Poncho’s aren’t exactly the coolest item we’ve ever reviewed but when it comes to survival they’re more than useful. Like seriously, if you’ve ever been drenched you’ll know exactly how practical it is to have a waterproof poncho to hand.
Sure they don’t look the best, but in survival, fashion is out the window. You need to keep you and your clothes dry or you run the risk of catching hypothermia or it will even just slow you down.
So a poncho is just a poncho right? Like most things we review, no, far from it actually. There are several things you have to consider when buying a poncho. We’ve created this list at the bottom of this guide.
So if you’re interested, check out our handy buyer’s guide. Directly below you’ll find our best picks and then you’ll see our in depth review on the 5 poncho’s we think are best.
5 Best Survival Poncho Reviews
The last thing you want is to be stuck out in the cold, wet rain without a fire to keep you warm. Survival ponchos are fantastic because they can compress into a small space but still keep you and your gear dry. Hey, you could even use one as a makeshift shelter.
We have written this review to help your filter through all the noise online and choose a decent survival poncho that works for you!
1. Terra Hiker Rain Poncho
When it comes to survival gear you want robust gear and equipment that offers you the versatility needed to survive. The Terra Hiker Rain Poncho provides you with multiple uses. This 3-in-1 poncho is designed for outdoor lovers like mountaineers and those who enjoy fishing.
It can be used to shield you from torrential rain or it could be used as a damp-proof mat. You could also use it to provide some shade from the sun or even use it to build a makeshift tent, the choice is fully up to you. Having the ability to do all this makes this poncho a valuable piece of kit.
The Terra Hiker Rain Poncho is created using 210T high-density polyester. In other words, it’s a highly durable piece of kit that can put up with the damaging nature can inflict. This rain poncho is PU3000MM waterproof. It dries very quickly and even has an adjustable drawstring that you can use to give your face more cover.
The back is quite roomy – designed like this so that those with a backpack can keep it dry. And guess what? It’s lightweight too! So no need to worry about carrying too much weight.
This Rain Poncho by Terra Hiker is by far one of the best survival ponchos on the market.
2. Arcturus Reusable Rain Poncho
This super lightweight Arcturus Reusable Rain Poncho is exactly what you need in an emergency situation. This rain poncho compresses down and fits into your bag ready for the very moment you need to stay dry.
Very much like the poncho above, this one is versatile too. It can be used as a poncho to protect you from the rain, be used as a tarp or an emergency shelter. You could even use it to sit on if the ground is wet.
Now, does this poncho restrict your mobility in any form? No not at all, in fact, I’ve seen reviews of people going archery hunting while using this.
The poncho is built using 210T rip-stop taffeta and is coated with multiple layers of waterproof polyurethane. This means it is capable of surviving some really harsh weather conditions. Exactly what you need for an emergency situation right?
You’ll notice by the picture too that the hood is pretty large. It might look daft but it keeps you dry. This poncho has the label of “extra-long” so we recommend larger adults buy this one. It will come down to the lower parts of your shin on a 6 ft 2 male.
Another best poncho on the market is the Arcturus Reusable Rain Poncho.
3. Mil-Tec Waterproof Poncho Ripstop
Next up we have the Mil-Tec Waterproof Poncho. This is a heavier type of poncho compared to the first two. It has thicker waterproofing on the inside much like the U.S military-issued ponchos are.
It’s built using 100% nylon and does well at preventing rips and tears. If you’re worried about torrential rain, this waterproof poncho can be used to provide you with some shelter. Seriously, this poncho can withstand some of the harshest elements the environment could offer.
I know I said it’s the heavier type but it’s technically still lightweight. It weighs about 1.5lbs whereas the Arcturus one is about 0.7lbs. Not much though is it?
Like most, it’s a one size fits all poncho.
You could use this military-spec poncho to create a shelter too.
In this poncho review guide, we’ve been trying to find a poncho that you can trust with your life.
The Foliage Green allows you to blend into a grassy environment.
You’ll be glad to know that if needed you can use this as a shelter or groundsheet. You’ll find eyelets on the hem of the poncho. There are press stud poppers on the side.
