THERM-A-REST HONCHO PONCHO
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
INITIAL REPORT - November 19, 2017
FIELD REPORT - January 15, 2018
LONG TERM REPORT - March 27, 2018
kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
Canon City, Colorado, USA
5' 4" (1.60 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado.
Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.
My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Manufacturer: Therm-a-rest, division of Cascade Designs, Inc.|
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.thermarest.com
MSRP: US $129.95
Listed Weight: 28 oz (794 g)
Measured Weight: 26 oz (737 g)
Listed:Width: 58 in (147 cm)
Listed Length: 79 in (200 cm)
Listed and Packed dimension 16 in x 12 in (40 cm x 30 cm)
Sizes Available: One Size Fits All
Colors Available: Deep Purple, Lemon Curry, Poseidon
Color Tested: Poseidon
Made in China
|Picture copywrite Therm-a-rest|
The Honcho Poncho arrived all tucked up into a front zippered storage pocket, looking quite like a neat comfy camp pillow. Once unzipped and spread out, the poncho morphs into a spacious outer garment.
It has a cinchable hood and a generously-sized kangaroo pocket for extra (hand) warmth.
The outer surface of the poncho is made of waterproof breathable 20D Polyester RipStop material with DWR protection. There is a soft brushed 50D Polyester Taffeta liner in the interior. Between the two layers is 9 oz (0.25 kg) fill weight of 37.5 tm insulation. The insulation is an active partical polyester which is supposed to help regulate body temperature.
Lastly, the poncho is advertised to be water-resistance.
A close inspection of the Honcho Poncho found no flaws, dropped stitches, snags or other imperfections. Very nice quality all around!
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The care instructions for the poncho are simple: Wash in cold water with a gentle non-detergent soap in a large-capacity, front-loading washing machine on a gentle cycle with two rinses.
Turn "bag" - I'm assuming the same care tag is on Cascade Designs sleeping bags - inside out, close zipper and fasten snaps before drying in a large-capacity, front-loading dryer on low heat.
Or I could just hand wash and dry as well. No dry cleaning allowed!
The care instruction and materials tags are sewn into a side seam and very visible when wearing the poncho. I will be removing them once I've completed my final report.
TRYING IT OUT
Well, one of the good things about the Honcho Poncho being a "one size fits all" piece of clothing, is it SHOULD fit, right? I mean, while I'm usually leery about one-size clothing, this is a poncho, so really it doesn't conform to body size anyway.
Yeah, it fits me! I had no trouble pulling it over my head and using the barrel lock drawcords, I can cinch the hood closely to my head. Two sets of snaps on each side of the poncho body create armholes. I fumbled around with the snaps for a minute or two before I laid out the poncho on my bed to line up the snaps properly. Yeah, I'm "snap-challenged"!
The poncho is spacious and LONG. It's longer in the back than the front which will work well when I want to cover up a backpack.
The zipper, snaps and drawcords all perform smoothly and after a brief try-on, I'm ready to hit the trails!
|Ready for Take Off!|| |
|I Can Fly!!!|
I'm really excited about the Therm-a-rest Honcho Poncho! While it is unseasonably warm here in Canon City, Colorado right now, I know that won't last. And until it is consistently cold, being able to throw the Poncho over whatever top I have on, hopefully, will work well.
Once the chilly weather arrives in earnest, I plan on making the Poncho, my go-to top layer when I'm backpacking, hiking and snowshoeing. Bring on the snow!
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Due to the very unseasonably warm, dry weather in Colorado (almost state-wide) these past two months, I haven't really had the opportunity to wear the Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho more than a half-dozen times and all of those outings were either walks with my son's dogs in a suburban setting or a couple of leisurely jaunts in the hills around my ranch.
We live on 71 acres (29 hectares) and can take weekend hikes and backpack straight out our back door where we border Bureau of Land Management property for miles and miles.
The terrain is high desert with mostly dry, dusty trails from powdery dirt to ball-bearing-slippery pebbles to hard slabs of granite. While we do have some prairie-like valleys, mostly I am hiking up and down on hills and ridges.
In addition to daily walks over my very hilly, rutted dirt road to the mailbox - a 4-mile (6.4 km) round trip trek - I have also been exploring some newly constructed trails in the Oil Wells Flats of Canon City.
Over the past 2 months, we have had generally warmer than usual weather in south central Colorado. Right now in mid-January (2018) we have had several days where it was slightly over 62 F (17 C)! Weird! However, because Colorado is climatically "high desert" we do experience drastic temperature drops at night so even when it is in the 90s F (35 C) during the daytimes, it drops 40 F degrees (22 C) (or more) at night. The lowest temperature I wore the Poncho was just at freezing.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Though I haven't had a lot of experience (YET) with the Honcho Poncho, I have had enough to make some observations to share.
First, this is one substantial garment! While it doesn't really "feel" particularly heavy, its sheer volume of material makes it a worthy alternative to a winter-weight down or synthetic fill jacket.
Each time, I wore it I paired it with just a mid-weight wool base layer. I stayed plenty warm in temperatures down to the freezing mark. At 32 F (0 C), I was mostly alternately leisurely walking or fast walking on the back end of a leash, trotting up and down sidewalks and dirt park trails with my son's pooches.
I was pleased that, thanks to the natural venting of the poncho-style, I was able to not over-heat during the higher activity periods and was able to still stay warm when an interesting "scent" slowed Dexter and Sky down.
That said, on forays sans pups, I found the Poncho was too warm for me during any vigorous climbing of hills. Even with the venting! This didn't really surprise me as I hike very hot and rarely wear more than just a base layer even in weather down to the teens F (-9 C) as long as there is sunshine and little wind.
And speaking of wind, the Poncho does a great job of blocking it.
