Best Survival Ponchos: Important Necessity or Frivolous Luxury?

best survival ponchos

You’re out all alone in the wilderness on a bright and sunny day. All of a sudden…Boom! 

The thunder cracks without notice and a rainstorm hits. Now, you have two options here. Look for shelter or continue to push forward in the rain.

Quite simply, finding the right shelter in the wilderness isn’t easy. Moreover, in a survival scenario, time can be of the essence. No matter what, a tactical poncho is one item that can make things easy for you.

How so?

Firstly, a poncho will keep you and your backpack dry. Secondly, it can also act as an emergency shelter. Moreover, since it has multiple uses, a poncho can help in reducing your pack weight.

In short, they are a must-have in your bug out bag.

Here, we will share our reviews of the best survival ponchos out there. Along with that, we will also add a buying guide to help you make the best choice.

Our Choices for the Best Survival Ponchos

Overall Score 95%
Waterproofing 100%
Durability 90%
Price 90%
Design 80%



What We Like

When it comes to quality, this tactical poncho checks all the right boxes. It’s marked as a heavy-duty poncho. So you can rely on it to deliver top-notch performance in rough weather.

The material is ripstop polyester with an additional PVC coating for waterproofing. With the specially reinforced fabric, you can be assured of durability. 

Users noted the material is thick and feels robust. Clearly, this rain poncho can easily handle rough use without breaking a sweat.

Note, the water resistance of the material is marked as 5000mm. In addition, all the seams are sealed. That makes it perfect for use in heavy rains.

Coming to the dimensions, it’s 83 inches long, and 59 inches wide when opened. Big enough to provide sufficient coverage for larger backpacks.

As expected from a survival poncho, it’s multifunctional. There are eyelets on the hem along with corner ties. That allows you to tie a paracord and use it as a shelter or a groundsheet. If needed, you can also join two ponchos together. The metal eyelets feel hardy enough to last for years.

One more thing…

There are press-stud poppers on the sides. That means you can also use it as a makeshift sleeping bag. 

What Needs Improvement

First off, this isn’t an ultralight poncho. It weighs around 1.7 lbs. The thick material makes it one of the heavier choices on our list. The packed size is also not the smallest in the category.

The length of the poncho is sufficient for most people. However, those much above six feet found it a bit on the shorter side.

Lastly, some users mentioned the drawstrings soak up water. Replacing them with synthetic strings will be a good solution.

Bottom Line

Overall, we were impressed by the superb workmanship and solid performance of this poncho. At this price, we feel that it offers superb value to preppers. We gave this product a thumbs up from our end.

Overall Score 90%
Waterproofing 95%
Durability 90%
Price 80%
Design 90%



What We Like

Without a doubt, military-grade ponchos are one of the best choices in terms of durability. The USGI poncho looks plain but is designed as per the field gear technology used in the US military.

This army poncho is made with 210T rip-stop polyester material. The high-density material is rugged and also reduces rubbing noise. That makes it a great choice for stealth. It’s also available in a range of low and high-visibility colors.

With a rating of 3000mm of water resistance, the poncho can easily beat foul weather. The overall dimensions are 59 inches wide by 86 inches long. So the coverage is good enough for tall users with a backpack.

What we liked is the attention to detail. USGI has used top-quality copper grommets and double-sided snap fasteners in this poncho. There are drawstrings for adjusting the hood and the waist.

What’s more, this is one of the most versatile ponchos in this category. You can use it as a bivy, a groundsheet, a carry pack, a rain catch, and much more. At 18 oz it isn’t too heavy either.

Packed with the poncho are a carry bag and a booklet. The booklet provides you with all the details about using this poncho in the wilderness.

What Needs Improvement

Honestly, there isn’t much to dislike about this tactical poncho. One thing is, while the overall ventilation is good, the material isn’t breathable.

Next, the ripstop material is on the thinner side and not as thick as the original military ponchos. So using it as a shelter on rough surfaces might result in tears. Also, the material isn’t breathable.

Other than that, some users found the hood a bit too large.

