Best Rain Poncho for Hiking and Backpacking

Hiking in the rain can suck if you get wet and cold, and if your gear gets soaked through. I thought I was well prepared for rain until we spent a week camping and hiking in the rain in Alaska. Rain is sneaky and manages to find every little opportunity to sneak into your clothes and gear! One thing I wish I’d had was a lightweight rain poncho that I could have just thrown over me like a big tarp. The best rain poncho for hiking will do just that.

However, finding this perfect backpacking rain gear can be difficult because there are so many options available.

There are many different types of lightweight ponchos available today with varying levels of protection and durability. The best type for hiking depends on how much weight and space you want to carry. Not all rain ponchos are created equal! Some of them don’t fit well over backpacks. And some aren’t breathable enough so you end up getting nearly as wet from sweating and condensation as from the rain itself.

We’ve researched the best waterproof ponchos for hiking and in our guide below we cover everything from how much they cost to what materials they’re made of to which ones will work best for different hiking styles. To make it easier for you, we’ve included detailed reviews and links to where you can purchase these ponchos. In some cases, we earn a small commission if you make a purchase.

Exactly What is a Rain Poncho for Backpacking and Hiking

The best rain ponchos are large, lightweight, thin pieces of waterproof fabric. They cover both your body and backpack to keep you dry in the rain. They’re usually much thinner and lighter than rain jackets so they take up less space in your pack.

Generally, a waterproof poncho is not warm like the fashionable wool ponchos we love to wear on a cool fall evening. If the weather is chilly we usually pair our rain gear with a fleece or other breathable warm layer and feel pretty snug.

As their name indicates, rain ponchos are designed for hiking and backpacking in the rain. However, their design also makes them ideal for many other uses. Since most ponchos are a flat piece of fabric with a hole in the center for our head they can be used in many ways that you would use a tarp such as creating a small shelter or under your tent. Interestingly, lists 11 different ways you can use a rain poncho for survival. Their great flexibility in an emergency is why so many backpackers keep a lightweight rain poncho in their pack all the time.

Depending on your hiking style and how often you hike in the rain, there are different types of ponchos to choose from. We’ve divided ponchos into 3 categories to try to keep it simple for you:

  • Ponchos for Hiking which will accommodate a small to medium backpack (or no backpack at all!). They are a reusable rain poncho that can tuck easily into a stuff sack.
  • Ponchos for Backpacking are better for longer hikes where you need to cover a larger backpack. The best backpacking rain ponchos have an extra piece of fabric that creates a big pouch on your back to cover your pack.
  • Emergency and Disposable waterproof ponchos are best as emergency gear. They are super lightweight and can be tucked into your pack for those unexpected weather changes.

Style Best Rain Poncho for Hiking – Day or Weekend Hikes

Here’s a nice selection of waterproof ponchos that are perfect for day hikes or a weekend trip where you’d carry a small to medium backpack (up to 50 liters). If you are backpacking for an extended trip with a larger backpack hop on down to the next section. We looked for the features that would keep you dry and comfortable when trekking in the rain. This group of hiking ponchos is also very reasonably priced so I’m sure you’ll be happy to stuff one into your bag for that next unplanned hike in the rain!

We’ve spent a lot of time researching the best backpack rain covers and have found four that really stood out as the best in class:

Anyoo Waterproof Rain Poncho – Our Top Choice for General Hiking

Anyoo Lightweight and Waterproof Rain Poncho
WEIGHT: 9 oz
MATERIAL: 210T ripstop polyester fabric + PVC coating, PU3000MM waterproof
SIZE: 54 x 39 in long front, 47 in long back

Our Review of the Anyoo Lightweight and Waterproof Rain Poncho

This affordable lightweight, waterproof rain poncho from Anyoo has some cool features! Made of 210T ripstop polyester fabric and PVC coating, it is PU3000MM waterproof to keep you dry all day. Best of all, it’s easy to fold up and toss into your backpack as it’s only 9 ounces. You’ll like that it is all one piece of fabric with no shoulder or side seams that can leak. The only seam is where the hood is connected which has been double stitched to seal.

