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Packable rain poncho vs umbrella? What’s a better choice?

I hate umbrellas. For most part. If you are like me, and now you are looking for the best poncho for travel, then you have yourself in the right place. Because here we’ll compare 9 of the best rain ponchos we could find online.

One of them might be the one you’ve been looking for.

Why I don’t like umbrellas? They are rather heavy and they tend to break. Especially if you don’t take a good care of them.

But  if we talk about backpacking and hiking trips, it’s not always easy to do so. Which leads to a fact that it’s simply not practical to take an umbrella on such a trip. Because even if it’s a very compact umbrella, it can break during an extended trip. At the same time a packable rain poncho could be easily put inside your backpack, under all of your stuff, and nothing will happen to it.

Sounds so much better  to me. So let’s talk about rain ponchos!

Cheung Chau town on a sunny day

9 of the Best Rain Ponchos

Let’s take a look at the list!

Most of these ponchos are available in different colors. To read more about every one of them scroll down a bit. For more photos, latest price and user reviews check them out on Amazon – just click on the name or image of the poncho.

Charles River Apparel Pacific***W 52” x L 40”

(132 x 102 cm)

1 lbs

(453 grams)
Check the price!
Totes Rain PonchoW 59” x L 38”

(150 x 97 cm)
8 oz

(227 grams)
Check the price!
Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite PonchoW 51” x L 39”

(130 x 99 cm)
8.8 oz

(250 grams)
Check the price!
JTENG Rain Poncho***W 57” x L 39”

(144 x 99 cm)
1.8 lbs

(800 grams)
Check the price!
Arcturus Multi-Use PonchoW 54” x L 48”

(137 x 121 cm)
11 oz

(310 grams)
Check the price!
Mil-Tec Men’s Rain PonchoW 56” x L 45”

(142.2 x 114.3 cm)
1.4 lbs

(640 grams)
Check the price!
Terra Hiker Rain PonchoW 57” x L 43.3”

(145 x 110 cm)
9.3 oz

(263 grams)
Check the price!
Snugpak Patrol Rain Poncho12.7 oz

(360 grams)
Check the price!
Bison Outfitters Rain PonchoM and LCheck the price!
***- our favorites

Rain Poncho Basics

First things first, there are two most popular types of ponchos: disposable ponchos and multi-use ponchos.

The ones we’ll be talking about today are multi-use ponchos.

Single use products sucks. We don’t want to create more rubbish, right?

Why to Use a Rain Poncho?

– Because of its durability. A packable rain poncho could be stored almost anywhere without you worrying that it might ruin it. For example, inside your bag under all of your clothes. Something that clearly isn’t an option with an umbrella.

– Because of better protection. Depending on your height, a rain poncho may even come up to your shin. This way fully protecting you from the elements.

– Because it can protect both you and your gear. If you are into hiking, you’ll like the fact, that ponchos usually are roomy enough to cover both you and your backpack.

– Because it’s super easy to clean a rain poncho. Just rinse it under the tap and leave it to dry somewhere. It’s recommended to dry it after every use.

Many ponchos come with a storage pouch. Making things even easier.

To Buy a Rain Poncho or Rain Jacket?

If you are looking for the lightest and most compact solution, a rain poncho is what you need.

But if you need the best solution for day to day use a good rain jacket will be better choice. It will cost you more, but you’ll almost surely enjoy wearing it much more than a poncho. It’s well worth investing in a good backpacking rain gear.

Kaspars looking at Annapurna - Annapurna Circuit Photos

Different Types of Rain Ponchos

1. Disposable single-use rain ponchos.

Usually very cheap. You can buy these at supermarkets all around the world. And the quality usually matches the price. It’s very low, usually about the same as garbage bag’s. If you are very careful you may manage to use it more than once. However, it definitely isn’t the best choice.

They are more like an emergency rain ponchos.

2. Reusable rain ponchos.

As the same suggests, these ones you can use more than once.

Their quality mostly is way better. You can use one for weeks, months or maybe even years.

3. Multi-purpose rain ponchos.

Could be used as a rain poncho, emergency shelter and waterproof ground tarp.

4. Military rain ponchos.

A serious solution for the most adventurous travelers.

Heavy duty ponchos, that could be used as a rain poncho, emergency shelter and waterproof ground tarp.