Bottom Line

All in all, we feel USGI has done a great job in terms of price to performance ratio. The durability, excellent waterproofing, and versatility make it one of the best multi-use ponchos for preppers.

Overall Score 90%
Waterproofing 95%
Durability 85%
Price 90%
Design 80%



What We Like

If you’re looking for an ultralight poncho, this product from Arcturus is worth a closer look. The best part is, even with a lightweight design, it doesn’t compromise durability.

How so?

It is made from 210T Ripstop Taffeta material that offers excellent wear resistance. On top of that, there are dual layers of waterproof PU coating. Users found it offering excellent protection in heavy downpours.

The poncho is 54 inches wide and 48 inches long. The overall coverage is good but not the best in this class. 

Also, the hood is extra roomy. That provides extra protection for larger individuals. The drawstring neck also makes it easy to open or close.

In terms of functionality, it’s a multi-purpose survival poncho. There are grommets on all four corners to tie it down with some branches and use as a shelter. 

Without a doubt, the best part is the weight. At just 11 oz, this is the lightest ripstop poncho that we reviewed. Carrying it in your backpack is a breeze.

Arcturus has also used top-quality hardware in this poncho. That makes it a good choice for storing in a survival bag.

What Needs Improvement

While the length of the poncho is sufficient for average users, the width isn’t the largest. So those with a large backpack will find the fit on the tighter side. Also, taller users will find the length on the shorter side.

Next, the ripstop material does not offer good breathability. So you can expect some condensation on the inner surface after hours of use.

Lastly, since it’s ultralight the performance isn’t the best in windy conditions.

Bottom Line

This is a super-lightweight poncho that’s great for preppers as well as backpackers and bikers. When you want to pack light and stay agile in the outdoors, this one is a dependable choice.

Overall Score 90%
Waterproofing 95%
Durability 95%
Price 85%
Design 75%



What We Like

When it comes to material specification, this poncho from Act Fire stays miles ahead of the competitors.

Check this out:

The military-grade material offers 20000 mm of waterproofing. Moreover, it’s also abrasion-resistant. That gives you excellent durability as well as superb waterproofing. 

Note, the material is breathable. So you won’t feel hot and stuffy in it.

You might think that the material quality makes this a heavy product.

Astonishing, it isn’t! This poncho weighs just 14 oz. 

On top of that, the dimensions are 60 inches x 90 inches. Quite simply, it’s one of the biggest ponchos in this category. Even if you are carrying a large rucksack, it offers solid coverage.

The large size makes it great for use as a shelter or tarp. There are steel grommets that can be used for fixing the poncho as needed.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the poncho comes with a five-year warranty. We have to say, it’s a great investment for your bug out bag.

What Needs Improvement

Like everything else, this poncho isn’t without a few downsides. While the material is top-notch, a few users complained of the foul smell. The smell takes some time to go away. Also, the fabric is noisy.

Next, the steel grommets aren’t reinforced. So with heavy use, they can come off.

Bottom Line

When it comes to beating foul weather, this poncho is one of the best. At this price, it offers excellent value from all aspects. Quite simply, a no-brainer.

Overall Score 90%
Waterproofing 95%
Durability 85%
Price 80%
Design 85%



What We Like

The fact is, Helikon-Tex has built a reputation for quality in the tactical clothing market. This poncho is no exception.

The material is ripstop polyester that feels durable. Helikon-Tex doesn’t mention the waterproof rating of the material. But users found it very effective in heavy rains. Moreover, it also dries fast.

Also, reviewers used it in a variety of tough conditions without the material failing or the seams coming apart.

With a size of 83 inches x 57 inches, the poncho is large enough for protecting a large backpack. Even users above six feet were satisfied with the coverage.

There are press studs at the sides for adjustments. Other than that, the loose cut and the side openings offer good ventilation in warm conditions. 

Beyond that, there are high-quality metal eyelets. That allows you to use the poncho as an emergency shelter system. In fact, you can connect two ponchos together as a shelter.

We also loved the design of the hood. It fits snugly and there’s a cord adjuster for tension adjustment.

Does it offer the right value?

