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Re: Replace rain jacket and pack rain fly with poncho?

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Replace rain jacket and pack rain fly with poncho?
August 04, 2016 12:42PM
This seems so obvious I can't believe that I haven't thought of it before.

Does anyone carry a large poncho for use in rain to keep both human and pack dry? This is a tradeoff/compromise, but I'm thinking it may be reasonable. My experience is that one can encounter any type of weather in the Sierra high country any time of year. Hail in August, etc. I carry gear for most reasonable possibilities, including a rain fly for my pack and a Marmot ultralight rain jacket. The jacket does breath better than a poly poncho. The rain fly protects the pack well but there's always the part against my back which can get wet in a real soaker. For the "standard" 1-2 hour deluge followed by clear sky, I'm wondering if just a cheap poncho over me and my pack is a reasonable alternative. For a day(s)-long hike in constant rain (unusual but last season I did have five consecutive days in Emigrant where I got rained upon pretty thoroughly) I'd take my breathable Marmot jacket over the poncho for sure.

Is this setup part of anyones regular gear?
Re: Replace rain jacket and pack rain fly with poncho?
August 04, 2016 03:21PM
I used to use a poncho but then on one trip the wind was how long at 20 to 25 mph....if it wasn't windy I'd use a poncho . Only other complaint is the breathability. Gets slightly damp since there are no pitzips!
Re: Replace rain jacket and pack rain fly with poncho?
August 04, 2016 04:31PM
I'd also add that a poncho may not be ideal for cross-country/bushwhacking-type hikes and, well, you know the gang I hike with and their love of "delicious shrubbery".

If you really want to consolidate, you might consider something like the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape--poncho/pack cover and shelter all in one. JRInGeorgia had one when he was JRInYosemite.
Re: Replace rain jacket and pack rain fly with poncho?
August 04, 2016 05:11PM
Good point. I realized breathability was a concession with a poncho, but durability as well. I prefer xc over trails, and (as my SO will attest) I seem to have an affinity for the "if we just bushwhack through that small patch we'll save a lot of time/elevation/distance" routes. Which she calls the "I won't be able to wear a dress for weeks because of the marks" route.

An advantage of the poncho (if it doesn't rip) is that even in a frog-drowning rain the pack will stay dry. With a fly, eventually the back (front?) will get soaked. Of course that could be handled with a large Hefty bag holding everything inside the pack - which wouldn't be subject to ripping when bushwhacking , and is cheap and light.
avatar Re: Replace rain jacket and pack rain fly with poncho?
August 05, 2016 05:20AM
Yes I have the Gatewood Cape, which is my tarp/shelter, raingear, and pack cover all in one. Being a multi-purpose item it isn't as good at any one of the functions as separate purpose-built pieces of gear would be, but it serves well enough and drops a significant amount of weight. It is a cape rather than poncho, the main difference being that a poncho has open sides for your arms to come out while a cape wraps all the way around you and has arm holes. As such the Gatewood is a little less billowy than a poncho so not quite as bad for bushwacking, and I can tie some guy line around my waist to tame it, but still it won't be the sleekest approach for crashing through the brush.

You also are best to supplement the Gatewood since it serves as both shelter and raingear and there will be times you need both at once (setting up camp in the rain, middle-of-the-night bio-break during rain). For that I have my umbrella, my water-resistant wind shirt, and I also carry a super-cheap disposable poncho (about 0.4 oz) in case it's really pouring. Still, net net this setup saves a ton of weight.

If you're concerned about keeping your pack dry another approach would be a cuben fiber pack with roll-top, essentially a large dry bag, then you don't need a pack cover and the pack will be lighter to boot.
Re: Replace rain jacket and pack rain fly with poncho?
August 15, 2016 09:13AM
Another option is to use a trash bag inside the pack to keep stuff dry and a silnylon poncho that only covers the torso.

I gave up using a rain"coat" years ago because I sweat so much I get soaked no matter what the temperature or whether the hike is flat, downhill or uphill. The poncho actually breathes much better than any raincoat could.

A friend who flies a lot got thicker plastic trash sized bags that last for a couple years inside the pack. I never liked how pack covers worked - it seems more logical to me to protect my gear from water "inside" the pack than outside.

I never stuff my sleeping quilt - it has its own trash bag - and goes in last into the pack, filling up what volume there is. The quilt is now 13 years and 200 or more backcountry nights old, has never been washed, and is just now beginning to develop cold spots at night. The various sleeping bags I had before it never kept their loft for more than a season or two.

With this system I've weathered almost constant rain in the maroon bells, the cascades, and those nasty 36 hour storms in the Sierra. I've never had my clothes or sleeping quilt get wet. I pretty much stay on trails, and what brush I encounter (PCT in Washington) is usually the leafy kind that wets you from the chest down.

For reference, my pack is a big sack with external pockets and no frame. My baseweight (no food or water) is usually between 13 to 15 pounds.

Just my opinion of course.

Jeff...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/15/2016 09:19AM by Jeffrey Olson.
Re: Replace rain jacket and pack rain fly with poncho?
August 16, 2016 08:24PM
Lots of good, different experiences and opinions here. At this point I'm leaning towards not using a poncho. Main reasons are that while a great weight saver if it can be a pack cover AND rain jacket AND tent rain fly that's a lot of function from a lightweight item. However, it's not likely that I'll convince my backpacking partner of using a poncho (or cape) as a rain fly. Also, I prefer cross country to trail travel. I'm not always off-trail, but I prefer it. I seem to have a knack at finding brush too, so durability is an issue. A key concern that I hadn't realized is that I also tend to be needing to see where my feet are placed (back to the xc-travel comment).

So now I'm thinking mostly of the merits of different methods of keeping pack contents dry:

1) don't worry about it: unmanaged risk
2) most of what I carry that can't get wet (down quilt, jacket) is in water-repellent stuff sacks - don't worry about it: OK for most conditions except long and/or hard rain.
3) use a garbage bag: I can't figure this out. I basically have to predict the weather for this to work. If used too many times it would probaby get a few holes. If I only used it when rain was imminent, that may require a repacking fire drill.
4) use a rain fly: half of the pack is dry, the other half - not so much...

The default is to continue with rainfly.
avatar Re: Replace rain jacket and pack rain fly with poncho?
August 16, 2016 10:13PM
Quote
ags
2) most of what I carry that can't get wet (down quilt, jacket) is in water-repellent stuff sacks - don't worry about it: OK for most conditions except long and/or hard rain.

Just don't drench yourself by falling in a creek!
avatar Re: Replace rain jacket and pack rain fly with poncho?
August 17, 2016 08:09AM
The poncho options don't have to be your shelter as well, there are a few that are designed for that but also some that are just poncho and pack cover. The weight savings of the Gatewood is great, but you do have to accept a few compromises for each function.

For a pack liner you could use a trash compactor bag (much more durable and puncture-resistant than a trash bag), or if you have only a portion of your gear to protect you could use an oven turkey bag, pretty sturdy and super lightweight.
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