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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Therm A Rest Honcho Poncho > Test Report by Kara Stanley

THERM-A-REST HONCHO PONCHO
TEST SERIES BY KARA STANLEY
LONG-TERM REPORT
April 16, 2018

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kara Stanley
EMAIL: karguo at yahoo dot com
AGE: 35
LOCATION: Phoenix, Arizona
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I have been hiking most of my life and backpacking since 2006. I have hiked mostly on the east coast, doing weekend trips in the Appalachian Mountains. Since moving to Arizona, my hikes have ranged from short desert hikes to overnight backpacking trips in the mountains. Recently I have taken up canyoneering and off-trail hiking/backpacking to spice things up. I currently use a solo non-free standing tent, canister stove, purification tabs, and lightweight trail runners, conditions permitting, to cut down on weight. My hikes are solo and range from an overnight trip to 4-5 nights on the trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Photo from the Therm-a-Rest website
Manufacturer: Therm-a-Rest
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website: https://www.thermarest.com
MSRP: US$129.95
Listed Weight: 1 lbs 12 oz (790 g)
Measured Weight: 1 lbs 10 oz (735 g)
Colors: Lemon Curry (yellow), Poseidon (blue), Olivine (green), Deep Purple (color tested)
Listed Width: 58 in (147 cm)
Measured Width: 57 in (144 cm)
Listed Length: 79 in (200 cm)
Measured Length: same as listed
Size: One Size Fits All
Listed Packed dimension: 16in x 12in (40cm x 30cm)
Measured Packed dimension: 16 in by 8.5 in (40 cm X 22 cm)
Fill: 37.5 Active Partical Polyester,
Shell fabric: Waterproof Breathable 20D Polyester RipStop w/DWR 1000mm Hydrostatic Head / 5000 MVTR
Liner fabric: Brushed 50D Polyester Taffeta,
Country of Origin: China

The attached hangtag mentioned that the poncho is waterproof and breathable, is designed for everything from watching sporting events to ultra-light through hiking, and has 37.5 insulation that "provides micro-climate control for superior temperature regulation and comfort." This information is also listed in French.

IMAGE 2
Poncho Front
The 37.5 insulation is formulated to keep wearer comfortable by keeting the humidity to 37.5% and the body temperature at 37.5 (in Celsius), which according to Therm-a-Rest's hangtag, are the most comfortable humidiy and temperature for the human body. From the hangtag "37.5 technology uses millions of particles to capture and release moisture vapor - helping you stay in on a personal microclimate of ideal relative humidity and core body temperature." 37.5 is naturally derived with no chemicals, dries up to 5 times faster than similar clothing, and will not wash out.

An attached care tag states that the poncho can be hand washed or machine washed in a large capacity front loading washing machine using mild, non-detergent soap in cold water on gentle with two rinses. To dry, close all zippers and fasten all snaps, then tumble dry in a large front loading drying on low heat.

Do not dry clean, bleach, or iron. Do not store compressed.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho (called the poncho for the rest of the test report) came stored in its integrated storage pouch, which also doubles as a huge zip pocket on the front behind the Kangaroo pocket. There is the Therm-a-Rest logo and "Honcho Poncho" in white lettering on the outside of the pouch and there is a silver webbing loop on one end. I like that it has a hanging loop as I sometimes attach things to the outside of my pack. This loop is also a handy way to carry the pouch, so we will see how it holds up over time.

The purple is a nice deep purple color, I like that as it will help to trap heat from the sun on cold mornings as well as (hopefully!) not show dirt. The inside of the poncho, the snaps on the sides, and the draw strings and toggles are all a light grey. The colors all go well together and I like them.

TRYING IT OUT

IMAGE 3
Packed Poncho
IMAGE 4
Hood and Kangaroo pocket
I tried on the poncho and really liked its length. It hits just above the knees on my 5'10" (170 cm) frame. The "sleeves" are about 3/4 length on me, unless I have my arms crossed in front of me, then they are only elbow length. So far I have found that there are two ways that I can wear the poncho, either with the sides connected to each other (as shown in the Term-a-Rest picture) or with the front edges snapped together behind me and the back edges snapped together in the front. The last option seems like it would be warmer as its wrapping my core in two layers of the poncho fabric. The one drawback is that this does shorten the "sleeves" to about elbow length. Of course, I could just tuck my arms inside the poncho to keep them warm.

I can cover my body with the poncho when using it as a blanket, which is a bonus. I would need to pack a warm hat as there is no hood for my head. I like that this could be used either alone to keep me warm or over my sleeping bag on cold nights. I am planning to take this as my jacket and sleeping bag replacement on one trip. Since I think it's heavy as a jacket at 1 lb 10 oz (742 g), if I could use this as a sleeping bag replacement and a jacket, it would be worth its weight.

