and dripping down your neck. Also look out for elastic or adjustable cuffs, which are a great feature. Finally, pockets are always helpful to have. It can be such a pain to have to find your phone or wallet from inside your inner layers when you have a poncho on the outside.
As well as looking at the poncho’s measurements, you’ll want to see how compact it becomes when you have taken it off. This is one of the biggest selling points of ponchos and the reason why they are used by adventurers around the world. Try to find one with a storage bag or pouch included, and compare the size and weight of the item once folded up. Ponchos can be very light once folded, but don’t sacrifice performance for a small amount of weight. If you know the backpack or bag you will be carrying your poncho in, ensure that it fits well in the pocket that you plan to store it in between usage.
As with most clothing items, what you pay for is usually what you get in return. However, with an item such as a rain poncho, it’s important to consider how much you will actually use it. If you are an avid outdoor adventurer and will use it constantly throughout winter, it will be worth upgrading to a better model. If you are just purchasing your poncho for a vacation or to use a few times, you may feel you can sacrifice a few benefits for the sake of saving money.
Our Recommendations for the Best Rain Poncho
1) Arcturus Lightweight Ripstop Nylon Poncho
The Arcturus lightweight ripstop nylon poncho weighs only 11oz and packs down into a small bag measuring just 8” x 4”. It’s an extra-large poncho with a long body and large hood, which allows you to wear a cap underneath it. Even if you are over six feet in height, you’ll comfortably wear this poncho.
This multi-use poncho makes a great tarp or shelter. When fully opened up it measures 54” x 96”, and includes steel grommets in each corner for easy tie-down as a shelter. It’s great for backpackers and made from 210T Ripstop Taffeta. It’s praised for its strength with two layers of waterproof coating.
Unique selling point: Super lightweight poncho that packs down into an 8” x 4” bag
- Extra-large hood and a long body to the poncho.
- Includes steel grommets in all four corners to tie down for use as a shelter
- Too long for some women and shorter users
2) Terra Hiker Waterproof Rain Poncho
The Terra Hiker Waterproof Rain Poncho is an affordable model on the market, offering PU3000MM waterproofing. It dries very quickly, so it is perfect for anyone camping or visiting somewhere with everchanging weather.
This is a very versatile poncho, which is designed with outdoor activities in mind. It has many uses, including becoming a mat for picnics and fishing. Made from 210T high density polyester, this poncho will keep you dry yet comfortable.
When folded up, it is only 8.66 x 3 x 2 inches, and 310g in weight. The poncho has a longer back, so can cover up to a 60L backpack comfortably.
Unique selling point: 3-in-1 raincoat, especially designed for outdoor activities
- Very water-resistant and dries quickly
- For taller wearers or backpack users, the poncho won’t fall down to your knees
3) Redcamp Waterproof Rain Poncho
Redcamp are an outdoor brand that offer clothing especially designed for activities such as camping and hiking. This versatile raincoat has hook and loop tapes to create sleeves, but can also transform into a picnic mat.
It’s one of the largest on the market at 55” x 94” and comes in dark navy. Made from 190T polyester, the seams are created using a caulking treatment to minimize leakage. The material is very resistant to tearing.
It’s one of the lightest models available at only 0.27 kg. When folded up in your bag, you’ll barely notice it is there. One of the biggest benefits of Redcamp products is their 100% moneyback guarantee which offers a one-year limited manufacturer warranty. This allows you to purchase with peace of mind.
Unique selling point: Lightweight at only 0.27 kg and perfect for outdoor activities
- Low price
- Perfect for outdoor activities
- Low weight when folded up
- Not suitable for shorter users as very long in the body
- The quality is not as high as other options on our list
4) SaphiRose Hooded Rain Poncho
The SaphiRose Hooded Rain Poncho for adults comes in a rainbow of colors and is produced from a high-quality polyester fabric instead of a cheap plastic alternative. The front pocket features a zipper and is a great addition to store your cell phone or wallet.
The poncho pulls over your head and has buttons to secure it. Featuring a long body design, it’s easy to fold up when you’re out and about. It’s an extremely versatile product, that can also be transformed into a canopy or picnic blanket.
This is also one of the more aesthetically pleasing ponchos on offer, with the zipper style making it more fashionable. It’s big enough to fit your backpack under but folds up into a nice small travel size.
Unique selling point: Big front pocket and eco-friendly
- High-quality polyester material
- 3 in 1 style and comes in a wide range of colors
- In windy weather, you may find it uncomfortable to use
The Snugpak Patrol poncho is a high-quality option featuring a hook and loop closure. The width of the shoulders is 52.7 inches, and the depth is 63.7 inches. The length of the poncho comes in at 56.7 inches.
