Edit: despite adding more than two years and 25+ camping trips since this post was last updated, this poncho remains my main and most important piece of multi-use rain gear/tarp. This past August while hiking alone in the Emigrant wilderness, this became essential over my hard shell to keep my pack dry front and rear. Especially the space between my pack and my back, this poncho kept everything dry. And once at the camp site, acted as a tarp to keep my tent setup process dry as well, a common problem when setting up most tents. The rivets allowed me to poke the corners to hiking poles on one side and tied to a rock on the other, keeping everything dry until i could finish the tent and get gear inside.
I have been on two measly camping trips so far, but on one, it rained, and I made an interesting discovery.
Backpacks with rain flies seem great, but they have a fundamental flaw. Rain water drains from the top of the backpack to all sides, including the back that rests against, well, your back.
For many backpacks, there are special vents and cushions built into the back side specifically designed to help with ventilation on hot days as well as extra cushioning to protect the back.
Once soaked from the rain, this back side gets very heavy, is impossible to dry in humid weather, and starts to smell after a couple of days as it slowly dries. what’s worse, in a tent, sleeping against this backpack makes the tent floor wet, which in turn makes the sleeping bag wet. This entire experience is un-fun.
The only solution is to have a poncho that covers both you and the backpack fully.
This poncho is designed specifically for that purpose, with a back-side extension of 14 inches, preventing the back of the poncho from riding too high.
This makes this poncho a great product for hiking. It’s better than an emergency plasticky poncho and is tough enough to handle multiple uses while also light enough to put it in a rainfly pocket. Under heavy windy rain, this poncho, like all ponchos, suffers unless you tie it down at the waist as the sides are completely flat and only have a few buttons along the side. I would have liked to see more buttons to better keep the sides form flapping around too much, but this is a small price to pay comparatively speaking.
All in all, it may not be perfect, but if you’re set on a poncho and want something small and light to protect you and your backpack and prevent water running in between you and the pack, this is definitely a must buy.