Saturday, May 30, 2009

Survival Kit Essentials - The Rain Poncho

Rain Poncho
One of the essential items everyone needs to include in their survival kit is a rain poncho. It can be as simple as a large trash bag with holes for your head and arms, an inexpensive emergency rain poncho from the dollar store or a regular rain poncho purchased from a camping outlet, a big box store or an outdoor sporting goods store.

Rain Poncho Essentials

A good rain poncho should have:

1.) A hood with drawstring to protect your head because this is where you will suffer a majority of the loss of body heat.

2.) Elasticized cuffs on the sleeves to help keep out moisture.

3.) A heavy duty zipper with protective cover that snaps in place.

4.) Large pockets to carry additional survival gear that can be easily accessed without exposing your body to moisture.

5.) It should also have a drawstring around the bottom edge to help body heat retention.

It is also a good idea to get one that is a couple of sizes larger than you normally wear because you will then be able to protect your backpack or other gear from the effects of rain and moisture and it will allow you to make a temporary shelter if needed.

Hypothermia can occur very quickly when you are wet because water conducts heat away from your body. Temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to the possibility of the dangerous effects of hypothermia if you become wet. Keeping dry can be an essential part of your survival.

Got poncho?

Staying above the water line!


matthiasj said...

Ponchos come in handy and are a great prep. I have an Army gore-tex jacket rain/wind proof. I also keep multiple emergency ponchos in my get home bag and car kit.

Kentucky Preppers Network

Mo said...

Here in the Pacific NorthWET we know a thing or two about rain gear... ;^)

In our area we call what you are describing a Parka. Your recommendations are good. A quality Parka is a valuable piece of outdoor gear.

For the last couple of years I've been using one made by Columbia. It uses modern treated fabric that repels rain but allows the garment to breath - which is an overstatement of its actual ability but it does work OK. Some features I like is that the outer shell is reasonably light and *mostly* waterproof (some soak through is evident during extended exposure to rain). It does dry rapidly. It also has zippered armpit vents which is nice when wearing while engaging in strenuous activities. With the hood up I am very sheltered in sever weather. Additional liner jacket can be zipped into the parka for extra warmth. The liner included with the park doubles as a light jacket but lacks much thermal improvement. I've seen recent offerings that have improved the liners. There are a number of useful pockets to keep items close at hand and protected from the weather. The long length of the parka with the drawstring allow it to cinched to reduce drafts and retain body heat. Additional insulation (collected in the field) could be stuffed inside the parka and held in place with the drawstring to make a night out without shelter more tolerable. Additional coverage for the legs is nice. In cooler months I like nylon chaps when hiking in the rain. They keep the legs dry but don't overheat the way pants and bibs do. For snow I use gaiters to keep the snow out of my boots and lower legs. When hiking with a pack in the rain I will frequently wear the parka like a cape - the hood on but my arms not in the sleeves, the parka sheltering my pack and upper body. It works well except in high winds or brushy travel.

The Poncho - a tarp with a hood in it is also an amazingly useful tool...

Joseph said...

Ponchos are handy, but in windy conditions don't protect your lower body well. Still, they are a lot better than nothing. And you CAN get hypothermia in even mild temperatures if you are wet ant there is much in the way of wind.

vlad said...

My kit includes a heavy aluminized space blanket with neckhole to wear as liner under lightweight hooded poncho. If I must RON outofdoors I sit with back to rock or tree, and insulate my butt from the ground. If it is cold, heat from a candle lantern on stick across a hole at my feet warms me. (Store extra tea candles inside lantern.)

HermitJim said...

Once again you have touched on something that I overlooked in my kit. You guys are always keeping me informed and on my toes!

Thanks for the information! said...

Also, rain gear doubles as wind gear. Wind can really suck the heat right out of you. If your clothing is wet, doubly so.

Anonymous said...

Down here in south Texas, ponchos come in handy, though right now, throes of drought sure really isn't needed. If it were to rain, likely use it to catch the rain, lol.

One thing that drives me up the wall about ponchos is its easy to step on bottom when climbing up hillsides / ladders (that and the billowing in windy weather, feel like that plastic bag in American Beauty video, lol). They used to go for about $10 a piece, a couple of years back, well worth it.

I have one of those inexpensively priced European rain capes, the poncho that opens in front. Canvas so thorns don't rip it and its quieter than plastic when brushed across. When climbing, opening the bottom buttons keep the edges away from my boots - much easier to climb.

Great post RW - you rock!

riverwalker said...

To: matthiasj

I also have numerous ponchos/parkas in all of my EDC, GHB's, and BOB's. Around here you never know when you might get caught out in the rain and it gets pretty cool at night when it does!


riverwalker said...

To: Mo

My bad! It's a parka in the picture but I do have ponchos (just too lazy to take one out for a pic). The parka in the picture is an XXL and since I'm a medium frame guy it works well to cover me and my gear. Almost feels like I'm wearing a tent! LOL

The Pacific NorthWET...does it do anything BUT rain up there?

Thanks for the great comment MO!


riverwalker said...

To: Joseph

I use the oversize capability to shield my lower extremities. This particular one almost reaches my knees and in a crouched position doesn't leave my legs exposed.


riverwalker said...

To: vlad

WOW Vlad! Those are some great tips! Thanks a bunch!


riverwalker said...

To: HermitJim

You're welcome!


riverwalker said...


Great reminder about using one for wind protection. Thanks.


riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 5:54

I have a serape that slips over my head that can be used as a liner to further insulate the parka/poncho if I need it. Thanks.


John Wesley said...

Great info on such a simple subject.
This may sound like a strange question, but does color matter? Do you want something in which you can be seen or not?


riverwalker said...

To: John Wesley

I think functionality is more important but brighter colors are easier to see by rescuers if you are lost.


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