One thing I despise is overpriced yuppie outdoor gear. The price of gear is intimidating and keeps people out of starting to backpack. I love beating the gear companies at their own game and finding useful shit for way fucking cheaper than REI and other major retailers/manufacturers. One surprise location that I’ve found stuff is IKEA.
On a trip I wrote about here, we used ponchos that my buddy had bought in Thailand when Dubya was in power. I basically ended up shredding mine by the end of the trip, as we were going through dense brush around fallen trees, etc. However, I found that I really liked the coverage of the poncho, which quite easily kept my pack and myself dry. This despite not being the result of years of research in some gear design lab.
I looked at prices for ponchos, but they were fucking outrageous. I even found one that weighs in at 5.1 ounces, but costs $175!!!!!. Of course there are more “reasonable” options that are much cheaper ranging from $35-100. I just can’t justify this expense though, so I didn’t buy a poncho at all.
While in IKEA today, I came across this poncho. It costs all of $6.99, with a dollar off that if you are an IKEA family member, whatever that is. Claimed weight on the IKEA website is 8oz. However on my scale it was 6.6oz. Quite the fucking rarity that your gear comes in weighing 15-20% less than the manufacturer says it will. That’s only an ounce and a half more weight than the one that costs $175.
The poncho comes is a few different colors as you can see, and looks like a ghost costume. It folds into its own pocket for easy packing. When you have the poncho on, the pocket is right up front above where your hip belt would be. Think lower chest/upper abdomen area. It fits over my pack easily, but I don’t have a massive pack and Im a smaller guy. So, it may not work for a big person with a big pack.
The fabric doesn’t appear to be breathable, but in a poncho who cares? Its like wearing a dress, and the breathability is not nearly as much of an issue with a poncho like it is with a rain jacket or pants. Just flap it around a bit to vent when it gets steamy.
One important caveat is that it doesn’t really have “arms”, just some holes to stick your arms out of. So not the best poncho for cold weather, as you would really want better coverage to avoid hypothermia. I’m eager to test this out, and I’ll report back either way. But for now this looks like a cost-effective piece of gear that just may work. Maybe I only get a season out of it, but I’ll only be out the cost of a burger and fries.
Remember, keep your eyes open for gear in weird places. You can find some useful and cost effective items in places you wouldn’t really expect.
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