11 Best Waterproof Ponchos for Hiking 2024

Last Updated on 29/02/2024

Best waterproof ponchos for hiking

Are you looking for the best waterproof poncho for hiking? In this ultimate guide to rain ponchos, we share the most lightweight and waterproof ponchos out there which we think are the best for hiking with.

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you understand how important it is to stay warm and dry when far from home. Waterproof jackets and pants are very good at what they do, but they aren’t always the easiest to get on and off with other gear on.

The best waterproof ponchos are lighter than most jackets and do a pretty good job of covering your legs. You can even wear a waterproof poncho over the top of your backpack to keep that dry too which makes them drastically more convenient to put on and take off. Another big benefit of hiking in a rain poncho as opposed to a jacket is the breathability and freedom you get, which in turn keeps you comfortable.

To help us choose the best waterproof ponchos for hiking, we used the criteria listed in our buyer’s guide at the bottom of the page. You can use the list below to jump down the page or keep reading for our top 11 poncho reviews.

Top 11 Best Waterproof Ponchos

Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Nano Tarp Poncho Review

Best waterproof ponchos for hiking


  • MATERIAL: 15D Ultra-Sil Nano fabric
  • SIZE: 145 x 264 cm / 57 x 104 in
  • WEIGHT: 230 g / 8.1 oz

The Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Nano Tarp Poncho is our number one best rain poncho for hiking and camping. It is by far the biggest waterproof poncho we have tested and is also only 4 grams short of being the lightest as well! Sea To Summit really does make some of the best and lightest outdoor gear out there, and this is another winner.

Not only is the S2S Poncho a waterproof jacket alternative but also a rain tarp that is big enough for 2 people to camp under and can be set up in lots of different ways. Using two hiking poles or some lightweight tarp poles, guy lines, and some pegs, you can have an open-air but totally waterproof shelter set up in under 5 minutes.

Designed for hikers and lightweight backpackers, the Ultra-SIL Nano Tarp Poncho will easily fit over your rucksack while hiking and will cover the average person down to the knee. Made from the lightest fabric that Sea To Summit makes, the ultralight 15D siliconized nylon is tough, comfortable, and has a 1,200mm hydrostatic head rating, so you know it will keep you dry. Like all Ultra-SIL products, this poncho compacts down to a very small parcel that can be tucked inside a backpack pocket ready for fast access.

VERDICT: We recommend this poncho for hiking because of its size, weight, design, and material, which ticks all the boxes. It is plenty big enough to cover even the biggest backpack without sacrificing any coverage and makes the biggest poncho shelter too. The sides snap together to give it a good fit around the arms and allow good ventilation when open.

The Sea To Summit rain poncho keeps you dry, gives you somewhere to sleep, and you’ll hardly even notice you have it when not in use. Overall if we had to pick just one, this would be it.

Outdoor Gear Reviews


Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite Poncho Review

Deerhunter Survivor Rain Poncho


  • MATERIAL: Nonwoven Polypropylene
  • SIZE: 100 x 130 cm / 39 x 51 in
  • WEIGHT: 226 g / 8 oz

The Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite Poncho weighs just 8 ounces without the stuff sack, and because the fabric is so thin it packs up to virtually nothing. Designed for all kinds of outdoor use, including hiking, the most appealing features of this waterproof poncho are its lightness and packability. Frogg Toggs are perhaps most well known for their fly fishing gear which is notoriously waterproof.

The material is ultralight nonwoven polypropylene with welded seams for total waterproofing and breathability. The downside to being so thin and lightweight is that it isn’t the most durable waterproof poncho but the fact that it costs less than $10 makes that less of an issue. To add to this point, the material is also recyclable should you need to replace it.

There are snaps down the sides to adjust the fit as well as airflow and there are toggles on the hood to tighten it when the wind or rain picks up. Frogg Toggs Ultra-lite Poncho customer reviews state that it performs very well in humid conditions where waterproof jackets and pants are too hot. It can be used as an emergency rain fly if needs be but if that is your intended use I would opt for something more durable.

