In a hurry? Our top pick for the best rain poncho for hiking is the Patrol Poncho by Snugpak. It perfectly balances comfort, quality, and price, so you know you’re getting the best value for your money.
Flashback to late July 2021 when we hiked Shelf Lake near Guanella Pass in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. We were spending some time at the lake, and Derek was fishing for Cutthroat Trout. The sky was blue and the clouds were white and puffy. Within a matter of minutes, the wind shifted, dark clouds began moving in, and we booked it downhill to cover. We barely made it 100 yards before we were full-on hiking in the rain, and the lightning and thunder began soon after. Long story short, we made it back to the car safely but were completely soaked head to toe. My rain jacket was no match for this torrential downpour.
While this storm wasn’t in the forecast, afternoon thunderstorms are often quick, strong, and unpredictable, especially in the Colorado mountains. We were caught off-guard, and we said never again! One of the best pieces of rain gear we could have been carrying in this scenario was a waterproof rain poncho. It would have kept us more dry and warm than our rain jackets, even in the more extreme conditions. Because they’re incredibly lightweight, it’s not a big deal to throw a packable poncho in your day pack along with the other day hiking essentials.
But with countless options available, finding the perfect rain poncho for your needs can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to put numerous options through their paces, examining factors like waterproofing, breathability, durability, weight, and packed size.
We’ve also considered extra features and overall value for money. Welcome to our guide to the best rain ponchos for hiking, where we’ll walk you through our top picks to help you stay dry and comfortable, no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.
Best Hiking Ponchos
Here’s our top picks for the best rain ponchos for hiking:
- Snugpak Patrol Poncho – Editor’s Choice
- Sea to Summit Nylon Tarp Poncho – Runner Up
- Frogg Toggs Rain Pocho – For Single Use
- Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Nano Tarp – Highest Quality
- Outdoor Products Multi-Purpose Poncho – Honorable Mention
- Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho – For Cold Weather
- OneTigris TentsFormer – Doubles as a Tent
SnugPak Patrol Poncho – Editor’s Choice
The Patrol Poncho by Snugpak is one of the highest rated rain ponchos on the internet but it’s still a great price. You’re getting the best of both worlds when it comes to quality and price – stay dry and don’t spend too much money doing it!
This poncho by SnugPak is a waterproof rain poncho that brags about having one of the best waterproof ratings you could get. The waterhead rating (aka hydrostatic head), is a measurement of water resistance. Typically outdoor fabrics (like camping tents) are considered waterproof over 1200mm and this poncho is 2000mm. This well surpasses the minimum rating to be considered waterproof, so you will definitely stay dry inside.
Plus, it has fully taped seams that seal up the stitching holes, so not a drop of water will get inside. Even during extended wear and heavy rain, you’ll be dry under this awesome poncho.
It’s one size fits most (dimensions below) and we found it to be plenty big enough to also carry a backpack underneath. It kept both us and our gear completely dry! To help it fit properly, the hood is adjustable and there are thumb loops included in the design. Plus, the large chest pocket is Velcro and also has a storm flap to keep water out.
The material is Snugpak’s exclusive Paratex Dry material, which is lightweight, waterproof, and can double as a emergency bivy. Not only does it pack down into a super small and lightweight package (which is perfect for hiking and backpacking), but it can be used as a bivy in an emergency situation.
The Patrol Poncho by Snugpak is a simple design, but it’s exceptionally waterproof and is ready for any wet adventure you have in mind. Don’t just take our word for it – try it for yourself!
- Dimensions: 52.7 (shoulder width) x 56.7 (front to back) x 63.4 (shoulder to hem) inches
- Packed Size: 8 x 4 inches
- Poncho Weight: 0.8 lbs.
- Material: Paratex dry with PU coating
- User Ratings: 4.6/5 stars
Outdoor Products Multipurpose Poncho – Honorable Mention
This heavy duty rain poncho from Outdoor Products is one of the best poncho to have on hand for emergencies or sudden showers on the trail and it’s one of the most inexpensive rain ponchos on this list. It’s perfect for keeping in your day pack as a quick option for rain protection.
It’s made of polyurethane-coated polyester with taped seams and rust-resistant snaps, so you’re sure to be completely dry while wearing it. However, it doesn’t have long sleeves, so it’s not meant for long term wear in consistently wet weather.
It measures 55 x 39 inches and is easily put on and taken off using the side snaps. At only 9 ounces, it’s one of the lightest rain ponchos on this list and could be used as a backpacking poncho if desired.