Absolutely. We feel it strikes the right balance between price and performance. 

What Needs Improvement

At 1.1 pounds this poncho isn’t ultralight. However, when you want to use the poncho as an emergency shelter, the extra material thickness matters. On top of that, the packed size isn’t as compact as some of the competitors.

Let’s not forget, the polyester material isn’t stretchable as nylon. Helikon-Tex has sacrificed a fraction of the durability to improve the overall water resistance.

Bottom Line

Frankly, if you want to invest in a poncho that will deliver years of dependable service, you can’t go wrong with this one

Overall Score 90%
Waterproofing 95%
Durability 90%
Price 70%
Design 80%



What We Like

When it comes to withstanding wear and tear, not all ponchos hit the mark. But this survival poncho from Viper shines with its excellent durability.

To start with, the material used by Viper is top-notch. It’s 100% ripstop nylon that feels rugged and offers solid waterproofing.

Users have spent hours in heavy rain while wearing this poncho and stayed bone dry. The seams are taped to prevent any leakage from the edges. For additional protection, there are press stud buttons on the side.

Besides, the nylon material is supremely durable. You can use this poncho while scrambling over rocky or muddy terrain without worrying about rips and tears.

If you’re looking for a poncho that can take a beating without batting an eyelid, this is a great pick.

With a weight of around 16 oz, it isn’t the lightest in this category. But considering the performance and durability, we aren’t complaining. The packed size is also compact.

The size is good enough to cover tall individuals. There are metal eyelets at the edges for additional use.

What Needs Improvement

Firstly, the Viper tactical poncho comes with a high price tag. If you’re on a tight budget check out the other options. 

The material isn’t marked as breathable either. So using it in hot and humid conditions can be uncomfortable.

Coming to the size, the length can be on the shorter side for users above six feet.

We also felt that it lacks a pocket. That would have been a practical addition to go alongside bushcraft pants

Bottom Line

This is a top-notch poncho In terms of durability and waterproofing. While it’s not cheap, you can expect years of service and solid reliability.  

Four Additional Survival Ponchos

What We Like

Striking the right balance between comfort and waterproofing isn’t easy. But this patrol poncho from Snugpak gets it mostly right.

And it does that by using the special Paratex dry fabric. The material comes with a  ripstop construction and a hydrophilic PU coating. The material also has a soft feel that makes it comfortable against the skin.

The hydrostatic head is 2000 mm and the seams are sealed.

So you can depend on this poncho to keep you dry in heavy rains.

But that’s not all…

The fabric also offers great breathability. It can transfer 7.5 liters of moisture per square meter in 24 hours from the inside surface to the outside. That means this poncho will allow the sweat to evaporate when you are working in the rain. Perfect for wet and humid weather.

Note, the material is also windproof. That’s a bonus when you are out in stormy conditions. Also, that makes it more comfortable if you use this poncho as an emergency bivy.

Moreover, the product weighs just 13 oz. With the compact packed size, carrying it in your survival pack isn’t an issue.

The poncho comes in one size. But it’s generous enough to cover a medium-sized backpack and your legs.

Snugpak has also added a few details that improve the overall functionality. These include a  large chest map pocket and thumb loops.

On the whole, a heavy-duty poncho that’s good for woodlands as well as the mountains.

What Needs Improvement

One thing we noted is that this poncho lacks loops or grommets at the corners. So using it as a tarp or shelter isn’t possible. That reduces the overall versatility.

Some users also pointed out that it has a tendency to balloon up in strong winds. Using a belt around the waist fixed that problem.

Also, this isn’t a poncho that’s for preppers on a tight budget.

Bottom Line

This is another ultralight poncho that’s well made from every aspect. It’s not the most versatile survival poncho. But if you invest in it, rest assured it will serve you for years.

What We Like

Looking for the perfect balance of price and performance? The Ultra-Lite2 poncho is definitely a product you’ll love using.

Surely, ultralight packers will love this poncho. Frogg Toggs use a special material called DriPore Gen 2 which is made from polypropylene. The inner layer is a nonwoven fabric that permits airflow and makes the material breathable.