VERDICT: This is the most lightweight waterproof poncho you can get for hiking which is ideal for emergencies and keeping in your bag. It does not offer as generous a cut as others on this top 10 list of the best waterproof ponchos but it will cover your backpack as well as you. In terms of weight, this is the next step up from disposable ponchos.

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OneTigris TENTSFORMER Bushcraft Poncho

OneTigris TENTSFORMER Raincoat, Bushcraft Poncho Tent, Multiuse Waterproof Rain Cover for Men Women Adults

  • MATERIAL: 75D Ripstop Nylon with PU coating
  • SIZE: 8.5 x 2.8 x 4 ft / 260 x 85 x 125 cm
  • WEIGHT: 640 g / 22.5 oz

The OneTigris TENTSFORMER Bushcraft Poncho is the largest rain poncho you can buy that doesn’t trail along the ground when you’re hiking. It is designed to convert into a shelter for one or if combined with a second TENTSFORMER poncho it will make a full teepee tent. Things I like about this poncho are the hood design which keeps the rain out of your eyes, the way the sleeves fit, and the full-length zip which lets you wear it like a jacket.

The fabric is tough and durable to avoid any rips as you walk through overgrowth and will keep you dry no matter what. The PU coating on the outside gives you a HH rating of 1500 mm which is triple-layered to withstand hours of heavy rain. The reviews of the OneTigris Poncho are very positive and report withstanding heavy rain better than other more expensive ponchos.

The price and quality make this such a popular choice for a lot of people but the weight and small pack size really make it a great pick for hikers. At just 640 grams you hardly notice you have it in your bag and because it is so durable you can fold or roll it to fit into the smallest spaces. The label states it can be used with a 60 L backpack but we think that is modest and you would have no issues with a larger pack (other than the weight!).

VERDICT: Designed for everyone and anyone, you can wear this to soccer games, to walk your dogs in, or for serious expedition hiking. The TENTSFORMER Bushcraft Poncho from OneTigris is a really good value for money option that doesn’t feel flimsy and will keep you dry all day long.

The sleeves are a good length to give you the freedom to move as well as allowing air to flow so you don’t sweat like you would in a jacket. The material is especially suitable for its purpose and can even be used as a groundsheet it is so tough but at the same time lightweight and comfortable. We really like this as an entry-level poncho for hikers as well as for long-distance walkers.

Outdoor Gear Reviews


Snugpak Patrol Poncho Review

Snugpak Patrol Poncho bag


  • MATERIAL: Paratex Dry Ripstop Fabric with 100% Waterproof Hydrophilic Polyurethane Coating
  • SIZE: 193 x 152 cm / 75 x 60 in
  • WEIGHT: 363 g / 12.8 oz

The Snugpak Patrol Poncho, like all Snugpaks gear, is made to be tough enough for military use all around the world. Designed to cover you and your backpack in one fell swoop as well as provide a decent amount of leg coverage.

Unlike other waterproof rain ponchos, the Patrol has sleeves with elasticated wrists and thumb loops. This allows you to wear your gloves underneath and stop water from running down your arm. Because of the generous cut, this rain poncho easily covers you and your backpack and works well as a bivvy in emergency situations

At just 363 grams, the Snugpak patrol poncho is lightweight and packs down to 20 x 10 cm, which makes it easy to tuck in your backpack and forget about until it rains. The large hood also has a drawstring toggle which helps improve the fit and keeps the rain out of your eyes when it’s windy. A smock-style velcro front pocket sits just below the 1/4 length zip which comes up to your chin to stop rain from getting down your neck.

The Patrol poncho is made from Snugpaks exclusive Paratex Dry material which is 100% waterproof and has a hydrostatic head in excess of 5000mm. Paratex Dry has a hydrophilic polyurethane coating and is only ever used with sealed seam systems to give you the best rain cover from your poncho.

VERDICT: Unlike cheap waterproof ponchos, the Patrol is made from material that is tough and soft to the touch so you don’t feel like you are wearing a bin bag. We rate this as the best waterproof poncho for backpacking or hiking with a big backpack not just for the size but because it is quality and comfortable.

