Sewing - Poncho

Designed without arm holes, and thus more cape than poncho. Several problems with arm holes: allow lower part of arms to get wet; allow rain to blow in and wet torso, especially when poncho worn over a backpack; more cumbersome to put poncho on and take off when wearing backpack.

To keep back of poncho from blowing in wind, cord attached to back bottom hem runs through legs and attaches to belt of pants. To keep front of poncho from blowing in wind or interfering with hiking stick, simply grab hold of front bottom hem. Some people tie belt around waist to keep poncho from blowing in wind, but this interferes with ventilation and makes it more difficult to get in and out of poncho.

Poncho interferes with free use of hands, especially when leaning forwards. When rain reduced to light drizzle, possible to minimize interference by rolling up front and hooking into place using cord with mitten hook attached to inside front of hood. This also greatly increases ventilation.

Hood opening shifted forwards so that poncho longer in back than front, thus providing adequate coverage (just above knees) for man 5'11" (180cm) tall carrying medium-sized backpack. When worn without backpack, poncho reaches to just below knees.

Normally wear poncho with wide-brim hat, which provides sufficient protection from light rain that hood can be folded up (after snugging neck cord tight) to allow ventilation of neck area. In heavy rain or when cold, hold hood in place under wide-brim hat. Cord with mitten hook can be pulled through hood opening and attached to chinstrap of hat, to keep hat from blowing away in strong winds.

Can be difficult to put on poncho in windy conditions while wearing backpack. Hiking stick can be used to push back of poncho over backpack. Use handle of stick rather than sharp tip, of course.

Poncho can be hung from ridge of tarp, to protect from rain blowing in front of tarp.

Stuff sack sewed to inside back hood seam of poncho, so as to be always available.

Weighs about 250 grams when made of 1.6 oz/sqyd (1.9 oz/sqyd after coating) HyperD PU4000 from Shiny side facing out, matte side facing in. Seal seams on shiny side with seam grip.

TBC Use waterproof breathable fabric for hood. Waterproof breathable too heavy for entire poncho, but adds only small amount of weight to hood, which is where condensation most problematic.

Weight about 170 grams when made of 1.1 oz/sqyd (1.3 oz/sqyd after coating) silnylon. No difference between sides. Seal seams with silnet. Silicone waterproofing tends to wear off with usage. Not a problem with tarps, in my experience, but is problem with poncho, silnylon not good choice for poncho fabric.


Critical dimension where hood connects to front body. Hood pieces sewn together with 3/8" seam in back, and 1/2" flat-felled seam in front. Rear seam removes .75", front seam removes about 1.5", or 2.25" total. Hood thus about 30.75" circumference. Hood opening should be about 1.2" less than this, or about 29.5". Reasoning is that 3/8" seam between hood and body will expand hood opening by about 3/8" diameter, and circumference of circle (which hood opening approximates) expands by ratio of pi (3.14) times increase in diameter, or about 1.2". Making hood opening smaller than calculations imply allows for errors: hood will be too large, so just trim excess seam allowance on back of hood.

poncho pattern