It’s a completely waterproof poncho which folds down into 8 inches by 4 inches and weighs only 0.8 pounds. The outer coating features a water repellent, so you’ll be able to enjoy your activities and travels without worrying about you or your belongings getting wet. The adjustable hood makes for a comfortable fit, and loops are located within the cuffs to help keep you warmer.
The Velcro map pocket on the chest is a great addition to this poncho. It has fully tape sealed seams and is very useful for adventures and hiking.
Unique selling point: Unique poncho design that is more stylish and comfortable than others
- Durable material
- Velcro map pocket on chest
- Higher price
If you struggle with other ponchos on the market being too short for your height, this is a great option for you. Created for people over 5’10” in height or who wear 2XL or larger, it measures 97 inches by 59 inches, which is significantly larger than most ponchos on offer.
If you do find it’s too long for you, you can actually trim it with scissors and the 22mm EVA material it’s made from won’t fray. Many taller people complain of getting wet arms and knees, so this is a great alternative product! It also features two plastic snaps on each side to keep the rain out.
Unique selling point: One of the few products on the market tailored to taller users over 5’10” in height
- Great for tall people but still a lightweight product
- This product is specifically for taller individuals so if you are under 5’10” it’s not recommended for you
The Anyoo Unisex Adult Rain Poncho keeps wearers warm and dry. The hood features a cord adjuster, and the side of the body has hook and loop fasteners. It’s waterproofed to PU3000MM. The poncho itself is made from one complete piece of nylon fabric with PVC coating, and the overlock is glued well to prevent any leaking from taking place.
The design makes the poncho very comfortable and breathable to wear. You won’t feel too hot inside, as the arms of the design make it loose enough to allow good circulation. The size of the poncho is 55” x 85” which will easily cover a backpack as well on most users.
When pack up in its drawstring bag it folds to the small size of 9 x 3 x 3 inches and weighs only 9 oz. The nylon material is rip-resistant and is permanently water repellent. This is the perfect option for camping, traveling or days out. One unique feature of the poncho is the eyelets which allow it to be converted into a shelter or groundsheet. The hook and loop fasteners will also adjust it to become a sleeping bag cover.
Unique selling point: Great value rain poncho which comes in a wide range of colors and is adaptable for many uses
- Well designed to prevent leaking
- Covers a backpack as well
- Low price
- Too large and long for shorter wearers
8) Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite2 Waterproof Breathable Rain Poncho
Frogg Toggs believe in using premium materials and exceptional construction in their products, while still offering an affordable price point. They offer a great range of products for active individuals.
The Ultra-Lite2 Waterproof Breathable Poncho is water-resistant and can be easily packed away into the provided stuff sack for easy carrying. It will weigh just 9oz when you pack it down. It’s the perfect affordable option for rainy days out, fishing, camping and hiking. The poncho features an adjustable hood with cord locks, to reduce the chance of rain leaking in. The side snaps on the poncho allow you to adjust it to fit your body. The height of the poncho is 40”, and the arm to arm span is 52”.
Unique selling point: One of the cheapest options on the market, constructed with premium materials
- Adjustable hood
- Side snaps to allow a secure fit
- Not the strongest poncho on the market and some users report that the snaps are weak
9) Charles River Apparel Pacific Rain Poncho
The poncho is made of 100% Polyurethane and can be hand washed. It features heat-sealed seams and drawstrings for the hood, which help give you extra protection from the wind and rain. There are also side snap closures under the arms. The poncho measures 80” x 52” and folds up into the matching bag.
Unique selling point: High-quality and stylish product. It is made of 100% polyurethane.
- High quality material
- heat-sealed seams and the hood features a snap neck and drawstrings
- Larger travel pouch and for taller users the arms may not be long enough
10) Raines by totes Adult Unisex Rain Poncho
The Raines by totes adult unisex rain poncho is one of the cheapest on the market and retails for under $10. It’s a great low priced option for vacations and outdoor events that you won’t have to worry too much about damaging. However, it’s still a protective and durable product. The side snaps make it easy to take on and off and won’t disrupt from your fun.
If you need to clean the poncho, it can be easily wiped clean with a damp cloth. It’s a classic style, which means you can use it year-round and it packs away into the included mesh carry case easily.
Unique selling point: One of the lowest priced ponchos on the market, perfect for traveling
- Classic poncho style
- Low price
- Good range of colors
- Basic design
- Less protective than some other models