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#282251 - 09/26/16 07:46 PM Re: Poncho shelter practice [Re: Tom_L]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1137
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: Tom_L
Originally Posted By: Montanero
You find what works for you, and you use it.
...........snip..........

Well said, spoken from experience. Couldn't agree more.

Personally, I like both tarps and ponchos. But when hiking solo I will always pick a poncho over a small tarp. It's basically the same thing but can be worn on one's person whereas a tarp is less versatile in that department.

I don't find a poncho all that cumbersome even in heavy brush. Tie it around your waist to keep it from getting caught in the branches and it will do just fine. Rain jackets generally fit more snugly but very few are as durable as a good military poncho. None can be used to make a rain shelter that will keep you dry in a hard downpour.
................snip.............

As you and Montanero said, one finds whatever works for oneself.

However, regarding ".............. I will always pick a poncho over a small tarp. It's basically the same thing but can be worn on one's person whereas a tarp is less versatile in that department." My point is if I have appropriate foul weather gear (a good jacket and pants), I have no need to wear the tarp on my person. And when I rig the tarp as a shelter, I can still wear my jacket for additional warmth and protection, whereas if I rig my poncho as a shelter, I can no longer wear it!

Regarding ponchos in heavy brush, I guess there is brush and then there is brush. My experience is that ponchos do get in the way, even when tied around the waist. Ponchos are even more of a hassle when climbing over downed logs, up rocks, or other difficult terrain. Ponchos are also a big problem in strong and gusty winds. They turn you into a big sail. I would not want to be wearing a poncho while walking up an exposed ridge in a strong wind! The wind also blows rain up underneath the poncho and in around your arms. Tying the poncho around you mitigates those issues somewhat, but a properly fitted jacket (and pants) is always superior in those situations.

I also think you overstate the durability issue. A good hard shell jacket designed for technical climbing is extremely durable. I have a Marmot jacket I acquired around 1995. At the time it was their top of the line technical jacket. I only recently replaced it for general use with a new one from Arc'teryx. The Marmot is a bit beat up but still quite functional. I now use it mostly for dirty nasty outside jobs around the home. Otherwise it rides in an emergency bag in my car.

I live, work, and play in a region with highly variable and sometimes extreme weather. Outer clothing for protection from wind, rain, and snow is something I will not compromise on.


Edited by AKSAR (09/26/16 07:53 PM)
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
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#282252 - 09/26/16 10:01 PM Re: Poncho shelter practice [Re: AKSAR]
Tom_L Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Originally Posted By: AKSAR
My point is if I have appropriate foul weather gear (a good jacket and pants), I have no need to wear the tarp on my person. And when I rig the tarp as a shelter, I can still wear my jacket for additional warmth and protection, whereas if I rig my poncho as a shelter, I can no longer wear it!


Sure enough, as long as you don't mind the extra bulk and weight of the tarp + rain jacket & pants combo. I generally prefer to travel as light as possible so I try to keep my gear to a minimum.

I also dislike sleeping in any sort of rain gear because I tend to sweat easily (Goretex or no Goretex) and moisture buildup becomes a problem. I usually bring along a sleeping bag or at least a heavy wool blanket whenever I intend to spend the night outdoors. Wearing a rain jacket while tucked in a sleeping bag is not a good idea IME.

Originally Posted By: AKSAR
Regarding ponchos in heavy brush, I guess there is brush and then there is brush... A good hard shell jacket designed for technical climbing is extremely durable.


To each his own. We have some pretty bad brush around here, it's very hard on the gear. No rain jacket I've ever worn in that kind of situation survived reasonably intact for more than a few treks. A flimsy plastic poncho wouldn't last long either, but a heavy duty one like the Bundeswehr model does stand up to abuse very well.

I'm sure a good hard shell jacket for technical climbing would be a smart choice in many situations. But I simply can't justify that kind of expense for an item of clothing that will get abused in short order. Honestly speaking, a proper climbing jacket costs a lot more than all my regular outdoor gear and clothing that I use on my treks. On the other hand, a good military poncho can be bought for $20, so for reasons of economy alone it's an idea worth considering.

YMMV - stay strong and enjoy the great outdoors!

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#282253 - 09/27/16 12:36 AM Re: Poncho shelter practice [Re: Tom_L]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1137
Loc: Alaska
I guess we will have to agree to disagree. smile
I will however respond to a couple of your comments.
Originally Posted By: Tom_L
Originally Posted By: AKSAR
My point is if I have appropriate foul weather gear (a good jacket and pants), I have no need to wear the tarp on my person. And when I rig the tarp as a shelter, I can still wear my jacket for additional warmth and protection, whereas if I rig my poncho as a shelter, I can no longer wear it!
Sure enough, as long as you don't mind the extra bulk and weight of the tarp + rain jacket & pants combo. I generally prefer to travel as light as possible so I try to keep my gear to a minimum.