4. Fire Force #8740 Military Style Poncho
This Fire Force #8740 Military Style Poncho is one to consider. If you need a poncho that’s lightweight, easy to pack, and can sustain high-impact rainfall, this is it! The material is very breathable and isn’t too noisy. This makes it ideal for situations where you have to be quiet.
Built using rip-stop nylon fabric, you can put trust into this poncho keeping you dry. It will also do well at keeping the nipping winds away from you. The nylon is built using a special weaving technique that ensures small rips don’t develop into large ones.
The fabric is also coated so that it’s waterproof which is perfect for survival. This will help prevent things like hypothermia. Plus it will keep you moving too, what would you rather do? Sit and get shelter or keep moving. Obviously the situation depends but you get the point.
There are some snaps available so that you can adjust how baggy the poncho is on your body. The hood is a little tight but it will do the job.
5. Revival Gear Reusable Rain Poncho
If you need a highly durable survival poncho and haven’t already found one to your liking, this Revival Gear Reusable Rain Poncho has to be the one for you!
Seriously though, with their new design in 2019, this reusable rain poncho offers you the quality you need to survive the harshest of weather conditions. Crafted using lightweight, rip-resistant nylon polyester you can be sure the ponchon will do well against the elements.
The poncho is very breathable but to make things even better it utilizes a one-way airflow technology.
The vented arms keep your body temperature regulated during heavy activity. The seams are extra strong as they are welded closed, this helps create a rip-resistant construction.
And if you’re needing to build a shelter you can use this as a ground cover or a tarp. The material is strong and will do well at keeping you dry.
Survival Poncho Buyers Guide
Size and Weight
When it comes to buying a survival poncho it’s extremely important that you get the size and weight right. Most ponchos come in a one-size-fits-all design these days. However, some are larger and smaller than others. Your poncho should be loose-fitting but you do not want it to be too baggy. A baggy poncho that’s too long could cause you to trip or get caught on something.
If its a kid you’re buying for, ignore all of these on this list and instead look into ponchos specifically designed for kids.
You also need to ensure your poncho is lightweight and can pack away into a small space.
It’s also worth noting that smaller ponchos will lack the multifunction use that a larger one can offer. For example, a smaller poncho won’t do as well as a ground mat or a makeshift tent since there’s less material.
When it comes to the color of your poncho, you will want to try to choose one that matches your surroundings. So if you’re in an urban environment a greyish colour will go down well. This will help you blend in with all stone buildings.
Always try to use a poncho that is tailored to your environment, this will help you stay concealed or at the very least cause you to blend in.
If you’re in the wilderness a green camo of some sort works too. You always want to try and steer clear of any danger in a survival situation. So by staying concealed, you will do just this.
However, on the flip side, you might want to be seen. If you’re looking to get rescued you will want a bright colour. This makes you easily visible to people like helicopter crews who may be scouting the area. Bright or neon-colored ponchos work best at night as they really do stand out.
If you have the budget, I’d recommend buying a poncho for concealment and one for visibility.
When it comes to survival, you need quality gear. Imagine this, it’s just started pouring down, you’re fatigued, stressed, and haven’t got a shelter. Luckily you have a poncho in your bag, so you take it out and put it on. Well, you try, but all you end up doing is ripping the flimsy thin material.
Look for a poncho that has military-grade materials/specifications.
You can’t buy cheap rubbish when it comes to survival. Sure buy a cheap poncho if you’re away to a festival for the weekend. If you are buying a survival poncho for your bug out bag or something, you need to ensure the quality is of a high standard.
Look for ponchos that utilize PU-coated nylon as this has good waterproof qualities. The nylon on the exterior provides the durability that you need while the waterproof polyurethane inside stops water from getting through thus shielding you from the rain.
Disposable or Long-Lasting?
Personally I carry a few disposable ones as extras. However, I have a high-quality reusable one as my primary option.
If you’ve read this blog you’ll know how much I stress about getting high-quality gear. I do not buy cheap when it comes to survival and neither should you.
Obviously buy within your means but don’t deliberately skimp out on quality gear because of something silly like the “likelihood” of such an event taking place.
An emergency can happen when you least expect it. You might be with a family member or somebody, having a disposable poncho can be a great asset in an emergency situation.
