Poncho vs. Rain Jacket: Which One is More Useful in the Rain?

poncho vs rain jacket

Are you up for a rainy getaway? It may be weird, but I like hiking in the rain. I love the sound of the raindrops, and the smell all around that comes with it.

Each time I hit the trails, I sneak a pack of rain gears just in case it showers. It serves as little protection when pour gets hard in each stride. But do you know what takes me so long to pack?

It’s the time on deciding whether I’ll bring my poncho or my rain jacket. Sometimes I like the poncho. On other trips, it’s the jacket. Poncho vs. Rain Jacket; which one do you think is more useful?

How about you? Which do you prefer?


It’s essential for a backpacker not to be soaked especially during long hikes. Why is that so?

  • It’s a NO to getting sick outdoors. You will miss the fun.
  • You won’t enjoy the comfort that you need in the camp like you’re at home.
  • You’ll drag the group down.
  • Being in the wild means medical assistance is out of reach.

Poncho vs. Rain Jacket

Enter your text here...Let us find out the difference between the poncho and the rain jacket. The comparison will give you facts that will help you decide what to bring in every hike. See whether the poncho or the rain jacket is the best choice.

Rain Poncho

Terra Hiker Rain Poncho, Waterproof Raincoat with Hoods for Outdoor Activities

via amazon.com

Rain ponchos are available in different materials and designs which comes in various colors and sizes. Backpackers usually pick the nylon kind of material. Aside from being waterproof, it’s also lightweight.

There are portable, disposable and cheap ponchos (vinyl material) in the market. It’s quite compact, thin and short. But for hiking use, it won’t be much durable and won’t last to protect you.

These type of ponchos would easily rip when you pass by tree branches or bushes. Much worse, the material is hot, you won’t get wet from the rain, but you’ll soak with your sweat. I won’t recommend this when choosing narrow tracks.

Here are the features of a poncho that I consider suitable and useful for campers.

  • Has a snap under the armpits to keep me dry and it must be longer.
  • The hood must contain drawstring for easy adjustment. I like to make the hood close around my face shielding me from the cold wind and rain.
  • The material is rip-stop nylon because it is durable and lightweight.
  • It comes with zip pouch for easy packing.
  • Waterproof and loose enough for natural breathing, sweat to dry, warm and comfy.

Advantages and disadvantages of using a poncho.


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    It is lightweight and compact making it perfect for traveling. Light to wear, light to carry, easy to pack and it fits inside the bag or pockets.
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    Big enough to cover both you and your backpack.
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    Multi-functional- it is perfect for shelter and can be used as a temporary tarp when cooking. How about using it as a mat or blanket? Think about making it a pillow when it’s inside the pouch.
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    It’s long; you can sit on wet surfaces.
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    Cool enough to wear during summer rains.
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  • It’s loose, doesn’t have a perfect fit.
  • It’s not advisable for rains with strong winds. When the wind blows, it snaps the side opening of the poncho, and you’ll get wet. Worse, it can be a wind sail and drag you around.
  • Could get caught up in branches and get in the way.

If you love ponchos, look at this video. There’s someone who enjoys it as you do.

Rain Jacket

Columbia Women's Splash A Little Rain Jacket

via amazon.com

Rain jackets are excellent for outdoors. If I’m expecting heavy rains during my hiking trip, I make sure to bring my rain jacket with me. In fact, I recommend to owning one if you enjoy traveling.

There are plenty of rain jackets to choose from in the market. It varies in colors, sizes, and designs. Some are good for backpacking; some aren’t. So, make sure to pick the one that will be useful.

Here are the features of a rain jacket appropriate for backpacking:

  • Lightweight and waterproof
  • Compact enough not to occupy much space in my pack.
  • Fits well but loose enough for me to breathe and wear layers of clothes underneath.
  • Must have a drawstring hood, neck guard, storm flap, cord-lock closures to shield me from the rain and the wind. It would be convenient to have big pockets too.

Advantages and disadvantages of wearing a rain jacket.


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    It fits the body well and has real sleeves.
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    Leaves you completely dry under the rain.
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    Stylish, you can wear it anytime.
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    Sturdy to withstand the wind and tree branches.
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    Protect for a longer time.
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    Keep you warm during heavy and cold rains.


  • Rain jackets are usually short in length. When it rains, it will keep your upper part dry, and the lower portion soaked.
  • It can’t cover much your bottom, so you’ll get drenched sitting down on wet surfaces.
  • It’s more bulky and weighty to pack compared to ponchos.
  • It will be too hot to wear during light rain showers; poor ventilation
  • Expensive!

Here is a quick guide on how to roll a rain jacket during hiking.


EnterPoncho is way cheaper compared to rain jackets. Depending on the brand, rain jackets can range from $15.00 to $60, 100 and even more. But with ponchos, the price range is from $10 to $30 for the best. It’s a big difference, so better think first what suits you best.

I say that both the poncho and rain jackets are equally useful in the rain. Deciding on what to wear between the two when hiking would depend on the kind of weather, the type of trail and the length of time that you’ll need it.

If I plan to go backpacking overnight on spots with challenging terrains, it’s practical to use my rain jacket. When the forecast is heavy rain and cold wind the rain jacket is safer to use too. I’ll just need to wear matching waterproof pants and backpack cover to keep me thoroughly dry.

However, when hiking in warm weather with occasional rain showers, I love to wear the poncho. It’s cool enough not to let me sweat under while keeping dry at the same time. If my trail is maintained tracks and is safe from gusty wind, a poncho is the best.


Whether it's poncho or rain jacket, the primary concern is to keep myself dry on rainy days. And for that, I need to choose a type that has features to cover my need. It’s hard to get sick nowadays, especially if I’ve got another hike on my bucket list!

About the Author

Lauren Reese

I'm Laura. I have a huge passion for hiking and camping. Lying under the star beside the tent and camping fire with my team is the ultimate nature getaway to me. I wish to share my experience during the adventure with you through this blog. Feel free to read my stories and leave some comments if you like.

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