Outdoor Gear Reviews


Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho Review

Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho


  • MATERIAL: 100% Polyurethane
  • SIZE: 130 x 200 cm / 52 x 80 in
  • WEIGHT: 410 g / 14.5 oz

The Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho is easily the most stylish rain poncho that still works for hiking and backpacking. Available in 6+ colors and standard one size fits all makes these waterproof ponchos easily accessible for anyone. The polyurethane outer layer has a very smooth and stretchy feel to it as opposed to other thinner fabrics which can be a bit rustly.

On the inside, there is a fine knit layer that is bonded to the Polyurethane and making it extra soft and adding to its durability. All the seams are heat-sealed to prevent water from seeping through in heavy rain, and the shape is designed for water to drip right off.

The snap closure neck and drawstring hood are super welcome in stormy weather and help keep the rain off your face and from running down your neck. Size-wise it comes down to around the knee of a 5-foot 9-inch person but will keep your legs mostly dry even if you are taller than 6 feet due to the shape. Even though it is not designed to cover a big backpack, it will keep one dry however you do lose some coverage on the sides when you do so.

VERDICT: The difference between a Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho and any other waterproof poncho is the choice of materials, quality, design, and style. The simple button-up design just looks smarter than a zip, and the way the fabric reflects light gives it a quality appearance that most other waterproof ponchos seem to lack. Due to the fact that all the best rain ponchos on this list are waterproof, things like better style and quality may be just what you are looking for.

Outdoor Gear Reviews


Mil-Tec Waterproof Poncho Review

Mil-Tec Waterproof Poncho Ripstop


  • MATERIAL: 100% waterproof Ripstop Nylon
  • SIZE: 140 x 210 cm / 56 x 84 in
  • WEIGHT: 680 g / 24 oz

The Mil-Tec Waterproof Poncho was originally designed for the military because of its durability. Unlike many of the best waterproof ponchos that are designed to be super lightweight, the material on this is thicker and more abrasion-resistant which is more suited to hunters and people trekking through thick bush. We would be much happier using this for a rain fly than we would other lightweight ponchos as you don’t have to fear it ripping under tension.

However, this extra durability comes with a compromise in that it weighs more than most and won’t pack down as small. If toughness is more important than pack size and weight then the Mil-Tec is ideal as for the type of material it is actually still lightweight despite weighing more than others. One feature we do like is the poppers down the sides which make it compatible with other ponchos to make a large rain tarp or even make a single-person bivvy.

VERDICT: This ripstop rain poncho is completely waterproof and features a hood with adjustable ties and half sleeves when the buttons are done up. The Mil-Tec Poncho is made in the same way as gore-tex and will compete with any gore-tex rain poncho out there. It was designed for military use and so is easily big enough to cover you and as big a backpack as you can carry. 

While the construction on these looks fairly simple, they are extremely rugged materials and are designed to last a very long time. Coming in a range of camo prints and plain colors to keep a low profile while out in the woods, you know you want one.

Outdoor Gear Reviews


VAUDE Hiking Backpack Poncho Review

Vaude Hiking Backpack Poncho


  • MATERIAL: 100% bluesign certified Polyamide
  • SIZE: S/M or L/XL
  • WEIGHT: 440 g / 15.5 oz

The VAUDE Hiking Backpack Poncho is one of the few waterproofs designed to accommodate a backpack for hiking specifically. The zip on the back allows you to expand to fit a backpack under without making the poncho feel tight or restrictive. The VAUDE poncho doesn’t have any side openings and instead is a single piece that easily fits over your head when in a hurry to get it on. Straight away, you can see the quality of this compared to basic rain ponchos, and the small design features make it a favorite to all kinds of outdoor people.

The material is waterproof, windproof, and breathable to protect you from all kinds of weather however is still very thin and lightweight. The whole thing packs down inside its own front pocket for easy storage and portability. The sleeves are nice and baggy to help air circulate but can be closed up if needed. The hood has a peaked visor and adjustable cords to tighten or loosen as well as a high neck to cover your chin.