Usually significantly heavier than regular multi-use rain ponchos.

Trail - Lantau Peak Hike

Lantau Peak Hike, Hong Kong

Finding the Best Poncho for Yourself

Material. All of the best ponchos are made of waterproof and windproof material. If you are planning to use it for hiking, pay attention to the fact if the material is also rip-stop. So you don’t tear your poncho apart when walking through the bushes.

If you want a poncho, that’s made of breathable materials, look at the Gore Tex ponchos.

Durability and water-resistance. Few of the factors to pay attention to. Isn’t it too thin? Does it have coating? Is it rip-stop? How waterproof the material is? To understand that – read the product description carefully and check out user reviews.

So in the end you know, that this poncho is what you are looking for.

Weight. There are lighter and there are heavier ponchos. If you need a poncho for sightseeing mostly, take the lightest! You’ll have no problems to put in your handbag or small backpack.

If you are an avid hiker the best option for you most probably will not be the lightest. Look for something made of rip-stop nylon and with heavy duty coating. It’s gonna be a heavier solution, but it’s also gonna be a better solution for your needs.

Rain poncho for backpacking? Take the lightest if you are traveling light or take a more durable one, if you think you’ll use it quite often.

Pockets. Most of the rain ponchos don’t have pockets.  But there are ones that have waterproof pockets for your valuables and not only.

If you need a rain cover with pockets, check out the Bison Outfitters Rain Poncho.

Man riding a motorbike wearing a rain jacket

Best Rain Ponchos: Reviews

1. Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho

The Charles River Pacific Poncho for adults is a high-quality, multi-use rain poncho, that is going to last.

Perfect for festivals, every-day use, day hikes, kayaking, and dog walkers. It’s one of the best rain ponchos available.

It’s made of supple, lightweight yet strong New Englander waterproof polyurethane. Knit backing is bonded to the back of the material, adding strength and durability.

The poncho features heat-sealed seams, and a hood with a snap neck and drawstrings for extra wind and rain protection. The poncho is closed under the arms with a snap button closure.It’s roomy, and can cover a day pack, or fit over a winter coat.

The hood is a good sized. It’s not tiny, and covers the head completely.

Clearly, it’s one-size. So it might be pretty big on a petite person. The poncho will come to your knees if you are around 6 feet tall.

Air-dry it after every use.

When you have just received your poncho, you might notice the smell. It should go away after you air it out.

The Charles River Pacific Poncho comes with its own matching pouch.

Available in several colors.

Dimensions: W 52” x L 40” (132 x 102 cm).

Dimensions of the pouch: 11.5” x 9.5” x 1” (29.2 x 24.1 x 2.5 cm).

Weight: 1 lbs (453 grams).

2. Totes Rain Poncho

An affordable rain poncho, which is compact and lightweight.

The Totes rain poncho is made of waterproof ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), and feature two snap buttons along the sides. It’s very easy to put on and take off.

This cute rain poncho is roomy – it can go over a day pack and a winter jacket.

It comes with a zippered storage pouch, which is made of mesh. The mesh bag will keep the rain poncho from getting moldy.

The Totes rain poncho is easy to clean. Just wipe it clean with damp cloth.

Note, that this poncho doesn’t have snap buttons at the front and there’s no drawstring for the hood. Also, the head opening seems quite small.

There are several colors to choose from. You can get a 2-pack, as well.

Dimensions: W 59” x L 38” (150 x 97 cm).

Dimensions of the pouch: 9.5” x 7” (24.1 x 17.8 cm).

Weight: 8 oz (227 grams).

3. Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite Poncho

The Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite rain poncho is an affordable and lightweight poncho.

It’s made of non-woven waterproof polypropylene with welded waterproof seams. It features side snaps that will keep the poncho in place, and adjustable drawstring hood that will keep you head dry. The poncho is also very lightweight and breathable.

The poncho can be packed in a pouch (included). Thus it won’t take up much space in your backpack or handbag.

The Frogg Toggs rain poncho is completely recyclable. The material is paper-like, and pleasant to the touch.

Unfortunately, this poncho is less durable than other ponchos that are made of rubbery material. Apart from that it’s still a much better choice than most of cheap ponchos.

If you know that you are going to use the poncho very often and won’t be easy on it look for other, more durable, rain poncho.

