Poncho Vs. Rain Jacket
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Apr 3, 2007 at 3:27 pm #1222668Tyler HillMember
@tyreal1978Locale: Pacific NW
I know, age old question to you veterans.
My wife and I call ourselves three season when really we're about a one and a half (summer and early fall). Well, I want to change all that, gear up for spring and late fall conditions. Seems to me the poncho is great for warmer conditions, and rain jackets for colder. Some say they hate ponchos because they flap and snag, and others love em due to breathability and tarp options. I live in Oregon and pack mostly in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho…the mountains and rainforests. Opinions, suggestions? If poncho any lightweight suggestions, heck, if jacket and rain pants suggestions welcome as well.
Thanks everyone!Apr 3, 2007 at 4:24 pm #1384725
It is drier in the Colorado Rockies, but I prefer the poncho. It keeps your pack dry, it can be used for a hammock fly, and can become a tent vestibule, or dinning fly. I also carry a Drop Stopper jacket (6.5 oz.) to wear around camp when the poncho is busy doing other things. I do not consider them to be duplicate gear. The jacket is also a vapor barrier if the temperature drops and a wind jacket. They both are multi-use gear.
You can carry both for only a small weight penalty over traditional rain jacket (Marmot PreCip – 12.5 oz.).
GoLite poncho (10.7 oz.) or Campmor Extended UltraLite tarp/poncho (9.3 oz.).
The poncho works much better if you put a cord lock on the hood draw string, put some cord finger loops on the side guy loops so that is keeps your forearms dry, and a web belt to hold the poncho in the wind.Apr 3, 2007 at 5:14 pm #1384732abdon gonzalezMember
@abdonsillypages-comLocale: Misawa, Japan
Get a poncho, you won't regret it. The things you can do with a poncho are legion. Heck, one day you may even decide to leave the tent behind :)
One thing in particular I like is that if it rains, it takes 10 seconds to setup, and it keeps both me and my pack dry. It is a small annoyance but an annoyance none the less to un strap your pack, lay it on the wet grass, put your rain jacket/pants on, put a cover on the pack, put it on your back, and then readjust the straps. If your weather is like mine you know it will stop raining 2 minutes later, and you end up overheating because you don't want to go through the hassle again in case it rains again.
Best bang for your buck is the Campmor Silnylon Poncho-Tarp (http://www.campmor.com). They got two styles, a regular plus one designed for backpacks with an extension that snaps out of the way when not in use. I got the larger one and now regrets it; way too big.
Richard, would you care to elaborate on the drop stopper? I may be in the market for something just like this.Apr 3, 2007 at 5:46 pm #1384739Douglas FrickBPL Member
DropStoppers or DriDucks (and also the slightly heavier FrogToggs) are lightweight but not terribly sturdy. For on-trail use, though, they should hold up. I prefer a poncho because I hike warm; I only wear a base layer under it even in sleet. For a good poncho-like design that works great as rainwear, as well as doubling as a solo shelter, consider the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape. I really like the way it fits and keeps my sides dry.Apr 3, 2007 at 9:20 pm #1384752MarkBPL Member
With today's options, it's hard to go wrong. I like a poncho, though because they're simpler, cheaper, and more ventilated. They also have more camp function, whether as primary shelter or a supplementary vestibule for your tent.
Abdon hit on another great point about ponchos: the ability to don and doff the poncho without needing to stop or to remove your pack. If you're out there for a couple days, this can become a huge blessing. Wind flapping can get annoying, yes. I don't suggest you add a belt, though–just tie the rear corners around your waist.
-MarkApr 3, 2007 at 11:18 pm #1384761Douglas FrickBPL Member
.Apr 4, 2007 at 12:07 am #1384762Brett .Member
You mentioned Washington and Oregon as destinations.
I have some experience with ponchos breaking brush in the rainforests on the West side of the Cascades. The physical contact with the vegetation will eventually soak your clothing, and that will wick up eventually into your top layers even when covered witha poncho. So in that area, WP/B clothing is preferrable. In the dryer less vegetated Eastern half of those states, a poncho would be fine based on my experience in the topographically similar TX, AZ, and CA.