- Dimensions: 55 x 39 inches
- Weight: 9 oz. (9.9 oz. with pouch)
- Fabric: polyurethane-coated polyester taffeta
Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho – For Cold Weather
While this Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho isn’t technically a rain poncho, we’ve added it to this list because it’s a great option for chilly camping and hiking weather and is still water-resistant. It’s perfect for keeping warm outside, whether you’re walking or hanging out at camp, and is a great piece of gear to have on your outdoor adventures.
The breathable outer shell offers a barrier against wind and rain, so you can stay dry and warm in the great outdoors. The big kangaroo pocket keeps your hands warm and the poncho design goes anywhere you want both warmth and freedom to move about.
Not only is it a warm poncho, but it also compresses into the built-in pocket, and can double as a pillow as well. There’s even a draw cord along the bottom edge so you can cinch it around your feet to reduce drafts and keep it in place.
- Dimensions: 79 x 56 inches
- Material: 20-denier ripstop polyester
- Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
- Doubles as blanket and warm hoodie for campfire chillin’
- Water-resistant as opposed to waterproof
OneTigris TentsFormer Raincoat – Doubles as a Tent
The OneTigris TENTSFORMER Rain Poncho is an excellent addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s gear, thanks to its ingenious, multi-functional design and superior construction. This poncho does double duty, making it perfect for any avid outdoor enthusiast would want gear that functions in multiple different ways.
Constructed with 75D ripstop nylon that’s coated with PU 15000mm waterproof material, this poncho provides excellent protection against harsh weather, safeguarding you from rain and wind. Its large size, complete with a hood and drawstrings, offers thorough coverage while also being adjustable to your comfort.
What truly sets the OneTigris TENTSFORMER apart, however, is its incredible versatility. Not only is it a rain poncho, but it can also be transformed into a temporary shelter, ground mat, or even a sleeping bag cover. This 3-in-1 design is particularly valuable for hikers, campers, and backpackers who need to minimize gear weight without compromising on functionality. Furthermore, despite its robustness and versatility, the poncho is still lightweight and compact, making it easy to pack.
- Dimensions: 8.5′ x 2.8′ x 4′ (as shelter)
- Material: 75D nylon with 1500mm PU coating
- Weight: 22.5 oz.
- Can double as an emergency shelter or tent
|Patrol Poncho by Snugpak
|52.7″ x 56.7″
|PU coated Paratex dry
|Editor’s Choice Best All Around
|Sea to Summit Nylon Tarp Poncho
|54″ x 104″
|36″ x 44″
|For Just in Case
|Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Tarp Poncho
|57″ x 104″
|15D ultra-sil nano
|Outdoor Products Multi-Purpose Poncho
|55″ x 39″
|9 oz. (9.9 oz. with pouch)
|PU coated taffeta
|Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho
|79″ x 56″
|1 lb. 8 oz.
|20D ripstop polyester
|For Cold Weather
|8.5′ x 2.8′ x 4′ (as shelter)
|75D nylon with PU coating
|Teepee Tent plus Poncho
What Makes the Best Rain Ponchos for Hiking: A Buyer’s Guide
What makes a good rain poncho for you depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want a one-time-use emergency poncho or a reusable one that can be dried out and repacked? Do you want something that’s long enough so you don’t have to purchase rain pants as well?
Here’s are a few factors to take into consideration: waterproofing, materials, breathability, durability, weight and packed size, and value/price.
When selecting a rain poncho for hiking, waterproofing should be your top priority. Obviously this is the poncho’s fundamental purpose – to keep you dry in wet weather. Look for rain ponchos with high waterproof ratings, often indicated by a number followed by ‘mm’ (millimeters). This measurement relates to the amount of water pressure a fabric can withstand before it begins to leak. A rating of 1,200-1,500mm is the minimum for a garment to be considered a waterproof poncho, but for serious hikers, something in the 2,000mm to 3,000mm range (or above) is more desirable.
Rain ponchos come in a variety of materials, each with their unique characteristics. Breathable laminates like Gore-Tex are high-end options that offer excellent water and wind resistance while allowing sweat to escape. These materials are also commonly seen in rain jackets.
Sil-nylon (silicone-impregnated nylon) and sil-poly (silicone-impregnated polyester) are lightweight and waterproof, but they’re not as breathable. These are best for situations when weight is a priority, such as backpacking and thru-hiking. The Sea to Summit Ultra Sil is made of this material and is one of the best rain ponchos money could buy.
