The Best Backpacking Ponchos of 2021

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When considering our backpacking rain gear, we often gravitate towards rain jackets and waterproof pack covers when considering the proper rain gear for our trip. Rain ponchos have the advantage of being both of those things! This is especially true if you are going to be hiking in a warmer climate that rains often. Not only are they lightweight and affordable, but they cover you and your pack seamlessly. Plus, some ponchos can even double as shelters cutting down your pack weight even more.

Backpacking ponchos are a convenient and multi-purpose item to keep on your backpacking gear list. Still, like most outdoor gear these days, not all ponchos are made the same. When considering the best backpacking poncho purchase, it is essential to factor in not only the quality of the material but also how you will be utilizing it.

Some backpacking ponchos have additional features that make them more useful, whereas others keep it simple to stay affordable. All of this and more will be explained throughout this article. We will break down the best backpacking ponchos so you can find the perfect one for you.

Our Top Favorite
Sierra Designs Mens Poncho U (L/XL - Black)
Our Top Runner Up
Snugpak Patrol Poncho, Waterproof, One Size, Lightweight, Suitable for Hiking, Camping, and Hunting, Black
Our Top Value Pick
Outdoor Products Poncho Backpacker (Forest Green)
Backpacking Ponchos
Sierra Designs Poncho
Snugpack Patrol Poncho
Outdoor Products Backpacker Poncho
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Favorite
Sierra Designs Mens Poncho U (L/XL - Black)
Backpacking Ponchos
Sierra Designs Poncho
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Runner Up
Snugpak Patrol Poncho, Waterproof, One Size, Lightweight, Suitable for Hiking, Camping, and Hunting, Black
Backpacking Ponchos
Snugpack Patrol Poncho
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
Outdoor Products Poncho Backpacker (Forest Green)
Backpacking Ponchos
Outdoor Products Backpacker Poncho
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our Favorites for the Best Backpacking Ponchos Our Favorites for the Best Backpacking Ponchos

The ponchos listed below are some of our top picks for a variety of reasons. They are listed and described in no particular order.

Sierra Designs Poncho

The Sierra Designs Poncho is an undoubtedly waterproof option. It is made from a 2-layered 80D polyester fabric, making this option a very durable design. However, this type of material is not a very breathable option.

This poncho option is also an affordable option if you’re looking for high quality and versatile option. The Sierra Designs poncho should be considered a mid-range item as far as the price goes. It is made from quality material and will prove to be durable to trail wear and tear.

Additional Features

  • Full Zip Front
  • Storm Flaps for a Rain Jacket Feel
  • Variety of Snaps to Adjust Fit
  • Adjustable 3-piece hood
  • Waterproof Taped Seams

What Makes the Sierra Designs Poncho Unique

  • Designed with grommeted corners so it can also be used as a tarp or groundsheet. This makes it a more versatile packing option and allows backpackers to cut down on weight.
  • It is straddling the line between a poncho and a rain jacket with the side snaps and storm flaps. This is great for hikers that aren’t sure about the effectiveness of the poncho. With a feel closer to a rain jacket, it keeps it breathable yet secure.

Why You Should Choose this Sierra Designs Poncho

  • Versatile enough to be used for almost any outdoor activity, including car camping, day hiking, and backpacking.
  • Durable design to last you for long backpacking adventures for years to come.
Sierra Designs Mens Poncho U (L/XL - Black)
  • Can be used as a tarp or ground sheet with grommeted corners
  • Fully waterproof taped seams
  • Adjustable 3- piece hood

Last update: 2021-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Sea to Summit Tarp Poncho / Ultra-Sil Nano Poncho

Sea to Summit offers two amazing poncho designs perfect for day hikers and backpackers alike. The primary difference between the two poncho designs is the material it is made from. The standard Sea to Summit Tarp Poncho is made from 70D nylon material. This makes it much heavier than the Ultra-Sil Nano version. However, this thicker material allows for a more durable poncho making it great for extended backpacking trips and someone looking for a long-lasting gear addition.

If you are an ultralight backpacker that is looking for a poncho large enough to both cover your body and a large backpack, then the Ultra-Sil Nano Poncho is the better option. Both of the ponchos will have the same size and additional features, making them excellent choices.