The extra length in the back will easily protect a small to medium backpack from heavy rain. You have a choice of 8 different colors, including blaze orange if you hike in hunting season.

This multi-function waterproof poncho has thickened eyelets so it can double as a tarp, with grommets on the hem for use as an emergency shelter or ground cover, and hook & loop fasteners on the sides allowing you to use it as a sleeping bag cover (how cool is that!). This waterproof poncho comes with its own stuff sack for easy storage.

PROS: This is one of our favorites, the design does exactly what you want a rain poncho to do when you are hiking. It does a good job keeping you dry while allowing air to easily move under the poncho so you don’t get too hot. The tarp grommets are just a bonus. The durable water repellant fabric will last for many seasons of hiking.

CONS: This one is a little confusing to make the actual purchase on Amazon as multiple styles have been combined into one listing. You want style D or X for hiking.

Terra Hiker Waterproof 3 in 1 Rain Poncho – Runner Up

Terra Hiker Waterproof 3 in 1 Rain Poncho
WEIGHT: 10 oz
MATERIAL: 210T high density polyester fabric that’s PU3000MM waterproof; seam-sealed
PACKED DIMENSTIONS: 8.7 x 3 x 2 in
SIZE: 55 x 43 in long

Our Review of Terra Hiker Waterproof 3 in 1 Rain Poncho

The Terra Hiker Waterproof Rain Poncho is made of 210T high-density ripstop polyester fabric that’s PU coated to waterproof, keeping you dry even during downpours. It has taped and sealed seams so water will never seep through. The well made hood also features an adjustable drawstring, so you’ll have added protection from the rain.

A unique feature of the Terra Hiker Rain Poncho is an adjustable neck which makes it easy on/off in any situation or if you have a larger head.

There are thickened eyelets on the hem, which can be fastened using stakes during a heavy storm for shelter or ground mat, making this multi-purpose poncho one of our favorites for hikers. It easily compacts down to about 8 inches in its own stuff sack.

PROS: For the price, this is a well-made rain poncho ready to go on any casual hike. I do like the adjustable neck as sometimes I feel a bit claustrophobic all bundled up in a snug poncho, the larger neck opening will let you breathe when the rain lets up. You’ll love the comfort of the waterproof breathable fabric.

CONS: We’d prefer to see a brim in the hood however, the Terra Hiker rain poncho has made the hood extra deep so you can pair it with a hat to keep heavy rain off your face which many hikers seem to prefer.

Mil-Tec Ripstop Wet Weather Poncho – Best Rain Poncho for Cold Weather

Mil-Tec Ripstop Wet Weather Poncho
WEIGHT: 1.4 lb
MATERIAL: 100% Polyester Waterproof Ripstop, PVC Coated
PACKED DIMENSTIONS: 9 x 7 x 1.5 in
SIZE: 56 x 45 in long

Our Review of Mil-Tec Ripstop Wet Weather Poncho

This durable, military-style poncho is 2x as thick as similarly styled waterproof rain ponchos for full water-repellent protection. The extra thickness also improves your protection level from winds and rough trails. The Mil-Tec Wet Weather Poncho is made of Ripstop Polyester coated with PVC and available in 4 different camo prints with matching stuff sack.

With metal eyelets along the edge, you can use these waterproof ponchos as a shelter or ground tarp if necessary. A unique feature is that it can be snapped together with another poncho (sold separately) to create a larger shelter.

PROS: A lot of hikers complain that the popular backpacking rain ponchos for hiking feel thin and fragile. Well for you, here is a really nice thick waterproof rain poncho. We also love that you can snap together a couple of ponchos when creating a makeshift tent or ground cover.

