We all know that the best rain poncho for backpacking will never be featured in NYC’s fashion week, but let’s be honest, nobody looks good after a downpour, and nobody finds it ideal arriving at their next destination looking like a wet dog. Then to only find that every last piece of clothing you have on and inside your pack has turned into a soggy pile of mush.
While rain ponchos may not be “fashion-forward” on the trail, they make up for it when it comes to keeping you and your pack dry. They hold a truly valuable component when it comes to practicality.
Overall, they’re much lighter than a rain jacket, pack up smaller, and cover both you and your potentially giant backpack. Ponchos have come a long way from the thin plastic “hefty sacks” that we once threw over our clothing in a downpour.
Still, not all ponchos are created equal, and not all of them are designed to be used while backpacking. That’s why we put together an in-depth list of the best ponchos for hiking and backpacking.
We will also share the criteria we used to choose the ponchos. So, if you don’t find the perfect poncho on our list, you’ll know how to pick the right one for your needs
Best Rain Ponchos for Backpacking & Hiking
Anyoo Waterproof Rain Poncho
The Anyoo is made out of 100% polyester with PVC coating combined with heat-sealed seams, which makes the poncho water-resistant. It features a full-frontal zipper closure (a great feature), and the zipper itself is also waterproof. Additionally, it comes in 30 different colors and patterns. So, you’re sure to at least find a color you like!
Unlike many other ponchos, this one has a zippered pocket, primarily aimed at protecting your electronics from the rain. There is also a hood that allows you to control the tightness, fit, and breathability around your head with a drawstring.
It’s roomy with a width of 130’ so you can easily wear it over a backpack. While there are no separate sleeves, a snap closure system helps secure the poncho around your arms, and the elastic thumb loops ensure that your arms aren’t exposed to the rain in windy conditions.
When you’re not using it, you can neatly fold and pack the poncho in the pouch provided, and quickly take it out once the weather starts to turn.
Sea to Summit Nylon Tarp Poncho
The Sea-to-Summit Nylon Tarp-Poncho features a hood with taped seams. It also has a 3-panel hood construction with a wide brim to make it easy to sling over your pack. Made of lightweight, but very durable, 70 denier nylon with fully taped seams. This poncho is light but “hearty.”
The Sea-to-Summit Nylon Poncho is crafted to fully cover you and your pack in a downpour. Its snap features along the sides act as another barrier to stay dry. It’s ideal for temperate climates when a waterproof jacket would be too sweaty and constricting. It comes packaged with an oval-shaped stuff sack for the best fit in a small pocket or clip on your pack for easy access.
One standout feature is that it doubles as a rain tarp cover for sleeping or lightweight shelter, covering 54 x 104 inches. The poncho can be transformed and set up as an A-Frame, Wind Shelter, Bivy, Hammock Fly, or Awning. It even has guy line attachment points at the corners and middle
Foxelli Hooded Rain Poncho
The Foxelli Hooded Rain Poncho comes in handy when a sudden downpour gets in the way of your camping weekend, fishing trip, outdoor music festival, or hiking excursion. It will keep you covered, so you may continue to enjoy all outdoor activities and events while remaining dry and comfortable.
Made of high density coated polyester, the Foxelli rain ponchos offers protection during heavy rain and winds. The hood has a built-in cord adjuster to protect your face, while snaps along the sides allow for adjusting to ensure a good fit. The tear-resistant material allows the poncho to be used for many years of outdoor adventure, due to its supreme durability.
The rain poncho’s long size provides full coverage for adults, along with many color choices. It’s wide and big enough to cover anyone wearing up to a 50L backpack, and will not restrict your movement while hiking, hunting, sight-seeing, or singing and dancing at a muddy, rainy festival.
Foxelli rain ponchos offer multiple uses and ways to protect you from outdoor elements. Use it as a camping blanket, insulator, or sleeping bag cover. You can also use it as a tarp to cover your tent, or prop it up above as a sunshade.
The poncho comes in a tiny bag and weighs only 11 oz. Put it in your pocket, backpack, or purse – it’s so lightweight and easy to carry, you won’t even think about it until it’s needed.
Frogg Toggs Ultra-Light 2
The Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite2 is a lightweight poncho that is made out of breathable nonwoven polypropylene. This material is not only lightweight, but it has welded seams to make the poncho great for light weather storms. The weight of the poncho is 9 oz (around 270 grams). I would not recommend this poncho is you are headed into hearty terrain or heavy weather.
The poncho measures 54” x 40” (137 x 102 cm). Being a one-size-fits-most, it stretches to around the knee area for most people. However, taller individuals may find the poncho to be a bit short.
