Best Lightweight Rain Ponchos for Travel, Hiking or Backpacking
Having a good versatile rain poncho can be invaluable when you’re traveling or hiking. If you’re going to be out all day you never know when you’ll get caught in a downpour or even a never ending drizzle. An umbrella is not practical at all for heavy rain and winds, or for non-city adventures and it leaves you with only one free hand to do other things. With the best rain poncho for women that’s well designed to keep you as dry as possible, you won’t have to miss a beat while out exploring.
Why a Waterproof Rain Poncho is Good for Travel
Packing as light as possible is one of the most sensible things you can do before starting a trip, whether backpacking, camping or city exploring. But that doesn’t mean you should leave out wet weather gear! The absolute lightest option for packing for this is a waterproof rain poncho. Now I don’t mean those cheap disposable ones that rip at the slightest tug. You’ll have to keep buying a new one or maybe even several for each trip and that can turn out to be more expensive than getting one good quality one that you can use for years.
Even a durable poncho can be lightweight and most are foldable into a small bundle that you can squeeze into a corner of your suitcase. If it’s dry when you step out of the hotel or start a trek, keep this folded poncho in your handbag or backpack and quickly pull it out when it starts to rain. Once it stops raining, it should be fairly easy to roll it up again and store back in the bag. Many rain ponchos come in their own travel pouch to make this easier and a wet poncho won’t make your other belongings wet as long as it’s safely folded in the pouch.
As you can see, even the most compact umbrella will take up much more space in your luggage than a poncho and many handbags aren’t even big enough for one and can’t be stored inside if it’s wet. If you’re entering a museum with a full-sized umbrella you may be asked to check it first and retrieve it later when leaving. It’s also easier to forget and leave an umbrella behind in a restaurant or public transport.
Another advantage that a poncho has over an umbrella is that is provides more coverage if the rain falls at a slant, although a short poncho won’t keep your legs dry. If you don’t anticipate more than light rain for short intervals, a compact umbrella is still a good accessory to have.
If being fashionable at all times is important to you, then a rain jacket is usually a better option. However, we have found one or two really stylish but functional ponchos for you as well, so take a look at those below first before you disregard a poncho. If you think a rain jacket will serve you better, we’ll tell you what the best ones for women are in a later article.
Poncho or Rain Jacket?
A rain jacket is also good but is much heavier and bulkier to pack. It is more streamlined and has proper sleeves. A jacket is only meant to cover you, whereas a poncho can cover you and your purse or even your backpack. If the downpour is sudden, it’s easy to fish out of a pocket and thrown on in seconds. To put on a rain jacket you have to remove the bag you’re carrying first. If you’re out in warm weather, a poncho is lighter and, therefore, better.
A rain jacket is a better option if you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking, as there’s less chance of it snagging on branches. If the rain comes in at a slant it is better at protecting you. Plenty of times, rain also means much cooler weather, so a rain jacket can also provide some warmth as well as keep you dry. However, if the locale you’re visiting is cold even when dry, then wearing warm clothing under a poncho is a better option.
What to Look for in a Rain Poncho
If you’re going to go with a poncho instead of rain jacket or umbrella, here are the most important features to look out for:
- Effectiveness: If the poncho only looks cute but barely keeps you dry, you’re wasting your money. It needs to be long enough to at least cover your upper legs, the buttons should be in the right places so as to not let water in, your hands should be covered but you should not feel hindered if you need to use them, the seams should be water-resistant, and the hood should stay in place and cover your head as much as possible. If you sometimes carry a backpack around with you, then it should be large and roomy enough to cover the pack as well.
- Durability: Unlike disposable ponchos, our picks for best rain ponchos are made to last for years. Even if the material gets snagged on a branch or caught in a door the poncho should not rip. If it’s the washable kind, then it should withstand a high enough water temperature along with the tumble wash action. You should not be able to pull off buttons and grommets easily.
