6 Best Backpacking Ponchos (Buying Guide)
Backpacking and hiking in the rain can be a disappointing experience if you haven’t packed the right kit. We’ve all been there: you plan for a sunny day, set off on your hike, and then the heavens open. No-one enjoys the feeling of trudging back through the mud, with their bag and clothes soaked.
However, camping in the rain doesn’t have to be a grim experience. There are many things you can do, such as fully waterproofing your tent and setting up some cover out of tarp in your campsite, which can elevate your rainy camping experience. Although there are many options for rain jackets on the market, they often miss one thing. And that’s keeping your backpack dry. Even if you have a waterproof backpack or a waterproof cover for it, sometimes the rain still manages to get in.
This is the real beauty of a poncho. Although they are hardly a fashion statement, ponchos are worth it for one main reason: keeping your backpack dry. Instead of just covering your body, ponchos keep your belongings and kit dry too, which is a saving grace for backpackers. Continuing your hike or journey with soggy new clothes from inside your backpack is a backpacker’s hell. So we’ve compiled a list of recommendations of the top 8 best backpacking ponchos, to help keep you dry and smiling in the great outdoors.
6 Best Backpacking Ponchos – Overview
Scettar Rain Poncho Reusable, 2 Pack Adult
We’ve started here with our cheapest recommendation. This two-pack works out at about $5 per poncho, a great, cheap solution for a couple. The low price point is one of the main selling factors for these ponchos. Although the quality may not be as good as some of the more expensive products, sometimes all you need are the basics. These punches will fold up really small, taking up hardly any space in your bag. If you’re going camping or hiking with someone else, on a budget, then consider packing these 2 ponchos, just in case of a shower. We wouldn’t recommend purchasing these if you’re looking for protection from heavy rain, but they do the job just fine to have on hand, just in case.
Another benefit of these ponchos is they’re made of EVA, which is an environmentally friendly, non-toxic, harmless alternative to PVC. This is a great option for the sustainably-minded, who want to do their thing for nature while being surrounded by it. Another feature of these ponchos is the big drawstring hood and elasticated sleeves. This helps prevent water from getting in around the neck or wrist. However, some may prefer a different option of sleeve. Sometimes gathered sleeves like this, made out of plastic-y material, can be a bit uncomfortable around the wrists after a while, and feel a little restricting.
With a thickness of 0.15mm, these ponchos are ultra-lightweight. With their flexible material, they can fold up really small, taking hardly any space in your bag. However, they don’t come with a storage bag, so you’ll need to shake them off good and proper if you’ve worn them in the rain, before returning them to your backpack. If you’re looking to save money, and don’t mind that these ponchos won’t last you a lifetime, then they could be a great option for you.
- Made of environmentally friendly EVA
- Gathered sleeves at the wrist
- No carry pack
- Not so durable
- Not reflective
Andake Reusable Rain Poncho
Our second cheapest poncho recommendation, at only $14.44, this solution marries affordability with quality. One of the biggest selling points of this design is that you can use this product either as a rain poncho or a ground mat. The size of the poncho is big enough that, when fully extended on the ground, it can become a mat so that you can sit and rest on or have a picnic. You could even consider attaching the poncho to some trees, to make a dry, covered area in your campsite. This poncho is super lightweight, made of 80GSM Polyester weaved PU. So not only will it be light and small in your bag, but it could also save any room that you would have been using to carry your tarp!
Secondly, this poncho will keep you dry as can be. It bears 8000+ water pressure and with a heavyweight WP4 waterproof rate, it will keep you and your backpack dry for hours, even in really heavy rains. It also has a couple of extra features that make it even more waterproof. It has a built-in waterproof strip, and a cap crown, to stop water from seeping down to your neck, and to protect your face. There’s also an elastic drawstring in the hood, and spring-loaded stoppers at each end to prevent the elastic from retracting into the hood, to tighten it around your head and protect you from the showers.
This poncho has a couple more brilliant features for keeping you and your belongings dry. It has a waterproof zipper pocket, where you can keep your most precious belongings in this stuff sack, like phone and keys, protected from the elements. It also dries very quickly, saving you time. A unique feature of this poncho is the elastic in the sleeves, which hold the poncho down if you’re wearing it while cycling. And lastly, it has two reflective films on the front and three reflective logos on the back can, to help keep you safe and visible. In terms of value for money, and with all its extra features, this poncho is top of its game.
