Best Survival Poncho for Military-Grade Rain Cover

In the face of nature’s harshest elements, a reliable and rugged rain cover becomes an invaluable asset for any outdoor enthusiast or professional. When it comes to surviving and thriving amidst pouring rain, the right gear can make all the difference. Enter the world of survival ponchos, where functionality meets durability, offering a shield against nature’s downpours.

There are plenty of brands of ponchos to pick from. This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best ponchos, put them to the test, and now the results are in: the overall best, an emergency option, and an upgrade option. If you want to stay warm and dry no matter your situation, one of our picks will have your back covered.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

Arcturus Rain Poncho

The Best Survival Poncho

Arcturus Rain Poncho

Durable, Versatile, and Effective

Take versatility to the next level with a poncho solution that will keep you covered no matter the situation or configuration.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Arcturus is rapidly becoming known for its outdoor survival solutions including tarps, wool blankets, and even ghillie suits. These ponchos they’ve developed are much more durable than emergency ponchos since they incorporate ripstop nylon and two layers of waterproof coating.

Here is how the Arcturus measures up:

  • 210T Ripstop Nylon
  • Dual waterproof polyurethane coating
  • Steel grommets
  • 54″ x 45″ (8″x 4″ packed)
  • 4’6″ x 8′ as shelter or ground tarp
  • 11 ounces

With great versatility at an affordable price- it’s easy to see why the Arcturus Rain Poncho is the best.

Everlit Emergency Poncho

Emergency Poncho

Everlit Emergency Poncho

Inexpensive, Efficient, and Compact

Leverage all of mylar’s benefits with a pack of ponchos that make sense in any emergency kit.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Mylar is always a good choice for emergency gear, being cheap, lightweight, insulating, and waterproof. All of these properties make it a great option for ponchos when you add some PE coating for durability.

Here is how these ponchos measure up:

  • 4-pack of ponchos
  • Mylar with PE coating
  • 1 mil (24 microns)
  • 47″ x 40″
  • 4 ounces each

If you are looking for an inexpensive solution solely for emergencies, the Everlit Emergency Poncho is what you need.

Helikon-Tex Swagman Roll Military Poncho

Upgrade Survival Poncho

Helikon-Tex Swagman Roll

Large, Insulated, and Effective

Get the ultimate poncho/woobie blanket with this top-tier insulated solution great for any outdoor survival situation.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

The Swagman Roll is a bit of a detour from the rest of the rain gear we covered but it’s too good to pass up for our review. While it’s not technically designed for rain protection, it is exceptional when it comes to versatile survival gear that shelters your body in a wide range of conditions. It also integrates with USGI rain ponchos for even better waterproofing.

Here are the full specs:

  • DWR-coated nylon fabric
  • Climashield Apex insulation
  • Steel grommets
  • 57″ x 79″ (8″x 4″ packed)
  • 1.6 pounds

If you are looking for the best full-function poncho, get a Helikon-Tex Swagman Roll Poncho for all of your outdoor survival and bushcraft needs.

Everything We Recommend

Arcturus Rain Poncho

Arcturus Rain Poncho

Take versatility to the next level with a poncho solution that will keep you covered no matter the situation or configuration.

Where to Buy

$22* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

Everlit Emergency Poncho

Everlit Emergency Poncho

Leverage all of mylar’s benefits with a pack of ponchos that make sense in any emergency kit.

Where to Buy

$16* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

Helikon-Tex Swagman Roll Military Poncho

Helikon-Tex Swagman Roll

Get the ultimate poncho/woobie blanket with this top-tier insulated solution great for any outdoor survival situation.

Where to Buy

$142* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

The Pochos We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to several brands and types of ponchos that we compared: Everlit, Arcturus, Helikon-Tex, Frogg Toggs, 5.11, Snugpak, Prepared4X, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We considered a wide range of rain gear but ended up comparing emergency and military-style ponchos to compare similar but versatile rain gear solutions. There was some close competition in this review, with several good options at a variety of price points.

We’re always looking for new and better gear, so if you have a poncho that you swear by, let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually so we can try to get it in the next roundup round and see if it will beat out our top picks.

What to Look For

The best survival ponchos have several important features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Waterproofness
  3. Coverage
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Durability

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a rain-slick that you can rely on in any monsoon. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the ponchos that truly set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a poncho shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. There is a wide range of price points when it comes to ponchos mostly related to their material durability.

