Last updated: August 11, 2021

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We have all been caught in the rain in the worst of situations. In such cases, you naturally have nothing with you to protect yourself from the rain. Rain ponchos are the ideal way to avoid getting soaked to the skin when out and about. Not only are they lighter than rain jackets, they usually cover a larger area and take up less space in your bag. Our rain poncho test 2021 tells you everything you need to know before you buy a rain poncho. We explain the different types of ponchos for bad weather and also give you tips and tricks to help you find the perfect rain poncho for you.




Summary

  • A rain poncho offers you the opportunity to protect yourself or your child from the next rain shower. The majority of models are cut in such a way that you can move freely and easily put on and take off the rain cape.
  • Although all rain ponchos support the same functions, there are still different categories into which the rain capes can be divided. Besides disposable rain capes, there are also ponchos for regular use, for cycling or with multi-function.
  • Even within each individual category, rain capes can differ in terms of their design. Therefore, you have a relatively wide scope to find a rain cape that protects you from the rain and also pleases you visually.

The Best Rain Poncho: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a rain poncho

What are the advantages of a rain poncho compared to the alternatives?

Classic alternatives to a rain poncho, such as water-repellent rain jackets or umbrellas, also offer some protection against the elements. Nevertheless, a rain poncho has certain advantages. These advantages are listed below:

  • Greater range of protection
  • Greater freedom of movement
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Backpack protection

An umbrella has the disadvantage that you will be soaked despite the protection if the wind is too strong. In addition, carrying the umbrella all the time restricts your freedom of movement. A rain cape allows you to go cycling, hiking or horseback riding. This is difficult to do with an umbrella. If you are going on tour, you should be equipped for any weather. However, a classic rain jacket only makes limited sense. On the one hand, most hardshell jackets are not suitable for high continuous pressure, and on the other hand they cannot prevent water from running down between the back and the rucksack - but a well-cut rain poncho can. In addition, ponchos offer a lot of freedom of movement, great wearing comfort and are permanently waterproof and breathable. At the same time, a rain poncho has a very small pack size, so it should not be missing from any serious equipment. A combination of rain jacket and rain trousers can ensure that you regularly have to put on and take off your clothes in changing weather. Rain capes, on the other hand, are easy to put on, airy to wear and just as quick to take off again.

Furthermore, rain ponchos for frequent use and multi-purpose rain ponchos offer you the possibility of protecting your backpack. This function is not available with rain jackets or umbrellas.

How much does a rain poncho cost?

The price of a rain poncho depends on whether you want to buy a rain poncho for the next outdoor event or whether you need high-quality protection against the rain in the long term. Disposable mackintoshes are often available in a multipack and are available from around €0.40 to as little as €2 each. Spending money on a disposable rain poncho is therefore very cheap and a good way to come home with mostly dry and clean clothes. The higher-quality models for frequent use, on the other hand, are in a higher price range. However, these also offer you added value. When investing in such a rain poncho, prices can range from 5 to 80 euros. For a bicycle or multifunctional poncho, on the other hand, you would have to reckon with prices ranging from 15 to 120 euros.
Type price
Disposable rain ponchos under 2 euros
Rain ponchos for regular use around 10 to 80 euros
Bicycle rain ponchos around 15 to 120 euros
Multifunctional rain ponchos around 15 to 120 euros

What are the different designs, colours and patterns of rain ponchos?

Rain ponchos come in many more designs, colours and patterns than you might initially think. First of all, as already mentioned in the "Recommendations" section, disposable rain capes are always transparent and can be bought in many bright colours. Mostly, however, they do not have any patterns and are made in a simple cut for both men and women.
Did you know that the poncho originally comes from South America? The Spanish word "poncho" originally described a coat used by indigenous peoples, which was usually made in bright colours. The poncho is made of a cloth in which a slit is cut in the middle for the head and which thus lies on the shoulders. The poncho was not a raincoat, but a traditional festive garment and was also worn at weddings.

Higher-quality models, on the other hand, can have many different details that underline your personal style. With these types of ponchos, there are models that are specially cut for men or for women. Rain capes with a camouflage look or simply in light and dark solid colours are particularly popular with adults. Furthermore, there are striped, dotted or checked ponchos to buy, depending on taste.

Compared to an umbrella, a rain poncho also protects the lower body in the rain. (Image source: pexels.com / Adrianna Calvo)

Girls and boys can also enjoy different motifs and bright colours. This way, schoolchildren can keep themselves and their "satchel" dry at all times under a colourful rain poncho. In addition, rain capes for children are also ideal for playing in the garden with friends.