CONS: The heavier weight of this poncho also means it will trap more body heat underneath. Perfect if the weather is cool but really uncomfortable if it is a hot day. And yes, you do have to ask yourself if you want to carry twice the weight in your backpack for an emergency poncho when rain is not in the forecast.

FROGG TOGGS Ultra-Lite2 Waterproof Breathable Poncho – Best Rain Poncho for Hot Weather

FROGG TOGGS Ultra-Lite2 Waterproof Breathable Poncho
WEIGHT: 9 oz
MATERIAL: Waterproof and Breathable Polypropylene
SIZE: 44 x 36 in long

Our Review of FROGG TOGGS Ultra-Lite2 Waterproof Breathable Poncho

This is the perfect rain poncho for hiking in hot weather, you’ll stay cooler than any other rain gear available. The well made Ultra-lite2 Waterproof Breathable Poncho from Frogg Toggs breathability ensures that you don’t feel the humidity inside. The special Frogg Toggs Ultra lite fabric, made of polypropylene, feels softer than most other waterproof poncho materials and makes less sound when you move around.

The integrated adjustable hood in the Frogg Toggs Ultra Lite 2 has cord locks for easy adjustability and side snaps provide extra protection when it’s windy. Heat sealed seams keep it watertight. It fits compactly in its own stuff sack.

PROS: Frogg Toggs poncho is made from superior waterproof breathable fabric. For hiking in hot humid weather, this backpacking rain poncho is a really great choice.

CONS: I almost didn’t include this completely waterproof poncho because of the smaller dimensions of the poncho, which means for the average person it won’t cover your arms to your wrist and hangs only to the top of your knees. You probably won’t want a pack bigger than 30 liters under this. However, Brad has had his Frogg Toggs rainwear nearly forever and just loves how their fabric breaths and how small they pack in his gear bag. So… here it is. If you are looking for a poncho primarily for warm weather hiking you won’t mind the shorter length at all and will appreciate the extra circulation.

Style Best Rain Ponchos for Backpacking

If you are carrying a large backpack, in the 50- 100 liter range, then you need a heavy duty rain poncho that will accommodate that large hump on your back. There are just a handful of the best backpacking rain ponchos that provide this protection well. Ideally, you want a poncho that is either extra long in the back or has a built-in “pouch” for your backpack. With a traditional poncho, without the extra back fabric, a large pack will pull up the poncho so short your bottom will get soaked as you hike. Yuk! Here is a couple of the best backpacking poncho:

Adventure World Globotrekker Backpack Poncho

Adventure World Globotrekker Lightweight Backpack Poncho
WEIGHT: 12.3 oz
MATERIAL: Waterproof 210T Terylene fabric
PACKED DIMENSTIONS: 6.3 x4 in roll
SIZE: 55 x 51 in long

Our Review of Adventure World Globotrekker Lightweight Backpack Poncho

The Adventure World Globotrekker Lightweight Backpack Poncho features an ultra-high-tech 210T Terylene material, a polyester synthetic fabric that doesn’t easily absorb water making it perfect for rainwear. With its overlapping closure flap, this poncho has your backpack cover built into it – just tuck away with the button closure when not needed! The adjustable hood is designed to withstand any weather conditions you might come up against with a drawstring to fit snugly around your face and a generous bill for eye protection.

There are four different colors available in total for these backpacking ponchos so the chances are there’s one just perfect for you! Super easy to carry at only 12.3 ounces with dimensions of 6.3 inches x 4 inches when packed away in its bag.

PROS: The generous built-in pack cover which can be easily tucked away if not needed is great for larger backpacks. We also love the zipper at the neck for opening up the poncho to air movement and easier on/off.

CONS: This poncho is semi-fitted which is both a pro and a con! The sides are seamed rather than snapped and shaped thinner for a snugger fit. The fitting of these completely waterproof ponchos helps reduce the whipping of your poncho in the wind, but at the same time, it reduces airflow movement which is one of the reasons for choosing a poncho over a raincoat.

