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A rain poncho is useful for a lot of things. beyond just being a coat to wear to keep dry. There are a lot of different options for best rain ponchos out there from your one time use disposable to a made for extended wear military style. I have tried to include a variety of options that suit most adults but I made sure to include some disposables that are kid-sized.
A poncho can be used to make a covering for you to get through bad weather. A lot of people have ridden out some pretty bad storms with just a good poncho.
Something loose and the right color can help you conceal yourself and/or your gear. This means ponchos are also useful for concealing caches while protecting them from the weather too.
I learned about an interesting method for purifying water. To do this you build a fire and boil water. A poncho can be used to form a tent. You can catch the condensed and dripping water at the edges.
Large Enough For 2 People In A Pinch
Size of the poncho you buy is important. A poncho that is large enough to cover your backpack and you or large enough for someone to get in with you in a bad situation.
Boosts Waterproof Characteristics and Helps Gear Maintain Waterproof Coatings
Even if you have a waterproof bag, a poncho over it is going to help it wear longer and make it less likely that any water leaks in. Just because your bag starts out waterproof during SHTF that doesn’t mean it will stay that way without Scotchguard or better care.
Makeshift Mattress or Pillow
An extra poncho made of nylon or any heavy duty fabric can be made into a mattress or pillow by stuffing it full of leaf litter or whatever dry filling you have on hand.
Curtain or Door For A Wilderness Shelter
A poncho sometimes has reinforced grommets so you can hang it up or attach it to gear. This makes a good door or curtain to keep out bugs, allow for better heat retention, and ensure the most shade. The right color can also help conceal the opening.
In a survival situation, you can put water in a poncho that has been tied correctly and add water. Let the poncho hang in the sun and you will have hot water to wash within less time than you would think if the sun is shining directly. You could poke a hole in it if you wanted but if you don’t want to do that then you can scoop out water if careful.
Sled For Dragging Heavy Loads
A poncho has a smooth surface that in a pinch can make a good sled. If you have to drag someone out for medical attention for example or what if you are hunting during SHTF and need a way to get your kill back to camp? While dragging is going to be very hard on or even ruin the best poncho, it could help you out if you really need to get a load somewhere. This might be a good reason to have more than one if you have room in your bag. A lot of them do not weigh that much and with so many uses why not?
Hunting can be harder than what it seems. During a survival situation, you need to take advantage of any opportunity you can to give yourself an advantage. Always remember that even in areas where game seems plentiful, the population is likely going to get depleted fast where there are very many people.
A bit of hunger or the potential of it and a lot more people are going to be out there trying to get what they can. Game quickly becomes wiser that there are major predators around and that can lead to it being a lot harder to get anywhere near them. Being able to conceal yourself is a major advantage. A poncho of the right color or camo pattern can help you stay totally concealed so you can get the jump on your prey.
We have a lot of black bears in our area. One thing you always remember when going camping is to hang your food or anything smelly and attractive, in a bag that is high enough and far enough out in a branch so that varmints cannot get into it. I never liked having to hang up trash either but it is better to be safe than sorry. A poncho can be tied into a waterproof bag that you can hang stuff in. This is a useful tip if you forget your regular food/bear hang bag. Some paracord or other cordage is also needed for ease of use but you could just tie a poncho with stuff in it up in a tree and that would be better than nothing.
I hope you are never in a situation where you have to use a decoy but a poncho that is stuffed and clearly visible could throw someone off your trail or buy you the time you need to make a getaway. If it is actually an incident that is turning violent, there is something to be said for making someone expend some of the rounds from their gun, into a decoy rather than finding there mark in you or someone you care about.
If needed you can cut up a poncho that is made of ripstop nylon and use the strips for cordage. This means you can use it as a tourniquet, braid it to make a rope, etc.
Net For Fishing Or Straining
Although it would be anything but ideal, if you needed to you could make holes in a poncho and use it as a fishing net or to strain things. During a survival situation, you sometimes have to just go with what you have.
Emergency/Disposal Versus Heavy Duty
There is something to be said for having a really high-quality poncho and a half dozen of the inexpensive disposable kind that you can fit in a fairly small pocket. They can be used for a lot of things and also make great trade material. This can also allow you to help out others.
Like anything, there are a lot of different colors out there to choose from. This is something that you need to consider carefully. If you are wanting to go Grey Man, then you want a mild color or camo that blends in. In the case where you want to be seen then the brighter the better. A bright poncho can even be used to help signal for rescue or help. You would be amazed how far away you can see a blaze orange poncho under some conditions. This is another case where you may want one poncho of a light color and one that is bright and visible.