VERDICT: We do really like this poncho for everyday wear as it looks cool and works well for things like walking the dog or riding a moped great. The backpack extension is a great idea and especially needed as the sides do not open. For this fact though, the poncho does get quite sweaty on strenuous hikes with a heavy pack which is why we prefer a side-opening poncho for serious treks.

Outdoor Gear Reviews


SaphiRose Unisex Rain Poncho

SaphiRose Unisex Rain Poncho Hooded Waterproof Raincoat Jacket for Adults Women Men(Navy-White)

  • MATERIAL: 100% Polyester
  • SIZE: 114 x 160 cm / 45 x 63 in
  • WEIGHT: 310 g / 10.9 oz

The SaphiRose Unisex Rain Poncho stands out from the crowd with a full-length zipper and handy pocket which is perfect for your phone. The zip allows you to wear it fully opened when it isn’t raining and then quickly cover up if it starts. The zip also makes it easier to take it on and off with a backpack on, which is always a good thing for hiking in the rain.

Super lightweight and packable, it comes with a small storage pouch that has a carabiner attachment so it can be clipped to the outside of your backpack for easy access. Keeping you dry is the main priority, and the SaphiRose Poncho does that very well with a long peaked hood and heat-sealed seams to prevent rain from getting in through the stitches. There are poppers on the sides to create the arms and adjustable toggles to tighten the hood, which are the last features we look for.

VERDICT: Overall, the SaphiRose rain poncho gets a thumbs up from us because it works well for hiking and has a stylish look to it too. The full front zip makes it a little different from others, and maybe it’s just what you are looking for. The pocket comes in handy more than you would think, and it’s little things like that make this one of the best waterproof ponchos for everyday use.

Outdoor Gear Reviews


Helikon-Tex Swagman Roll Military Poncho

Helikon-Tex Swagman Roll Military Poncho, Bushcraft Line - Multi-Purpose Rain Poncho & Emergency Poncho - Survival and Military Gear - Woobie Blanket & Jacket (Coyote)

  • MATERIAL: 100% Nylon fabric with DWR, Climashield Apex insulation
  • SIZE: 145 x 200 cm / 57.04 x 78.74 in
  • WEIGHT: 745 g / 26.2 oz

The Helikon-Tex Swagman Roll Military Poncho is another one that the hunters will like as it is thicker and more durable than the superlight ponchos. It is the best insulated waterproof poncho and the double-layer material is super tough and resistant to wind and rain but because of its extra thickness doesn’t pack down as small as others. Even though the poncho is quite heavy in comparison to others, it is very durable and has a great strength-to-weight ratio.

Because the poncho is insulated on the inside, you can use this as a survival blanket, mattress topper, winter shelter, and for lining a hammock on windy nights. The insulation is super lightweight Climashield Apex which is 100% synthetic and so it won’t absorb any water or feel cold if wet, and it dries super fast.

It will cover large backpacks when hiking and can be used as an emergency shelter, two big plus points for hikers and hunters. The poncho packs inside its own front pocket, which comes in handy for maps and your phone when you are wearing it. There is a lower strap that brings the poncho in tight so that it isn’t so loose and baggy; however, I never found myself wanting to use it.

VERDICT: The Swagman Roll Military Poncho from Helikon-Tex is not your average lightweight plastic poncho, this is heavy-duty and can be used in many ways other than as a poncho. It is strong and reliable and appeals to hunters and forestry workers who brush through overgrown areas. This is one poncho you don’t really have to worry about, which makes it great to sit on too.

Outdoor Gear Reviews


Arcturus Lightweight Ripstop Nylon Rain Poncho

Arcturus Lightweight Ripstop Nylon Poncho with Adjustable Hood (Realtree EDGE)

  • MATERIAL: 210T Ripstop Nylon and coated with two layers of waterproof polyurethane
  • SIZE: 137 x 122 cm / 54 x 48 in
  • WEIGHT: 310 g / 10.9 oz

The Arcturus Lightweight Ripstop Nylon Rain Poncho is perfect for walking in rain all day long. Made from durable 210T polyester that is PU3000MM rated and triple-layered, this is probably the most waterproof poncho for hiking out there. I tested the Realtree EDGE version, but you can get plain colors if you aren’t into camo. 