Exped Pack UL Poncho

Exped Pack UL Poncho
WEIGHT: 8.6 oz (lg)
MATERIAL: 15D Ripstop Nylon, Silicon / PU Coated
SIZE: 3 sizes S, M, L  43 x 48in long with pack pouch (lg)

Our Review of Exped Pack UL Poncho

The Exped Pack UL Rain Poncho is super lightweight at less than 9 ounces making it easy to pack for hiking. Made of 15D Ripstop Nylon so it is durable and Silicon / PU Coated waterproof to keep you dry while you’re trekking. The seams are taped to keep water out. The hood is easy to adjust with cinch cords and has a nicely sized bill to keep the rain out of your eyes.

This Swiss-designed heavy-duty rain poncho features a large internal chest pocket that doubles as the packsack. That means you can store a few critical pieces of gear so you don’t have to dig into your pack. You’ll find the snap button on the sleeves of this backpacking poncho prevents them from slipping upwards. And additional snaps on the sides and bottom allow for easy adjustment of the fit based on your pack size. It can handle up to a 100-liter large backpack under the integrated backpack pouch where you can neatly tuck your backpack and sleeping bag underneath the cover.

The Exped can easily be converted to an emergency shelter by adding 6 stakes and 2 hiking poles.

PROS: This is likely one of the best quality ponchos for regular backpackers due to the durability of the fabric and the adjustability of the fit.

CONS: Price is obviously the concern with this backpacking poncho however if you are regularly out in all kinds of weather it is worth the investment due to the quality.

Outdoor Products Rain Poncho for Backpackers

Outdoor Products Rain Poncho for Backpackers
MATERIAL: Water-resistant, polyurethane-coated polyester taffeta
SIZE: 55 x 39in long front, 53in long back with pack pouch

Our Review of Outdoor Products Rain Poncho for Backpackers

The Outdoor Products Rain Poncho for Backpackers is equipped with rust-resistant snaps at your wrists and sides, making it fit well to keep you dry. With its full-cut adjustable hood that can be tightened with a drawcord, you’ll stay nice and dry all day long. Plus, this poncho is made from water-resistant polyurethane coating on polyester taffeta that won’t rip or fray, so not only will you keep dry during your trek but also over years of use! The fit is one size fits all with rust-resistant wrist and side snaps to keep the waterproof poncho snug.

The Rain Poncho Back panel snaps up out of the way for comfort when you’re not wearing a large backpack which is a really nice comfort feature. And you can extend this poncho’s usefulness by using it as an emergency shelter by attaching webbing cords found at each corner to two hiking poles. A polyester zippered carrying case is included for easy storage.

PROS: This is a very reasonably priced waterproof rain poncho that is made to accommodate your large backpack with the extra back length and back panel to also protect your sleeping bag. Although not a heavy-duty poncho, this one should hold up for several seasons of hiking without any problems.

CONS: The hood doesn’t have a bill, so water will run into your eyes if it is raining hard. Most people wear a hat with a bill in the rain so that would solve this gap in design.

Style Emergency Disposable Rain Ponchos for Hiking

We always carry a very light, very small and rather cheap rain poncho in our first aid kit. I would never use it for a planned hike in the rain as there are so many better options to keep dry and comfortable on the trail as we listed above. However, as you know hiking often brings about the unexpected and if you ever get caught in nasty rain without rain gear you’ll be so happy you have an ultralight waterproof poncho in your pack. At that point, who cares if it only survives one trip?