So you can use it in humid weather without getting drenched in sweat.

Most users reported that the poncho kept them dry in moderate rainstorms. In addition, the material is also windproof. Bonus feature- the material is recyclable.

Beyond that, the material has a smooth and soft feel that adds to the overall comfort levels. Overall, it is one of the most comfortable options in this category.

Most importantly, it weighs just 9 oz. With the given stuff sack carrying it around is a breeze.

The poncho comes in one size and the fit is big enough to cover a large backpack. The hood comes with cord locks and there are extra snap buttons on the side for protection.

Note, Frogg Toggs also provides a one-year warranty on the poncho. Considering the price, we feel it offers the right bang for your buck.

What Needs Improvement

Let’s be honest. The super-light material offers excellent portability but isn’t the best in terms of durability. So this isn’t a heavy-duty waterproof poncho. We would recommend it only for survivalists for whom each extra ounce matters.

Beyond that, it can’t be used as a tarp or an emergency shelter. If you’re looking for a versatile poncho, look elsewhere.

Lastly, some users found it too wide. We wish Frog Toggs had added a drawstring at the waist.

Bottom Line

To sum up, this is a simple and effective poncho that comes with an affordable price tag. While it lacks the bells and whistles of the more advanced products, it performs as well as them when it comes to offering rain protection.

What We Like

The best part about this poncho from Terra Hiker is the great balance between price and performance. Moreover, it can be used as a multifunctional gear for survival-based activities.

Teer Hiker uses 210T high-density ripstop polyester with a waterproof rating of 3000 mm. The point is, this poncho will keep you dry in medium to heavy rain.

The material isn’t the thickest we have seen but it’s tough enough to resist abrasions.

Besides, the size is large enough to cover large backpacks of up to 60 liters. Interestingly. Terra hiker mentions a recommended user height for best use. It’s between 4.92 to 6.23 feet.

What about the weight?

It weighs only 10 oz and it packs small. So carrying it in your emergency backpack is easy.

There are metal grommets that allow you to use this as a sunshade or a tarp. However, the light material isn’t easy to set up in windy conditions. What’s more, the grommets are reinforced for durability. 

At this price, the Terra Hiker poncho is a steal.

What Needs Improvement

Firstly, the poncho is too long for users around 5 feet. Quite simply, dragging it around your feet isn’t ideal when negotiating technical terrains. Some users also found the hood to be too large. That obstructed side vision in some situations. 

Other than that, the material isn’t breathable. So it’s not the best choice for humid conditions.

Lastly, some users found the carry bag to be too small 

Bottom Line

This is an excellent piece of rain gear at an affordable price. The low weight and reliable waterproofing make it a good choice for a BOB or INCH bag.

What We Like

Looking for a survival poncho with the right level of style and multipurpose functionality? The Poncho Villa from Hazard 4 is the right choice.

This poncho is made from a softshell fabric that’s 86% polyester and 14% spandex. It has a polyester liner and the seams are taped for full waterproofing. The material is also breathable and that adds to the overall comfort levels.

At 79.5 inches x 53.5 inches, the size is generous enough to cover your backpack. In addition, there are side snaps for a better fit in windy conditions.

We loved the design of the large hood that can be used over a cap. The throat of the hood comes with a zipper and covers the neck. There’s also an additional storm flap.

And the best part is, it comes with an extra-large pocket with a secure flap that also acts as a carry bag. Once packed, you can easily use it as a field pillow.

One thing that stands out is attention to detail. The front pocket comes with a D-ring and a zipper. The large grommets on the four corners are useful for using this as a shelter.

Overall, a well-made poncho that adds a modern touch to the classic design.

What Needs Improvement

Let’s not forget, this is an expensive poncho. If you are on a budget, look elsewhere. Also, at 2.3 pounds, it isn’t lightweight. 

Next, the poncho is designed for light rain and snow. Being water-repellent, it’s not for use in heavy rain for long hours. Needless to say, the softshell material takes more time to dry.

Bottom Line

With its innovative design and versatility, this is a good choice for preppers in less wet and colder climates. If the high price isn’t a concern, go for it.