You can stretch this out into an emergency shelter. However, there are better options available if that is your intention. The fit is nice and long to cover your backpack and still reach down past your knees. This always comes in handy on wet days if you ever need to kneel down on wet grass. The extra long tail so that if you are cycling and leaning forward, your back isn’t exposed. This extra cover works well for fishermen who use the tail as a seat to perch on.

VERDICT: The Lightweight Ripstop Nylon Rain Poncho from Arcturus is super lightweight and secure. You don’t have to struggle with press studs or super wide sleeves, but that does make venting a little more difficult. Considering the price, this is an absolute bargain and so much more versatile than a raincoat.

Outdoor Gear Reviews


HAZARD 4 Villa Technical Soft-Shell Poncho Review

HAZARD 4 Poncho Villa Technical Soft-Shell Poncho


  • MATERIALS: Water-resistant breathable softshell (86% polyester, 14% spandex; liner is 100% polyester)
  • SIZE: 132 x 198 cm / 52 x 78 in
  • WEIGHT: 1040 g / 36.8 oz

The HAZARD 4 Villa Technical Soft-Shell Poncho is unlike all other top rain ponchos because of the softshell material it is made from. Instead of using glossy waterproof fabric, the Hazard 4 Villa Technical Poncho feels soft to the touch and is more like the material you find on softshell jackets. This material is warmer and more protective against abrasions however is not as waterproof as any ponchos ranked above.

Weighing over 1 kilogram this is one of the heaviest ponchos we looked at so it isn’t for the ultralight hiker. This is ideal as a cold-weather hiking poncho that offers great protection from the elements as well as things like branches and rocks. Being a thicker fabric it doesn’t pack down like a one-layer poncho, but it will fit inside its own front pocket, and once it is packed away, it will compress smaller. The wide-brimmed hood is adjustable and loved by outdoor photographers who also appreciate the non-rustling/quieter material and the fact it covers their entire body when crouched.

VERDICT: We debated as to whether this product should even be on a list of the best waterproof ponchos, as it is only effective in light showers and will not perform well in heavy downpours. But it is nice to hike in and will provide cover, so we did. All the seams are tape-sealed, and the body coverage, even with a backpack, is excellent, but that doesn’t seem to stop torrential rain from soaking through. That being said it is a great poncho to hike with as it is far more breathable than a fully laminated rain poncho and keeps you warm too.

Outdoor Gear Reviews


Honorable Mention: Anyoo Waterproof Rain Poncho

Best waterproof poncho for families

Frequently Asked Questions About Best Waterproof Ponchos

Here are some of the common questions we have answered when asked about waterproof or gore-tex ponchos:

What Is a Waterproof Poncho?

A waterproof poncho is a piece of waterproof clothing that is designed to cover the entire top half of your body and prevent you from getting wet. Often made from a single piece of waterproof material and will feature a hood as standard to protect you from rain. Unlike a traditional poncho which originates from South America and is made from a woolen fabric, a rain poncho is not meant to keep you warm.

You can wear a rain poncho over all of your regular clothes and even over your backpack to keep that dry too. Some people prefer using a rain poncho to a pack cover as pack covers only partially cover your bag whereas a rain smock covers it entirely.

What Are Waterproof Ponchos Used For?

Waterproof ponchos are often used at events and places like theme parks to slip over your regular clothes and offer as much weather protection as possible. These are often the disposable type of ponchos that are typically single-use and only cost a dollar or two. Our list of the best rain ponchos only looks at ponchos that can be used for hiking and other wilderness adventures.

They are a quick and easy way to cover the most part of your body when it starts to rain and can be used for all kinds of occasions, not just hiking. You can compare ponchos to umbrellas crossed with rain jackets; however, umbrellas have to be held.

What Are the Benefits of Using Rain Ponchos?

The main benefits of using a waterproof poncho are that you often don’t need anything else to keep you and your gear dry as well as being super lightweight and compact. Carrying bulky waterproof jackets and pants when you aren’t even sure it will rain isn’t necessary if you pack a lightweight rain poncho instead.