The poncho can be easily packed into the included stuff sack, and can be clipped to your pack for easy access. This makes it an ideal option in an emergency.
Unfortunately, its pullover style doesn’t have any snap closure or zippers on the front but they are on the sides to create makeshift sleeves and pockets.
The hood is made out of a single piece of material, and it has cord locks that allow the user to control the tightness of the fit. Overall, it is quite inexpensive and a great option to have in a pinch if you’re on a tight budget.
Outdoor Products Backpacker Poncho
The Outdoor Products Backpacker Poncho is one of the better options for backpacking purposes. You can sling it over your backpack when an unexpected shower hits to keep you and your pack dry. This Poncho is durable and very light with excellent water-resistance. It’s best suited for hiking, backpacking, festival dancing in the mud, and many other outdoor adventures.
What I really like about this Poncho is the hood has a drawstring, so you can tighten it around your face to stop wind and rain from getting inside. It also has rust-resistant snaps at the wrists and sides to give a better fit and prevent water from getting in at these points – a feature not many other Ponchos have.
It can even convert to a rainfly or a tarp and has web-tie guy lines at the corners for these purposes. This water-resistant poncho is made from good-quality urethane-coated nylon taffeta with watertight bound seam construction to prevent leakages at the seams.
This Poncho is an excellent option for fair weather activities. So if you do see “extreme” rain in the forecast, I would recommend one of our other more robust ponchos on our list.
Snugpak Patrol Poncho
The Snugpak Patrol Poncho is made out of Paratex Dry Fabric – a step up for keeping dry. The seams are taped, and a durable water repellent and polyurethane coating make this poncho waterproof and also windproof. This certainly is one of the best water-repellent ponchos we have listed!
It has a pullover design, but also has a partial zipper in front to make taking it on and off easier. There is a velcro storage pocket with a storm flap for extra protection below the partial frontal zipper. The hood is adjustable with drawstrings so you can control how tightly it fits you and when you want to keep the rain and wind out.
The Snugpak Patrol Poncho is a bit heavier than some of the others we listed at 0.8 pounds, and it measures in at 53” x 63.” This will accommodate carrying up to a 50L backpack comfortably underneath this poncho.
Another advantage is having sleeves on this poncho and thumb loops in each sleeve that will help keep the arms in place, especially during inclement conditions. It’s super easy to carry contained in its own travel sack that measures at 8” x 4”.
Adventure World Globo – Trekker Poncho
The Adventure World Globo – Trekker Poncho is made of high-quality, ultra water-resistant 210T Terylene fabric. It’s equipped with a convenient drawstring hood and zipped neck for those who need extra circulation and a quick escape.
This Poncho protects you and your backpack from wind and rain in one easy-to-use cover. It’s super lightweight and easy to carry at only 0.77 lbs and 6.3” by 4” in its included carry bag. It comes in one size fits all, length: 51” and width circumference: 55”. This poncho is not best suited for people over 6 feet tall for full coverage.
The back of the poncho can easily be buttoned for use without a backpack, making it a bit more versatile. Overall, this is a great poncho for beginner hikers and backpackers to use as a lightweight, fair weather rain cover instead of carrying a rain jacket.
Coleman Adult EVA Poncho
This Poncho is one of the most inexpensive options on the list, and it has the trusted outdoor name of Coleman attached to it. The Coleman Adult EVA Poncho fits in your purse, small backpack, or car’s glove box so you’ll be prepared for any weather situation in the drop of a hat.
This colorful adult poncho is compact to carry, lightweight, and comes with a reusable storage sack. So, it’s easy to bring along to a sporting event, outdoor concert, or camping.
This is certainly a frontrunner for the title of best waterproof poncho for hiking and is made from 100% EVA. It also features an attached hood, snap side closures, and drawstring hood for around your face. This thick poncho has a heavy-duty (yet lightweight) design and fits most adults.
Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho
In my opinion, this is one of the most versatile additions you can add to your gear kit, especially while camping, backpacking, and festival going! You will have no problem keeping warm and cozy with the Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho. This multi-functional Poncho comes with a drawstring hood, plus a “kangaroo” muff styled pocket and zippered front pocket to keep you warm and dry.
The water-resistant Honcho Poncho offers extra warmth with an extra layer of insulation. This extra synthetic fill effectively manages moisture regardless of atmospheric conditions. Because there is no need to remove layers to cool down or dry off, the result is an entirely new level of comfort throughout the evening and into the morning as temperatures fluctuate.
