*More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Ponchos*
02 January 2000
United States Government Issue (USGI) Ponchos
When I KNOW it's gonna be nasty outside, I usually carry a poncho at a minimum, it makes making a variety of shelter types a snap! We've discussed the "alpha Tent" in another article, but it's not designed to be used as a shelter for a few people in the rain. So when confronted with a wet or snowy day, I bend over a few saplings, tie them together at the top in a "dome shape" and toss my poncho over it... NOW we have a semi dry environment in which to build a fire. If you have two or more people wearing USGI ponchos, GREAT, military ponchos snap together to form an ever larger shelter, you can end up with a really nice, snug "Dome Shelter" with the addition of a few ponchos.
(saplings bent into a dome shape and tied together)
(Inside a poncho dome... once inside you can build a small fire, using the hood as a vent opening)
(PaleHorse using a Swedish Firesteel to spark a fire)
When you need a fire most, like when you're cold and wet, fire starting becomes MUCH more difficult... a shelter makes it easier in the rain.
Of course, as I said above, if you KNOW you're going out into nasty weather, you tend to pack "nasty weather stuff". You need to practice using what you ALWAYS take with you when you go out. Be SURE you get used to carrying a few items ANY TIME you go out, so that you will have them when you need them. God only knows how many thousands of times I have carried my poncho with me and never used it... but when I DO need it, it's there.
USGI Ponchos are well worth their weight in gold and beat any other type I've tried hands down. The nice thing about them is standardization. Every USGI poncho is a rectangle approx 5 feet six inches by 6 foot 6 inches. Each Poncho has 8 grommet holes around the outer perimeter, and 16 heavy duty male/female snaps (8 snaps on each of two sides of the poncho) for configuring the poncho into a kind of "tunic" with arm holes... these snaps also allow you to snap MANY ponchos together for an ever bigger shelter. BEWARE cheap import "Look alikes", they are NOT built the same by ANY stretch of the imagination! A genuine USGI poncho can last you a lifetime!
(The snaps of a USGI poncho)
Your Poncho is IR Resistant!
Since Your Military Poncho is very "IR Resistant" and "Thermal Signature Resistant", You can even use it for "Hunkering Down and Hiding" from aircraft scanning the ground below them with IR Spotlights and Night-Vision Equipment, or Thermal Imagers, etc (Especially in "The Alpha Tent" configuration). Just DO NOT EVER wash your Poncho in modern Detergents that contain "Brighteners and Whiteners". These detergents are meant to make clothes look "Brighter and Whiter" by adding a little color just inside the IR Wavelength. Whether you know it or not, your clothing glows BRIGHTLY under IR light that is sometimes used with Night-Vision Equipment, and Modern Night-Vision Cameras. Even dressed in all black, your clothing will still appear to be "BRIGHT WHITE AND GLOWING" when seen under IR Light... You don't want your Poncho to glow bright white if the area is being watched at night using IR Lights or Thermal Imaging, so if your Poncho ever needs washing, make sure NOT to use the Popular Name Brand detergents!
Storage Of A Poncho
I don't want this article to become "Care and feeding of a poncho", but I see the question asked often, "How do you fold a poncho?" There are several ways to store a poncho out of the way.
I usually just stuff mine in a stuff sack that I bought in the camping section at Walmart for about 2 bux, it ends up being about the size of a softball. It doesn't LOOK like it would ever fit in, but it does.
(A USGI poncho about to be stuffed in a stuff sack)
(Yes, It'll fit)
Another way to store the poncho is in it's own hood. Just twist the poncho below the hood, stuff it in the hood and draw the string closed... done.
(Twist it as shown)
(stuff it in and draw strings closed)
Some people are just plain abnormal and INSIST that their poncho be folded "just so", well, I ain't one of those types, but if you just HAVE to do it, here's how:
(Fold poncho ends to center so that snaps line up, hood should be INSIDE the folds)
(Fold ends to center again)
(fold over at center)
(Do it yet again, fold at center)
(Now Bring the long ends to the middle)
(and then fold over at the middle twice)
(Now tie like so with Paracord, if you want to stick it on the back of your pistol belt now's the time to fold it over)
(Now go from end to end with the paracord...)
(Flip it over and tie it... done! Whew)
Well, that took up WAY more bandwidth than it was worth, but there it is, the OFFICIAL folding instructions brought to you by Alpha... and if you were taught a different way, I don't want to hear about it ;)
All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright © 1996 - 2012 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.