Personally I haven't used a poncho in years, and now that I learned about windshells here at BPL, my windpants and windshirt are good enough for light rain/wind/brush, and my DIAD and rain pants are reserved for the heavier stuff.
A poncho is multi-use, certainly, but so is a DIAD or other light WP/B shell. It cuts the wind, insulates at about clo 1, and is completely waterproof. Personally I don't want to have to take off my shell to pitch my shelter. And with a poncho you are going to carry rain pants anyway, right?Apr 4, 2007 at 5:31 am #1384767
I should have been more specific about the belt. I carry a piece of .5" webbing with a side release buckle. The webbing goes through the guy loops on the rear of the poncho and is buckled over the poncho in front.
When the webbing is through only one poncho guy loop it become an adjustable guyline.
I have crossed some passes above timberline in heavy wind and rain and both my pack and I stayed dry.
Pant pants are location specific. The only time I carry rain pants in the Rockies is for a vapor barrier in the winter.Apr 4, 2007 at 6:24 am #1384769Paul WozniakMember
Your question is timely for me. I have recently purchased SIL nylon from Walmart and am attempting to build something similar to the Integral Designs Silcoat Cape. Hoping to come in at 7 oz. Not intending to use it as a tarp, but am intending to use is it as a wind breaker. Features: front zip, just big enough to cover a small pack, belted for windy conditions, snaps to form sleeves, hooks to allow rolling up the sides ala a muscle shirt.
Literally decades ago, I spent a mostly wet spring month on the AT in a poncho. I stayed pleasantly dry and ventilated. It handled mists and downpours wells and did OK in moderate winds.
Somewhere down the line I switched to WP/B jackets, with pit zips etc. I'm never as comfortable as I was in that poncho due to heat and damp buildup. I really miss that poncho.
Questions I hope to resolve: How will it do bushwhacking in moderately dense brush? Will it snag too much? Tear too much?
A poncho is limited in fierce winds. We rode the top deck of a ferry in 40 mph winds and 12 foot waves. My jacket cinched down nicely and I stayed pretty comfortable. No such hope for a poncho. So if you expect dangerous, windy and cold conditions I would say no go. For that reason I would worry about extended and exposed Pacific beach and mountain ridge hiking, but have no real experience with these.
Gearhead Alert: You may end up with both a poncho and a WP/B jacket in your arsenal. Select the one most appropriate for the trip you are taking.Apr 4, 2007 at 7:54 am #1384778MarkBPL Member
Richard, I understand you. I think we still disagree on poncho belt philosophy, but that's no big deal :) I admit that I never thought about multi-purposing the belt for guyline use. Clever!
-MarkApr 4, 2007 at 7:57 am #1384779Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Tyler… you summed it up well. Poncho vs. Rain Jacket seems to be a very personal decision… which points out that none of the options at that good :-( No matter what the weather is, I seem to end up with a very damp chest due to condensation inside the poncho, and wet sides due to wind blown rain and/or brushing against things. I am a Rain Jacket type. I would recommend DriDucks / Dropstoppers or a light weight eVENT jacket. For more detailed thoughts see
Mark's thoughts on clothing / raingear.Apr 4, 2007 at 8:43 am #1384782David LewisBPL Member
@davidlewisLocale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Where I live and hike… along the Atlantic coast… it can get pretty gusty on some days… so I don't think a poncho would be so good in those conditions. I use an O2 top and chaps… or a full O2 suit.Apr 4, 2007 at 8:47 am #1384784
I am going to give your technique a try.