Another benefit is that if you do carry a backpack, there is no need for pesky bag covers that come off in the wind as you can simply slide your poncho over the top and you’re covered. Convenience and breathability are unrivaled as it is so easy to slip into a poncho, and with open sides, you rarely overheat.

What Is the Most Waterproof Poncho?

The most waterproof poncho is one that uses high-quality fabric and has heat-sealed seams all the way around. I haven’t yet seen a GORE-TEX or similar material is used to make ponchos but I would certainly buy one if I did, however, the seam sealing is fairly common and something to look for in most waterproof ponchos. Out of all our top 11 hiking ponchos, we would probably recommend the Terra Hiker as the most waterproof if we had to pick one.

Which Is the Best Waterproof Poncho for Hiking?

So apart from being waterproof, there are two other factors you need to consider for a hiking rain poncho and they are breathability and whether it will fit a backpack underneath. Ponchos that have open sides or press studs will have the best ventilation but some material is more breathable than others, so read the reviews first.

If you hike with a backpack, then you need to make sure your poncho has a generous enough fit to cover you and your bag without getting a wet bum. We chose the Frogg Toggs Ultra-Light Poncho as our number one pick because it ticks all the boxes and weighs just that bit less than its competition.

Best waterproof poncho

Buyers Guide for the Best Waterproof Ponchos

This is the section where we break down all the different factors we used to base our opinions as well as what to look for when choosing a waterproof hiking poncho.


Let’s not be silly, when you are looking for a waterproof poncho you want something to protect you from the rain and would expect it to keep you dry. When looking at descriptions, you should read carefully as water resistance and waterproof are not quite the same thing. Look for things like sealed seams and a hydrostatic head rating that will tell you how much water pressure they can withstand. You can always maintain your poncho with waterproof treatments, but for the most part, you can rely on them to deflect the rain pretty well.


Something that most ponchos don’t struggle with is breathability because they are open at the bottom and sides to let air in and condensation out. Ventilation can be a problem with some waterproof jackets but that’s because jackets are closer fitting and ofter trap the heat in with elasticated cuffs and waist. The material will make a big difference to breathability and especially so if ventilation isn’t great. Hiking can be incredibly intensive when going uphill and having condensation build up on the inside of your waterproofs can be just as dangerous in cold weather when hiking so breathability is vital.

Wind Resistance

As with most waterproof fabrics, you can expect most rain ponchos to be impenetrable to the wind as well as water. However, wind acts differently to rain in that it can come from any angle and if it gets strong enough can make wearing a poncho somewhat of a challenge. Ponchos that are more of a long waterproof smock completely block out the wind if you can avoid the Marylin Monroe moments! That being said, for hiking we would much rather go with breathability over 360° wind protection.


For people who have only used the kind of disposable PVC ponchos you get at theme parks and the like, then you will be glad to know that all the items on this ultimate list of rain ponchos are made of much tougher fabrics that don’t rip so easy. We talk about durability quite a lot in our reviews because for hikers and outdoors people, paying for something that rips on first use is no good to anyone. We want to use products that are built to last with high-quality manufacturing and can, therefore, be trusted on serious outdoor expeditions.

Weight and Pack Size

Because you typically only wear a waterproof poncho when it’s raining the rest of the time it will live in your backpack and so weight and packability are important. You can expect lighter ponchos to be thinner and so more packable but on the downside of that, they are less durable. Waterproof ponchos don’t have to be packed inside your backpack and can be strapped outside or tucked in a pocket ready for use. They will fold, roll up, or even stuff into a small pouch which makes them the perfect all-in-one weather protection to keep in your bag.


What we are looking for here are things like the hood, sleeves, closures, and pockets adding to the overall function and style. A good peaked hood will keep driving rain out of your eyes and if it is adjustable you won’t have to worry about it blowing down when facing the wind. Sleeves are a more personal preference but we like the open arm/popper side style ponchos that allow for the most freedom with adequate protection from the elements. Design can affect the fit but ponchos don’t discriminate and everyone will fit in one.


