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

February 04, 2018



NAME: Kara Stanley
EMAIL: karguo at yahoo dot com
AGE: 35
LOCATION: Phoenix, Arizona
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.



Photo from the Therm-a-Rest website
Manufacturer: Therm-a-Rest
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website:
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.

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.


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.


Packed Poncho
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.


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



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
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


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).

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.

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.


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.

* 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 and Therm-a-Rest for allowing me to be the Honcho in a Poncho! Check back in two months to see how the Poncho stands up to washing and more time on the trails.

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

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