Red Ledge EVA Adult Poncho

Red Ledge EVA Adult Poncho
WEIGHT: 5.9 oz
MATERIAL: Ethylene-vinyl acetate (heavy plastic)
SIZE: 52 x 40 in long
PRICE:ess than $10 each

Our Review of Red Ledge EVA Adult Poncho

Sometimes finding a poncho at just the moment you need it is a true gift. Luckily, you’re covered if you keep one of the well made Red Ledge EVA Adult rain ponchos tucked into your backpack. With an attached hood to keep your face dry from the wetness above, this rain jacket can fit most adults comfortably. Whether you are looking for something to protect against the drizzle or a full-on downpour, the lightweight ponchos come in two colors: translucent and blue and include a handy storage bag. And at 52″ long by 80″ wide. At under 6 oz, it won’t add much weight to your pack.

PROS: So much better than a garbage bag, right? This hiking rain poncho is what it is: the perfect poncho for an emergency. It’s one you can keep tucked into both your backpack and your camping gear for those times you are surprised by the weather.

CONS: The material doesn’t breathe so well, but since these lightweight rain ponchos are loose and free-flowing construction offers some air movement it will be fairly comfortable. And it’s not going to fit over a really large pack.

CeroPro Disposable Rain Ponchos

CeroPro Disposable Rain Ponchos
WEIGHT: 2.1 oz
MATERIAL: eco-friendly non-toxic pure PE material
PACKED DIMENSTIONS: 5.6×3.8 in (about size of a cell phone)
SIZE: 35in wide x 44 in long
PRICE:less than $2 each (sold as 10 pack)

Our Review of CeroPro Disposable Rain Ponchos

If you want super cheap, dependable and ready for any emergency rain, this is it. This pack of 10 disposable CeroPro rain ponchos will keep you prepared from head to toe – literally! We like these over many of the similar ponchos because the elastic at the wrist and the drawstring around your face will definitely help keep water out. You can select an all adult assortment in clear, blue or pink or a mixed assortment with kid sizes. Yes, they are basically structured plastic bags so your call if you want to go that cheap. And yes, I do have a handful of disposable ponchos tucked into my glove box, in my gear bag and camping box because you know… you never can be too prepared.

PROS: The package of this waterproof poncho is about the size of your cell phone and only weighs 2 ounces. If space-saving is critical to you when you hike, what do you have to lose?

CONS: At 35 in wide, these waterproof ponchos will not fit larger folks or over a larger backpack. Obviously not your first choice for a lightweight rain poncho when backpacking but sometimes emergencies hit.

Benefits of a Rain Poncho Over Other Types of Jackets

While rain jackets are in many ways more fashionable and functional, a good quality lightweight rain poncho has several benefits over a jacket.

Rain Ponchos Cover your body and backpack better than most rain jackets do. The concept of a rain poncho is to cascade water over your body and gear. Rain likes to puddle and follow the line of least resistance, so if you can create a straight downward path then the rain will roll right off.

Because most lightweight rain ponchos are longer than a rain jacket your legs are more protected. Rain jackets stop at your hips or thighs, which can leave most of your legs exposed to the weather. Of course in a big rain, you will still want to pair rain pants with your poncho, however, in warm weather, the extra length gives you the option to just wear your water-resistant shorts and leave your legs exposed. Some ponchos are designed with extra space in the back to accommodate large-sized backpacks. With a poncho, you wouldn’t need a backpack rain cover unless you wanted that extra weather protection (yeah, that’s me!)

The Best Waterproof Poncho is Lightweight and compact which makes them ideal for backpacking trips. Rain jackets are often heavier and take up more space in your backpack than waterproof ponchos. This is even true of lightweight rain jackets because they’re still made with waterproof materials that aren’t as thin or light as a good quality poncho. A waterproof rain poncho is lighter than a rain jacket, about one-third as heavy on average. The weight difference may not seem like much, but when it’s hanging around in your pack every ounce matters

Cheaper than most rain jackets. While some rain jackets are relatively affordable, they’re still usually more expensive than a poncho which can be easily bought for under $40 and potentially as cheap as $10.

