The idea of a poncho for outdoor use has long fascinated me. The ability to cover everything, pack & pouches becomes important when you have a pile of electronic equipment (Cameras) attached to the outside of the pack. In my case, I carry my 5d mk III in a Hazard 4 Camera Pouch – which sits on my hip – outside any waterproofing I might have in my pack, and while the camera is weather resistant, when it starts pouring down, I generally have to take it off my hip and pack it deep down somewhere inside my drybags in the pack – meaning I can’t get it out quick if I spot something I want to photograph. Having something over the top of all of this gear, enabling quick access to the camera appealed immensely.
A tale of two ponchos
I already had purchased a Poncho – one from the Pathfinder School – and I haven’t gotten around to review that yet (coming, coming), but I had my eye on the Hazard 4 Poncho Villa as well… and you know… more gear! I will also get a comparison video of the two up at some point – as they are both good items – with slight different advantages.
- water-resistant/breathable soft-shell fabric
- generous size to fit over packs/bags/chest-packs
- large front & back velcro panels for agency i.d.
- ample hood with brim section fits over head-wear
- hood-sinchers for front and back-of-head adjust
- zipper front to chin for full rain-coverage of throat
- large perimeter grommets for hanging as tent/tarp
- side snaps for closing edges in severe weather
I am going to give the poncho a re-treatment with a NikWax wash through – mainly because I have become converted to the idea that nearly any waterproof product can be improved by doing so. But I have already had it out in the wet – and yes, it beads water.
I like the fit of this jacket – as wanky as this sounds – it looks good – much better than most the totally shapeless options out there. They have taken the idea of a poncho and thoroughly modernised it.
Little features – like the front pocket / storage bag, with it’s little attachment point for items, just indicate the amount of thought that has actually gone into the Hazard 4 Poncho Villa. I could consider it a little on the heavy side, but considering it doubles as a tarp, I can live with it. Talking of tarp use – it’s a little small for the hammock – my feet will pop out the end – but if I am going minimal, this and a bedroll will work just fine.
Update – another opinion
I was contacted today by a gentleman from Northern Ontario who has sadly had a very different experience with the poncho – his one isn’t particularly waterproof. Seems to wets up really, really quick.
He details his experience here – http://edcforums.com/threads/hazard-4-poncho-villa.121195/ – worth having a read if you wan’t another experience of the poncho.
I really do have to wonder if sometimes something quite drastic happens to these technical garments while in transit, as I have had a jacket that was similar – fixed it with a retreatment, but I don’t really think it’s something you should have to do with a brand new garment.
I will update this as we talk more.