The standard tarp poncho will have a retail price quite close to that of the Sierra Designs poncho mentioned above, whereas the Ultra-Sil Nano will be a higher price.

Additional Features

  • Double-stitched for durability and a longer-lasting product on the trail.
  • Taped Seams for a more waterproof seal.
  • 3-Panel Hood for added waterproof protection and a better fit.
  • Snaps down the sides to keep the poncho closed while still allowing ventilation.
  • Stuff sack provided for easy packing when not in use.

What Makes the Sea to Summit Tarp Poncho Unique

  • Ability to convert into a small shelter allowing for a versatile item, especially great for ultralight packers.
  • Long back design to completely cover large backpacks to ensure all your gear stays dry.

Why You Should Choose a Sea to Summit Poncho

  • Perfectly designed to fit over you and your pack.
  • The standard design offers unbeatable durability, and the Nano designs provide the perfect poncho for an ultralight trip.
Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Nano Tarp Poncho, Lime
  • Ultra-Sil Nano Tarp Poncho-Lime
  • Ultra-Sil Nano Tarp Poncho-Lime
  • Sea to Summit

Last update: 2021-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


ZPacks Groundsheet-Poncho

This poncho design is often boasted as the best ultralight backpacking option in product reviews and forums. As with most higher quality ponchos, this one offers versatility and can become a groundsheet for your tent. Manufactured using DFC material, this poncho is naturally waterproof and will keep you and your pack perfectly dry. It isn’t as long as most other poncho designs as it stops mid-thigh on most users, but it does provide a cinch to keep the wind from allowing rain to enter.

As this poncho is designed for ultralight backpackers, it only fits over a smaller backpack. If you are considering this poncho, it would be best to try it on before your trip at a local outdoor retail location and read sizing information thoroughly. This poncho will be on the higher end of the price range and will be more expensive than other options listed, but you will be getting your money’s worth. This durable design will likely last you through the majority of your future ultralight adventures.

Additional Features

  • Hood to keep your head and neck dry.
  • Zippers for added ventilation and to make it easier to take on and off with changing weather conditions.
  • Cinch at the waist and thighs to keep the poncho from being caught in the wind. This is especially important on this poncho since it doesn’t go down quite as far as most designs. This shorter design does make it easier to maneuver on more challenging terrain.

What Makes the ZPacks Groundsheet-Poncho Unique

  • Ultralight design to cut pack weight
  • Completely waterproof with the use of DFC materials
  • Can double as a groundsheet for your tent

Why You Should Choose this ZPacks Poncho

  • This will likely be the only poncho you will ever need again as it is incredibly durable and naturally waterproof.
  • A perfect fit for your ultralight backpacking adventures.

Cedar Tree Packa

This will be the most strategically designed option on the list. If you’re wary of a poncho because of the awkwardness of getting it over your pack and onto your body, then this poncho has solved your problem. The Packa team may be small, but they have changed the backpacking rain gear game. This poncho should be considered a rain jacket that has seamlessly been infused with a pack cover.

Since it is a small company, the price of this poncho will be higher than most of the others, except for the ZPack. However, this lightweight poncho does its job, and it does the job entirely. Whether you’re an ultralight backpacker, day hiker, or weekend warrior, this poncho will work for you and your pack. Plus, they offer a wide range of color and material options to find the perfect poncho for you.

Additional Features

  • Zippered front to make it easy to take on and off
  • Adjustable sleeves to tighten cuffs or change arm length
  • Adjustable hood for extra waterproofing and ventilation
  • Armpit zippers for ventilation

What Makes the Cedar Tree Packa Unique

  • Designed to first go over your pack, allowing you to easily put the rest of the poncho on like a jacket. This takes the awkwardness out of the poncho completely.
  • A variety of material options for personalization.

Why You Should Choose this Cedar Tree Poncho

  • Support a small, innovative company
  • Allows repairs, so this could potentially be the last poncho you’ll ever need.

Six Moons Designs Gatewood Cape

This poncho is perfect for those hikers and backpackers that are in search of a dual-purpose product. This lightweight design can be used as a poncho while you hike and a tarp tent when you’re resting. All you need to set up the shelter is a trekking pole and six stakes! The front zipper of the poncho doubles as the shelter entrance. Plus, the poncho is large enough to allow for a floating canopy or adjustable to different heights for rain protection.

