We all know that rain ponchos will never feature in Milan’s Fashion Week, but let’s be honest, nobody looks good in a downpour and nobody likes arriving at their next destination dripping wet only to find that every last piece of underwear inside you pack has turned into a soggy lump.
So, we might as well be practical about this. While rain ponchos may not be flattering, they are still a valuable addition to your day bag.
Generally speaking, they’re much lighter than a rain jacket, pack up smaller, cover both you and your gear, and they’ve come a long way from the overpriced bin bags which our mothers forced us to wear on water rides at amusement parks.
Our 10 Best Rain Poncho picks
Nowadays, there are actually quite a few options to choose from but don’t panic because we’ve done the research for you and put together a list of the best rain ponchos on the market.
1. Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho
- No inner lining
- Hood may be a bit big for some heads
The Charles Apparel Pacific Poncho is our all-around favorite. Available in at least 15 different colors including neon orange, steel grey, and black. The Charles Apparel Pacific Poncho is just as great for wearing to music festivals as it is for walking to and from the office in the morning drizzle.
- Size (when open): 52 x 80 inches
- Weight: 454 grams
Although it’s sturdy design makes it slightly more bulky than other ponchos the on the market it’s heat-sealed seams and New Englander Polyurethane is sure to keep you dry even during heavy rainfall. The fabric is strengthened with a knit backing which makes it highly durable and suitable to use for cycling and hiking as well as walking to and from the office in the rain.
Many users agreed that the poncho lives up to its waterproof rating even in heavy rain. The poncho is large enough to cover a small backpack too which is pretty handy for protecting your belongings.
2. Terra Hiker Rain Poncho
- Velcro closures instead of snaps
If you like hiking across the moors in all weathers, or you’re obliged to attend your children’s sporting matches regardless of the pouring rain then the Terra Hiker rain poncho is a great choice. With its longer length and loose fit it’s defiantly ‘dad sized’.
- Size (when open): 85.8 x 54.6 Inches
- Size (Packed): 8.58 x 3.14 x 1.95 Inches
- Weight: 265 grams
- 210 T high-density polyester
What we like about this poncho is that it's multifunctional. Not only is it waterproof to PU3000mm, the hem is also fitted with thickened eyelets so it can be quickly transformed into an emergency shelter or tied down to make a picnic blanket. Ideal for those fishing trips, day hikes or family outings.
A downside of the loose fit is that adults of a smaller stature may find themselves swamped in the fabric. That said, the poncho does have an adjustable hood so it should fit snuggly around most heads. Many users also like that this poncho is extremely lightweight and can be stored in a small drawstring bag.
3. JTENG Waterproof Rain Poncho
- The fabric has a plastic feel
This is our top pick for outdoors adventures. The JTENG Military Rain Poncho covers pretty much every situation you might get caught in while exploring the great outdoors.
- Size (when open): 59 x 55 Inches
- Weight: 725 grams
The length of the poncho ensures that your legs stay dry as will your upper body and the poncho’s size is also large enough to fit your hiking pack underneath. What we really like is the price of this product. It’s lower than many of its market competitors but doesn’t compromise on the quality.
We’ve found that what users like most is the versatility of this product. To put it simply, you’re not just purchasing a rain poncho, you’re also getting a waterproof shelter, picnic blanket, sunshade, and emergency blanket. Made with 100% PVC polyester and ripstop material you won’t have to worry about snagging the material while hiking or biking through the undergrowth. Snaps on the side make the poncho quick to take on and off and with eyelets in the hem, it can easily be converted into a makeshift tent.
4. Snugpak Patrol Poncho
- Breathability is not as good as others on the market
- Higher price
The Snugpack Patrol Poncho has been designed with hikers in mind. Everything about this design is aimed at keeping you and your kit dry. The fabric is longer on the back which even leaves space for large backpacks without exposing the wearer’s legs to the wind and rain.
- Size (when open): 76 x 60 x 0.2 Inches
- Size (Packed): 3.5 x 8 Inches
- Weight: 400 grams
Something we like about the Snugpack Pacific Poncho is that it has proper sleeves with elasticated wrists, so there’s less chance of water getting in and the less chance of heat getting out. A down side of this is that the poncho is not as breathable as others which have open sides but it also makes it a bit more practical for driving, fishing, or any sport which requires the use of your arms.
The over-the-head design makes it quick to put on, perfect for those unexpected rainstorms and many users say that the paratex fabric and taped seams are strong enough to withstand heavy rain. While this is a classic poncho design, we like that Snugpack has included thumb loops and an adjustable hood for extra protection and comfort and a Velcro map pocket with storm flap for practicality.