Plastic or PVC ponchos work well except they do not breathe well so you wind up drenched in sweat if you are on the move Ponchos are a little better about this than raincoats because they fit much more loosely in most cases. PVC and plastic are, of course, some of the cheaper options out there.
These ponchos are great for trade and barter during SHTF. You can stash them in cars, boats, backpacks, purses, etc. There are a variety of colors in a pack. The kid-sized ones offer a more comfortable choice for the little ones in the family. Both packs below do include clear ponchos for when you don’t want a bright color.
Popular Rain Ponchos
Coleman Rain Poncho
Buauty Womens Hooded Zip Up Waterproof Raincoats
Note: You get some clear ponchos too despite the models wearing bright colors.
If you want a lot of ponchos for emergencies or some to have for trading when SHTF. This pack gives you a lot of options because of the color variety. The green and clear are useful when you don’t want to stand out. In a marine environment, the blue might blend in some as well. Red and yellow would be useful for signaling or if you need to stand out for safety reasons like walking on the side of a busy highway or in an area during hunting season. These are disposable ponchos meant for 1-2 uses but like anything, if you are careful you can get more use out of them than they are meant for.
Coleman still makes some pretty good gear. This is a full-service poncho but it is budget priced. It is a step above a disposable, but it is not military grade so don’t make that assumption. This is a good option for stashing in your car or in a backpack when out hiking. I like that it includes the grommets for hanging or tieing to things.
You got to love how small this poncho reduces down to for easy carry. I could just put this in the pocket of some cargo pants even if I needed to. I am a fan of military surplus because it tends to be good quality and made to tackle some ridiculous conditions that a lot of people hopefully will never have to experience. The classic OD green color is perfect for when you want to blend in and keep a low profile. The smaller opening at the face helps keep the weather off of you. It doesn’t have a drawstring on the hood so that is something to be aware of.
This poncho and raincoat hybrid is interesting. It doesn’t have the biggest tail on it but it does have a lot of great features. The drawstring hood with zipper allows for you to get some extra ventilation or for zipping up tight when needed. Fitted sleeves keep out moisture and wind. I definitely like the fact that this has a prominent stash pocket in the front. Extra pockets for me are always a plus! This is a poncho really meant for wearing as a raincoat and doesn’t have any grommets for tieing it to things as far as I can tell.
If you are not a fan of the military style of poncho or are looking for something that you can use even if you get caught out in a rainstorm while having dinner in town, this is a good choice. I like how large this poncho is and the full zipper in the front that allows for easy off and on over clothes. A full zipper would make this easy to put on over a backpack.
There are a lot of colors and patterns for this poncho and it comes with a handbag that matches since this is a poncho mostly marketed towards women.
For a classic survival or military style poncho, this would be one of my top picks that I found during the course of my research. I like how long it is. At 5’7 some things that are made for women or foreign made are a bit short on me. This poncho is knee length on a full-size guy and has plenty of room for even a large pack. The hood is ample enough to accommodate wearing a larger hat at the same time too and the drawstring keeps water out.
This lightweight classic style poncho is a very affordable option that is great for stashing in even small every day carry bags or in your vehicle if you break down. You can get a variety of colors. For most people, the green option is going to offer more concealment but there is a light brown version for desert camo use.
Rip stop fabric and a large size made this poncho stand out for me. A large drawstring hood and good overall length make it a poncho that is a versatile option for adults and older kids and teens. The green color is excellent for concealment in forested locations.
This poncho actually has riveted holes so you can tie it to things for concealment or shelter. That is a pretty nice touch in my own opinion. While ponchos are all useful for this type of thing, having a strong tie off point makes it a lot easier to take advantage of the full spectrum of use for your poncho if the situation calls for it. Brown is not a bad color if you are trying to blend in.
This woodland camo poncho would do a good job when it comes to concealment. The generous size and length mean you can shove a lot of gear underneath it or make it into a shelter if needed. Drawstrings allow you to customize the fit for your own comfort and so that you can keep out the weather.
This poncho has a roomy and long back end and has rivets so you can tie it off to whatever you need to. If you are the type that likes to carry a huge pack then this is a good poncho to consider. The hood has a bit of a visor point that helps shade your face and shed water more readily.
Adding Waterproofing To A Used Poncho
No matter how good the poncho you buy you may find that you need to redo the waterproofing layer on your poncho after awhile. This is easy to do with Scotchguard. This is a great stuff that doesn’t cost too much to keep on hand. You can use it on ponchos, packs, boots, tents, and other gear. Using tape on the seams is also helpful.
Do you have a favorite poncho? I know there are a ton of them out there that I could not include in this post!
Any good stories about when one came through for you while you were out in the bush?