Made from Silnylon, this poncho will be durable and very waterproof. This type of material will not be quite as breathable as other options, but they made up for that by designing ventilation into the poncho. This poncho will be a similar price to the ZPack, but remember that this can replace your rain jacket, backpack cover, and tent on all future backpacking trips.

Additional Features

What Makes the Six Moons Designs Gatewood Cape Unique

  • One of your best multi-purpose ponchos, as it doubles as a tent.
  • Made from Silnylong materials making it extremely durable but still lightweight

Why You Should Choose this Six Moons Designs Poncho

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape - 10 oz - 1 Person Ultralight Tarp/Cape (Gray)
  • Micro Buckles connect the harness to cape for easy installation and removal.
  • Full 360-Degree protection when set up as a shelter or worn as rain gear.
  • Full Zippered Entrance makes entering and exiting the shelter a snap.

Last update: 2021-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Our Runner Ups for the Best Backpacking Ponchos

Our Runner Ups for the Best Backpacking Ponchos

Snugpack Patrol Poncho

This smock style poncho is made from dry latex material with taped seams for a fully waterproof experience. This poncho offers a fair number of features, but due to the lightweight design, the fabric is quite thin. This can impact the durability and makes it less functional in colder conditions.

It is still large enough to cover your body as well as your pack completely. It is strategically designed to be longer in the back to ensure that your pack stays completely dry — another slightly cheaper mid-priced option.

Additional Features

  • Adjustable hood to allow for ventilation and waterproofing
  • Thumb loops to keep your sleeves over your wrists and hands as well
  • Map Pocket lined with velcro to keep your map handy and dry
  • Storm Flap for additional wind protection
  • Storage Bag for easy packing when not in use

What Makes the Snugpack Patrol Poncho Unique

  • Adjustable smock style design that makes it easy to adjust for changing weather.
  • It can also function as an emergency bivvy.

Why You Should Choose this Snugpack Patrol Poncho

On Sale
Snugpak Patrol Poncho, Waterproof, One Size, Lightweight, Suitable for Hiking, Camping, and Hunting, Black
  • Poncho shoulder width is 52.7 inches, poncho depth from front to back is 63.4 inches, poncho length from shoulder to hem is 56.7 inches
  • Compression packed size is 8 inches by 4 inches; travel friendly and weighs only 0.8 pounds
  • Completely waterproof with the combination of an outer coating of durable water repellent and a polyurethane coating

Last update: 2021-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho

This particular poncho design provides more warmth than most poncho options. That being said, the polyester fabric lining doesn’t allow for much breathability. It is intended for use in colder temperatures. Manufactured using a waterproof polyurethane with knit backing, this poncho is heat-sealed and extremely durable.

While this poncho boasts durability and warmth, it keeps the price affordable. The average retail price for the Charles River Pacific Poncho is around the same price as the Snugpack Patrol.

Additional Features

  • Drawstrings on hood and neck region for added waterproofing
  • Side snaps under the arms for either ventilation or more security from windy conditions
  • Heat-sealed seams for extra warmth
  • Storage Pouch for easy packing when not in use

What Makes the Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho Unique

  • One of the only quality cool weather options that remains affordable.
  • Still large enough to fit a pack underneath.

Why You Should Choose this Charles River Poncho

  • High quality, waterproof materials for a long-lasting, durable product
  • Snaps under the arms give it more of a raincoat feel, which is an appealing feature to many backpackers.
Charles River Apparel mens Pacific Rain Poncho, Navy, One Size US
  • Waterproof with heat-sealed seams
  • High quality, multi-use poncho made from waterproof new englander polyurethane bonded to a knit backing
  • Features heat-sealed seams and hood with snap neck and drawstrings for added wind/rain protection

Last update: 2021-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Our Value Picks for the Best Backpacking Ponchos

Our Value Picks for the Best Backpacking Ponchos

Outdoor Products Backpacker Poncho

This is a great, affordable poncho option for those backpackers that are still on the fence about ponchos. If you have a short, weekend trip and want to try out a poncho, this poncho will do the trick. Unlike other budget-friendly ponchos, this one is designed to cover both you and your backpack. Made with urethane-coated materials, you can also ensure that you and your pack will stay dry the entire time you hike.

