Review: Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho

Therm-a-Rest currently holds the title for most useful product in my closet–shout out to the Z-lite Sol. I have very high standards of the products that I consistently carry out into the wilderness, so if my bias for insulated ponchos played a little into my opinion of the Honcho Poncho, it certainly exceeded my expectations and is more technical than I suspected.  I got one as a gift in January after researching it extensively on paper, and I’m reporting back after a few field uses that it’s so close to being the real deal.

Here are the specifications:
Weight: 28oz
Material: Shell: 20D Polyester Rip Stop
Liner: Exterior 50D Polyester Taffeta
Insulation: 37.5 Active Particle Polyester
Dimensions: 79” x 58”
Pockets: 1 large zipper stuff pocket and 1 kangaroo hand pocket

What’s good?
Everything.  Maybe they should make two sizes. But whatever—this thing is awesome.

What’s not so good?
Therm-a-Rest needs to add 6 more snaps and two more cinch cords. This thing is so close to a sleeping bag that I’m in disbelief they didn’t add the extra 3-4 ounces of cordage and hardware.

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How does this improve my experience?
Let me tell you, versatility is the name of the game here. I’ve been wanting a legit USGI poncho liner forever, but I never wanted to spend the money on a good 21st century reproduction.  There are only two other quality products that fill the poncho/blanket gap that I know of: the Hill People Gear Mountain Serape and the Kifaru Woobie. Both are more expensive. The Woobie is just a synthetic blanket with grommets, and the Serape is simply too much money—though it’s exactly what I want the Honcho Poncho to be. Alas…

The versatility of these products is what makes them worth their weight.  Even at a relatively heavy 28oz, the Honcho Poncho is still worth carrying.  My favorite PrimaLoft insulation layer is pretty close to that 28oz actually, which is why I think there’s a real discussion to be had here.  As close as the Honcho Poncho comes to replacing a summer weight sleeping bag, a spring/fall weight insulation layer, and a fully waterproof poncho, it could be a real game changer, dropping your total weight substantially.  It’s just not there yet.SONY DSC

Trail Vibes: So good. I normally wouldn’t take a luxury item like this on the trails. Car camping, day hikes, coast chilling—hell yeah.  But backpacking? Never. Until now. This just replaced my summer sleeping bag.

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Suggestions for Improvement:
Therm-a-Rest! Give me a full-waterproof outer fabric (Pertex? 20k hydrostatic poly?) so I can use this as a ground cloth or a tarp if I need to. On that note, a couple of strategically placed grommets would be awesome for setting up an A-frame or lean-to.  At the very least, add two cinch cords and those extra six snaps so that we can close up a foot box and draft collar to turn this into a summer bag.

Disclaimer: I got this in January as a birthday gift and I have no affiliation with Therm-a-Rest.

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