ThanksApr 4, 2007 at 8:47 am #1384785Russell SwansonMember
I'm pretty sure Dropstoppers became Driducks, which I think was in turn bought by FroggToggs. I read on Gossamer Gear's website that the DriDucks rainsuit is being discontinued in its current form and that the manufacturer (FroggToggs) is replacing them with another suit made of a different fabric. I'm hoping FroggToggs didn't buy DriDucks up to eliminate competition for their own (less UL-friendly and more expensive) rain suits. Does anyone know about this?Apr 4, 2007 at 8:57 am #1384786Jaiden .Member
This is on gossamer gear's web site:
NOTE: THE MANUFACTURER OF DRIDUCKS HAS INFORMED US THAT THEY HAVE BEEN SWITCHING OVER TO A NEW FABRIC AND REMOVING THE POCKETS FROM THE JACKET. WE STILL HAVE A MIXTURE OF NEW AND OLD PRODUCTS BUT THEY ARE COMING TO US WITHOUT ANY NOTIFICATION AS TO WHAT IS WHAT. THEREFORE YOU MAY RECEIVE A SET THAT IS EITHER LIGHTER OR HEAVIER THAN OUR STATED WEIGHTS. THE JACKET MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE POCKETS. UNFORTUNATELY WE CANNOT PROCESS SPECIAL REQUESTS FOR A SPECIFIC FABRIC OR POCKET OPTIONS AS THE PACKAGING IS THE SAME AND THERE IS NO WAY TO TELL WHAT WE ARE SHIPPING.Apr 4, 2007 at 9:05 am #1384788Jaiden .Member
Given how cheap the driducks are, and how well reviewed they are, and the fact that they may be going away, I just ordered a set
$16 with free shipping from http://stores.channeladvisor.com/harleerod
YMMVApr 4, 2007 at 9:11 am #1384789Russell SwansonMember
I love my Dropstoppers. For hiking on trail or in clear terrain, I don't know why anyone would want to spend 10 times the amount for something that probably doesn't function any better. I just hope they don't go away as they definitely need replacing every now and then!Apr 4, 2007 at 11:39 am #1384806Shawn BasilMember
I tend to use the jacket more and the poncho less, despite southeastern humidity. I primarily use my poncho in warm weather when I am hammocking. However, I mostly just use it as a fly for the Hennessy. Above about 75 degrees in humidity, even my Integral Designs Silponcho is uncomfortable for me, and I usually prefer to just get wet. The poncho is OK for pulling over during a short rest break, but is limited otherwise.
This summer I intend to try my luck with a SMD Gatewood Cape on the Tahoe Rim Trail. If I like it in the lower temps and less humid conditions there, I will also carry it on my John Muir Trail Thru-hike. If not, I will go back to my SMD Lunar Solo for shelter and my Golite Phantom for raingear.Apr 4, 2007 at 12:11 pm #1384809Denis HazlewoodBPL Member
@redleaderLocale: Northern California
When will you be doing the Tahoe Rim Trail? I'm going to be leading groups in the Tahoe area starting July 27 returning every two weeks through late September. Maybe we could cross paths.Apr 4, 2007 at 12:53 pm #1384814Shawn BasilMember
I'm actually starting the last week of June and finishing around the 4th of July. Sorry.Apr 4, 2007 at 1:16 pm #1384815Denis HazlewoodBPL Member
@redleaderLocale: Northern California
I won't pine too much. We'll be doing 6 days on the Lost Coast in June.Apr 5, 2007 at 10:28 am #1384932Valentin ZillMember
I prefer to use DriDucks as raingear instead of a poncho. To keep my base back weight below 4 lbs., I leave the wind jacket at home and use the DriDucks. That allows me to enjoy the comfort of setting up my tarp fully protected without too much weight penalty. However, I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from using a poncho!Apr 5, 2007 at 10:43 am #1384937Matthew SwierkowskiMember
I'm still in the experimental stages, but the short answer for me is it depends on the temperatures. In general, if it is going to be above 50 degrees I'm probably gonna go with my Equinox Terrapin tarp/poncho. If the temperatures are generally below that than I use a Marmot Oracle jacket.
Here are a few general observations on the poncho. As someone else mentioned, the poncho can be removed and put back on without stopping and taking off the pack. If it is flapping around a lot I use a piece of shock cord around my waist as a belt. If the rain is really blowing then moisture can get up under it. This also occurs if one is in wet vegitation that is rubbing up against the poncho. In my opinion it offers superior ventilation to a jacket allowing for it to be worn comfortably in much warmer temperatures.