How to Choose the Best Survival Poncho

Here are the main aspects you need to keep in mind before buying.


Never choose cheap, flimsy materials when it comes to a survival poncho. You need a durable material that can beat the elements and can be stored for long periods. Ripstop is the best material for durability. The reason is, the special weave of the fabric prevents the rips from spreading once they appear.

Take a look at some of the materials you can pick.

Nylon- Ripstop nylon is durable, stretchable, and abrasion-resistant. Nylon is mold and mildew resistant and it’s usually coated with waterproof materials. However, PU-coated nylon isn’t the most breathable material.

Polyester- It is more abrasion and UV resistant than nylon. Polyester is also hydrophobic but it is coated with other materials too.

Polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE)- These are affordable, nonwoven fabrics that are versatile and waterproof. However, they aren’t breathable.

Breathable PU fabric- These are great for activewear as they are lightweight and breathable. At the same time, materials like Paratex Dry offers good waterproofing.

Size and Weight

Remember: a survival poncho isn’t something you will use regularly. So like every other vital survival gear, you need to balance the size and weight.

Ultralight ponchos are a great option as long as they don’t compromise durability. Note, the weight depends not on the material and thickness alone. The quality of the metal grommets, eyelets, and zippers also play a role.

While picking a poncho with a one-size-fits-all design. So you don’t need to pick an exact size like a rain jacket. But make sure you try it on with the backpack you plan to use. Ideally, it should have maximum coverage for the lower body as well. 

A too big or a too-short poncho will affect your mobility in the wilderness. It may flap around or get caught in branches or bushes.

Don’t forget- struggling with an uncomfortable fit can be distracting. And in a survival scenario that can make the difference between life and death.

That being said, a larger poncho will also be more multifunctional. If you’re planning to use the poncho as a survival shelter or ground cover, pick a large size.

Water Resistance

The quality of the material will also determine the waterproofing levels of the poncho. Check out the waterproof rating of the material and other features like taped seams. Here the seams are specially bonded, at times from both sides. 

When you are heading for a wet zone, make sure that the material is waterproof and not water-resistant. However, the design and coverage of the poncho can play a big role in waterproofing. At times, a material with a low waterproof rating can surprise you with its performance.

Additional Features

The right features elevate the user experience and improve the overall quality of a poncho. Some common features needed in a survival poncho are adjustable hoods, metal eyelets, and snap fastenings. 

We also prefer using ponchos with pockets. That makes it easy to keep small items within easy reach. Other than that, a storage bag or stuff sack of the right size is important for storing the poncho when not in use.

Breathability and Ventilation

A poncho that allows airflow and permits the sweat to escape is a better choice when you plan to do intense outdoor activities. In general, the basic loose-fitting design of the ponchos allows more ventilation than raincoats or rain jackets. Even so, heat and moisture can get trapped inside.

Breathability is an inherent property of the fabric. This indicates the amount of water vapor that can pass out through the fabric itself. For example, the Paratex fabric in the Snugpak Patrol poncho allows 7.5 liters of vapor to escape per square meter in 24 hours.


The color of the poncho is another factor that you need to consider. Light or camouflage colors are a good choice when you need to blend in with the environment. They will also help you to stay out of sight from potential threats.

On the other hand, bright or neon-colored ponchos are great in an emergency survival situation when you need to be rescued. Some of these colors can be seen from long distances and even in the dark.

Final Thoughts

While a poncho may not seem like the first thing you’d run to as a prepper, it’s something to think about. 

With the market flooded with a wide range of survival ponchos, picking the right poncho for a survival bag isn’t so easy. Even on something as small as a poncho – a poor product choice could reduce your chances of survival in an SHTF scenario. In the end, you need to make an informed decision.

The Mil-Tec Ripstop poncho emerged as our best overall choice with its excellent design and solid waterproofing.

The USGI Industries Poncho is the best military poncho in terms of waterproofing and versatility.

A poncho isn’t the coolest item in your INCH bag but it’s a crucial one. With the right balance between protection, versatility, and weight, it’s just what you need to survive in the wild.