Are rain ponchos available made of environmentally friendly material?

Yes, environmentally friendly disposable rain ponchos are now produced by various manufacturers that you can safely throw away or even bury in nature after use. These are biodegradable products, usually made from corn or potato starch. Another advantage is that the manufacturers steer clear of animal products and chemical solvents. If you want to purchase an eco-friendly poncho in the future, however, be aware that they can be a little more expensive than traditional disposable plastic rain capes.

Are there rain capes that are especially suitable for people who rely on a wheelchair or walker?

Yes, there are now rain ponchos available that are cut in such a way that they can optimally protect wheelchair and rollator users from wetness, wind and snow. Just like conventional rain capes, these ponchos can be put on and taken off quickly. Models for wheelchair users often have an integrated rubber in the foot area so that the poncho cannot blow up. Furthermore, there are variants with transparent viewing windows on both sides of the hood so that the driver can see his surroundings at all times. Ponchos for rollator users cover a large part of the device and have rubber loops on the arms to ensure a better grip. Also in this case, some models have a transparent viewing window on the sides of the hood.

Decision: What types of rain ponchos are there and which one is right for you?

Rain ponchos are designed to protect you and your clothes from wind and weather. However, there are different types of rain capes that differ in terms of the material used, the price, the durability or even the intended use. Usually, what all rain ponchos have in common is that they are designed like a kind of water-repellent hooded cloak with side pockets for the arms. Which one is the perfect rain poncho for you depends a lot on what you want to do. Therefore, four different types of rain capes are presented below. In addition, the most important advantages and disadvantages of the four different types are listed.

  • Disposable rain ponchos
  • Rain ponchos for regular use
  • Bicycle rain ponchos
  • Multifunctional rain ponchos

What distinguishes a disposable rain poncho and what advantages and disadvantages should be considered when buying one?

As a rule, disposable rain ponchos are made of very light and thin material such as plastic. For this reason, the advantage of this type of rain cape is that you can easily stow it away. In addition, you do not have to carry a heavy weight and you can use it comfortably. Ideally, these rain ponchos are best for you if you don't need a poncho regularly. A disposable rain cape is therefore particularly suitable for wet days and nights at festivals, sporting events, camping or other outdoor activities. This way, you can stay mostly dry in an economical way and you don't have to worry about the weather. Disposable rain capes are transparent and available in different colours. As disposable rain ponchos are not intended for permanent use, the finish of the disposable rain capes is very simple and the material is not particularly tear-resistant.

Advantages
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight material
  • Easy to store
Disadvantages
  • Not tear-resistant
  • Not suitable for long-term use
  • Less high-quality workmanship

What are the characteristics of a rain poncho for regular use and what are the advantages and disadvantages of buying one?

If you are frequently exposed to external weather conditions, then a high-quality and durable rain poncho is suitable. A poncho for regular use can be especially beneficial when cycling, hiking, riding, fishing or hunting. The material is usually made of polyester or nylon and, unlike disposable rain capes, is tear-resistant, durable and washable. High-quality workmanship is also characterised by the fact that these rain capes can often have built-in press studs, a backpack protector, an adjustable hood and/or reflective stripes. The sleeves of such rain ponchos usually only reach up to the elbows, so that you can move freely. Rain ponchos for regular use are generally available in one size and unisex. However, there are also variants that come in different sizes, colours and patterns. For this reason, these higher quality rain capes are often customisable to your personal taste. This type of rain cape also comes in ponchos for adults and children, as well as specifically for women and men. In this way, you can be permanently prepared for bad weather, whether in everyday life, at work or in your leisure time.

Advantages
  • Regular use possible
  • Tear-resistant, robust, washable material
  • High-quality workmanship
Disadvantages
  • Less expensive than disposable rain capes
  • Weighs up to 500 g
  • Less easy to store

What distinguishes a bicycle rain poncho and what are the advantages and disadvantages to consider when buying one?

