Rain Jacket, Poncho, or Umbrella?

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If you’re caught in the rain while traveling, carrying the proper protection can mean the difference between soldiering through a bit of bad weather and having it completely ruin your day or even your whole trip. Most people trying to keep dry on a trip rely on one of three pieces of equipment: a poncho, a rain jacket, or an umbrella. Each one has different strengths and is best suited to a particular kind of situation.

A poncho offers a good multiuse option. Ponchos tend to be very lightweight and pack down quite small, meaning that they don’t occupy much space in a traveler’s suitcase or daypack. Some of them also come with zip pouches so you can get them out for a 15-minute downpour, then pack them away without soaking everything else in your bag when the sun comes out. If you opt to bring a poncho with you, select one that is constructed from a breathable, waterproof material that won’t tear easily. It should be big enough to cover your daypack, as well as your body.

Rain jackets are a little more durable. In sustained rainy or windy conditions, a rain jacket paired with rain pants will keep you drier than even a poncho. When selecting a rain jacket, you should again look for one made from a lightweight, breathable fabric. A hood that can be sealed with a drawstring to protect your neck is important, as well, and you should make sure the jacket has taped seams, which will keep it from leaking in heavy rain. Get a jacket big enough that you can wear several layers of clothing underneath it, if necessary.

While umbrellas are a little more flimsy, they are also very useful. You may be able to pick up an umbrella at your destination in a pinch, but you can also become soaked during the time it takes you to find and purchase one. If you choose to bring an umbrella, look for a travel model that is small enough to fit in your bag. In addition, if you’re heading to a windy place, bring one with vents that will work in high winds.

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