I'm pleased to note that the Poncho has proven to be fairly rugged and has not been stained from or snagged on any of the various prickly vegetation I've bushed up against. I was rather concerned about that as the "flapping" garment seems to come into contact with pine trees and the like a lot more than my usual jackets.
One-size-fits-all is a mixed blessing. The hood of the Poncho is great for keeping my head covered and warm, but is a bit big for me. I'm hoping I will get more use from it in snowy, blowy weather, but so far, I have stuck to my usual caps.
The length of the Poncho is past my knees, so it offers a lot of warmth and protection to almost all of my body. However, I feel like a dwarf in a giant's clothes. I'm just shy of 5' 4" (163 cm). My son is just over 6 ft (189 cm). He easily can wear the Poncho as well. Oh wait - now I know where my Poncho is when I can't find it!
Well, as I stated above, winter has been very disappointing so far here is south central Colorado. Ridiculously warm with almost no precipitation at all! I've been doing my best "snow dance" on a daily basis hoping for decent seasonably cold, nasty weather so I can get out there and give the Honcho Poncho a good "go". But I never was a very good dancer.
Oooo - wait, there's a few flakes swirling outside my window. And YES, the weather forecast is for an inch (2.5 cm) of snow tonight! I'm going to hurry and put on my Poncho and walk out to feed the neighbor's horses and maybe, just maybe, I'll get to go snowshoeing this week after all!
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
We have continued to have extremely unseasonable warm weather here in my home territory. Most days, I've worn little more than a long-sleeved base layer and maybe a lightweight down vest. We have had to chase the cold to find snow. Quite frankly, it's been a lousy winter. I almost wished (momentarily for a second or two) I was back in my birth state on the east coast where all the snow fell in 2018!
The Poncho was worn mostly in Fremont and Summit counties of Colorado in the Cooper and Tenmile Ranges. The Cooper mountains are high desert terrain with lots of dusty (we're in drought-conditions) rocky trails, cactus, juniper and pinon pine trees. Tenmile range is totally different with lots of snow, damp trails, aspens, huge lodge pole and other pine trees.
While Fremont County stayed warm and dry (freezing to 70-ish F/0 to 21 C), Summit County had way more snow. Temperatures there were colder as well, 27 to 54 F/-2.8 to 12.2 C).
In all locations where I used the Poncho this winter, we had a lot of high winds with frequent wind gusts. There were times I felt if I held my arms out; the Poncho might carry me to Kansas!
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I was determined to really put the Honcho Poncho to good use these last two months and I did, with mixed results. The Poncho proved to be fantastic for keeping me warm any time I needed it. That stellar attribute was also the reason I quickly abandon the wearing of the Poncho when I was doing anything the slightest bit physical or when the temperatures were above freezing. Then that lovely warmth becomes not-so-pretty sweat-inducing heat.
And to get the negatives of the Poncho out of the way, I also had trouble with the sheer volume of the fabric when hiking or snowshoeing. I kept getting caught on things - branches, my trekking poles and even my own two feet when climbing hills and such.
Those two "minuses" aside, the Poncho is definitely a worthy piece of clothing and one I can heartily recommend for outdoor pursuits (and even some indoor uses).
For instance, the Poncho is big enough to totally cover and wrap around my body when stopped for lunch on the trail or at night sitting around camp. It's even big enough to share as a blanket with a trail mate (a "close" friend!) wrapped around shoulders or across two sets of knees.
I've used the folded-in- half Poncho as an extra layer of insulation over my sleeping pad and under my sleeping bag - great when the ground is frozen. Opened wide, the Poncho covers nicely both my husband's and my sleeping bags as an additional blanket. It helped keep us toasty warm in temperatures that were in the high 20's F ( approx. -2.8 C).
I tried to use the Poncho when it is tucked into its pouch as a pillow but it was too hard and bulky for my taste. However, my husband loved it (he used two pillows at night when we are at home).
On the trail, the Poncho's immensity conveniently and comfortably covers even my largest backpack when I'm wearing it! This eliminated any bulk between my body and the body of the backpack and also work well to shield the backpack from snow - even if it is just snow falling from the trees!
|Snowshoeing in Tenmile Range|| |
|Can you see my Backpack?|| |
|Warm and Cozy in the Snow!|
Another off-the-wall use for the Poncho was hatched in the unlikely environment of an ice arena. One of my grandsons plays hockey and sitting on those ridiculously cold metal bleaches were a test of my devotion and pride. I now know why hockey moms are always jumping up and screaming - their derrieres are getting numb! The Honcho Poncho folded in half allows me to keep that metal from causing frostbite and I can even share with another as well. Go Breakers!
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
I haven't given the Poncho any special attention over these past 4 months. I haven't even needed to wash it despite sitting on it, using it as a blanket, etc. What little dirt that has made its way onto the surface of the Poncho, I've been able to just brush off or use a damp washcloth to wipe off. I probably witl wash it in the next month or so once I'm sure I won't be needing it for a bit.
I haven't noticed any snags, tears, ripped seams or the like. It looks almost new. I did just now as I'm typing this report and now that the Poncho will official be "mine", finally cut out that horribly-placed large manufacturer's tag that hangs out so obviously!
The Therm-a-rest Honcho Poncho is a warm and very versatile piece of outerwear. Being a "one-size-fits-all" garment means I can use it as short as I am and my son who is over six feet (1.8 m) also can "borrow" it. I love how warm and cozy it is when I wrap it around my body sitting around a campfire at night or those early morning meditative moments before everyone else is awake! I suspect I will be happily wearing the Poncho for a long time!
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Therm-a-rest for the opportunity to stay warm (if I ever need to!) this winter!
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters.
Read more gear reviews by Kathleen Waters