Not only but also, the Golite Poncho Tarp is primarily a light weight tarp shelter made from SiLite fabric that doubles up as a poncho, though is more of a Tarp Poncho than the other way around.
Tarp – The main problem with tarps is working out how to pitch them. The second problem, once you know how, is deciding on which method to use. You can pitch it using trees, but in the UK you’re as likely to need a pair of walking poles. Add to the shopping list some string (or cord, or guys if you want to get technical) and pegs to have a decent shelter. Being only a 1.4×2.5m tarp it will only comfortably shelter one underneath, but you can use it comfortably for two as an extra shelter when bivvying. In our review images, we had it pitched in storm mode with all the pegging points close to the ground. You can increase space significantly by lifting the edges off the ground by pegging it out onto short guy lines.
If you’re adventurous, you may use it with only a groundsheet. I’ve seen Welsh rain, I’m taking a bivvy as backup thank you very much. It’s also been used as an extra large porch over a Terra Nova Laser, where we pitched with the inner down and slept 2 comfortably with our heads in the tent and our feet sheltered by the tarp. Rather an unusual combo really, but on a six day trip with the weather we get it meant I could tarp and bivvy with the tent as backup.
The hood could be seen as a design flaw. Essentially you’ve got a large hole, centrally, in the middle of your shelter. However, so long as you guy it out properly, you can ensure that it’s weather proof. If the weather looks like holding, it makes a novel way of observing the outside while still in your bag!
Poncho – With the poppers along the side, you can shape the tarp in to a poncho, complete with hood. I’m not convinced that a poncho is enough for the UK. While I like the idea in summer that you wear shorts with a poncho, getting your legs damp but with the ventilation keeping you relatively dry underneath. It also covers your pack, helping keep your gear dry.
In practice, I can’t see how it will work. If you’re going into upland areas, then if it gets breezy, you’re flapping about. If you’re lower level, you risk constantly snagging the poncho on gates, stiles and other obstacles. If you’re depending on this to shelter you from the rain overnight, it strikes me as a bit of a risk to expose it in that way. As a secondary waterproof in warm, calm but rainy situations, perhaps summer storms, I can see it being useful, even if you just don it to sit out the storm. I see the poncho part of this item as a bonus and not the main function. If you’ve got a pumpkin head, you may struggle to get your head into the hole. I can only just fit and my head isn’t particularly freakish in size.
- Roomy, ultra-light poncho with additional coverage in the back for protecting a backpack
- Snaps allow folding up excess fabric when not in use as a shelter
- Converts to an ultra-light shelter using nylon tie-down loops in corners and middle of sides
- Pitches with trekking pole and guy-lines