The loose fit of the best waterproof poncho allows for more air movement, so you feel more comfortable hiking in it on warmer days. You won’t get as hot and sweaty with a poncho as you would with a rain jacket. The material of the poncho also allows for greater airflow than most rain jackets which let water vapor escape from your body while preventing raindrops from entering.

Flexible Fit which means Rain Ponchos can be worn over layers of clothing if it’s very cold outside since they’re roomier than rain jackets. For example, on a chilly mountain trek, a woman might wear one over her fleece jacket. And then without the fleece as soon as it warms up again on the way back. That also means a rain poncho can fit over your light pack when you are only heading out for a few hours or fit a full load just as well if you are hitting the trail for a week. Also because they tend to be a unisex rain poncho with one size fits all, you can easily share with your family.

Rain Ponchos can often do double duty as tarps, either under your tent or as an emergency shelter. You are just as likely to need a shelter when hiking in hot weather as you are on a rainy day so these are a great investment. Not just in the case of emergencies, but if you are trying to keep your pack really light you can plan for this double use by selecting a poncho specifically designed for multi-usages.

There are a few disadvantages to a rain poncho over a raincoat

👎 Rain ponchos aren’t as protective against wind and colder temperatures compared to most rain jackets. Rain jackets are usually made with fabrics meant to block the wind while keeping you dry. The form fit of a rain jacket also means it won’t whip around in windy conditions like a poncho might. If you plan to replace your rain jacket with a poncho, make sure it has snaps and drawstrings so you can pull it tight to reduce the wind effect.

👎 The fabric of a waterproof poncho is more likely to tear under tough conditions than a raincoat. To keep a poncho lightweight for hiking poncho is usually made of lighter material to keep compact, due to more fabric, it needs to be lighter.

👎 There’s a lot of fabric in a poncho which some people find uncomfortable, preferring the trim fit of a rain jacket. However, most people love the weather protection of a poncho.

👎 You’ll have less freedom of arm movement with a poncho than with a rain jacket. For most hiking where you are only moving forward with hiking poles, a poncho is perfect. But if you are cutting brush or bouldering you might find the arms restrictive.

Guide to Selecting the Best Rain Poncho for Hiking

Hiking in the rain can be fun or it can be a nightmare depending upon how prepared you are for the adventure. Here’s our detailed guide to what you need to consider when selecting the best rain ponchos for hiking and backpacking. For more tips check out our Tips for Hiking in the Rain.

Price Range for Hiking Rain Ponchos

The good news is that waterproof ponchos are fairly inexpensive. A mid-range waterproof poncho can be had for around $20-25. The price can often go up as you get more features, but the constant is that light materials and quality construction are important to make sure it lasts longer than a few trips.

What is Your Frequency of Use When Choosing a Rain Poncho For Hiking?

How often you plan to use your rain poncho goes hand in hand with your budget decision. A good quality cheap poncho will be more than sufficient if you are only carrying it for an emergency and don’t plan to hike in the rain often. I always keep an inexpensive disposable poncho in our first aid kit for just such a day when rain is totally unexpected. That said, I’m not a big fan of disposable ponchos for regular use due to the environmental impact.

However, if you hike a lot then you are going to get caught in heavy rain more than once and it makes sense to invest in the best rain poncho for hiking. Make sure to get one that is built with lightweight materials and made from good quality fabric as they will hold up better in the long run. And if you hike often and want to be ready for anything then it’s time to invest in the best backpacking ponchos for weather protection that will never let you down.

Important Backpacking Poncho Features to Know

Before you select your poncho for hiking, there are a few things you should know about the features available and how they will perform for you.

Fabrics Used in Rain Ponchos

Most rain ponchos are made of polyester or nylon that has been coated with silicone or polyurethane (PU coating). Polyester and nylon both breath fairly well, are very lightweight and are durable fabrics so they are perfect for hiking clothes. Then the coating on top provides a seal to hold out heavy rain.