Admittedly, this is one of the pricier ponchos on the market and possibly a bit expensive for what it is. That said, the lightweight fabric and simple design do perfectly fit the needs of many hikers and backpackers.
5. totes - Unisex Rain Poncho
- Not as durable as some market alternatives
- Many fake EVA versions on the market
A good compromise between a disposable and a heavy-duty rain poncho. The Totes Unisex Rain Poncho defies the ‘ponchos are ugly’ stereotype with is translucent design and satin finish hems.
- Size (when open): 38 Inches Long
- Size (Packed) 1 x 1 x 1 Inches
- Weight: 273 grams
- 100% Vinyl
It’s also available in 6 different colors. One size fits all will be great for most but if you're particularly tall then you might prefer a poncho with a longer length.
Aside from the design, what we like about the Totes Unisex Rain Poncho is that it folds away into a tiny mesh pouch which you can easily tuck inside your day bag and at less than 300 grams it’s not going to add much weight either.
As some users have mentioned, this product is not the most durable rain poncho and the lightweight fabric can be damaged when hiking and backpacking. That said, it’s difficult to complain considering that it’s at least half the price of some of its market competitors.
6. Vcansion Unisex Military Poncho
- Heavier than other ponchos on the market
- Not so compact when folded
Vcansion offers a heavy-duty rain poncho which can double up as an emergency bivvy, ground sheet or picnic blanket and fold away into a quality storage bag. It even comes in a range of camouflage designs, great for blending in while you’re out watching for wildlife or hiking in the woods.
- Size (when open): 84 x 56 Inches
- 100% ripstop polyester material
Even if you’re not into extreme sports or survival camps, we think that poncho is still worth considering. The price of the product is reasonable considering that it’s made from a durable ripstop polyester fabric and people who have purchased this product would agree that the waterproofing lives up to expectations.
Despite being one size fits all this poncho is defiantly on the larger side and recommended for people of a taller stature.
7. Frogg Toggs Ultra-light Poncho
- Only available in one size
Frogg Toggs bring you the lightest poncho on the market which is reusable, recyclable and a massive step up from plastic disposable ponchos.
It perfectly inside your day bag whether you’re going out for a hike, walking the dog, or heading off to school. It is made from nonwoven polypropylene which is ultra-lightweight and fully waterproof. It snaps closed on the sides which keeps the rain out but also lets you and the poncho breath so you won’t turn up at work feeling like you’ve spent the morning standing inside a sauna.
Admittedly this the thin fabric may not be the most practical for hiking through brambles or climbing over styles, but we’ve found it to be plenty strong enough for every day uses and gentle outdoor activities. Many users would recommend purchasing Frogg Toggs Ultra-Light Poncho as an emergency rain jacket. For the price, we think that is it extremely good value.
8. 4ucycling Outdoor Poncho
- Not as breathable as other ponchos
Firstly, this rain poncho is really a hybrid cycling essential, halfway between a rain jacket and a poncho. Designed for cyclists, the 4ucycling poncho offers the most practical elements of both styles.
- Size (when open): 59 x 37 Inches
- Weight: 150 grams
- 100% ripstop polyester
While the coat won’t cover a large backpack, it does have the advantage of a roomy fit and the safety of a shorter length, because really, you don’t want swaths of fabric billowing around your ankles and creating extra drag while you cycle. It has a slightly longer length at the back so you won’t get to work with a muddy backside and the product features proper sleeves.
We’ve found that the 4ucycling rain poncho is considerably more durable than its high street alternatives and many users agree that it is very light, waterproof and windproof. Although it is not as breathable as some ponchos with open sides and snaps like the Frogg Toggs it’s still suitable for use all year round and is a very reasonable price.
9. Linenlux Rain Poncho Waterproof
- Packed size is larger than other rain ponchos
If you’re looking for a rain poncho which is practical but a little more fashionable than the standard military green tarp then the LinenLux Poncho is the best on the market. Despite the range of colors and styles the poncho is reasonably priced and comparable with its competitors.
- Length (Front): 37.4 Inches
- Length (Back): 41.3 Inches
- Width: 57.1 Inches
- Size: 9.8 x 6 Inches
- Weight: 270 grams
Although the poncho is aimed at women buyers, we think that it is also suitable for men, perhaps not the pink polka dot version, but the plain black, blue and green versions are defiantly unisex. Furthermore, the size is large enough to fit both men or women and would also cover a small backpack or day bag.
Not only is this our style choice, it’s also our recommended eco-friendly option. The poncho is made from 100% polyester PONGEE which is breathable, water resistant and quick drying.
