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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > AntiGravityGear Poncho > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly

Antigravity Gear Poncho Villa
Reviewed By Pat McNeilly

Initial Report: May 18, 2007
Field Report: July 22, 2007
Long-Term Report: September 24, 2007

Name: Pat McNeilly
Age: 44
Gender: Male
Height: 5’ 8” (1.7 m)
Weight: 155 lb (70 kg)
Email address: mcne4752 at yahoo dot com.
City, State, Country: Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA

Backpacking Background:
I have been hiking for at least 20 years but backpacking for only the last four years.  Most of my backpacking is done as overnight trips and occasional weekend and weeklong trips.  My typical packweight is approximately 18 to 20 lb (8 to 9 kg) before food or water.  Most of my backpacking is the three season variety in the mountains of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  In addition to backpacking, I also fish, hunt, and have been involved in disaster relief.  As a result, some of my backpacking equipment gets use in a number of different venues.
Poncho Villa on a volunteer
Product Information:

Product: Poncho Villa
Manufacturer: Antigravity Gear
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Color: Green
Listed Weight: 5.9 oz (167 g)
Measured Weight: 5.9 oz (167 g) 
MSRP:  $79.00 USD

Initial Report
Review Date: May 18, 2007

Product Description:
The AntiGravityGear Poncho Villa is an ultralight piece of raingear constructed of sil-nylon.  The Poncho Villa can also be used as a shelter on its own by using the corner loops for staking.  In addition, the Poncho Villa can be used in conjunction with the AntiGravityGear Tarptent as an optional vestibule.

Product Review:
The Poncho Villa is basically a square piece of sil-nylon measuring 63 in (160 cm) on each side with a hood in the center.  This product is more than that though.  The poncho is designed on the diagonal so that the wearer’s arms extend out to the corners and the front and rear form a “V” rather than squared-off, as with most other ponchos.  The length of the front and back measured from the hood seam is 38 in (97 cm). This design appears to provide very good coverage of the arms and adequate coverage of the legs.

Finger loop close upAlong the edge of the Poncho Villa are two 0.75 in (2 cm) strips of hook and loop fasteners measuring 12 in (30 cm) long and located approximately 10 in (25 cm) from the two corners which drape over the arms.  These strips are used to form “sleeves” when they are fastened together.  Attached to each corner are 2 in (5 cm) sil-nylon loops.  The loops allow the wearer to stick three fingers through them to prevent the “sleeves” from riding up while hiking.  There seems to be quite a bit of fabric which bunches up around the wrist when I insert my fingers in the loop.  I’m not clear if this will affect how well the poncho performs but there does appear to be good coverage of the hands and forearms.

The Poncho Villa has a large hood which has a roughly 17 in (43 cm) opening which can be closed with a drawstring and cord lock.  The hood is sewn directly to the sil-nylon but there does not appear to be any seam sealing or taping along this seam.  I will see how well this keeps water out.  If it does not then seam sealing will be in order.  I find that the hood on the poncho is quite deep and I am interested in seeing how well it protects my face from rain.

Poncho Villa sleevesAt the base of the neck opening on the underside of the poncho the manufacturer has sewn in a stuff sack measuring 5 in x 7.5 in (13 cm x 19 cm) and which closes with a drawstring and cord lock.  I find that the Poncho Villa stuffs into this sack without too much difficulty.

The Poncho Villa also has a 2 in (5 cm) loop located 21 in (53 cm) from the back corner of the poncho.  This loop is used to rig the Poncho Villa as a vestibule for the AntiGravityGear Tarptent.  I am reviewing the Tarptent concurrently with the Poncho Villa and a description of the vestibule option can be found in my review under Shelters.  I have set the Poncho Villa up as a vestibule and it appears to be an easy addition to the Tarptent.  I have not tried to use the poncho as a standalone shelter.  Due to its size, I believe that the Poncho Villa would make a relatively small shelter but could be useful in a pinch.

I am interested to see how well the Poncho Villa protects me from the elements, particularly a fairly heavy or wind driven rain.  Is there good protection of the arms and does the hood protect well?  I will also be using the Poncho Villa as a vestibule for the Tarptent and expect that it will see a great deal of use in this configuration.

Field Report
Review Date: July 22, 2007

Field Information:
I used the Antigravity Gear Poncho Villa on a three day backpacking trip in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia.  The weather conditions included temperatures 45-80 F (7-27 C) and I encountered fairly dry conditions with only small amounts of rain.  The elevations ranged from 2000-4800 ft (610-1460 m) on this trip.  I also used the Poncho Villa as raingear on a 12 day trek at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.  The weather conditions included temperatures from 45-90 F (7-32 C) and I encountered mostly dry conditions but did encounter rain on most days of the trip, usually in the form of afternoon thundershowers.  The elevations on this trip ranged from 6700-12400 ft (2040-3780 m).

Product Review:
Prior to using the Poncho Villa on any serious outings, I was able to test it during a rainstorm at home.  As I had predicted, I found that the seams around the neck and on the hood leaked.  I sealed the seams which did appear to solve the problem. 

The hood of the Poncho Villa is very deep and does limit visibility to a certain extent.  I found this to be most severe when I cinched down the hood’s draw cord.  On the other hand, the deep hood does prevent water form splashing onto my face and glasses.  My best results with the hood have come while wearing a hat with a front brim (e.g., baseball cap) underneath.  This keeps the front of the hood from falling down in front of my face.

