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Poncho Villa – The Super Car of Ponchos

Consider the humble poncho. It’s quite possibly one of the world’s oldest articles of clothing, and why not? It’s a simple garment to make. Find some material , preferably water proof (or at least resistant) that generally rectangular in shape, make a cut in the middle and poke your head though. You now have something that’ll keep you dry-ish, warm-ish,  prevent the sun from turning your skin into beef jerky, and can be used as a blanket, ground sheet, or shelter. The poncho really is a wonderful piece of equipment when you think about it. And enduring. Over the centuries it’s remained basically the same. Sure some things have been added here and there, like a hood, draw strings, snaps, and grommets and it’s no longer made of hide, but for all intents and purposes, the poncho is at an evolutionary dead end.

Until now. Hazard 4, of Long Beach, California, has made the next great leap forward in poncho technology. They manufacture what I think may very well be the greatest poncho in the world.

Say hello to the Poncho Villa. This is not your issue poncho. It’s 15 x 13 x 2 inches of water resistant/breathable soft-shell fabric, 100% (we’ll get back to that) waterproof fully- taped seams, large hook and loop panels located on the front and back of the poncho, with additional panels on the shoulders.  But that’s not all.

From the top down, this is an all new take on an old concept. The hood is roomy enough to be pulled over a helmet and features a playing card sized hook and loop panel on the back of the hood. The opening is controlled via shock cord secured by a cordloc. The throat of the hood rises to chin height, can be opened and closed using a zipper, all covered by a convenient storm flap that sports hook and loop secured seam. Oh, and get this, the hood is lined. Fancy. But it’s nothing compared to the main body. That’s where the magic is happening. I’m not talking about the snaps or grommets, though very nice, they’re not where the Poncho Villa makes its money, no.  That’s found in the pocket on the chest.  A pocket so large you can put the poncho inside of it. Just think about that.  Once you’ve stuffed the poncho in to its own pocket, and, believe me, there’s no finesse in this operation, you can zipper the whole thing shut with a double sided zipper that also serves the pocket while in poncho mode. Once it’s all squared away the Poncho Villa is roughly the size of an iPad with the thickness of an MRE. It’s nice and soft and has the looks of making an excellent field pillow. One side has a large label with specs and a graphic nicely reminiscent of military labels.  On the top are a small plastic D-ring and a metal grommet to provide air in or water to drain out.

Hazard 4 Poncho Villa6

In poncho mode the huge pocket is covered by an equally huge, hook and loop secured flap. Did I mention that the pocket is huge? Because it is. You can put four complete MREs in there and still have room for your cell phone, two packs of smokes, extra pair of gloves, couple of packs of beef jerky, paperback, and maybe some mission essential items.  And, remember that D ring on the outside? Well, now it’s inside. The people at Hazard 4 really have thought of everything.

A pocket on a poncho. It’s really such a simple idea and it totally sold me on this product.  Here is where I have a confession to make. I hate ponchos.  I mean that. For 20 years in the infantry I humped around this nearly useless half-assed somewhat water resistant sheet that I had only used once as its makers intended it to be used, as a poncho.  Hot and wet is nice when you’re with a lady. It ain’t so good when you’re on a road march in Basic Training. Consequentially, my criteria when it comes to ponchos are pretty low and simple, how else can it be useful to me?

1.       Can it be used as a shelter?Hazard 4 Poncho Villa3

Yes.

2.       Can it be used to protect/conceal my gear?

hazard4poncho-6Yes.

3.       Can it be used as a groundsheet so I can clean my weapon?

hazard4poncho-7

Yes.

And that’s about it. A poncho being used as an actual poncho? Never enters my mind.

That brings us back to the lined out 100% waterproofed fully-taped seams. The thing is, they aren’t.  Within 30 minutes of getting the poncho I was outside and standing in the very convenient rain we were having.  After about 45 minutes, or long enough to start wondering what the neighbors were thinking, I went inside to see how the poncho villa had held up. Well, overall it did fine, except where the stitching for the shoulder hook and loop panels were.

Hazard 4 Poncho Villa5

However, I also tested the non-stitched material by lining my sink with the poncho and filling it with water. An hour later when I looked it over the inside of the poncho was dry except for some damp spots where the material had rested on the drain. That’s pretty good for a non sheet of plastic.

Hazard 4 Poncho Villa4

So, the question remains, do I like it? Would I recommend the Poncho Villa to people I know?

Yes, I would.

It’s now part of my basic packing list because it’s such a versatile piece of gear. Now, the $129.99 price tag is something to consider, but if you can afford one, you should get yourself a Poncho Villa. You won’t regret it.

Get yours here at Hazard 4.

Hazard 4 Poncho Villa

This has been a public service message from the wry and laconic Red2Alpha.


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