Additional Features

  • Rust-resistant snaps on sides and for wrists for added waterproofing or ventilation options
  • Nylon web-tie cords on corners to convert to tarp or rainfly
  • Full-cut integral hood with drawstrings for added coverage
  • Polyester zip carrying case

What Makes the Outdoor Products Backpacker Poncho Unique

  • This is a great lightweight option that gets the job done.
  • It will keep you and your pack dry without costing you a fortune.

Why You Should Choose this Outdoor Products Poncho

  • For the price, you are getting a great deal with a fully waterproof and multi functional backpacking poncho.
  • This poncho may not last a lifetime, but it will be worth it if you only plan to use it a few times a year.
Outdoor Products Poncho Backpacker (Forest Green)
  • Lightweight, weather-resistant poncho covers both you and your backpack
  • Made from water-resistant, urethane-coated nylon taffeta with watertight bound-seam construction
  • Rust-resistant snaps at wrists and sides; nylon web-tie cords at corners for converting to a rainfly or tarp

Last update: 2021-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Frogg Toggs Ultralight Poncho

Likely one of the most popular backpacking poncho options, the Frogg Togg ultralight poncho has one of the lowest retail prices. It is a breathable, lightweight poncho option that still offers coverage of your body, but not your backpack. This can be a deal-breaker for some hikers, but this poncho does make up for it with its other features.

Plus, what it may lack in durability, it makes up for by using completely recyclable polyurethane materials. So, if your Frogg Togg has lived its life and needs to be retired, you don’t have to doom it to life at the landfill, simply recycle it.

Additional Features

What Makes the Frogg Toggs Ultralight Poncho Unique

  • An affordable lightweight option that is waterproof
  • Made from entirely recyclable material

Why You Should Choose The Frogg Toggs Poncho

  • This is an excellent option for day hikers or those outdoorsy folk that want to try a poncho out to decide if they like them or not.
  • If you only plan to day hike or backpack occasionally, this is a great option!
On Sale
FROGG TOGGS Men's Standard Ultra-Lite2 Waterproof Breathable Poncho, Blue, One Size
  • Ultra-Lite2 Rain Poncho includes a packable, waterproof poncho
  • Made with Frogg Toggs breathable, non-woven fabric that is waterproof, wind-resistant, and lightweight
  • Poncho features an adjustable hood with cord locks and side snaps for extra protection

Last update: 2021-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


How to Choose the Best Backpacking Ponchos for You

When it comes to determining the best backpacking gear for you, there are always many personal factors that you should consider. Although rain ponchos seem like a simple decision, and many are one size fits all, that doesn’t mean that all rain ponchos will work flawlessly for your needs. The primary considerations you should be thinking about before you make your poncho purchase are your price range, versatility, poncho features, and how it fits.

Price Range

Commonly, outdoor products that are of the best quality will be more expensive. However, a good poncho doesn’t have to break the bank. There are some very expensive ponchos on the market today, like the Canada Goose Poncho we mentioned earlier, but the price does not have to define the quality. If you are working with a specific budget, look at the options in our value picks section above. While these options will be on the lower end of price, many of them are still durable, multifunctional, and lightweight.

Versatility

One significant benefit of adding a backpacking specific poncho to your gear is that they can serve multiple purposes. Most hiking ponchos will either be large enough or will have a particular fit to cover both you and your backpack without and seems to let water leak through. This allows you to cut out a backpack cover from your packing list as you poncho serves as a rain jacket and backpack rain cover.

Other ponchos, such as the Sea to Summit and Six Moons Gatewood Cape, can also double as a waterproof shelter. Depending on the climate you are backpacking through, this can then double as your tent. Another versatile option is the Zpacks poncho we mention. This poncho doubles as a groundsheet/tarp for your shelter. If you are an ultralight backpacker or just wanting to try out new ways to cut back on your pack weight, these ponchos can be great additions to your gear list.

Additional Poncho Features

If you are simply looking for a waterproof cover for you and your pack while you’re hiking, this section will not be as relevant to you. Most of the time, additional features will be vital if you are embarking on an extended backpacking trip or if you live in a rainy climate and like to hike often. If you are debating between a few poncho options, looking at the individual additional features can also help you make your decision. If they are within a similar price point, but one offers better features, it may be worth choosing it over the other.