When it comes to survival, you’ve got to stay dry. You have to get a poncho that is at least water-resistant. However, we recommend finding one that is fully waterproof as they tend to be much better quality. IF your poncho is neither waterproof nor water-resistant, it is not worth having.
Also, try getting a poncho with a hood! Your head needs to stay dry too.
FAQs about Survival Ponchos
Q: Is there a difference between waterproof and water-resistant?
Yes, there is! Water-resistant essentially means the material will be able to resist the penetration of water to some degree. This does not mean it will stop water from soaking through. It usually has some form of coating that gives it the poncho a bit of resistance to water.
Waterproof means the poncho will not allow fluid to pass through at all. It will repel water and keep you dry.
Q: How big should my poncho be?
Most Survival Ponchos are made in one size. You will have to account for any headgear or backpacks that require more space to be covered. It’s also worth noting that a poncho too long for you might cause you to trip or fall.
You will get away with a longer poncho in an urban environment but bare in you’ve no idea what that urban environment will look like after a disaster has hit. You don’t want something impairing your mobility or causing you to trip one foot over the other.
Q: Do I have to let my poncho dry out before I can pack it away?
More than likely, yes. Some ponchos have a small bag that you can put them in. Some can even fold back into a bag. We would always recommend you let the poncho dry off completely before putting it away. You don’t want to risk bacteria or mold growing inside your bag. Not only is this a health risk it can ruin your poncho.
Q: Can I really use my poncho for a tent?
A: Yes you can as long as your poncho has grommets along the edges. You also need to make sure the poncho is waterproof or you’ll be sorely disappointed when you’re hit by torrential rain.
If your poncho has both of these, you can make a tent with it. The only other point I’d make is, make sure it is strong enough to withstand any heavy winds (if there are any).
Q: Is a rain poncho better than a rain jacket?
Well, it’s hard to answer that one without knowing your specific needs. Rain ponchos weigh less, cost less and they are way easier to carry around. So for survival, I prefer these.
However, if I was faced with extremely harsh weather conditions or cold weather conditions, I would take a jacket. Jackets will keep you warm. Then again if you have sufficient clothing but it isn’t waterproof, a poncho is a good buy. Do you see where this is going?
Q: What is a taped seam?
Taped seams are normally used on waterproof clothing so that the garment can be 100% waterproof. The taped seams ensure the stitching is covered and that no water can leak through the seams. The tape gets melted over the stitching.
Q: How to deal with the flapping in the wind
It’s bloody annoying right? A quick fix is to just tie something around your waist. I typically use my paracord rope to do this.
Q: Hiking in The Rain Advice?
If you’re hiking and a rain downfall strikes, you will want to protect your gear as fast as possible. You should absolutely have a survival poncho in your backpack.
Get this on before the rain strikes if you can feel it spitting. Do not chance your luck. You will want to stay as dry as possible.
Now be cautious with moving – cold environments can result in diminished situational awareness or poor tactical mindset. With the rain comes added dangers like mud, slippery surfaces, flash floods, and even hypothermia.
What Else Can I Use My Survival Poncho For?
You would probably be surprised at the different uses for your survival poncho.
Using Your Poncho As A Water Container
This is obviously only for those who have a waterproof survival poncho. But yes, your poncho is good enough to keep water out. Therefore if you pull your poncho into a bag like shape you can gather water.
Here is an interesting youtube video on how to do it from a river.
You could also use it to gather rainwater. Remember the water should still be purified first before drinking.
Build a Stretcher With Your Poncho
Poncho’s can be pretty strong. In the military, soldiers are taught to innovate and create stretchers out of whatever means necessary. If you can find thick branches, use some paracord rope and a rain poncho – you’ll be able to make a makeshift stretcher.
Create Some Shelter With Your Poncho
You might want to leave some equipment outside. You could use the poncho to cover it, to prevent it getting destroyed by the rain.
This is another tactic often used by the military, they know exactly how to use their equipment and how to maximise the results from each survival tool they have.
Remember the poncho has been used as far back as ww1 and ww2. Khaki ponchos were first used during the Solomon campaign. Troops would prefer ponchos over raincoats because they allowed better mobility and could be used as survival shelters if needed!