Okay, so this won’t be the most trendsetting and smart bit of gear you will ever see me wearing but it is certainly proving to be practical. We both own cagoules, waterproof jackets that are perfect for when the heaven’s open. We live in the north-west of England and have been bought up to carry these cagoules on every walk, even if there isn’t a cloud in the sky, as in our unpredictable climate you just never know.
Cagoules are fantastic in winter but even when made of Gore-tex they can get hot and sticky in a summer shower. Last year at the Upton Blues Festival I noticed lots of people were wearing ponchos in the rain and these looked both practical and comfortable. We don’t buy anything on the spur of the moment but started the process of thinking and researching ponchos.
It seemed the poncho market is broad and we could buy expensive or cheap. Generally with hiking gear I will opt for quality over budget options but as this was a new bit of kit that we were not completely sure would ever be useful we decided to be cautious and frugal. Dipping our toes in to the waterproof poncho market we bought these Trekmate ponchos for £20 each.
After even a short time these ponchos are proving to be perfect for those short sharp summer shower that we often get in the Alps and in UK. In this sort of weather the temperature doesn’t plummet too much and putting on a cagoule, even a breathable one, can be a sweaty experience. We prefer to stay dry and walking in the countryside there isn’t always a bus stop or hut nearby to shelter in. As well as being perfect at a festival these ponchos are now our go-to option on those hiking days when there isn’t a cloud in the sky and but we want to pack a just-in-case waterproof. As the ponchos are lighter and less bulky than our cagoules I am sure we will use them often in our trips to southern Europe. This will mean that our expensive Gore-tex cagoules will last that bit longer.
The Trekmate poncho has a number of other plus points over a cagoule:
- They come in one size so if you are as short as me [162 cms] the poncho is long enough to cover your shorts and keep them dry. Mr BOTRA is a bit taller but the poncho would still cover his short shorts!
- The poncho’s are big enough to go over your rucksack as well as you and keep that dry
- The poncho’s come with a stuff bag so they pack away neatly
- This is a light piece of kit that doesn’t take up much room in your pack
These ponchos only come in black and the design is very simple. At the front there is a large pocket that might be useful to keep any map dry during the shower. There is a zip at the neck and a flap and the hood is a generous size. In the body of the poncho there are two holes with Velcro to stick your hands and arms out of if you need to.
The only downside we have found is that if it gets windy the ponchos can billow. I think if it is that windy it will most probably also be cold and we would be carrying cagoules and waterproof trousers anyway.
We decided to buy at the cheaper end of the poncho market for our first purchase in case these proved to be something that we never actually used. We have only had the ponchos a few months but already I am a convert to a different way of keeping dry on the hills, even if I don’t look like the most stylish walker. If you see me please don’t laugh too much!