To make these fabrics even stronger, look for a ripstop fabric. That means a thread has been woven across the weave to strengthen the material. You’ll notice it in a diamond shaped pattern when you look closely.

The other material used for a waterproof poncho is polypropylene, which is basically another name for plastic. This is common in disposable ponchos, but you will also find polypropylene used in some sturdier ponchos. In this case, the strength is all in how the plastic was created.

Seams are the Weak Point

Watch for seams that are sealed or taped to ensure they won’t leak. Anywhere there is a stitching hole from sewing parts together is a place where water can leak. The ideal poncho would have zero seams. But that isn’t very realistic. You need seams to attach the hood at a minimum. And then for the semi-fitted ponchos you’ll have seams to create the shape. If you have a backpack pouch there’s another place for seams.

Sizing of Rain Ponchos

Rain ponchos are often one size fits all which we know usually means it fits folks who are in the average range. For the rest of us, there are a few ponchos that will give you different sizes which are usually grouped into small, medium or large. In this case, figure the medium is the average and estimate your size from there.

Adjustability for Better Fit

In general rain ponchos are intended to be a loose fit to allow for ventilation. However, if your poncho has drawstrings, cord locks and snaps you’ll find it a lot easier to stay dry if it is windy.

Hood design is important

Your hood performs 2 functions. The obvious one is to keep the top of your head and your hair dry which most ponchos handle easily with a drawstring to adjust tightly around your face.

But when you are outside for a while, you will want it to also keep the rain out of your eyes. For eye protection some hikers like a hood with a built-in bill. Others like to add their own cap under the hood. Well, some like both. If you are undecided go for a poncho that has a built-in bill.

Access to Gear and Pockets

It’s important to have easy access to those critical gear items, like our water bottle, map and camera. A handful of rain ponchos incorporate a pouch pocket so you can keep a few pieces of gear handy. However, since the shape of a poncho is open, you will probably leave your gear in your clothes pockets and backpack belt and let the poncho keep those areas dry for you.

What Length Should Your Poncho Be?

Most hikers find a poncho that falls to the knees to be the most comfortable for hiking. At that length, it covers your gear and your body well while not impeding your stride. However, for hot summer hiking, you might want a shorter poncho like the Frogg Togg [add link] to increase the air movement.

Weight and Packability of Ponchos for Rain Protection

As you know, every ounce counts in your backpack. The heavier that pack the harder your hike. So lightweight rain ponchos that can pack in a small space are critical for hiking. Here we’ve focused on ponchos under 12 ounces. The one exception we made was for the Mil-Tech Rain Poncho [add link] because this poncho is designed for serious rain hiking where that poncho is going to be on your back, not in your pack!

Other Uses for a Rain Poncho

Many rain ponchos are designed to be used as an emergency rain or shelter tarp or as a ground cloth under your tent at night to keep it from getting wet and muddy, etc. Look for features like grommets or heavy-duty fabrics if you want the option to use the poncho in other ways regularly. However, in an emergency, any poncho can be combined with a couple of hiking poles and some duct tape and turned into a quick emergency shelter!

Caring for your Rain Poncho

If you invest a few dollars in your rain poncho, you’d like it to last. That means when you get home after a rainy backpacking trip you need to take a few minutes to care for your poncho so it’s ready for your next adventure.

Cleaning and Storing Your Rain Poncho after Backpacking

To keep it as free from oils and dirt as possible, always try to store your poncho by itself in the storage bag that comes with it. That bag usually is breathable which makes it better than a plastic bag that would hold in dampness and oils causing the fabric to deteriorate over time.

A quick wipe down with a damp cloth before putting it away is all that it usually takes to clean up your hiking poncho. Some ponchos can be machine washed if really muddy but make sure you check the instructions first to not remove any waterproofing finish. Then let it air dry before you pack away.