I also dislike sleeping in any sort of rain gear because I tend to sweat easily (Goretex or no Goretex) and moisture buildup becomes a problem. I usually bring along a sleeping bag or at least a heavy wool blanket whenever I intend to spend the night outdoors. Wearing a rain jacket while tucked in a sleeping bag is not a good idea IME.
Well, if you carry a blanket or sleeping bag, that hardly counts as going "as light as possible", does it? My jacket and pants together weigh less than your blanket.

In any case, I thought we were talking about an emergency night out, not a planned camping trip. I don't recall ever spending a night sleeping in my rain gear inside a sleeping bag!

Originally Posted By: Tom_L
To each his own. We have some pretty bad brush around here, it's very hard on the gear. No rain jacket I've ever worn in that kind of situation survived reasonably intact for more than a few treks.
I think you underestimate good modern gear. The good stuff will take a great deal of abuse, for a long time.
Originally Posted By: Tom_L
I'm sure a good hard shell jacket for technical climbing would be a smart choice in many situations. But I simply can't justify that kind of expense for an item of clothing that will get abused in short order. Honestly speaking, a proper climbing jacket costs a lot more than all my regular outdoor gear and clothing that I use on my treks. On the other hand, a good military poncho can be bought for $20, so for reasons of economy alone it's an idea worth considering.
Top line gear is expensive, no doubt about it. I find it worth it.
Originally Posted By: Tom_L
YMMV - stay strong and enjoy the great outdoors!
Likewise to you! smile
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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#282257 - 09/27/16 10:19 AM Re: Poncho shelter practice [Re: unimogbert]
Tjin Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/08/02
Posts: 1760
When i started out in the outdoors I was pretty cheap on my clothing, but after years of spending time in the outdoors and mountains, I find that proper clothing makes a huge difference and it's worth the money. Do note that more expensive does not mean better, some cheaper brands can have very good clothing too.

Proper clothing that is well ventilated and prevents excesive sweating and wicks away/dry sweat quickly makes a huge difference in how it keeps you warm. I prefer synthetic materials as they dry quickly and are light weight. Mesh, breathable panels and vents are great in making clothing adaptable.

A down jacket services as a good compact and light weight option in case it's colder than expected and is your emergency insulator when you need to sleep. In some cases I replace it with a good microfleece, as that give me a little beter freedom of movement. Put your legs/feet in your backpack to keep those warmer. My clothing is sized that I can put on all my layers on top of each other when needed.

My emergency sleep system is a down jacket + bivvy + handwarmers.

Poncho's just don't work for me as rain gear, catches too much wind and can't see where you are walking properly.
_________________________


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#282260 - 09/27/16 06:02 PM Re: Poncho shelter practice [Re: unimogbert]
Tom_L Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
This is probably getting a little off-topic, but generally speaking I think we spend too much time obsessing over our gear and looking for new tools, gadgets, superior clothing and whatnot in the expectation they will provide some sort of crucial advantage. More often than not though, that entails spending a lot of money for relatively little positive return. It also tends to distract one from the real goal, whether that means accomplishing some particular task or simply having a good time out in the bush. At worst, it might lead to a psychological dependency, a feel of being unable to perform without "proper" gear.

Maybe it's just my observation but I've noticed that many people these days worry a lot about the supposed limitations of their gear instead of trying actively to develop useful skills or solutions to overcome those limitations, whether real or imagined. The current discussion is a small case in point. One might focus ad nauseam on the weaknesses of a poncho in a given situation, but it might be more productive instead to think about how to exploit its strengths so that it could be made to work, and work well, just as it has for many people for a long time. Which does not by any chance mean that there are no other alternatives worth exploring but simply that in many kinds of environment a decent poncho can perform very well despite its low price and old-school approach.

It's a bit like the classic knife debate - for every outdoorsman happily getting by with a $10 Mora you will find someone cringing at the thought of relying on a cheap rat-tail knife which obviously pales in a comparison to a $500 certified custom Ray Mears bushcraft model. Yet at the end of the day, the folks relying on relatively simple tried-and-true gear often accomplish more than those forever in pursuit of the latest tech. IMHO it's ultimately a matter of cultivating a certain mindset.