The sleeves formed by joining the hook and loop strips along the edge provide good coverage for the arms in the rain.  I found this to be much better than other ponchos I have worn.  The excess material does bunch up and interfere with manipulating objects at times, although I did not have any problems hiking with trekking poles while wearing the Poncho Villa. 

The Poncho Villa does not cover my 4500 cu in (74 L) backpack completely.  I found that the poncho would cover the top and would protect the pack to a certain extent.  To be sure that items in the pack didn’t get wet, I still used a pack cover for complete protection.  Covering the pack while donning the Poncho Villa was a bit difficult and I typically would ask a companion to make sure the top of the pack was covered. 

I found that the Poncho Villa worked well during light and moderate rains while wearing a pack.  It was cooler and had better ventilation than many rain jackets I have worn.  However, when I was caught in a heavy thunderstorm in New Mexico, I ended up wet from the waist down and would have preferred to be wearing rain pants.  This was due in part to having the Poncho Villa draped over my pack and not tied around my waist which left some gaps on the sides.  The poncho did provide good protection for my upper body.  The sleeves did a great job in protecting the upper torso and the finger loops kept the sleeves from riding up. 

At one point, I did set the Poncho Villa up as a small shelter in a flying diamond configuration.  The loops on the corners made it very simple to set up with a trekking pole and some stakes.  I would have to say that this produced a very small shelter and that it would not protect me completely if lying down (i.e., a bivy would be in order for complete protection).  I was able to sit up in this shelter and I believe it would be useful for waiting out a rainstorm or as an emergency shelter in a pinch.

After stuffing the Poncho Villa into its pocket numerous times, I have found that there is particular technique to stuffing it easily.  I found that if I hold the pocket in my left hand and run my right hand all the way to the end of the material, then start stuffing from there the poncho is much easier to pack.  If I start by stuffing with the material closest to the pocket itself, the drawcord and cordlock tend to get pushed down onto the pocket and this makes it difficult to close the pocket after stuffing.

Long-Term Report
Review Date: September 24, 2007

Field Information:
I have brought the Poncho Villa along on three day hikes I have taken since my Field Report.  These hikes have either been in central Maryland or northern Virginia.  The trails were moderately rocky and had elevations of 300-1100 ft (91-335 m).  Unfortunately, I did not encounter rain on any of these hikes.  I have used the Poncho Villa as much as possible during other activities such walking the dog and the like.  The lack of rain in this area has been a problem lately but I did use the product in some heavy rains during this phase of testing.

Product Review:
One thing that I like about the Poncho Villa is that it packs up small.  On dayhikes, I typically use a lumbar pack and an item that packs small is very valuable when space in limited.  This poncho easily slides into the corner of my pack [volume of approximately 650 cu in (11 L)] and still leaves room or other essentials. 

I have not encountered any leaking of the seams since sealing them.  While out walking in my neighborhood in the Poncho Villa during some heavy rain and wind, I was dry from the waist up but the wind would blow the side open, exposing my legs and hips.  I found myself wishing for a belt to keep the poncho closed. 

As I noted in my Field Report, the hood does limit my visibility particularly if it is raining hard or I have to cinch the opening closed.  I would have to say that this is the most annoying feature of the Poncho Villa.  I have found that my peripheral is so limited that it could be a hazard.  I have had cars pass me on the street during a rainstorm which I was not able to see.  Fortunately there was not a problem but it concerns me, particularly if I was walking along a trail with a step drop-off.  Again, this could be alleviated to some extent by wearing a hat but I don’t always have on while hiking, especially in hot weather.

One thing that I have noticed over the course of this test but have failed to mention is that the Poncho Villa was not prone to snagging on branches or bushes.  The sil-nylon is quite slippery and may account for this fact.  I have not found any holes in the fabric and I believe that this slipperiness helps protect the product to some extent.

I will continue to use the Poncho Villa and anticipate that it will find a space in my pack particularly on days which I expect good weather but want something small to protect me, just in case.  I also like the idea of being able to use the Poncho Villa as a minimalist shelter.  While I may not use it as a primary shelter, I will likely carry it to have something to use as a quick rain shelter or wind break. 

The AntiGravityGear Poncho Villa is an ultralight sil-nylon poncho which closes with hook and loop fasteners along the edge to form sleeves.  The Poncho Villa has sil-nylon loops on each corner to allow the poncho to be set up as a small shelter.  Two of these loops are also used to keep the sleeves from riding up when slipped through fingers on each hand.  The Poncho Villa protects the wearer well and provides good ventilation in light to moderate rains but heavy downpours can be a problem, particularly for the lower portion of the body.  One problem the product has s that the hood is very deep and significantly reduces the wearer’s visibility.

Things I like:
1. Light weight and small stuffed size
2. Good upper torso protection from sleeves
3. Finger loops keep sleeves from riding up
4. Good ventilation while hiking

Things I don’t like:
1. Unsealed neck and hood seams
2. Poor rain protection for legs
3. Hood is too deep and limits visibility

This concludes my testing of the Poncho Villa and I would like to thank AntiGravityGear and for the opportunity to test this item.

Read more reviews of AntiGravityGear gear
Read more gear reviews by Patrick McNeilly

Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > AntiGravityGear Poncho > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly

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