Repairing Torn or Leaking Rain Ponchos

If your rain poncho is leaking, one of the first things to do is check for any rips in the seams. If there are any, you can usually repair them with a multipurpose seam sealer like Gear Aid’s Seam Sure Sealer, it comes in a tube and brushes right on the seams. This can also be used on all the other seams in the poncho to prevent leaks.

A waterproof poncho for hiking is usually made of lighter material than jackets which means if the terrain gets rough your poncho might snag on a branch and rip. In a pinch, a piece of duct tape on the inside of the poncho will work. For a more professional finish try Gear Aid’s Tenacious Tape Repair Tape which comes in 4 colors.


How do you keep warm wearing a rain poncho?

A lightweight rain poncho is great for hiking in a mild climate or during the spring and fall. If you’re looking to hike in cold, windy conditions then you will need to layer under the poncho with a fleece jacket.

Are ponchos good for hiking?

Rain ponchos are great for hiking, they will protect you and your gear with their generous covering. However, rain ponchos are not the best if you are bouldering or climbing as the poncho usually extends to your knees and gets in the way as you move over obstacles.

Do I need a backpack cover with a rain poncho?

The simple answer is no you don’t need a backpack cover if you are using a rain poncho. The poncho serves as a cover for your body and your pack. However, if you want the flexibility of hiking in a warm light rain without your poncho, then you will want to still cover your backpack and keep your gear dry and then definitely you’ll want that backpack cover. Here’s our guide to the best backpack rain covers

How do you pick a poncho?

Determine your need – Are you looking for a basic poncho to protect from precipitation?  Do you want something breathable that will serve multiple purposes as an emergency tarp, ground cloth and/or sleep system?

Look at the features. Some of the obvious ones are sizing, ventilation and hood type. Look for other features like snaps and pockets for carrying gear or how the poncho folds up into a small package.

My rain poncho leaks, what can I do?

Check if your hood is snapped in place and not covering the face hole. Check to see if there are any rips by looking at seams where they attach to the hood and around the face hole. If you find any rips apply seam sealer. You can also apply a spray water repellant to the whole poncho to reseal the fabric.

Hiking Rain Ponchos for Kids

Kids need kid-sized ponchos, they’d swim in an adult version. So we also pulled together a selection that will work well for weather protection when hiking. You can check them out here:

See Kids Rain Ponchos on Amazon.

Make sure you choose one that will have enough room in it for your child – don’t forget about their backpack!

And I’ll caution against the super cheap disposable ponchos if you plan to do much hiking with your kids. Kids are hard on gear to start with, they need a hiking rain poncho that will withstand the trail. Otherwise, you’ll have a very wet and very grouching child on your hands. Not where I want to be…

Backpacking Rain Ponchos for Dogs

There are two types of dogs, those that hate getting wet and those that live for the rainy adventure. Either way, if you hike with your fur baby, you should keep a rain poncho in their pack. Here are a few rain ponchos for dogs that you should check out.

For dogs that really don’t like rain you are unlikely to force a rainy hike on them. But sure as tootin’ you head out on a sunny day and a rain cloud sneaks in. Rather than fighting with your dog to keep going a rain poncho could save the day.

Now for those puppies who love the rain, you still have to be concerned about temperature drops. Once your dog’s fur gets soaked through in cold weather hypothermia is a real threat. Using a rain poncho from the beginning helps your dog stay drier so their fur can help keep them warm.

Hiking can be a wonderful experience, but only if you have the right gear. Rain ponchos provide great coverage of your body and backpack to keep everything dry. And not to mention that they’re lighter than a rain jacket taking up less space in your backpack for carrying. With different types of rain ponchos for hiking on the market, it’s important to look at all your options before settling on one. We’ve included the best rain ponchos for hiking and backpacking here to help you find exactly the one that will make your adventures amazing! Happy hiking.

Guide to the best ponchos for hiking in the rain that you need to complete your hiking gear. Don't get caught backpacking in the rain without this hiking essential! #WalkingTheParks