I am looking forward to trying this out on an upcoming backpack trip as my back gets very sweaty and I normally wear my jacket backwards over the front of my body so that I do not get it sweaty. I am hoping that I can wear the poncho over my pack to keep me warm without getting it all sweaty. It's still in the 80s F (27+ C), so hopefully it will cool down a bit for a cold test hike. I also think that this will be quick and easy to put on and take off during rest breaks. I like the fact that its waterproof... not sure that I will trust it to be my rain jacket in a down pour, but it's good to know that it shouldn't suck up rain like a sponge.

SUMMARY

Overall this seems like a product with great multi-use potential. I'm excited to take it out on the trails.

Cool Things:
* Several uses and ways to wear
* Huge pockets
* Easy to store
* Is Waterproof
* Nice color
* Nice size as a blanket for a taller person
* The micro-climate insulation
* It's Washable

Other thoughts:
* This is pretty heavy for a jacket replacement
* How durable will it be
* Will the carrying loop on the packing pouch hold up


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA
When: December 2017
Length: 3 day/2 night backpack
Mileage: 31 miles/50 km
Elevation: 2,500 ft/800 m to 7,000 ft/2,000 m
Weather: sunny, high around 65 F (18 C) low around 35 F (1 C)
Trail Conditions: well-maintained, dusty trails

Death Valley National Park, Nevada and California, USA
IMAGE 2
Poncho worn loose

When: Dec/Jan 2017/18
Length 5 days/4 nights trip, stayed in a hotel
Short Day hikes and walks sightseeing
Weather: Cool, mostly sunny, and breezy at times. High about 60 F (15 C) and Low around 30 (-1 C)

Location: Superstition Wilderness, Arizona, USA
When: January 2018
Length: 2 days/1 night
Mileage: about 14 miles/22 km
Elevation: around 2,500 ft/800 m
Weather: sunny, high around 60 F (15 C), Low about 40 F (4 C)
Trail Conditions: well-maintained trail, dry and dusty

Location: Superstition Wilderness, Arizona, USA
When: January 2018
Length: 2 days/1 night
Mileage: about 14 miles/22 km
Elevation: around 2,500 ft/800 m
Weather: sunny, high around 70 F (21 C), Low about 45 F (6 C)
Trail Conditions: well-maintained trail

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 3
Poncho with sides snapped together in the back and front
So far I have taken the Honcho Poncho (aka the Poncho) on three backpacking trips and one outdoor focused vacation. On the Grand Canyon trip, I wore it over a fleece base layer set and down vest during mornings and evenings. On other two trips I wore it over a medium weight base layer top and down vest.

I liked being able to wrap the Poncho around myself, its hood, and two very large pockets for carrying things like head lamps, tooth brushes, and tooth paste. Being tall (5 ft 10 in/170 cm), I really liked the fact that this Poncho falls to my knees. This means that when I am seated my lower back and bum stay covered and warm! If it was breezy, I did need to wrap the sides around me and snap them together to keep the breeze from coming in the open sides.

Since the Poncho is flowy and loose, I did need to make sure that I kept it away from the stove while cooking and the campfire when adding wood. To do this, I would pull the Poncho tight around me and use one hand to secure it. I also needed to be aware of where the Poncho was in relationship to all the cacti and thorny bushes that live in the desert. I snagged the Poncho on cats claw bushes (named for the cat claw shaped thorns that shred both skin and fabric alike) and as a result is has several small holes in the outer fabric.

On the Grand Canyon trip, my husband forgot his sleeping mat. He used our two backpacks as a base and covered them with the Poncho folded in half to make an insulated sleeping mat to keep him off the cold ground. He was very comfortable with this set up and thankful for the warmth and ground protection the Poncho added to the backpacks.

On the car ride home from the Grand Canyon, one of my friends asked to test out the Poncho as a blanket. His comments were that it was very soft and he also found it to be a nice size and he is well over 6 ft (~ 2 m).

IMAGE 1
Nap time
I took the Poncho with me on vacation to Death Valley National Park. It was a ~7 hour drive to get to our hotel. In the car, I used the Poncho as a pillow when it was packed in its pouch and as a blanket when I got cold. We did stay in a hotel, but we had our dog with us, so both my husband and I would use the Poncho at night or in the morning when we took the dog out. We both loved how easy it was to put on and take off. Additionally, we found that the fabric was wind proof as it was quite windy at sun rise and just after sunset. We both liked the length of the Poncho as well. During the whole trip I kept the Poncho in the car in case I got cold or needed it for night walks.

On the two Superstition Wilderness trips, I used the Poncho as a blanket at night along with two down throws in place of a sleeping bag. I loved the large size of the Poncho. I was able to wrap myself up nicely in the Poncho at night. Additionally, this could be used to cover two people if they are close together.

