Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Hazard4 labs - Poncho Villa

With the fickle Melbourne weather, the prospect of being caught out in the rain in the afternoon, following a bright sunny day is all too common. Wearing a coat is all good and well, but can be a bit of overkill day to day. I have kept a poncho in my bags for years, for this very reason.

When I saw that Hazard4 Gear had produced a modern, fully featured and rugged poncho, I was all over it, and just had to wait for it to go into production, from early rumors and show-demos.

This is the Poncho Villa, a sombrero-tip to the prominent Mexican Revolutionary general, Pancho Villa.
I finally managed to get my act together to order one (along with the Ventrapack admin case and the LaunchPad iPad sleeve.) I was not disappointed.

This poncho is a far cry from the crinkly vinyl or shopping0bag style plastic material of others I've used, instead being constructed from a sturdy water-resistant/breathable soft-shell fabric, (86% polyester 14%spandex), with 4 way stretch, and a polyester lining layer.

It features fully-taped seams that are reported to be 100% waterproof, and rugged enough to be used over and over without splitting or tearing, let alone leaking when you need it least.

I was really impressed with the design and the additional features that really make this a technical garment, and not just a plastic bag with a head hole.

Loop fields on the shoulders give you a large unit ID display area (and the cut is such that it falls nicely, and prominently. I have my large Z.E.R.T. 702 shield here, to give you an idea of scale. There are also two much larger panels, for "agency style" patches, as well as a panel on the back of the hood. Lots of ID infrastructure there. I liked the CHEF patch from my new BBQ apron ....

 The hood itself houses some great features. Cinches are found at the base of the skull, and two at the throat, offering quite the variety of adjustment. All three cinches are concealed behind hook-and-loop panels, to ensure snag free operation, and the cord-locks are sewn into the garment, to give even more control. 

As well as having a hook-and-loop closure, the chin panel also has a hefty zipper, which really makes the whole poncho button up tight. 

On top of that, the sides each have two press-stud snaps, to prevent it flapping about and keeping you extra dry, as well as there being large grommets at each of the four corners. Each of these are heavily reinforced and independently stitched in, no more torn eyelets when using a poncho as a bivvy!

Between the modern materials, and the clever tailoring, both the introduction of the loop-fields and the cinches, as well as the jacket-like fit of the shoulders, this is a great improvement in design over the original versions.

But wait, there is more!

That big pocket on the chest, under the front loop-filed, is big enough to happily store my iPad, and a bunch of other items, kangaroo style, and features dual hook-and-loop closures (although I was a little disappointed to see these in black and not colour matched as all the others had been). The pocket also features a single, double sided zipper. Double sided? I hear you ask...

The kargaroo pouch doubles as a storage pocked to fold the entire poncho up into!

When self-stuffed, the outside features this descriptive info sheet, but is normally hidden away inside the pouch it becomes. The bag in this format has a lanyard anchor loop for hanging, and a drainage grommet for ventilation.

When stuffed into its bag, it measures 30cm, (12"), 24cm (9") by15cm (6"), but this can be compressed a fair amount. Bulky, but not a big issue. It also makes a great pillow!

I wore it camping, I've worn it in the rain, and in the wind. Its very comfortable and not at ALL like wearing a plastic bag.

With the hood up you have excellent coverage, although I found the material of the hood was a very strong sound insulator.

The fit of the poncho was excellent. I'm a very tall critter, at 193cm (6'4"), with extra long arms, and I get very good coverage in the rain.

All that coverage also gives the poncho another useful characteristic. It allows you to throw it on over a pack and not only cover the pack, but also maintaining the shelter for my legs. Even when wearing a pack OVER the poncho, there was very little loss of coverage, except for about the forarm-to-elbow area.

I really like this garment, and almost look forwards to the spring rains we are seeing the ends of. Summer trains will be an adventure. Even autumn and winter rains will be less arduous with this.


  1. Replies


    2. Cheers. Couldn't find one that shipped to Australia

    3. they will ship here, I've gotten a bunch of stuff from them, you might need to contact them and ask about arranging shipping ....

  2. Looks like a neat bit of kit. I've been thinking about getting one of these for a while now. I want to pair it with a Hill People Gear Mountain Serape to make a wearable shelter system. I was wondering if you could tell me the dimensions of the Poncho Villa, can't seem to find them online anywhere.

    1. g'day Timothy ... the poncho is approx 5' from wrist to wrist, and a bit more than 6' "longways when laid flat, or over 3' front and back when worn.

      rough estimate, based on my height, will measure again when I have a tape measure and the poncho in the same place ...

  3. Are the o.d. green available I cant find them anywhere on the internet

  4. And it looks as though yours is

    1. mine is their "coyote" which is sort of a tan / khaki kind of colour, I'll do a colour comparison sometime soon for you .....

  5. Thanks for these outstanding pictures . These are really beautiful

    Disposable Rain Ponchos


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