Get ready to brave inclement weather with the right rain poncho

Rain Ponchos

When on a tour, you need to be ready for any weather. This means warm clothing, of course, but also a protective outer layer that reliably wards off wind and rain.
When out backpacking, conventional waterproof jackets aren't really ideal. For one, many hardshell jackets just aren't made to withstand stress from heavy loads for long, and for another, a combination of rain covers with rain jackets or other waterproof jackets doesn't prevent water from running down the gap between the backpack and straps, getting the harness system wet. A nice, voluminous poncho helps.
You will find everything you need to know to choose the right rain poncho just below.

But what is a poncho exactly?

A poncho is a type of rain cover offering excellent freedom of movement, which makes it very comfortable to wear. Also, the sturdy material is permanently waterproof, breathable and has a compact pack size - just like a hardshell jacket.
A light poncho can be easily stowed in a backpack as a sort of emergency rain jacket and taken out and worn when needed. Remember to consider the shape and size of your backpack when choosing a poncho to make sure it covers it completely!
A poncho is not very comfortable for backpacking hikes, where it prevents the harness system from getting wet. But hikers and other outdoor athletes who are on foot without a backpack but usually with hiking sticks or hiking poles instead, swear by the traditional rain poncho. It creates a dry space without hampering movement.
Cyclists on tours also like to use a poncho, as its length keeps splash water from the wheels from drenching them.

Rain Ponchos

What you should look for when choosing your poncho

Rain ponchos come in various cuts. Always make sure there is an opening in front or at the sides. Other important details are various ventilation options such as buttons, hook and loop fasteners or zips that allow you to vary the shape of the poncho. Some models can be opened up entirely and used as tarps. Just spread the rain poncho over a pair of trekking poles like you would a traditional tarp and -voilà! - instant shelter!
Make sure you can adjust the hood and the width of the sleeves (if it has any) to suit your needs.
If you need to stay dry but aren't moving a lot - fishing, for example, or hunting from a tree-stand - you can try siliconised rain ponchos. Like bivy bags, these models aren't quite as breathable, but offer even better weather protection and are permanently water repellent and extremely resistant to abrasion and tearing.
Loose-fitting rain jackets are available from Sea To Summit, Salewa or Exped.

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