Rain ponchos don’t just fill the closets of hapless tourists and outdoor-music-festival enthusiasts. A good poncho can stand in for a raincoat even in the harshest conditions — and a great one keeps you looking polished while you’re avoiding puddles. For Rain Week, we asked outdoorsy people and stylists to recommend the best ponchos to keep you dry, whether you’re backpacking through the Pacific Northwest, looking to stand out in a sea of Scandinavian status rain jackets, or simply seeking an everyday option for rainy days. Below, the experts’ poncho picks for men and women, including unisex styles.
Best unisex ponchos
This affordable — and reusable — poncho is a “lifesaver,” according to Matt Young, the head of marketing and e-commerce at Brooklyn-based outdoors store Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co. Weighing just 2.7 ounces, the waterproof, wind-resistant, and heat-reflective poncho can be packed up compactly enough to fit in your pocket, he says. “It’s ideal for unexpected downpours, rainy hikes, outdoor events — and serves as a warm and dry shelter in emergencies.” Plus, unlike plastic or polyester, the material is tear-resistant and quiet, so the poncho won’t rip or rustle while you walk.
Sierra Designs’ poncho is another solid, lightweight option, says Andrew Williams, a gear expert with outdoors outfitter Backcountry. Made with waterproof taped seams, an adjustable three-piece hood, and side snaps to adjust its length, the poncho looks a little like a “tailored tarp,” according to Williams. And that’s because it kind of is: Its grommeted corners allow it to be used as a ground sheet or a tarp in a pinch, making it a good bet to pack for daylong outdoor concerts, sports games, or hikes.
The Canada Goose Field Poncho features fully sealed seams, a water-resistant zipper, and is made with three-layer fabric — the best possible material to keep you dry during long days in heavy downpours, says Williams. The style is definitely a splurge, but “its quality construction is meant to last season after season,” according to Young, who adds that the poncho “has an open fit that allows for airflow and doesn’t restrict movement.” Stylist Brian Coats recommends it “for both men and women,” noting that the poncho also comes in a camouflage print for those who “feel the need to stand out amongst a sea of disposable umbrellas.”
Best ponchos for women
For those seeking a poncho as fashionable as it is functional, Williams recommends this cropped style by Herschel Supply Co., which he says is kind of like a windbreaker, and is coated with DWR, or durable water repellent. “It’s ideal for running, biking, and standard urban wear.” Stylist Rebecca Dennett, who grew up in famously rainy London, also swears by it. “The Herschel poncho is a great price point, and I love its classic appeal.”
This Rains poncho, which is cut in an A-line shape and covers most of your body without stifling mobility, is a favorite of stylists Neelo Noory, Courtney Madison, Leah Adicoff, and style writer Jessica Schiffer’s. “It’s light, folds up easily in your bag, and isn’t hideous,” says Wang. Madison agrees: “Not everyone wants to look like they just got off the Maid of the Mist.”
Dennett suggests this hooded, fleece-lined poncho for those looking for extra warmth in wet weather. It snaps under the arms and features deep front pockets to keep your phone and wallet dry. And the material is 94 percent polyester — a “naturally water-resistant” fabric, according to Williams. But because it is not waterproof, this poncho is probably better suited for those just dashing through drizzles than those spending hours in the rain.
Dennett’s favorite poncho features super stylish “complementing colorways,” and its completely waterproof, lightweight Gore-Tex fabric seriously protects you in inclement weather, she says. On warmer wet days, you can wear the poncho on its own as a breathable outer shell. And when temperatures drop, you can zip in the detachable down vest it comes with for added warmth. Parachute straps and an adjustable front pocket allow you to tailor the poncho for each use, whether you’re wearing it on a hike or just to run errands.
Made with two and a half layers of breathable water- and windproof nylon, this poncho provides excellent protection on hikes and walks through city streets, Williams says. “If you are looking for a more activewear option, with more breathability, then I would recommend a poncho in the two-to-two-and-a-half-layer range.” Its zippered pockets, carabiner loop, and key clip offer ample places to keep your stuff safe from the rain.
The best ponchos for men
“This investment piece has some weight to it, so it’s not flying away in the wind. And the bonded cotton will keep you not only dry, but warm and cozy,” says Madison.
And for a more affordable option, the much-recommended Rains poncho is also available in a men’s style.
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