Generally speaking, flexibility should never be an issue with ponchos as they are made from fabric that is naturally flexible. Having an unusual shape and generous sizing also means that you will rarely feel restricted in your movements while wearing a poncho. Ponchos that use thicker material or multiple layers may become stiff if stored for a long period of time but this can be helped by keeping it unpacked.


We always say that you get what you pay for with outdoor gear but most of the ponchos on this list are very cheap in comparison to rain jackets. They generally start from around $10 and average between $12 – $25 but specialist and premium ponchos can be upwards of $50 to you an idea of rain poncho prices. Practically speaking, all the waterproof ponchos on this practical list are good value for money but it was interesting to see some of the cheapest ponchos ranked higher than the more expensive ones.


Most ponchos that open up at the sides can be used to create an emergency shelter and especially ones designed for the military or hunting. This feature is great for hikers who like to stay lightweight as they have their raincoat and shelter sorted in one, all they need on to is a camping mat and sleeping bag. Always look at the shape of the hood to make sure it will keep the rain off your face and adjustable toggles can be very important at times. Pockets, zips, and sleeves are often a matter of preference but should be a consideration nonetheless.

Best waterproof poncho shelter


These are some of the more common materials you might find on a waterproof hiking poncho and a basic description of how they work. Something to remember with all waterproof fabrics is that stitches are not waterproof unless sealed from the back. This can be done with waterproof tape, sealant, or by using heat to seal the seams.

Breathable Laminates

Made famous by GORE-TEX in the 1970s, breathable laminates are still the best waterproof fabrics for waterproof clothing. This is because if they don’t breathe, the condensation build-up will soak you from the inside out. This is not so important for ponchos as they tend to be very well ventilated but if you see a laminated breathable poncho it will no doubt be ideal for hiking. Nowadays there are many different laminates out there but all of them have similar compositions and the intention of being as waterproof and breathable as possible.

Sil-Nylon and Sil-Poly

Sil-Nylon is a synthetic material made by impregnating a thin woven nylon fabric with liquid silicone from both sides.[silnylon] Woven nylon is used in all kinds of outdoor gear for its lightweight, durability, and ability to be manipulated for its purpose. The addition of silicone creates a watertight barrier with superior flexibility and only helps to increase the tear resistance. Sil-Nylon and Sil-Poly are typically used for things like dry bags, tarps, tents, and other ultralight outdoor gear.


Polyester fabrics are not waterproof on their own as they are woven from individual strands and we all know that water can get through even the smallest gaps. Waterproof ponchos made from polyester will be treated or coated with a DWR (durable water repellent) which seals all the gaps in the fabric to create a watertight layer. That being said, a fabric with a higher dernier rating will have more strands of polyester and a tighter weave which inevitably increases its water resistance. One main benefit of polyester clothing is that it is incredibly fast drying so if it did get soaked through it would be dry in no time.

PU Coated Nylon

Nylon is very similar to polyester in its properties in that thin strands are woven together to create a durable and lightweight fabric ideal for outdoor clothing. While the strands of nylon are waterproof (they don’t hold moisture) a fabric made from woven fibers will need some kind of treatment to make it fully waterproof. PU stands for polyurethane which is a type of plastic that will bond with synthetic fibers to create a waterproof layer. Ripstop Nylon is basically a special type of weave which makes the fabric extra resistant to tears and if there is a puncture it won’t easily turn into a gaping hole.


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer[PVC] and comes in many, many different forms including the cheapest and possibly most waterproof poncho. The disposable poncho that feels a bit like a bin bag with a hood on is made from a single piece of material that is 100% waterproof.

One big problem with these cheap waterproof ponchos is that they are not designed to last more than 1 or 2 times which is not good for the environment. The issue with using them for hiking is that they have no breathability and are incredibly flimsy much like a plastic bag you carry shopping in.

Best waterproof ponchos


Thanks for reading our guide to the best waterproof ponchos for hiking, we hope you found it useful even if you aren’t into walking. Our Facebook page.

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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