Some typical backpacking poncho additional features include:

  • Zippers
  • Pockets
  • Storage Bag
  • Hoods
  • Vents
  • Drawstrings

All of these feature designs will differ according to the style and overall purpose of the poncho itself. Some ponchos add front zippers, or others will have drawstrings and fasteners to make for a snug fit. If you are stuck on which feature options will be right for your hiking needs, it is often better to buy your poncho in a store versus online. You can gather valuable information from online sources, but in an outdoor store, you will be able to see the materials and features. Plus, you will have a chance to try it on to see if it will work for your needs.

Size and Fit

Many ponchos are advertised as one size fits all. This can generally be the case with simple one use ponchos or even some of the value options. Generally speaking, when it comes to a backpacking poncho, finding the proper size will be significant. You can easily do this if you go to an outdoor retail store to try them on with or without your pack.

If that is not an option, then your best bet is to research the design of the poncho. Some hikers will go for the largest poncho option if they know that they will be hiking with a pack. This can cause other issues as it will be long and won’t be versatile enough to wear without a pack. So, you want it to be big enough to fit you and your pack, but not so big that you’re unable to hike and maneuver properly.

Other aspects to consider when it comes to the size and the fit of the poncho is the breathability and accessibility. Some smaller sizes make it hard for you to take the poncho on and off, whereas ponchos that are too big will often have too wide of head openings and will allow water to seep into the neckline.

Having a poncho that allows for movements on difficult terrain is also a factor in the fit. If the poncho is too baggy or long, it can be challenging to take big steps or do any form of scrambling. Whereas if the poncho is too tight, it can restrict movement on more strenuous hikes.

Key Differentiators of Backpacking Ponchos

Beyond the factors listed above, such as poncho features and versatility, one of the major differentiating features of a backpacking poncho is the material it is made from. The material is the crucial differentiator beyond functional features because it directly impacts how waterproof the poncho is as well as how durable it is.

The best materials for quality ponchos include:

  • PU Nylon: This material will be one of the more affordable for poncho use. While it is a cheaper material to use, it is still entirely waterproof and will be durable as well.
  • Silnylon: A combination of Silicone and Nylon, Silnylon is a lightweight material used primarily for outdoor use. The way the silicone and nylon are combined is what makes it a strong, durable blended material. It is also a completely waterproof material, making it perfect for rain ponchos. The major downside of silnylon is that it is not breathable. Compared to other materials, it is also quite flexible and will allow some stretch.
  • Silpoly: This is when the polyester ripstop fabric is coated with a silicone/PU layer. The silicone layering is what makes the fabric both waterproof and nonbreathable. Often it is compared to silnylon, silpoly offers a lower water absorption as well as higher UV protection. Silnylon, on the other hand, will be far more durable and allows for more flexibility.
  • Cuben Fiber or DCF: Ponchos made of this material tend to be far more expensive than others. This material allows for a very lightweight poncho, making it perfect for warm weather and ultralight packers. Along with being light, DCF will be a waterproof and extremely durable option. Cuben Fiber can also be laminated to other materials to improve its performance but increasing the weight slightly.
  • PVC: This is going to be the cheapest of the material options for ponchos. While it is a waterproof material, it is not breathable. It also is not that durable. Despite that fact, it is an easy material to repair as well as replace.

Summary of the Best Backpacking Ponchos

The first aspect of choosing the best rain poncho for your backpacking needs is deciding whether or not a poncho is right for you.

Some backpackers prefer to use a rain jacket versus a poncho, whereas others swear by the poncho’s versatile and breathable features. Once you have your mind made up about a poncho, decide how and where it will be used. This will help you narrow down the search for poncho designs that fit your specific needs. Then it comes to affordability. Decide your budget for a poncho, but keep in mind that not all ponchos are created equal. Sometimes it is worth spending just a bit more on gear that will be more durable.

To wrap things up, remember our top pick was the Sierra Designs Poncho and ZPacks Groundsheet-Poncho. If you’re looking for a budget pick, you can’t go wrong with the Outdoor Products Backpacker Poncho.

Hope you enjoyed this post!

If you did, check out our other gear reviews on the best belay gloves, best crack climbing gloves, best climbing backpacks, and the best climbing sun protection.

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