Dimensions: W 51” x L 39” (130 x 99 cm).

Dimensions of the pouch: 7” x 10” (17.8 x 25.4 cm).

Weight: 8.8 oz (250 grams).

4. Best Rain Poncho for Backpacking: JTENG Rain Poncho

The JTENG rain poncho is versatile and durable.

It can be used for hiking, camping, backpacking, hunting, kayaking, etc. It can serve simultaneously as a rain poncho and a backpack cover, as a shelter, or a waterproof groundsheet. It’s one of the best rain ponchos for the money.

The JTENG rain poncho is made of quality heavy duty rip-stop nylon material, which is strong and waterproof. Just like the other ponchos we have reviewed here the JTENG rain poncho has 2 snaps on each side of the poncho. Meaning that it will stay on your arms as you will raise them.

Unlike the other ponchos, this one features a zipper on a neckline which will allow you to adjust the opening of the head.

Some people find regular head opening of the poncho too small.

The hood of this backpacking poncho has drawstrings, so the hood will stay on your head even when it’s windy.

The poncho also has corner grommets, so you can use it as a tarp, too. When spread out and laid flat on the ground, it measures around 78” x 57” (198 x 144 cm). Support it with a rope and use as an awning.

The JTENG rain poncho is sturdier, thus thicker and heavier than other rain ponchos mentioned in this buyers guide.

It will come to your knees if you are around 6 feet tall.

It’s roomy enough to accommodate a backpack. But note, that then the poncho will be shorter at the back.

The JTENG rain poncho comes with a zippered storage bag.

Dimensions: W 57” x L 39” (144 x 99 cm).

Dimensions of the pouch: 12” x 9” (30.5 x 23 cm).

Weight: 1.8 lbs (800 grams).

5. Arcturus Multi-Use Poncho

The Arcturus rain poncho is strong and waterproof.

It’s made of 210T Ripstop Taffeta and coated with 2 layers of waterproof polyurethane coating. Making it a really great poncho for the money.

This travel rain poncho is generously sized, and longer than other rain ponchos. At 54” (137 cm) wide and 48” (121 cm) long, it is the perfect size for a tall adult. As well as it has a large deep hood with a drawstring and a large head opening. There will be plenty of room around your head, so you can wear a scarf or a hoodie under the poncho.

The poncho rolls away to a fairly small size, and packs in its own compact carry bag. This makes it perfect for backpacking or hiking, as it doesn’t take up much space.

The poncho has metal grommets in the corners, so it can be used as a shelter. It can serve as a ground tarp, as well.

Dimensions: W 54” x L 48” (137 x 121 cm).

Dimensions of the pouch: 8” x 4” (20.3 x 10.15 cm).

Weight: 11 oz (310 grams).

6. Mil-Tec Men’s Rain Poncho

The Mil-Tec rain poncho is a durable poncho made of waterproof polyvinylchloride coated ripstop material.

Special reinforcement threads run through the material, making it more durable.

This poncho has metal grommets in the corners, and comes with tie down cords. Which means that it’s a multi-purpose rain poncho, just like the Arcturus and JTENG rain ponchos. It can be used as an emergency shelter or a waterproof groundsheet. There are snap buttons along the sides of the poncho.

The Mil-Tec rain poncho is very roomy and can cover your backpack as well.

Please note, that this is not the most lightweight poncho and not the most compact rain poncho! If you are looking for something simple and very lightweight (for instance, just for walks), look for other option. This poncho is semi heavy duty, and is ideal for hiking and camping.

The Mil-Tec rain poncho comes with a drawstring pouch.

Dimensions: W 56” x L 45” (142.2 x 114.3 cm).

Dimensions of the pouch: around 7” x 10” (18 x 25.4 cm).

Weight: 1.4 lbs (640 grams).

7. Terra Hiker Rain Poncho

The Terra Hiker rain poncho is a very lightweight rain poncho.

It’s made of 210 T high density polyester fabrics, and is 3000 mm waterproof. All seams of the Terra Hiker rain poncho go through a caulking treatment.

To keep the poncho from opening in the wind, it is closed under the arms with a Velcro closure. The poncho has a hood which is secured with a drawstring.

Just like the other ponchos, the Terra Hiker rain poncho is roomy, and can accommodate a backpack, too. It’s versatile, and can be used as a poncho, ground tarp or as an emergency shelter.