Basically, all rain ponchos that are made for frequent use are also suitable for protecting you while cycling. However, there are manufacturers who have dealt with the special requirements of cycling and have therefore designed rain ponchos for cycling. The difference to conventional rain capes is that these ponchos have hand-grip loops for the bicycle handlebars. There is also an integrated waist belt to prevent wind flutter. In addition, there is an adjustable hood so that you can use your bike helmet without any problems. It is also important that you choose the right size when cycling, because a one-size-fits-all poncho could cause problems when riding. For this reason, rain ponchos for cycling usually have a range of sizes. Buying a cycling rain poncho is advisable if you cycle frequently and you want to be prepared for a sudden change in weather. However, a few models of cycling rain capes are designed in such a way that they would be difficult to use for other outdoor activities. It should also be noted that the average price is a little higher than for simple rain capes. Thus, bicycle rain ponchos do not work well on models such as road bikes, BMXs and mountain bikes. However, on an e-bike, a bicycle rain poncho works great.

Advantages
  • Specially adapted to cycling
  • High-quality workmanship
Disadvantages
  • Higher price - from around 30 euros
  • Some models cannot be used for other purposes

What are the characteristics of a multifunctional rain poncho and what are the advantages and disadvantages of buying one?

If you are passionate about hiking, hunting or camping, then it might make sense for you to invest in a multifunctional rain poncho. Of course, you can use a rain poncho for frequent use for any activity, but a multifunctional rain poncho offers additional features that will benefit you in nature and the wilderness. This rain poncho can be transformed into a sleeping bag, a ground tarp or even a tent, depending on your needs. The material is usually made of polyester or nylon and has sealed seams that guarantee you stay dry around the clock. The purchase of a multifunctional rain poncho depends, as with the previous designs, heavily on your personal requirements. Due to its relatively heavy weight, this rain cape is less suitable for everyday use.

Advantages
  • Combination of several functions in one product
  • High-quality responsibility
Disadvantages
  • Weighs up to 1 kg
  • Less suitable for everyday use

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and rate rain ponchos

If you want to buy a rain poncho, it is a good idea to compare the most important buying criteria first. This will make it easier for you to evaluate the individual products and make the right choice. The most important features are therefore presented below.

  • Quality of the material
  • Quality of workmanship
  • The ideal weight
  • Size of the rain poncho
  • Design
  • Unisex or especially for women / men
  • Additional storage bag

Quality of the material

The material used not only has a significant influence on the purchase price, it also affects the quality and durability of your rain cape.

Did you know that Ötzi wore a poncho? A grass cloak that served as a cape was discovered on the glacier mummy in the Ötztal Alps in 1991. The cape, which is more than 5,000 years old, is one of the oldest archaeologically documented ponchos. The time of Ötzi's death is estimated to be between 3359 and 3105 BC.

Most disposable rain capes are made of inexpensive plastics such as polyethylene or PVC. Although these materials are water-repellent, they are not particularly hard-wearing. Furthermore, it should be noted that these fabrics can often have an unpleasant plastic smell. Higher-quality models, such as ponchos for regular use, bicycle rain ponchos or multifunctional rain ponchos, on the other hand, are made of synthetic fibres such as nylon or polyester. The advantage of these materials is that they are highly water-repellent as well as resistant and durable. They are characterised by strong material and tear resistance, yet they are stretchy and elastic. In this respect, nylon is even one of the synthetic fibres with the highest material strength. Even parachutes are made of this material. Moreover, some of these nylon rain ponchos are additionally coated with PVC to guarantee unlimited protection against rain. Before making a purchase, however, it should not be forgotten that a higher quality material always means a higher purchase price than a rain poncho made of inexpensive synthetic materials.

Quality of workmanship

It is not only important when buying conventional clothing to pay attention to the quality of the workmanship of the product, this criterion also plays a major role with rain ponchos. In this respect, you should pay particular attention to the presence of sealed or welded seams. They guarantee that no water can get inside through the seams. Furthermore, this type of workmanship ensures that your rain cape is held tightly together by the seams for a long time and does not tear prematurely. The importance of solid workmanship is also reflected in the fact that the integrated press studs, the hood or the backpack protection are properly attached. A higher quality of workmanship is most often found in high-quality rain ponchos. Disposable rain capes have no seams due to their material and are generally very plainly finished.

Similar to choosing a high quality material, you should expect a higher price for a decent quality finish.

The ideal weight

The weight of individual rain ponchos can range from a few grams to almost a kilo. The average weight of rain capes is therefore around 500 grams. For this reason, it is relatively important to think about whether the weight of the rain cape will not cause you further inconvenience. A feather-light rain poncho is certainly desirable for most outdoor activities. In this case, the disposable rain capes can convince with a weight of up to approx. 50 grams. If, on the other hand, you opt for a poncho for regular use, a cycling rain poncho or a multifunctional rain poncho, then the high-quality material has a disadvantage in this respect. Additional press studs or similar features also add weight. As a rule, the weight of these high-quality models can range from 250 to 800 grams.