You never want to spend too much money on one thing when it comes to clothing. It’s better to diversify your gear and budget to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios.


Most ponchos come waterproof out of the box, but not all ‘waterproof’ is created equal. After some time, and especially after packing and abrasion, some waterproof coatings can wear off. Some materials, like mylar, are simply not permeable, so they are waterproof due to the base material but that can have limitations in breathability and durability.


Typically, the larger the poncho the better- as long as you can adjust the shape of it with ties. Billowy emergency ponchos can snag on branches and sharp corners causing tears and other counterproductive issues. Heavier-weight ponchos won’t get pushed around by wind as easily, making them better in storms.

Size & Weight

If you are keeping a poncho in a mobile survival kit, size and weight can become a concern. Emergency ponchos weigh just a few ounces and are designed to be low profile and light, but sacrifice some durability to get there.


Durability isn’t at the top of the list when it comes to emergency use, but it quickly becomes important the longer the emergency goes on. When an emergency turns into a survival situation, you’ll want some of the most durable gear on the planet by your side.

How to Use a Poncho for Survival

A poncho can be a versatile and useful item in survival situations, providing protection from rain, wind, and other elements. Here are some tips on how to use a rain poncho for survival:

  1. Rain Protection: Wear the poncho to shield yourself from rain and keep your body dry. Put on the poncho and fasten any snaps, buttons, or cords to secure it. Ensure it covers your head and extends below your knees to provide maximum coverage.
  2. Shelter: In emergency situations, a rain poncho can be used to create a makeshift shelter. Find a sturdy branch or pole, tie one end of the poncho to it, and use stakes or rocks to secure the corners to the ground. This will provide a basic shelter from the rain or as a windbreak.
  3. Ground Cover: Lay the rain poncho on the ground to create a barrier between you and damp or wet surfaces. This can help insulate you from the cold ground and keep you dry.
  4. Water Collection: If you need to collect rainwater for drinking or other purposes, you can fashion the rain poncho into a container. Create a small depression in the ground by placing a rock or digging with your hands, and allow the poncho to collect rainwater in the depression. Secure the edges to prevent water from escaping.
  5. Improvised Backpack: If you need to carry items or gather supplies, you can turn the rain poncho into an improvised backpack. Bundle your belongings in the center of the poncho, gather the corners together, and tie them with a cord or twist ties to create a makeshift bag.

Remember, a rain poncho can be a valuable survival tool, but it’s always important to have a well-prepared survival kit that includes other essential items such as food, water, a first aid kit, and navigation tools.

Who Needs a Survival Poncho?

Staying dry and warm is important for everyone. Survival ponchos do just that exceptionally well with little regard for fashion. Full-function rain ponchos are one of the most versatile pieces of clothing you can have.

We consider a rain poncho essential for these kits:

We suggest you consider one for these survival kits:

Ponchos are useful for everything outdoors from hikes to sporting events and are always handy in an emergency.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best survival poncho are useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical survival experience:

Ladigin, D. (2005). Lighten Up!: A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultralight Backpacking. Falcon Guide; Guilford, Connecticut. (Source)

Malcolm, S., et al. (2000). A thermal assessment of army wet weather jackets. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics. Volume 26. Issue 3. Pages 417-424. (Source)

Worley, G. (2011). Personal Survival Kits. Air Medical Journal. Volume 30. Issue 5. Pages 264-269. (Source)

The Final Word

No matter your situation it is important to stay dry. All survival-geared clothes pitch in to help with this, but none are as effective as the versatile poncho. Whether you are getting emergency ponchos for your car kits or a robust poncho for bushcraft- they are always an investment worth making to stay dry.

Here are a few other guides and reviews our subscribers have found helpful:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our research and testing found the Arcturus Rain Poncho to be the best option given its value, waterproofness, coverage, size/weight, and durability.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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The Best Survival Poncho

Rusty Collins

I am an engineer, Air Force veteran, emergency manager, husband, dad, and experienced prepper. I developed emergency and disaster plans around the globe and responded to many attacks and accidents as a HAZMAT technician. I have been exposed to deadly chemical agents, responded to biological incidents, and dealt with natural disasters. Check out my full story here: Rusty's Story

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