- Weight and Portability: A rain poncho should ideally weigh as little as possible while still be durable enough. Aim for it to be no more than 16 ounces or 1 lb along with its own carrying pouch so that not only does it not make too much of a difference to the weight of your luggage, but it also won’t make your handbag or daypack that you carry around all day too heavy. When not being used, you should be able to fold or roll it up into a small package that’s easy to slip into a your bag.
- Looks: The biggest problem that a lot of waterproof ponchos have is that they don’t look good been worn. However, some are cut well and don’t look like a droopy plastic sheet and some even boast stylish prints. W have picked a few very cute rain ponchos that you won’t feel embarrassed to wear even when going out to dinner and over a nice outfit.
Women’s Waterproof Rain Poncho Options
Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho
Keeping in mind all the factors mentioned above that make for a good poncho, the Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho ticks all the boxes. Made from waterproof polyurethane with a bonded knit backing and no separate lining to give it extra durability and strength, you can pick from 6 different bold to neutral colors. Not only is the material waterproof, but the so are the seams that are heat-sealed to prevent any water from leaking through.
The front features snap buttons at the neck and a drawstring for the hood to stay in place and protect your hair from the rain and wind. There are snap buttons under the arms to give you some separation between the body and arms and prevent too much cold wind from getting through. You can still fit a bulky jacket sleeve through as well and you decide how many buttons to use or leave open.
It’s dimensions are 52″ x 80″, which is suitable for most people. While men with long arms won’t get full arm coverage, most women will get protection almost upto the wrists. When seated, this poncho will go below the knees if you’re under 6’2″ and below the calves if around 5’2″. When standing, a 5’8″ person will have coverage upto the knees.
This heavy duty rain poncho is great for most kinds of weather. You won’t get sweaty under it in 90 degree weather but it can be too much for tropical locales. However, you can wear a winter jacket underneath. The snap buttons and drawstring can create a pretty good barrier around the face and prevent a cold wind from getting in. It will easily cover you and a daypack on city walks as well as hikes.
The poncho comes with its own travel pouch that is 11 x 9 inches when empty but how small it is when holding the poncho depends on how well you fold or roll it up. The poncho and pouch together weigh 1 lb, so it’s not the lightest of products but it is probably the best backpacking poncho you can buy.
It is easy to wash by hand and it is durable enough to wash in the machine, but generally waterproof materials don’t wash well in a machine because they stick to the drum when it spins.
RainCaper Reversible Waterproof Hooded Cape For Women
If you’re looking for something that won’t ruin your nice evening outfit, both in terms of getting wet and making you look less than stylish, then the RainCaper Rain Poncho For Women is a perfect choice for you.
While the Pacific Poncho above is perhaps the most effective in keeping you dry, the RainCaper Poncho is the most chic. It is also not the most affordable choice, but for those occasions when traveling or even at home, a nice night out sometimes calls for a better looking options than a normal poncho or raincoat. It is a reversible poncho with one side featuring a solid color and the other a complimentary print. So depending on your mood or outfit, it will easily go with various outfits that you bring with you on a trip. This would also make a great gift for any woman that loves to travel.
The RainCaper Cape is made entirely of soft polyester, so it’s not completely waterproof but is water-resistant, as the rain rolls off it. This means it will be good enough for a short walk in light to moderate rain but any more than that and you’ll have to look for cover in a shop or museum. It measures 55″ across and 30″ from neck to back hem. It’s arm length is about 23″, so it would cover you to your wrists as well as a handbag or backpack. It opens at the front for easy wearing and has two buttons at the neck to allow you to adjust the fit. The buttons also keep the generous hood in place. It also has magnetic snaps to quickly create loose sleeves for the arms and to prevent the cape from billowing too much in the wind.
This poncho is machine washable and it dries very quickly. It folds up easily and comes with a 8″ x 10″ travel pouch that can snap on to your handbag or backpack. It weighs just 9 ounces totally.
Totes Women’s Reversible Rain Poncho
For a less expensive option that is also pretty nice looking, the Totes Women’s Reversible Rain Poncho is a good choice too. It is also made of 100% Polyester and is machine washable, and though it’s not as stylish as the Raincaper, it is more than just a rain poncho in the looks department.
