Last Update: 12.Nov.2020
Strong waterproof fabric
Can survive strong winds
Fits right in your backpack
Reusable across seasons
Comes with a protective hood
Will degrade over time
Can double as a tarp
Wraps over your backpack
70D nylon construction
Not as portable as others
Hardly weighs 9 ounces
Includes carrying pouch
Strong waterproof polyester fabric
Complementary PU coating
Seams are taped down
Not very breathable
Converts into a makeshift shelter
Grommets accounts for stability
Waterproof taffeta nylon fabric
Includes a stuff sack pocket
Weighs 17 ounces
Secure hood with cinches
Can survive wind and rain
Sleeves stay down
Includes chest pocket
100 liter total capacity
Hood may be too tight
Can be used as a shelter
Stays down even in strong winds
Lightweight polyester fabric
PU and special DWR coating
Compatible with helmet
Hikers use rain capes all the time, but it’s not clear why. Essentially, what’s the difference between a rain cape and a regular jacket? While rain jackets may seem more intuitive to you, rain ponchos have their own uses.
Firstly, rain capes are highly versatile. There’s only so many shapes and forms a jacket can take. But a cape can be manipulated in whatever way you want. Turn it into a tarp. Use it to cover your bag. Or better yet, use it like a hammock. The choices are endless.
The second reason is the storage capacity. Capes themselves can be stuffed in a compression sack without worries of creases. And they can feature many more pockets than rain jackets. This again adds to their versatility, and gives you a secondary storage option after your primary backpack.
Firstly, look for the size that you want. Most capes come in a standard size that may slightly vary. Ponchos that are designed to work like tarps may be larger.
Weight is an important factor as you’ll likely be wearing the cape for hours. Look for ponchos that weight less than 10 to 11 pounds.
Also consider how you’re going to store it. Many capes come with their own stuff sack pocket or carry bag.
This is by far the most important consideration. Water-resistance of a cape can never be judged easily. And especially not without knowledge of fabric weights and the material. There are a number of materials, each with its own level of waterproofing.
Then there’s the PU coating and taping. A simple PU coating is sufficient for most purposes. But especially look for one on nylon ponchos. As for the taping, all good capes have strict taping covering their seams.
While not an absolute necessity, zippers and cords help to adjust the cape. Cords can be found all around the poncho, around the sleeves, on the cuffs, and through the brim of the hood.
Look for a good amount of zippers, cords, and pockets that make your cape more versatile and economic.
Flexibility usually isn’t a major deciding factor in rain capes. But if your poncho is the kind that goes over your backpack, you’ll want a bit of stretch.
Breathability is a whole other aspect. Capes in general are very breathable since they don’t sit flush against your body, unlike rain jackets. However, the fabric itself isn’t designed to allow air in, partly due to its weight and waterproofing.
Choice of material is the most complicated and the most important buying factor to consider. There are a few key materials that ponchos are made from.
First we have our holy trinity of PVC, polyester, and nylon. PVC isn’t the strongest and capes made from this fabric don’t last long. Nylon ponchos, while not being very waterproof, are very breathable. Both of these are nullified by the additional PU coating on most nylon capes.
Polyester is your best bet. It’s lightweight, durable, and gets the job done. It’s not very breathable, but neither are the other three.
Then we have Cuban fiber, which is the lightest rain poncho fabric. It’s known for its immense durability in the face of wind and rain.
Paratex Dry, Dyneema, and Sil-Nylon are all special fabrics that have been engineered to do everything the other fabrics cant. They are considered to be more lightweight and more breathable. And Paratex Dry in specific is good for letting sweat evaporate.
Hikers and campers alike are always in pursuit of versatility. So the general reaction when they hear of cape-shelter combos is mostly positive.
Many newer capes now have the ability to convert into a full-fledged tarp. Most can house up to two residents. And they even have internal pockets for storing your goods.
Ponchos are lighter than rain jackets and don’t stick to your body too closely. This means that you won’t feel wet or uncomfortable, and your range of motion is not limited.
They also have the benefit of being highly versatile, as many can double as tarps and hammocks. And to add to that, a lot of capes have way more capacity than their jacket counterparts.
In the Toptravelpoint Blog you will always find useful and up-to-date information about hiking and camping. & Bryce
Our experts will always help make your life easier.
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