The Exped Pack Poncho UL is an ultra light, breezy option for full body and pack coverage perfect for those long, unrelenting rain storms. Instead of utilizing a jacket, pants, and a pack cover, the poncho minimizes materials yet covers the entire body and the backpack for full protection while still managing to be ultra light.
The Pack Poncho UL is built from 15D Ripstop Nylon and is silicone/PU coated to provided 1500 mm of protection. The poncho has a large hood with a brim and can be cinched down around the head to keep it in place during storms or wind. The poncho covers the head, body, and the backpack to create a full water seal, instead of utilizing a pack cover that lets water run down between a rain jacket and the back of the backpack, where it soaks through anyway. The design is roomy enough inside to provide freedom of movement, and also improves ventilation as air can work it’s way in from the bottom and around the hands. There is also a clip that connects the front of the poncho to the back, running between the knees of the user, to prevent the poncho from blowing up when wind becomes problematic. A small internal pocket provides storage, and also doubles as a convenient way of packing it away. The entire poncho weighs just 8.1 oz, has a two year warranty, and sells for around $135.99 in the U.S.
What I liked
I’ve always been a fan of ponchos for the sense of freedom and mobility they bestow. Instead of feeling shrink wrapped and constricted, it allows full, unencumbered movement. This comes in handy when stepping up over large stairs or boulders, and when working in and around camp. There is plenty of room to move about inside, eliminating that tight catching sensation around the knees when you run out of stretch in rain pants.
The larger internal volume and open design also makes for a better ventilated garment when compared to more traditional rain suits. Air is free to flow in from between the legs and through the large open hand sleeves, and also along the sides of the poncho if you unsnap the clips that run vertically. This helps to keep down heat that builds up while walking, and also allows moistened air from sweat to escape before it condenses on the inside. This is by far one of the breeziest setups I’ve tried.
Since the poncho is designed to also cover a pack, the backpack will stay drier too. Pack covers are nice, but they always let rain in through the uncovered shoulder straps and back panel. This problem is completely absent here. Packs stay dry, and the gear inside also.
At just about 8 oz, it’s incredibly light weight and weighs far less than most other rain suits and covers that I’ve tried. It also packs down tiny. I’m able to easily fit it inside one of my pants or jacket pockets, and the included sewn-in stash pocket makes stuffing it away simple and convenient.
Taking it on and removing it is as simple as pulling it over your head. No need to take off boots or change pants.
What I didn’t like
The jacket can be a little disorienting to put on at first. There are many openings, gaps and clips, and you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the design before needing it in a hurry. It can also be easily turned inside out by mistake.
For really intense rains and standing water, gators or chaps will be needed to protect socks and boots. Most rains are no problem.
It’s probably not something you’ll want to wear around town, so it might be better left as a trail only garment.
Oft is overlooked the humble poncho, despite it’s many advantages on the trail. The one piece design not only minimized weight, but also maximizes mobility and coverage. With a breezier, less claustrophobic design than most suits, the Exped Pack Poncho UL provides a more comfortable, simplistic way of protecting both yourself and your gear from the elements. It packs down tiny, weighs half of some of the other systems I’ve tried, and does a solid job of keeping the user dry. If you’re willing to try something different, this is a very solid option. Just consider adding some chaps.
For more information on Exped and their exceptional line up of gear, check out http://www.exped.com/international/en
For information on our rating system and our testing procedures, check out our About us/ Contact us page.
I want to extend a huge thanks to Exped for their support and for providing us this great poncho for review. We couldn’t do this alone, and we certainly appreciate the help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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