IMAGE 4
Tear in outer fabric
For backpacking, I put the Poncho in a compression sack which allows me to compress the Poncho down to about 1/3 of its normal packed size. Otherwise the Poncho is rather bulky and takes up a large amount of space in a backpack.

On the Death Valley trip, I did a lot of off-road 4x4ing, which was VERY bumpy. I had just tossed the Poncho in the back of the SUV. At the end of the trip I noticed that the outer purple fabric had a ~3 in (~ 8 cm) tear just above the zipper (see photo). I am not sure how this happened, but I am guessing it got snagged on something while off-roading. On future trips I have been mindful of where I am packing the Poncho to try and protect it. I think that the outer fabric is of moderate durability and that care should be taken to protect the Poncho from snags.

I have not washed the Poncho yet, but will be doing so at some point during the next two months and will report on that in the Long Term Review, so be sure to check back for that.

SUMMARY

Thing that I really like about the Poncho its versatility. When I started to get cold, I could wrap the Poncho around me and snap the sides together in front and back, and pull my arms for added warmth. If I was sitting by a fire, I could throw the front of the Poncho over a shoulder or pull it off to the side so that my front wouldn't get too warm.

Likes:
* Versatile
* Size - covers my torso and down to my knees, also is a very large blanket
* Wind-proof
* Great for car travel to and from hiking trips as a blanket and a pillow
* One size fits most so it's easy to share with hiking buddies

Room for improvement
* Bulky when not compressed
* Outer fabric is of moderate durability and starting to show wear

Thank you BackpackGearTest.org and Therm-a-Rest for allowing me to be the Honcho in a Poncho!


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Location: Secret Canyon Wilderness, Arizona, USA
When: April 2018
Length: 3 days/2 night
Car camping
Elevation: around 6,000 ft/1,800 m
Weather: sunny, windy in the evening, high around 70 F (21 C), Low about 40 F (4 C)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

My final use of the Honcho Poncho was on a 3 day car camping trip in the wilderness. We tent-camped just off a forest service road and took a few short day hikes around the area over the next few days.

I love the versatility of the Honcho Poncho!
During this trip, I used it:

* As a Poncho for warmth in the evenings
* As a chair liner to keep my back warm while hanging out around the fire
* A blanket in my hammock
* Kept it handy at night to layer on if needed for warmth

I found the Honcho Poncho very cozy and enjoyed being able to wrap myself in it. One thing to note is that it important to keep an eye on the edges of the Honcho Poncho around the fire and the gas stove to avoid catching it on fire. I'm not used to wearing such a loose fitting outer layer, so when I would work around the fire, I would be extra careful to keep it away from the flames or I would just take it off.

After 2 nights around the campfire, the Honcho Poncho smelled just like one. After returning from my camping trip, I washed it on delicate in cold water. I lined dried the Honcho Poncho, here in Arizona things line dry almost instantly most of the year. After the Honcho Poncho was dry, I smelled it and there was still the lingering scent of campfire, so I left it outside for another day. Now it smells clean and fresh.
I will air-fluffy the Honcho Poncho in the dryer with some dryer balls to fluffy up the insulation before my next trip.

While I haven't had a chance to test out its water resistance (we have had less than 50% of our normal winter rainfall this year), I have noticed that water beads up and rolls off the Honcho Poncho when I have spilled water on it.

I will note that my husband is envious of the Honcho Poncho. He loved that he can borrow it on trips to run out and walk the dog when it is cold. He's got plans to get his own Honcho Poncho in the future.

In terms of wear, overall I think the Honcho Poncho has held up pretty well with just a few small rips in the outer fabric from all the thorny bushes that cover Arizona in addition to the small tear from off-roading. I do wish I had watched the edges of the Honcho Poncho a bit more while out gathering firewood to prevent snagging it on thorns. Washing the Honcho Poncho does not appear to have made any of these rips and tears larger.

SUMMARY

The Honcho Poncho is a versatile combo of an outer layer (jacket) and quilt. I have used it as both during the test period. It was even used a part of an emergency sleeping mat when my husband forgot to pack his. I also like that its one size fits all, allowing me to share it with my husband or other members of my camping/backpacking party. This Honcho Poncho has earned its place in my gear closet and I will be using it often in the future.

Likes:
* Versatility
* Machine Washable
* One size fits all
* Has a hood to keep my head warm
* Good at wind blocking

Areas for improvement:
* It would be nice to have cinch cords so that the Honcho Poncho could be pulled close to the body around open flames or when gather wood in the brush.

Thank you so very much to BackpackGearTest.org and Therm-a-Rest for allowing me to test out this Honcho Poncho!

This concludes my testing of the Honcho Poncho.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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