The poncho comes with a drawstring pouch.

Dimensions: W 57” x L 43.3” (145 x 110 cm).

Dimensions of the pouch: 10.23” x 3.14” x 1.18” (26 x 8 x 3 cm).

Weight: 9.3 oz (263 grams).

8. Snugpak Patrol Rain Poncho

The Snugpak Patrol is a spacious rain poncho, that’s great for travel.

This travel poncho has sleeves, and the cuffs are sealed with elastic. There’s a Velcro map pocket with storm flap on the chest. A hood with a drawstring will keep your head warm and dry in the rain and wind.

The poncho is made of Paratex Dry material with fully taped seams. The material is 100% waterproof and completely windproof. At the same time it’s breathable.

This is one of the best ponchos for travel (backpacking) and hiking. But don’t forget that it’s not a multi-purpose poncho. It has no grommet holes and snaps, and it cannot be opened up like most of multi-purpose ponchos. Meaning it can’t be used as an emergency shelter or a waterproof groundsheet.

As the Snugpak Patrol is designed to be worn over a backpack, it will be too long in the back when not wearing a backpack.

The rain poncho comes with a storage pouch.

Get the Snugpak insulated poncho liner from Amazon to keep you warm at lower temperatures. It’s made of lightweight water repellent (not waterproof!) micro diamond polyester with anti-bacterial properties.


Dimensions of the pouch: 4” x 8” (10.16 x 20.32 cm)

Weight: 12.7 oz (360 grams).

9. Bison Outfitters Rain Poncho

The Bison Outfitters rain poncho is made of high quality ripstop nylon material.

It’s perfect for both outdoor activities and every-day use.

The poncho is waterproof and wind-proof, yet breathable. It has 2 holes under the sleeves and 2 holes at the back. No, they don’t leak, but allow your body to breathe. The poncho is lightweight and quick-drying.

There is a waterproof chest zipped valuables pocket and 2 side pockets for hands. The poncho has a front zipper and a hood with drawstrings. It has actual sleeves instead of just openings.

The Bison Outfitters rain poncho looks more like a windbreaker than a rain poncho.

It’s available in 2 sizes – standard medium and standard large.

The poncho comes in a storage pouch.

Size: M and L.

Couple traveling - Travel checklist

Rain Poncho vs Travel Umbrella

Yes, an umbrella may make you look better. In some situations that will be exactly what you’ll need.

But if we look at what’s a more practical choice, rain poncho often will be a clear winner.

You can easily break your travel umbrella. At the same time it’s much harder to unconsciously completely destroy your rain poncho. You can put it inside your backpack, under all of your stuff, you can even forget about it, and most probably nothing will happen to it.

If we compare the price, it’s about the same. Most of the best rain ponchos cost about the same as most of decent travel umbrellas.

Plus you can use them for all kind of purposes – backpacking, hiking, sightseeing.

These are just a few reasons, why rain ponchos are cool. Of course, they also have their downsides.

As with everything, some of you will use a poncho, while users will continue using their umbrella. And that’s fine.

Where to Buy Rain Ponchos

Well, it’s not as difficult as buying new shoes or a backpack, right? And since most of them come only in one or two sizes, you can easily do it online.

And do it in advance. Buy a poncho before your trip.

Don’t wait until you need already tomorrow.

Don’t be that person later googling – where can I buy a rain poncho now?

Note, that none of these rain ponchos mentioned in this article are professional rain gear.

If you are, for example, a hunter, you may need to look for another, more professional, solutions.

Anything you would add? What rain poncho do you use for travel and/or backpacking?

1. Book Your Flight. Find cheap flights using, Or subscribe to Dollar Flight Club, if you don’t want to be searching for the flights yourself. Momondo usually is my first choice.

2. Book Your Accommodation., and Airbnb. I use Booking and Agoda at least a dozen times a year, and Airbnb – when looking for a long-term stay. My best tip is to ALWAYS compare the price. Sometimes the same hotel is cheaper on, other times – on Agoda. Always compare the price!

3. Buy Your Travel Insurance. World Nomads and SafetyWings are two companies I can recommend. World Nomads offers some extra benefits, that will be important for those doing some higher risk activities, while SafetyWings is significantly cheaper. SafetyWings is only $9.25 / week.

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