10. Living Better Outdoors Disposable Rain Poncho
- Is not durable or reusable
- Not eco-friendly
If you’re not ready to commit to purchasing a reusable rain poncho or you’ll only need it for one occasion, like a music festival or a day out at Disney Land, then a plastic disposable poncho will be a more economical option for you.
Despite the fact that this is essentially a reinforced plastic sack, Live Better Outdoors claim to use a plastic which is 30% stronger than most disposable ponchos, so you should be able to get more than a single use out of this item. The manufacturers are so confident of this that they even supply resealable plastic pouches for the poncho. The product also features a drawstring hood and full sleeves with elastic wrists which users say makes it fit like a hoodie and is excellent at keeping the water out.
Although we generally prefer more durable products, we do like that these ponchos come in a variety of vivid colors and that they come in multi-packs which are ideal for families and groups to use.
What’s the difference between a rain poncho and a rain jacket?
Rain ponchos have a longer and looser fit, covering the head to the mid-thighs or knees, whereas raincoats usually fit the body and finish at the hips so there’s no extra space for a backpack and no protection for your legs. Another key difference is that a poncho has a simpler design and fewer seams which mean there’s less opportunity for water to leak through. The fabric is normally a single layer of light-weight plastic which is extremely waterproof and windproof compared to a standard rain jacket which is much heavier due to the fabric and inner lining.
The advantage of a raincoat over a rain poncho is that it provides better protection from rain during crosswinds, it’s less prone to snagging on low lying branches and brambles and the close fit provides far better insulation.
Another difference worth mentioning is that a rain poncho is essentially a piece of tarp with a hood and a few seams which makes it fairly versatile. While a raincoat can only be used as a coat, a rain poncho can double as a tent, ground or even a blanket.
Things to consider when choosing the best rain ponchos
Which Style should I Choose?
You would be forgiven for thinking that, when it comes to rain ponchos, one size fits all also applies to the shape of the poncho when actually, there are a few more options than the usual ‘tent’ fit. The classic poncho will be long, covering the upper body and down to the knees with proper sleeves so it fits on over your head. Most modern ponchos will snap closed at the sides creating a looser fit and more ventilation.
A. The ponchos listed on this page will certainly cover your upper body and thighs but for people over 6ft ponchos like the Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho and Linenlux will probably not reach to the knees. Instead, the military style rain ponchos by JTENG, Snugpack, Vcansion and Terra Hiker would be a better fit.
For Hikers, the first important factor to consider is if the poncho will be large enough to cover most of your body, as well as your pack, without too much extra material which can catch on branches and brambles. Next is the durability and, of course, the level of waterproofing. You might also look for a poncho with reinforced eyelets in the hem which are useful for turning it into a rain or sun shelter. The more multifunctional your poncho is the more useful it will be for extreme outdoor sports.
Meanwhile, cyclists will want to consider a poncho which is shorter a closer fit to avoid extra fabric flapping in the wind. Elasticated sleeves are important to keep the rain out as you’ll be moving at a faster speed and a large adjustable hood which will fit over a helmet without falling down.
Backpackers and travelers may not need a poncho which is as heavy duty as hikers so a light-weight poncho might be better. As you’ll likely be using it within cities you’ll probably also opt for a more stylish poncho like the Linenlux or Totes Unisex Rain Poncho.
Finally, if you’re only looking for a poncho to get you to and from the office in the London rain or something to take to an amusement park then you’ll want something light-weight, compact and, probably, the cheaper the better.
Q: Are all the above unisex ? or are there specific rain ponchos for men/women?
A. All of our top 10 rain ponchos are unisex items, suitable for both men and women. Some of our choices come in a range of colors and designs, some of which may not appeal to both genders but you’ll have the option to choose your preferred style. They are also a standard’ one size fits all and will, therefore, fit most people.
Q: How are these different from the ones that are sold in dollar stores?
A: Well, the reusable ponchos are made from good quality polyester or vinyl so they won’t feel cheap and nasty like ones from the dollar store. That said, they are still essentially made of plastic so when the product is first opened it will probably smell a little unpleasant. Letting it air out for a day should take away the plastic smell.
Obviously, all rain ponchos are designed to be waterproof and made of a waterproof material, usually, Vinyl or polyester both of which are highly water resistant and light-weight. Heavy duty ponchos will undoubtedly withstand heavy rain for longer but other things to look out for are:
Draw String Hoods, the hood is where rain is most likely to enter from as it’s the largest opening. Make sure that the poncho you choose has an adjustable hood so you can pull it tight around your face.
Snaps and zips are also handy and the poncho will be more breathable but also have a greater chance of leaking rain compared to ponchos with sleeves which are closed at the sides.