I will be the first to admit that quality gear does make a difference, but not nearly as much as practical experience, skills and mindset. I have a closet full of outdoor gear and clothing, some of it pretty expensive. But over the years I've found myself reducing the gear I use regularly to a basic minimum not that different from what has worked for the old-timers since the dawn of time. There is the advantage of modern materials to be sure - rubberized ponchos vs. waxed linen fabric or wool, carbon steel knives vs. flint and obsidian, but the basic concepts remain the same and probably always will.

I find that using primarily inexpensive, easily replaced (but still good quality) gear and clothing detracts absolutely nothing from my outdoor experience. One doesn't necessarily need the latest tech and high-end gadgets to enjoy the great outdoors. Others may feel differently - different strokes for different folks. It's all about finding out what works for you. wink

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#282265 - 09/28/16 01:44 AM Re: Poncho shelter practice [Re: unimogbert]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 857
Loc: Colorado
I've found the poncho useful as the upper half of raingear. It breathes better than a rain parka and has worked well for where I've been. The parka is definitely the better choice up on a windy tundra ridge though.

It might be ironic but I'm presently reading the daily journals of Lewis & Clark. Those men endured in wet leather clothing huddled under wet elkskins. In those conditions I'd probably cry like a little girl.......

Meantime I'll make the effort to do more practice with my poncho shelter kit. But not in the backyard because that's not where I'm likely to really need it.

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#282269 - 09/28/16 11:12 AM Re: Poncho shelter practice [Re: Tom_L]
williamlatham Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 239
Loc: Stafford, VA, USA
Well said.

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#282313 - 10/04/16 04:50 AM Re: Poncho shelter practice [Re: unimogbert]
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 916
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Yep, practise helps you KNOW your gear.

I too was out walking and trying out some gear. Last Saturday, I was out in a steady drizzle with my new sil-nylon poncho tarp that I wanted to try out. Note: I normally use a goretex shell and rainpants as needed for camping/hiking. This was in a no camping wildlife area nearby so I was just out for a short walk. I purposely did not take along a hat. I wore simple lightweight pants, socks and trail shoes, medium weight merino wool long sleeve shirt and cotton vest underneath the poncho along with a lightweight buff around the neck. No pack. Temps were about 11-12 degrees Celsius with 20k winds.

After a minute of figuring out the snaps and where to put my arms I strode off for the 2k walk. When I got back to the vehicle I evaluated.
1. A hat, any hat but a wide brimmed hat especially would have been a welcome addition. I often use my Tilley hat with my rain shell because I don't like closing the hood. I prefer the visibility and ventilation of an open hood. As such without a hat, the poncho hood managed to stay in place most of the time but occasionally slid forward and covered too much of my eyes.
2. I wondered what would work best if I were to use this as a shelter. How would I seal the hood from dripping rain onto me? Simply cinching the hood would not suffice - perhaps I should attach/pack a ranger band along with the poncho?!
3. My lower arms, wrists and hands got wet. That means my long sleeves were wet and would take a while to dry out. Perhaps I should have pulled my arms inside the poncho, eh? smile
4. My poncho/tarp has an elastic cinch along the bottom rear edge. The elastic snagged on a branch and pulled it partially out.
5. Aside from my lower arms, wrists and hands the rest of my was quite dry. I was able to ventilate and not have sweat build up like I would in heavy rain gear. In a sense I was even more comfortable and flexible than using a goretex shell, however even with goretex a long rain would eventually soak through. The wind did not seem to drive any moisture through the "sleeves" of the poncho and my legs were dryer than if I had wore a jacket. I could easily have wrapped some cordage around my waist it the poncho was billowing too much but didn't have to.
6. I was able to shake off the moisture and hang the poncho/tarp up to dry when I got home so I didn't evaluate its drying ability in the outdoors.
7. It is a compact and lightweight alternative to a goretex shell (about 1/2 size & weight) and I will likely pack it in my day pack. And obviously I will take it to my next 'Riders' football game! The green poncho blends perfectly with the team colours. smile
8. I do however question the rationale of the dual usage of a poncho/tarp for some conditions. If the rain is start/stop and gives you time to set up that might be fine. If it is raining continuously and if this my only shelter how can I set this up as a tarp and stay dry at the same time? By bringing another shelter? (Bivy bag, 2nd tarp or even tent?) Not very practical as a one item doing double duty, but then again, on the dry prairies I may not have as much need to use it as a poncho.
9. I did not attach cords for use as a tarp shelter but if I did, I would probably use something like triptease for visibility rather than black tarred bankline. But that brings me to my next point - should I keep the cords attached and remove as necessary for a poncho or keep them on to use for the shelter? I can keep the cords stashed in the same silnylon ditty bag but not too much length. And I would need to keep stakes separately since there is no way the bag has enough room for them.