The brushed polyester taffeta lining is soft and excellent at retaining warmth. The Honcho Poncho is large enough (75” x 57”) to be laid flat for use as a blanket, or it can be worn as a poncho to take the chill out of your bones. It’s on the heavier side since it’s synthetic (1.5 lbs). However, its versatility makes it unique and worth the little extra weight.
The Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho is available in your choice of earthy colors and patterns.
Rumpl Puffy Poncho
Rounding out our reviews, the last Poncho is also one of the most expensive. But man, to me, it is the “bees knees.” Is it a blanket, is it a pillow, NO it’s a puffy poncho! The Rumpl Puffy Poncho is extremely versatile and actually stylish!
You get the warmth factor in a stylish poncho you’ll want to be seen in while still wearing something so lightweight. It’s made from 20D ripstop Nylon, a very durable fabric. The Puffy Poncho is a waterproof DWR finish with a 100% nylon shell over the shoulders and hood. Inside the lining, there’s 3D hollow 100% polyester fiber, which helps keep the weight down at just 1.3 pounds.
It’s waterproof and also has a zipper front pouch so you can put frequently used items here for easy access. The coolest part is that it has a built-in drink holder. You can use it as a poncho, blanket, tent liner for extra warmth, or fold it into the front pouch and make it a camp pillow. Considering all these features, it’s no wonder that we include this item in our search for the best rain poncho for backpacking.
When you get home, throw it in the washer, and it’s ready for your next outing.
How to Choose the Best Poncho for Backpacking
I bet you had no idea Ponchos could be so versatile and complex! I hope our reviews helped narrow down your search, but if you’re still on the fence about which one to choose, we’ll describe the criteria we used to choose the ponchos we listed.
Water-Resistance & Material
You should look for a rain poncho made of high-quality, water-resistant materials. Generally, the best ones have taped seams that prevent water from leaking inside. Most of them have hoods that will provide that extra coverage. The hood keeps your head from getting wet, blocks the wind, and helps preserve your vision in poor weather.
Some rain ponchos have heated seams. Others have seams that are glued with elastic. All of these methods provide additional waterproofing.
If possible, find a poncho that comes with a waterproof coating of some kind (DWR). This will fade with use, but it can be reapplied.
Ponchos are very simple – they don’t have complicated zippers or fancy snaps that can break like rain jackets. Because of this, their durability generally lasts longer.
However, you will notice that there is a big difference between chincy one dollar rain ponchos and well-designed backpacking ones. For durability, it will be related to the materials used. Although they don’t have as many features as a rain jacket, you are still backpacking and they can easily snack on branches and be ripped.
Features & Design
Mostly, you don’t have to worry about buying the proper size. Ponchos are large and baggy enough to fit almost anyone. You can lend your poncho to a friend, and it will fit just fine no matter what size they are. Some ponchos will be longer than others though, which we mentioned with a few on our list.
Ponchos will usually include grommets on the sides and corners. You can use these for tying guy lines and using poles to make a shelter. This feature helps keep you dry from the rain or block wind or the sun. You can also use your tarp/poncho as a groundsheet under the tent.
Because ponchos have multiple uses, you can leave some items at home. For example, you can use your poncho as an insulator in your tent, pack cover, and groundsheet. By combining these three items in one, you can cut at least a couple of pounds from your pack.
Because ponchos fit loosely around your body, arms, and head, they allow more airflow. This helps you stay dry by allowing sweat to evaporate and escape. When you sweat while wearing a rain jacket, the sweat can get caught between your body and the waterproof material, usually GoreTex.
While wearing a rain jacket, you sometimes get just as wet as if you hadn’t been wearing rain protection at all due to sweat.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can buy a disposable plastic poncho for $1 pretty much anywhere in the world or even use a bin bag. They’re incredibly affordable if you’re in a pinch. Of course, this style only lasts for a few uses because the plastic is so flimsy. They’re a great solution for occasional use, though.
A basic reusable poncho starts around $10 and ranges up to $179 for the “bells and whistles” version. On the other hand, rain jackets cost a bit more, generally starting at $79 and sometimes reaching up to $500.
It’s worth looking into if you are looking to save some money and have a versatile piece of gear in your camping kit.
Adding the best rain poncho for backpacking to your pack is one of the best things an avid outdoorsman can do. This is especially true if you spend a considerable amount of time hiking, backpacking, festival-ing, sporting events, or even hunting.
With so many poncho options, you would be hard-pressed not to find something to suit your needs regardless of your outdoor adventure. After you’ve decided on your budget and intended use, you will begin to narrow down the many amazing poncho options.
We hope that our choices at least helped you to jumpstart your search for the perfect poncho. If not, then at least our selection criteria will.