- Bears 8000+ water pressure
- Cap crown
- Waterproof zipper pocket for valuables
- Reflective logos on material
- Not so fashionable
- May not be as durable as other models
Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite2 Waterproof Breathable Poncho
The unisex Frogg Toggs poncho is similar in price to the Andake poncho but doesn’t have quite as many unique features. It’s also similarly waterproofed, light and foldable, and stows away easily in your backpack without taking up much space at all. This poncho is made from non-woven water-resistant polypropylene, which is also very effective for keeping you dry. One of the benefits of this poncho is that it has welded waterproof seams. The seams of a poncho are particularly important: if they are a poor quality then they can easily rip or tear over time, or let in a bit of water. Welded seams mean that this poncho is more durable, will keep you drier than cheaper alternatives, and will last you for a long time.
Another benefit of this poncho is that it’s totally recyclable, a great feature for green-minded backpackers. It also has side snaps, magnetic pieces that keep the sides of the poncho together. This feature helps to keep you dry and stop wind and rain from getting through the sides of your poncho. It also comes with a bag, so you can fold it up and store it nice and small, especially portable considering the ultralight waterproof material. However, it doesn’t have a waterproof zipper pocket, so you’ll have to make sure your valuables are safely stored somewhere dry. We would recommend putting them in a zip lock bag in your backpack, to be extra safe.
- Comes with a carry bag
- Ultra-lightweight material
- No waterproof zipper pocket
- Not reflective
- No cap crown
Terra Hiker Rain Poncho
The unisex Terra Hiker Rain Poncho is a multi-use poncho, designed for multiple outdoor activities, such as: a water-resistant mountaineering raincoat, or a mat for hiking, picnics or fishing. Although you could use most of these ponchos for these purposes, what makes this product special is its strength and durability, specially made for outdoor activities. It’s made from 210T high-density polyester fabric that’s PU3000MM waterproof. These materials are durable, especially when combined with the 3-layer reinforced eyelets. There are even eyelets on the hem, so you can use this poncho instead of a tarp, creating a dry area in your camp beneath it suspended between trees. Or you can even pop it up using tent stakes to use it as a sunshade.
This option is also a seam-sealed and fully waterproof poncho, and with the high-quality materials, you can trust it not to break and let in water at the seams. One of the biggest benefits of this product is that you can fit even a very large backpack underneath, up to 60L. So this poncho is a great option for you if you’re serious about backpacking, and you want a poncho that will protect both you and your large backpack from the elements. The poncho must keep your sleeping bag dry as if they get wet in a big downpour, it’s almost impossible to get them fully dry again.
Terra Hiker Rain Poncho has a longer back, meaning that it’s easy to sit in, keeping you dry, even if the surface is wet. It also has 3 color options for you to choose from and has velcro on the cuffs to ensure maximum comfort for you when you’re walking, so the rain can’t blow up the gap in the fabric. This is a unique feature, as many of the other options have snap closures. At only $16.99 this is a great option for a heavy-duty poncho, that can easily host your backpack underneath, and is a durable mountaineering raincoat. However, it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles included in the other models, but you might want the simpler design.
- Super strong material for multiple uses as a tarp
- Seam-sealed and fully waterproofed
- Simple design
- Fits a large backpack underneath, up to 60L
- Velcro rather than snap closures
- Not reflective
- No cap crown
Revival Gear Reusable Rain Poncho
Revival Gear Reusable Rain Poncho is a great option for a lightweight, but heavy-duty, poncho. At only $20, it’s also not that much of a bigger investment, for the quality which comes with it. These ponchos are lightweight and made out of rip-proof material, so they’re perfect for multiple uses such as stringing up between trees to make a shelter (especially with their high strength metal grommets). With its multiple alternate uses as a tarp in your campsite, we could rename this model a tarp poncho.
