Poncho VS Rain Jacket: Hiker’s Guide


Even the best possible hiking preparation may end up being met and greeted by the rain, especially if you plan to go hiking during spring or autumn. Some find it far from pleasant, others just love the smell of the rain as they hike, but the rain doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker when it comes to your hiking trip. All you need is waterproof hiking gear, and one of the crucial parts of that gear is the outside layer.

There are two options you can go with – a rain poncho and a rain jacket. In this article, we’ll go through all the arguments in the poncho vs rain jacket debate and give you all the answers you need before you decide which one is the poncho vs raincoat match-up winner.

Why You Should Do Your Best To Stay Dry?

Although it can’t be completely avoided, staying dry is one of the key elements of hiking comfort. While it may not be such a big problem on shorter hikes, during longer trips this can become one of the biggest problems on your trip. If you manage to stay dry, you’ll:

  • Avoid getting sick. Getting soaked can lead to catching a cold or even hypothermia if the temperature is low. This most often happens during late autumn, winter, or early spring.
  • Keep the comfort level high. While it may not lead to a health problem, wet clothes are surely one of the most annoying things that can happen during hiking.

Rain Coat vs Poncho

In the poncho vs raincoat matchup both will help you stay dry, but not in every situation. They offer different functionalities, so most of the time the answer is directly connected to your preferences. But sometimes one of these will serve you better than the other, and it is good to know all the arguments to make up your mind which one you’ll take on your trip. So, poncho vs rain jacket – let us begin:


If you decide to give poncho a try, here are some of the most important features you should be looking for:

  • It should have pit ventilation
  • Drawstrings on the hood are one of the most important aspects as you’ll have an option to adjust them when needed
  • Go with durable but lightweight materials
  • Make sure it is waterproof
  • It should be big enough to let you breathe, but not too big to limit your movement at the same time
  • It should be long enough to go to your knees, but at the same time, it should allow you to move your lower part of the body easily without any resistance.

Poncho Pros

  • Poncho is affordable to most hikers
  • It offers a lot of ventilation
  • You can place it over your backpack to protect it from the rain
  • It reaches the lower part of your body
  • It can be used for multiple other purposes, like a shelter, a pillow, a mat, a tarp…
  • It comes in many different styles, designs…
  • Easy to pack and unpack
  • Extremely breathable

Poncho Cons

  • It’s easy to catch on trees or branches
  • It may not be the best option for fashion-vise
  • It may leak
  • Can be blown away by strong wind
  • It doesn’t provide the perfect coverage

When To Use Poncho

You should go with the poncho if:

  • The rain will most likely be light
  • You’ll be hiking on an open field, without many obstacles along the way. If you plan to go hiking in an area filled with woods, you should most definitely skip the poncho.
  • You’ll be resting on the ground a lot, without a tent.
  • You want to protect your backpack.

The Rain Jacket


It is time to go through all the pros and cons of the rain jacket in our rain jacket vs poncho debate. If you look for a rain jacket that will serve you the best, here are some features you should try to find:

  • It should be waterproof but lightweight
  • Easy to pack and compact
  • It should fit your body well without creating a problem with the clothes underneath
  • You can adjust the hood, neck, sleeves, basically all other openings
  • Additional waterproof features like pockets or storm flaps

Rain Jacket Pros

  • It provides total upper body protection
  • Some materials are waterproof, so you’ll stay dry even as it rains
  • More fashionable than a poncho and offers more options.
  • Helps your body stay warm even when it’s windy or cold
  • Easier to maneuver on more challenging hiking trails
  • A great option for heavy rains or windy weather

Rain Jacket Cons

  • It doesn’t protect the lower part of the body
  • Not suitable for sitting on a wet ground
  • It’s larger and heavier than the poncho
  • Not as breathable as the poncho during warm weather or light rains
  • Higher prices than the poncho.

When To Use The Rain Jacket

The rain jacket is the best option when:

  • There is a chance that you’ll face heavy rains or it will be windy
  • You’ll be going somewhere other than hiking. It is a great multi-purpose jacket.
  • You plan to go hiking somewhere where you’ll go through lots of trees, bushes or similar areas.
Globo Surf Overview

So, time to conclude – poncho vs rain jacket, which one is a better choice? Both a poncho and the rain jacket will serve their purpose – they will keep you dry on a rainy day, but both of these offer different functions and can be used for additional purposes other than simply covering your body. In a poncho vs raincoat debate, which one is the best? The answer lays not only in your preferences but also in a type of activity. If you go hiking through a wooded area on a day with heavy rain forecasted, then the obvious choice is a rain jacket. However, if you’ll be going on a trip during a warm day with a possibility of light rain, then going with a poncho is what you should do.

More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:


  1. Poncho vs. Rain Jacket – What to bring when you want to travel light,  expertworldtravel.com
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!