Here are a few observations on the jacket. The jacket is definitly more water proof in the respect that it seals off areas where moisture can get in more effectively. The jacket is much more comfortable to wear around camp, and can double as a wind shell for when it is not raining but cold. If the temperatures are warmer than hiking in the jacket will cause one to sweat, and thus the jacket provides less ventilation. The jacket also requires one to stop to remove it or put it on. And last but not least, my jacket weighs about 8 more ounces than my poncho. Of course I could look into lighter jacket options.
So all said I think it is just a matter of personal preference, and I would encourage you to experiment a little to see what you like best. For me the answer is both, and I take the jacket in colder temperatures and the poncho in warmer temperatures. I will also typically carry the jacket over the poncho if I know I am going to be in thick or heavy vegitation.Apr 5, 2007 at 2:01 pm #1384968Richard NisleyBPL Member
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
The Propore material used in Dropstoppers, DriDucks, and Frogs Toggs has an air permeability of approximately .05 CFM and a water pressure rating of about 23 PSI. It is an optimal material for inexpensive WPB raingear but a poor substitute for a windshirt. A well designed windshirt blocks any perception of wind (convection cooling) but provides 1-5 CFM of air flow to optimize vapor transport. For example, the Patagonia Houdini provides 5 CFM.
Likewise a good windshirt is a poor substitute for raingear. The relatively large pore size needed to optimize vapor transport prevents the material from having a high enough water pressure rating to be used in normal rain. Normal rain provides up to 7.5 PSI of water pressure on the fabric and a heavy thunderstorm provides up to 15.9 PSI. Likewise a 165 pound man's knee pressure when kneeling exerts about 16 PSI of force. A windshirt or windpant, with a pore size large enough to facilitate 1-5 CFM of moisture transport, blocks only up to about 2 -4 PSI of water pressure. Besides that the seams aren’t typically sealed and they start to leak at a much lower pressure.
A relatively heavy urethane coated poncho (40 denier 1.94 oz. High-Tenacity Nylon Ripstop) provides 80 PSI water pressure resistance and still provides good moisture vapor transport. A light silnylon poncho will block about 8.7 PSI and the ultralight silnylon ponchos will block about 2 PSI. If you want to use the poncho for a tarp that will block all vertical moisture entry from a thunderstorm (15.9 PSI) or a ground cloth that you can kneel on without moisture transport (16 PSI), only the urethane coated poncho will provide the required level of waterproofness.
My Personal Conclusions:
If I don’t need a poncho to use as a tarp or groundsheet, then Propore based rainwear in combination a windshirt appears to be a near optimal solution set if not bushwhacking.
If I don’t need a poncho to use as a tarp or groundsheet, and I am using an Entrant GII product (Patagonia Spectra, Montbell Peak,etc) or eVENT product, then a windshirt isn’t necessary. The CFM for these two materials is about 50x Propore and very close to the less breathable windshirts. The exceptions to this rule would be bushwhacking, expeditions, and thru-hikes were the DWR wouldn't be able to be replenished. In these cases I would augment the rainwear with Epic wind gear. I would use the Epic for all activities except heavy rain to maintain the DWR of the raingear.
If I need a poncho for a tarp or ground cloth, then an Epic fabric windshirt or one with a good DWR, in combination with a urethane coated poncho, appears to be a near optimal solution. If I am on a thru-hike or expedition, Epic is preferred because the DWR will not need to be periodically replenished do to abrasion.
If I am also carrying a bivy to address tarp misting and ground moisture, then a multi-use silnylon poncho in combination with a windshirt seems to be a near optimal solution.
Do you see flaws in my logic?Apr 5, 2007 at 5:16 pm #1384996s kMember
Certainly, no flaws Richard, but in the first two scenarios what circumstances influence your choice of Propore relative to Entrant and vice versa?
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