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!
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.
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.
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.