This poncho measures 11.3 x 8.5 x 2.2 inches and weighs 11.2 ounces and is probably the best travel poncho for women of short to medium stature.
This poncho is also reversible with a nice print on one side and a solid color on the other with each acting as lining to the other layer. The material is also treated with a water repellent. It does not open fully in the front, rather you slip it over your head and there are three buttons at the neck to tighten the fit and close up the neck. The hood is effective and tightens around the face by a drawstring. Side snaps form armholes if you want a more fitted look and prevent the poncho from flapping too much in the wind. If you’re carrying a handbag or backpack underneath, then just unsnap the buttons.
The front of the poncho has a zippered pocket in one of the layers that can be used to store and protect a wallet or smartphone, but when the poncho is not needed it’s the storage pouch for it. You just stuff the rest of the poncho into the inside out pocket and zip it closed. If you’re unsure of how that works, scroll down for an instructional video.
Totes Unisex Rain Poncho
Totes is well known for its wet weather accessories, particularly for travel and its Totes Unisex Rain Poncho is one of its most popular products. It is a very good yet inexpensive clear poncho raincoat that’s you can get in a few different colors and is available single, double and triple packs.
This poncho is made of a waterproof and lightweight EVA fabric and features heat-sealed waterproof seams. It should not be machine washed and just a wipe with a damp cloth is enough to clean it. It features a pullover design with side snaps to create arms holes and reduce the amount of billowing in windy weather. With the unique cut of the hood there’s no need for a drawstring or button for maximum head and neck coverage and it won’t slip off either. It’s a roomy one for use over a backpack but might feel a bit short for anyone over 6′.
It comes with a 6″ x 10″ zippered mesh storage bag to prevent mildew forming and the whole package weighs just 9 ounces.
LINENLUX Rain Poncho
We now come to the longer options that are good for tall women and men. The LINENLUX Rain Poncho is a full body rain poncho that falls well below the knees and right up to the wrists for most. It will also cover a backpack well.
You can get this poncho in a few different colors and even some cute polka dot prints. It is an extremely breathable 100% polyester poncho with waterproof backing and heat-sealed seams. You zip up the front from bottom to top for easy on and off wear. The hood can be tightened around the head with an elastic drawstring cord and a small peak in the front even keeps your glasses dry if you wear them. You can create sleeves with the side snap buttons and the ends of the sleeves feature elastic thumb loops that you can use to tighten the wrist holes to keep even your arms completely dry. This is as close as you can get to having a poncho with sleeves.
The front falls to 36″ and the back to 40.5″. The wingspan for the arms is 57.4″. There’s one zippered pocket on the front on one side to store your wallet, smartphone or anything else you need handy but dry when you’re out and about.
It comes with a compact 9.8″ x 6″ zippered pouch for storage and the whole package weighs 9.6 oz.
Terra Hiker Rain Poncho
If you specifically want a hiking and backpacking poncho that can double as a tarp for camping or picnicking, the Terra Hiker Rain Poncho might be what you want. It is a long poncho so it fits tall people best and it comes to below the knees for anyone shorter than 6′.
You have a choice of 4 different colors with the material being high density polyester and caulking on the seams for complete waterproofing. You just pull this poncho over your head and the hood can be tightened with the elastic drawstring with the brim helping to keep water off your face. The sides have velcro tabs to create arms. The corners have eyelets fixed into thickened hems. These can be used to anchor the poncho onto your own tent stakes so that it can also serve as a mat when picnicking or camping. When you’re wearing it as a poncho the eyelets help weight the hems down to reduce billowing on windy days. The back is slightly longer than the front so it will cover a backpack nicely.
When opened up into a full rectangle to serve as a mat it measures 57″ x 86.6″ but it can be folded into a compact package and stuffed into the included drawstring pouch that measures just 10.23″ x 3.14″ x 1.18″ and weighs 0.58 lb.