Large Rain Poncho
A rain poncho can be an important piece of gear, not just a nice thing to have. Normally we would think of it as something that makes us slightly more comfortable rather than a critical piece of survival equipment. Keeping dry is very important in a survival situation and shouldn’t be overlooked. A large rain poncho can serve other purposes as well though. That's why you specifically want a large one.
Uses for a Large Rain Poncho:
- Keeping dry in the rain
- As a component of a makeshift shelter
- To collect rainwater for drinking or remove salt from seawater
We’re going to cover all of these, just keep reading. The makeshift shelter is probably the most interesting use case.
Keeping Dry In The Rain
Staying dry is important to survival. Getting wet can be your first step towards not surviving. You could freeze to death in a cold environment. Getting wet will speed up the process of freezing to death tremendously. Don't get wet when you're out in the cold. Rain isn't necessarily harmless.
Staying dry will also help you avoid getting hypothermia. Hypothermia is basically when your body can no longer produce enough heat to maintain its normal temperature. People freeze to death even in the summer. That sounds counter intuitive but it does happen. The fact that it is summer gives people a false sense of security. All it takes is a cool night and a damp set of clothes. It happens slowly and often while sleeping.
Hypothermia - Example Scenario
Here is an example scenario. You’re lost out in the middle of nowhere. It is summer and you are in a temperate climate. You have plenty of food and water. You should be able to last for a good while without too much to worry about. You spend the day building a good shelter but it has been raining all day and your cloths are wet, not drenched but damp. You aren’t too worried because it isn’t really cold out and you feel fine.
By the end of the day you are exhausted because you’ve been building a shelter all day. You have also been up for 48 hours. The only thing you can think about is sleeping. You will feel better in the morning. Your cloths are less than comfortable but you are too tired to care. You lay down in your shelter and think to yourself, “Well, it is summer, at least I know that I don’t have to worry about freezing to death. Thats one thing that I don’t have to worry about, right?” You’re not comfortable but you do manage to fall asleep. It was a warm day but since the sun set it has gotten a lot cooler. Your body is losing heat quickly through your damp cloths. As you are sleeping your body temperature slowly starts to drop. This continues until your body can’t maintain its temperature anymore. You never wake up. You die of hypothermia.
This situation could have been avoided by just wearing a large rain poncho and keeping dry. Failing that, your best bet would have been to build a fire which you should do anyway. You can try to dry your cloths by the fire.
Emergency Shelter with a Poncho
This is where having a large rain poncho really comes in handy. The bigger it is, the more useful it will be in constructing a shelter. An emergency shelter of this type is great for quick temporary solution when you just need something quick or when you are on the move.
If you have more time on your hands you should be able to construct a better shelter out of materials collected from your environment. If you came better prepared with a tent, tarp, or survival blanket, you could use those. If you just need to build a shelter quickly and you don’t have time for anything elaborate, a poncho can help you do that. The objective in this case is to have a dry place to sleep that can be thrown together quickly. It can also be apart quickly so you can keep moving the next day.
Collecting Water Using a Large Rain Poncho
Collecting Rain Water
A rain poncho can be used to collect rainwater. If you don't have a container for boiling water and don't have a filter this might be something you would want to try. It definitely beats drinking dirty water. It is only an option if it is raining though. If you can collect rainwater, you will have a clean, pure source of drinking water.
If your only source of water is seawater you can rig up a contraption that will help you distill that water, removing the salt. Once you're done that you will have safe drinkable water. You are probably going to need more than a poncho to do this though. You will need a vessel to boil the water in.
Keep It in Your Pack
A poncho is a handy, multi-purpose piece of basic equipment that can save your life in more ways than one. Throw one in your pack. Better yet, throw two in your pack. They don’t take much space, they aren’t heavy, and they are relatively cheap. A poncho is basically just a big sheet of plastic with a hole for your head and a hood.
Keep in mind that there are other things that can serve many of the same purposes. Yes, you should still bring a poncho even if you have these. A space blanket (mylar or emergency blanket) is great to have in your pack. You should definitely have a space blanket. If you are wearing a waterproof jacket and pants you probably won’t need to actually wear a poncho.
Emergency Poncho Alternative
Need to stay dry? Don’t have a poncho, rain coat, or anything? You may be able to create a makeshift poncho. If you have a large plastic bag or any large waterproof thing that you can wrap around yourself, use that. You can cut a hole in a plastic bag and wear it as a really ugly poncho.
Can’t do any of that? If it isn’t too cold at the moment but it is raining and you want to make sure your clothes don’t get wet for later you can take them off. Take most of your cloths off and put them in your backpack. Don’t have a backpack either? Just put them anywhere that they will stay dry until it stops raining. Obviously, don’t do this if it is really cold or if you are in the snow.
Also, there is a similar scenario where you might need to take your cloths off to keep them dry. If you need to cross a river, take your clothes off, put them in a water proof bag, and hold them above the water as you wade across the river. Your body will dry faster than your cloths. Once you are dry, you can put your cloths back on.
Here is an example of some guy on youtube creating shelters with a poncho. As you can see, they are limited in terms of what you can do but they will keep you dry. Considering how small they are, they go a long way.