Size of the rain poncho

The majority of all rain ponchos on offer are available in one size. This is not a big problem in most cases, because the poncho should fit loosely anyway and not be tight. Especially in the case of disposable rain capes, a perfectly fitted size is not a priority due to their short life span. On the other hand, when investing in a high-quality and durable rain poncho, the right size could play a role. If you plan to move around a lot in your rain cape and the one-size-fits-all doesn't really fit you, then you should make sure to buy a poncho in your size. Especially when hiking or cycling, a one-size-fits-all rain cape might restrict you. Some models are available in sizes ranging from XS to XXL. In most cases, you can try on the high-quality rain capes in the shops or return a size that doesn't fit to the mail-order company. Since these options are available, you can always be sure to find the perfect fitting rain poncho.

Design

You have already discovered a small excerpt on the subject of rain poncho design in the "Guide" section. Here, the design as a purchase criterion for a rain poncho is explained in more detail. Basically, this criterion depends on whether you want a poncho that suits you fashionably or whether you just want to use the cape as a simple rain protection. Even if you are not particularly interested in fashion, there are some features that you might find interesting. The cheap disposable rain ponchos fulfil their water-repellent function, but they cannot convince with an elaborate design. Especially among the ponchos for regular use or for the bike, there is a wide range of colours and patterns. Eye-catching colours can be particularly advantageous in road traffic. However, for other purposes, you can choose from up to eight different colours for some products. For example, depending on your personal style, you can get a poncho in a warm colour like mango. You can also choose from a range of subtle colours such as navy blue, olive, white or black. Among the range of patterns, the rain poncho with a patchwork camouflage look is particularly popular. There are also plenty of products that catch the eye with colourful dots or floral patterns. For this reason, many manufacturers offer you a beautiful design in addition to the conventional water-repellent function. Disposable rain ponchos usually do not have an elaborate design, but still fulfil their water-repellent function. Eye-catching colours can be particularly advantageous, especially in road traffic.

Unisex or specially designed for women/men

As a rule, rain capes from most manufacturers are designed to be gender-neutral. In the cut, therefore, no special attention is paid to whether the buyer is a man or a woman. When buying a disposable rain poncho, it should be noted that they are only available in unisex. Some manufacturers of high-quality products, on the other hand, make rain ponchos that are specifically for women or for men. If it is important to you to find a rain cape that meets these requirements, then you should have no problem finding one. Rain ponchos that are specially designed for women are characterised by the fact that they accentuate the figure. These rain capes are cut tighter at the waist than unisex rain capes and are made with an overall perfect fit. Men could also opt for a rain poncho that, in addition to its water-repellent function, is stylish and specially made for men.

Additional storage bag

A storage bag for a rain poncho that is included with the purchase may not seem very important. However, an included bag offers you some advantages. If you want to use a high-quality and durable rain poncho, then a practical way of taking the product with you should not be underestimated. With a perfectly adapted storage bag, you can optimally fold your rain cape and take it with you wherever you go. This way, you only have to wear the rain poncho when you really need it, and you can also store it in the bag again at any time. In most cases, the material of this storage bag is also made of water-repellent material and is also easy to carry.

When buying, it is a good idea to check whether there is an additional pocket.

Interesting facts about rain ponchos

How long have rain ponchos been used?

The idea of using a rain cape as protection against wind and weather has been around for several thousand years. Even Ötzi, who was found in South Tyrol, is said to have worn a kind of mackintosh made of sweet grass. Similar finds can also be found in ancient Rome as well as in ancient China. While the Romans thought about the cut and length of rain ponchos, the people of China developed ponchos made of different materials, such as straw or sour grass. These materials were considered highly water-repellent and were therefore used throughout history, especially by farmers or fishermen.

Industrially produced rain ponchos made of various plastics have only been around for about 70 years.

Are there rain capes for dogs?

Yes, there are a number of different models with which you can protect your dog from wind, snow and rain. Similar to rain ponchos for humans, there are also a large number of products that differ in cut or colour. In detail, individual rain capes for dogs can also be further differentiated. There are models that only cover the back and some that can protect the legs and head. This makes it possible for you to find the right rain cape for your four-legged friend.

Image source: peterhershey / unsplash.com

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