As a general rule, all ponchos will have taped or welded seams which prevent water from entering and you can also check the manufacturer’s description for the waterproof rating.
Q: Would they withstand WaterFalls?
A: If you’re standing alongside the falls or nearby then yes, they should have no problem keeping you dry. If you want to go through the falls then we recommend a dry suit and an inflatable boat instead! On that note, we’d like to point out that even the top waterproof rain ponchos have their limits and in certain situations, a proper raincoat would be more appropriate.
Weight is a very important factor when choosing your poncho because, ultimately, you’re going to have to carry it all the time that you’re not wearing it. Most ponchos reusable rain ponchos will weigh between 250 grams and 500 grams depending on their size and the fabric they are made from. So, although the JTENG Rain Poncho has all the right features for outdoors and extreme sports, it also the heaviest item on our list.
We’ve made sure that our top 10 rain ponchos include only the most practical rain ponchos and excluded any overly-heavy products. The extra weight might be worthwhile for what you get, however, if you just want something to store inside your day bag in case of emergency then a poncho which is around 250-300 grams would be a better option. If your biggest priority is keeping the weight down, then you can’t beat a disposable poncho which typically won’t weigh more than 100 grams.
Q: Would the poncho cover a person plus a wheelchair?
A: Most of the ponchos listed on this page will be large enough to cover a wheelchair with the exception of Live Better Outdoors disposable poncho, 4ucylcling poncho and the Snugpack Patrol Poncho all of which have closed sides and a narrower fit.
Useful Features for Hikers
The best rain ponchos for hikers are longer in length and usually have extra space at the back, like the Snugpack Patrol Poncho, to accommodate a large backpack. We recommend a poncho which is closed at the sides for hikes in heavy rain or cooler conditions, and one with snaps for better ventilation in warmer climates.
The color is also worth considering, for example, a neon yellow poncho is likely to scare away any wildlife before you even get close. A military green or camouflage design would be a bit subtler.
You’ll want to choose a poncho with a large drawstring hood, ideally one with an overhang which prevents rain from dripping onto your face. Some ponchos also have chest zippers which make it easier to pull on and off over the head but bear in mind that if the zip doesn’t have a storm flap then this will just be another opening that water can seep in through.
Q: Does it provide some warmth?
A: Yes, due to the material used the ponchos are windproof and will, therefore, protect you from the worst of the cold. How much warmth they provide depends on the design of the poncho. One with sleeves and closed sides will be better for keeping your body heat in so you defiantly won’t want to wear a heavy jacket underneath. Poncho’s with open sides are not as effective at keeping you warm.
Ripstop polyester is the best fabric in terms of durability, and, of course, the weight is very important too, because, unless you’ll be replacing your tent with a rain poncho you’ll want to choose one which weighs less than half a kilo.
Other useful features include eyelets and grommets which can be attached to tent pegs or walking poles to make a tarp tent for you or for your luggage, or as an extra fly sheet if you get caught out camping in a storm.
Q: Would the poncho cover me and my backpack?
A: Some of the ponchos on out top 10, such as the Terra Hiker Rain Poncho and the Snugpack Patrol Poncho, are specifically aimed at hikers and backpackers so you’ll have no problem covering even the largest backpacks. Products on our list which are not aimed at hikers will be roomy enough to fit at least a day bag underneath.
Q: Does it come with a carry bag?
A: Yes, even our choice of disposable rain poncho comes with a convenient pouch for storing it. The reusable ponchos either pack away inside the front pocket (if it has a pocket) or they come with a light-weight fabric or mesh bag with either a drawstring or zip.
Reusable vs Disposable
We always recommend purchasing reusable products when possible, and not just because we’re a bunch of environment loving tree-huggers. In the long term, a reusable rain poncho will save you money as disposables will quickly tear and need replacing after just a few uses. Reusable ponchos are made from a much stronger material and are therefore much more practical for outdoor sports like hiking.
So, what are the benefits of a disposable rain poncho? Well, they’re much cheaper for starters, so if you only plan to use it once in a blue moon then you probably won’t want to pay out for a reusable rain poncho. Also, for travelers with limited luggage then the size and weight of a disposable poncho will be more appealing, plus you can throw it away after which will save you even more space as well as the hassle of drying it.
Obviously, you’ll want to consider the price of the poncho and how that fits into your budget. Generally speaking, a reusable rain poncho will set you back between $15 and $35, while a multi-pack of disposable rain ponchos will cost you considerably less. Less heavy-duty ponchos, such as the one from Frogg Toggs are on the cheaper end of the scale, whereas durable ponchos such as the Charles River Apparel and the Snugpack Patrol Poncho are longer lasting but also carry a heftier price tag.