Like unimogbert, I too share the same thoughts about knowing your gear, understanding its limitations. Mostly by doing exactly what we did - using the gear in known comfortable conditions first, then expanding out and testing the gear in lesser conditions before finally settling in determining how it matches your skill set. But unlike unimogbert, I don't have kids that I can do a lessons learned post trip examination. smile


Edited by Roarmeister (10/04/16 02:46 PM)

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#282316 - 10/04/16 01:35 PM Re: Poncho shelter practice [Re: Roarmeister]
Tom_L Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Originally Posted By: Roarmeister
1. A hat, any hat but a wide brimmed hat especially would have been a welcome addition. I often use my Tilley hat with my rain shell because I don't like closing the hood. I prefer the visibility and ventilation of an open hood. As such without a hat, the poncho hood managed to stay in place most of the time but occasionally slid forward and covered too much of my eyes.


Yup, my experience as well.

Originally Posted By: Roarmeister
2. I wondered what would work best if I were to use this as a shelter. How would I seal the hood from dripping rain onto me? Simply cinching the hood would not suffice - perhaps I should attach/pack a ranger band along with the poncho?!


On most military ponchos the hood can be sealed tight more or less with the drawstring, then buttoned down for a tight fit. I've never had a problem with my shelter leaking through the hood providing the above steps are carried out with a little care.

Originally Posted By: Roarmeister
3. My lower arms, wrists and hands got wet. That means my long sleeves were wet and would take a while to dry out. Perhaps I should have pulled my arms inside the poncho, eh? smile


Yes. smile

Originally Posted By: Roarmeister
8. I do however question the rationale of the dual usage of a poncho/tarp for some conditions. If the rain is start/stop and gives you time to set up that might be fine. If it is raining continuously and if this my only shelter how can I set this up as a tarp and stay dry at the same time? By bringing another shelter? (Bivy bag, 2nd tarp or even tent?) Not very practical as a one item doing double duty, but then again, on the dry prairies I may not have as much need to use it as a poncho.


In the ideal world you'd be carrying a full complement of rain gear, poncho + sleeping bag, bivy, maybe even a tent. In the real world, you end up with whatever you have at hand. It might not be as comfortable but heck, that's life. The poncho shelter is a minimalist solution as opposed to something more elaborate, say a tent, log cabin, luxury trailer. The latter are all more comfortable than a poncho shelter per se. wink

On a more serious note though, it IS possible to set up a poncho shelter very quickly if you know what you're doing. That would limit the amount of exposure down to maybe a couple of minutes at most, probably less. Again, practice is key.

Originally Posted By: Roarmeister
9. I did not attach cords for use as a tarp shelter but if I did, I would probably use something like triptease for visibility rather than black tarred bankline. But that brings me to my next point - should I keep the cords attached and remove as necessary for a poncho or keep them on to use for the shelter? I can keep the cords stashed in the same silnylon ditty bag but not too much length. And I would need to keep stakes separately since there is no way the bag has enough room for them.


I use ordinary white shoelaces tied to each of the three grommets per side. It works fine and allows me to set up my shelter very quickly if need be without looking for extra cords.

You may not even need cordage to secure the poncho. Small L-shaped stakes can be carved easily from hazel branches or the like and planted into the ground directly through the grommets.

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#282317 - 10/04/16 02:06 PM Re: Poncho shelter practice [Re: unimogbert]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 857
Loc: Colorado
I carry loops of 550 cord and 4 L shaped aluminum tent stakes as part of my poncho-bivy kit. The kid cut up my 550 ridgeline so I've replaced that.

My GHB gear contains the same stuff though the ponchos are Swiss army alpenflage.

I've carried a poncho in addition to raingear and tent and sleeping bag on backpacking trips. Have huddled under it with my buddy as we endured a hailstorm up on a tundra ridge. Have thrown it across pine tree branches so it served as a shelter to eat in when it was raining at dinner time. I've put on my warm clothes and poncho and leaned up against a tree stump to wait out a passing thunderstorm ducking into the poncho to rummage in my pack for a snack. Have worn it as upper covering while hiking in a surprise spring snowstorm. Many uses over the years.

Poncho has been good gear in many circumstances. But the shelter application needs more work on my part to make it anything more than just a waterproof blanket.

One of my scenarios is that I am immobilized for some reason (broken ankle) and have to spend the night out for that reason. Immobility would be a real problem as it impedes choosing a good location, finding insulation and getting a really good poncho setup. Best answer for this is - don't get hurt!

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