These ponchos are a great option for long hikes or hilly terrain. The reason for this is the one-way airflow technology, combined with underarm venting, which keeps the material breathable as you walk, meaning you won’t get too hot on your hike. This is an important feature for all rain gear. Some ponchos, especially the cheaper models, can make you feel like you’re wearing a plastic bag as you’re hiking and can get super hot and uncomfortable. So it’s worth investing just a little bit extra for a poncho-like this that’s breathable. Also, because it’s past knee-length, this poncho is easy for sitting down in and will reduce the amount of rain which goes onto your shoes.
Adventures can be ruined with the wrong kit. But with this poncho, you’re ready for any rainy adventure. With its drawstring hood that will keep your neck dry, large adjustable hood with a beak to keep the rain off your face and ultra-strong sewed seams, this poncho can really last you. It even comes with a one year warranty. It also comes with a convenient carry bag, so you can easily carry it in your backpack, without worrying about your other possessions getting wet.
- Lightweight rip-proof material
- Multiple uses as a tarp
- One-way airflow technology
- Past knee length
- Hood beak
- Carry bag
- 1-year warranty
- Slightly more expensive
- No eyelets for tarp use
Saphirose Rain Poncho Jacket Coat Hooded for Adults with Pockets
This is a slightly different option, for the more fashion-conscious backpacker. You can choose from up to 40 different colors and patterns, meaning you can find a design that’s just right for you, from bright yellow ponchos to polka dots and flowers. If the other ponchos are just too ugly, or not zany enough for you, then this could be a great option.
This poncho is mid-price-range, at $21.99, and comes with a color-matched storage pouch for all your valuables. Another feature of this poncho is the study, waterproof, full-length zipper. This is much easier to manage in the rain than poppers, and it means that far less water can get in your poncho. It also has heat-sealed seams, making the seams (one of the riskiest bits of any waterproof clothing) tight from rain.
However, it could be argued that this poncho prioritizes style over substance. This poncho is made with 100% polyester, which makes it lightweight, but isn’t the most durable of the materials we have reviewed, and in the long run, isn’t the most waterproof fabric. Because the fabric is less durable, and there are no eyelets, this poncho is single use only. It will keep you dry, but most of all, it can be personalized to your fashion tastes.
- Multiple color and pattern options
- Waterproofed, sturdy, full-length zipper
- Style over substance
- 100% polyester
- No eyelets of multi-use as a tarp
Our pick for the best backing poncho is the Revival Gear Reusable Rain Poncho, one of the best rain ponchos out there. This waterproof rain poncho is the perfect mix of affordability and durability, especially with its heavy-duty non-rip fabric. This makes it multi-use. Instead of just being a fashion accessory to keep you dry, this poncho can also be used as an effective groundsheet or picnic blanket, or you could tie it up to some nearby sheets, to create a dry eating and socializing area for your campsite.
This is one of the main benefits of backpacking with a poncho. Poncho’s are not only great for keeping you dry in a downpour: a really great poncho, made out of sturdy material and preferably with eyelets, can make a great replacement for a tarp in your bag. Remember to bring tent stakes and rope to create a shelter. So: ponchos are the perfect option for keeping your backpack light, not only because of their lightweight material, and the fact that they fold up very small, but also because you can carry one less tarp with you if you’re planning a rainy camping trip.
Although ponchos aren’t the most fashionable option for rain protection, their multi-use feature means they’re great to have in your bag at all times, just in case. Most ponchos are also one size fits all, so they can be used by multiple people, and you don’t have to worry about whether they will fit you if you’re buying them online, for example off Amazon. Our first and last options are for more fashion-forward poncho options. These are great for using at festivals, or keeping in your bag if you’re expecting a shower, and want to remain looking fabulous.
However, for avid backpackers, the style of the poncho shouldn’t really matter. Although there are a variety of color options on the market, we would recommend choosing a standard khaki poncho, for optimum safety in the great outdoors. The main selling point for a backpacker is that ponchos keep your backpack fully dry in the rain. So remember to choose a poncho that’s big enough to fit the size of your backpack, to ensure the rest of your backpacking experience is free from a soggy kit. Depending on your poncho requirements, you’re bound to find one to suit your needs, in our list of the 6 best backpacking ponchos!
Bonus tip: If you’re looking for some ways to reproof a waterproof jacket, you can check out this video below!