Polyester rain ponchos are typically more affordable and fairly durable, but they may not be as waterproof as other options. Any poncho made of polypropylene (like the Frogg Toggs above) is made of plastic and is really meant for single use, which means they are quite affordable.
Finally, PU coated nylon offers a good balance of lightness, durability, and water resistance. This is what you will see most often in rain ponchos since it’s balances price and quality for most users. The Outdoor Products, Snugpak, and OnTigris rain ponchos are all PU coated fabrics, which means they balance price, weight, and waterproofing for the average person.
Breathability is another essential factor to consider when buying a hiking rain poncho. When you’re exerting yourself on the trail, you’ll be generating sweat. If your poncho isn’t breathable, the sweat will accumulate inside, making you wet and uncomfortable. High-quality rain ponchos often feature breathable materials. You should also look for ventilation systems like pit zips or back vents to allow moisture to escape.
Durability is critical when it comes to hiking gear, and rain ponchos are no exception. The material, stitching quality, and design all play a role in how durable a poncho will be. Again, options like ultra-sil tend to be more durable, but they’re also pricier. Be sure to consider how frequently you’ll be using the poncho and in what conditions when deciding how much to invest in durability.
These hiking ponchos have varying levels of durability, from the thick Sea to Summit Nano Tarp (most durable) to the Frogg Toggs Poncho (which is more like a disposable rain poncho). Think about how much use you want to get out of your new poncho and base your decision on that factor.
Weight & Packed Size
For hikers, backpackers, and anyone concerned about gear weight and size, you want a poncho that’s light enough to carry comfortably and small enough to pack without taking up too much space. High-end options like those made from breathable laminates or sil-nylon/sil-poly tend to be lighter and more packable, but even some polyester or PU coated nylon options can be quite compact.
All of the breathable rain ponchos on this list weigh must less than two pounds, so they are generally lightweight no matter the material. However, if you’re concerned about ounces, going with the ultra light Sea to Summit will help shave off some weight.
Versatility is a valuable attribute in a hiking rain poncho, increasing its overall usefulness and maximizing your investment. A versatile poncho doesn’t just serve as a rain shield; it can fulfill several roles, adapting to various needs on the trail. For instance, most rain ponchos can convert into some kind of temporary shelter, a groundsheet, or a sleeping bag cover. This multipurpose function can be particularly handy for lightweight backpackers, allowing them to carry fewer items while still being prepared for diverse situations.
For example, the Sea to Summit Ultra Sil, Snugpak Patrol Poncho, Sea to Summit Nylon Tarp Poncho, and the OneTigris Tentsformer can all transform into some sort of emergency shelter or tarp.
When assessing versatility, consider how the poncho could function beyond its primary role and whether these additional uses align with your hiking needs and style. Remember, a truly versatile poncho can prove to be an indispensable piece of gear, enhancing your comfort and safety in the unpredictable outdoors.
Finally, consider the value for the price. A more expensive poncho might offer better waterproofing, breathability, durability, and features, but it’s only a good value if it meets your specific needs and budget. Don’t feel compelled to buy the priciest option; instead, aim for the best balance of performance and price for your circumstances.
Our The Summit Ultra Sil Nano Tarp is the most expensive options on this list, but it’s also the highest quality and lightest weight. On the other end of the spectrum, the Frogg Toggs is the most affordable but is single use and lower quality. There are several options that strike a balance between the two, such as the Snugpak Patrol (Editor’s Choice) and the Outdoor Products Multi-Purpose Rain Poncho.
How to Clean and Take Care of a Rain Poncho
If you opt for a reusable rain poncho, the first step is to always let it completely dry before packing it away. If you’re out on a day hike, it’s possible to pack it away then unfold it when you get home and let it dry then. Any other times, you should hang it in a well-ventilated area to let it dry first. For any cleaning, you should always follow the instructions on the label. For dirt, a wet microfiber cloth may be enough. If you need more than that, follow the washing instructions.
Whether you lean toward the the light and packable Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Nano, the Outdoor Products Multi-Purpose Poncho, the economical Frogg Toggs, or any other poncho on this list, the key is to consider your specific needs, your budget, and the kind of conditions you’ll be trekking in.
Each of the waterproof ponchos on our list offers reliable rain protection and weather protection that can make your outdoor adventure not just possible, but also enjoyable, even when the weather takes a turn for the worst. So gear up, prepare for the unexpected, and let the best rain poncho for hiking help you embrace the thrill and beauty of nature, rain or shine.