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When you hear the word "poncho," the first image that comes to mind might be a family decked out in colorful plastic, traipsing around an amusement park in the rain. But there's a lot more to ponchos than that, particularly thanks to the work done by creative gear designers to update the classic design with new materials, creating a new crop of ponchos that are excellent for all kinds of outdoor adventures.
A poncho can be the perfect thing to stay fully dry on a rainy bike commute, a portable changing tent for wriggling in and out of a wetsuit, or the equivalent of wrapping yourself up in a cozy warm sleeping bag while maintaining the use of your hands. Here, we've rounded up the best ones for all these uses and more.
10 Best Ponchos for Outdoor Adventure
Best Changing Poncho: Slowtide the Digs Changing Towel
It's in the name, but Slowtide's oversized poncho is probably one of the best ways to stay warm, dry, and unexposed while changing at the beach. The winter-weight, double cotton fabric adds extra warmth while an internal access pocket allows you to change from the waistline while keeping your hands out of the cold.
Best Poncho for Camping: Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho
If you're the type of camper to wrap yourself up in a sleeping bag while sitting around a campfire, then Therm-a-Rest's puffy poncho is for you. This water-resistant poncho is stuffed with the same synthetic insulation as the company's sleeping bags, and doubles as a blanket or even a pillow if you compress it into its built-in pocket. It's perfect for camping, but don't count it out for backyard stargazing, pre- or post-swim warmth, or indoor coziness.
Best Rain Poncho: Kiu Reflective Bike Poncho
Finally, a bike poncho that'll keep you dry riding in the rain that doesn't just look like you're wearing a giant painting tarp! Leave it to MoMA to source a uniquelystylish poncho that's also totally functional. Designed in Osaka, Japan, the Kiu Poncho features a reflective grid pattern with a detachable and reflective hood that helps you stay visible to other bikers and cars, and its waterproof fabric will keep you and your backpack dry as you pedal. The hood cinches tight to maintain visibility, and the entire thing folds down into an included pouch. This poncho is long enough to cover your handlebars for full coverage and rain protection, but isn't so big you can't wear it normally if traveling by foot.
Best Poncho for Hiking: Exped Pack UL Poncho
When it comes to hiking, ponchos have an extra edge over rain jackets in that they can cover your pack as well as your body. Exped designed this one to do just that, but made sure it stayed lightweight enough for ounce-counters (a medium is 7.6 ounces) by using 15-denier ripstop nylon that's seam taped for top-notch waterproofing. You can adjust the hood with one hand, and snap it to your backpack for fast on and off without having to stop and repack every time.
Best Down Poncho: Aether Down Poncho
Aether's technical down poncho is both functional and comfy for when you need to cozy up at a cabin rental or, well, anywhere. The design is classic poncho—it's like a blanket with a slit for your head and buttons to snap together on the sides—but elevated with technical materials like 800-fill down insulation. It comes in two sleek colors and features a geometric matte woven shell that will keep the wind out on a blustery day.
Most Versatile Insulated Poncho: Bobcat 45°F Down Trail Quilt
Technically, the Bobcat is blanket first, poncho second. Because of that, it goes way beyond the scope of your average wearable blanket. You can use the Bobcat, which is rated for comfort down to 45 degrees, to function as a backpacking sleeping bag, an underquilt for hammock camping, or as a blanket. Cinch the drawcords and snap the sides together to create a draft-free cocoon that will keep you extra cozy for colder camping nights. Kammok also makes a 30-degree quilt with poncho-functionality called the Firebelly ($300), and a 20-degree version called the Arctos ($360).
Most Original: Puffy Poncho NASA Artemis
Rumpl partnered with NASA to create this limited edition poncho celebrating the US space agency's Artemis moon missions. The poncho features a rich space themed purple-to-gold gradient inspired by the Artemis program and includes the Artemis logo. Rumpl made the Puffy Poncho with 100% recycled insulation as well as a DWR-treated shell exterior. The whole thing packs into its own pocket to double as the perfect camp (or airplane) pillow.
Best for Beach-to-City Transitions: Outlier Grid Linen Hoodie
For a lighter option, this linen hoodie is a great oversized poncho perfect for post-beach hangs if you need a quick and casual extra layer, or as an light sweatshirt alternative for sunset or sunrise walks. Like a hoodie, it has a large kangaroo front pocket to store essentials for hands-free wear, and the linen weave is perfect for absorbing moisture and keeping sand off of you near the ocean.
Best For Beach Lounging: Nomadix Changing Poncho
Nomadix's Changing Poncho is warm, long and spacious for changing under, and plenty comfortable for lounging in. The MicroTerry material is absorbent, dries quickly, and resists collecting sand too. Made from recycled materials it's also available in 17 unique patterns and colors, so you can choose the one that fits your unique beach style.
Best for Emergencies and Survival: SOL Heat Reflective Poncho
SOL's Heat Reflective Poncho isn't as stylish or design-driven as the others on this list, but it's a great option to throw into your pack for those just-in-case scenarios. The poncho is highly visible and completely wind and waterproof. In addition, it reflects 90% of your body heat back at you if you find yourself in a sticky situation and need to conserve heat and energy. It's only $8 and weighs 2.7 ounces, too, so there's really no excuse not to have one.