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How do I Choose the Best Winter Poncho?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated May 21, 2024
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The selection of a good winter poncho will likely come down to choosing fabric content that provides protection from the cold. Some fabrics perform this function much better than others. Fabrics such as wool, down, and leather usually provide a great deal of protection from both wind and cold. In addition, some man-made synthetics such as pile and fleece are considered excellent choices for warmth. A winter poncho made from any combination of these fabrics will probably meet your needs.

Fashion may or may not be a factor in choosing a winter poncho. It really depends on your taste and needs. You will eventually have to decide if you want a winter poncho based entirely on performance or if fashion is more important. If performance is your main priority, you will have a great many options; however, finding a winter poncho that incorporates both performance and fashion will likely limit your choices. A very warm poncho may look bulky and cumbersome when compared to the sleek look of the more fashionable styles.

One way to achieve both style and warmth is to layer your clothing. For instance, if you wear an undershirt, a shirt, and a sweater underneath a lighter weight poncho, you will probably be able to achieve the same amount of insulation as you would get from a heavier, more insulated poncho. Layering clothing tends to help keep body heat in, while protecting the body from the cold. This would be one option to consider if you really like the look of a particular poncho, but are unsure of how much protection it could provide.

A good winter poncho should probably have an attached hood. Ponchos are made both with and without hoods, but having a hood is one more way that the poncho can serve to keep you warm. Having a lined hood is even more desirable. Another thing to look for in a poncho hood is a the type of closure it provides. Having drawstring closures will allow you to tighten the hood around your face and ears, which will help protect them from cold air.

In addition to protection from cold, you might want to consider purchasing a winter poncho that also offers protection from moisture. This type of winter poncho would typically be made of waterproof or water-repellent material. Many synthetic fabrics are design to be moisture-proof, but they do not always provide a great deal of warmth. A moisture-proof poncho should probably include a lining that is designed for insulation and warmth.

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Discussion Comments
By Saraq90 — On Nov 10, 2011

@Monika - I have to admit I mostly agree with you. I personally do not like the look of most winter ponchos. They just seem so unflattering, at least most of the ones I have seen. Some of them even look like reinforced and cut potato sacks to me, but that is my personal opinion.

Winter ponchos also seem to be very bulky too, which is unflattering in my opinion. I know some coats are very bulky as well, but I have seen more form fitting coats than I have seen form fitting ponchos.

Also, I have not worn a winter poncho outside, as I have not bought one, but without sleeves it seems like it would be easier to get cold and catch a draft than if you were wearing a winter coat instead. Also, it seems if the winter poncho was bulky and the wind was blowing a lot, it would be somewhat difficult to pull the winter poncho closer to you to stay warm.

Also, it seems like most of the winter ponchos’ hood’s are pretty big, so it would not keep you as warm, especially if it doesn’t stay on your top of your head properly.

By burcidi — On Nov 09, 2011

@Monika-- I do agree with you but you don't necessarily have to wear a poncho outdoors. And you know, ponchos originated in the mountainous regions of South America where it can be hot and dry in the day and extremely cold at night. People wore, and still wear to this day, ponchos to keep warm and to deal with the intense temperature changes from day to night.

If you don't live somewhere with similar weather conditions, I suppose you might not see too much of a purpose for a pancho. But it's really an ideal coat for the kind of climate I described.

By Mae82 — On Nov 09, 2011

We get a lot of mixed weather in our area during wintertime and I was wondering if anyone can recommend any rain ponchos, that are also thick enough to keep you warm when it gets cold? I really hate wet flurries as I always either freeze or get soaked.

I would like to pick up a rain poncho that I can store in my car, so that when I get surprised by nasty weather I can have a backup ready to toss over my usual clothes. I don't mind if the poncho is a bit bulky, as I can see myself just wearing it between point car and point B.

By animegal — On Nov 08, 2011

A cape poncho can be a good solution for those looking for stylish winter clothing. I find that a lot of the ponchos for women are way too bulky and don't do much for your figure. The poncho cape on the other hand usually has a button closure down the front, making it look similar to a winter jacket.

The cape poncho I have makes use of pockets and a button down feature, giving it a more fitted look. It actually reminds me a lot of a large draped shawl that conforms to your shape, depending on how you hold it and where your hands are.

By fify — On Nov 08, 2011

Panchos might not be very stylish in general, but they really do provide great protection from the wind, especially the fleece ones.

Fall and winter gets very cold here in Canada and winter clothing is really important. I generally wear panchos inside of another coat in the wintertime but can easily get around in a pancho in fall. It really works great against wind which can get pretty bad where I live.

I think if you're planning on wearing it as a coat outdoors, synthetic ones are the best because they provide protection from wind, rain and snow. I agree with the article that you can layer clothes inside for warmth. If you're planning on wearing it indoors or inside another coat, then a wool one is probably the best choice. I have several ponchos, both wool and synthetic and use them all depending on the weather.

By SZapper — On Nov 07, 2011

I think hooded ponchos are great for the winter time. Like the article said, I wear mine over layers. I usually wear a sweater underneath, which helps keep me even warmer.

I'm a fan of all kinds of ponchos though. I do like the bulky ponchos for colder days, and thinner ponchos for more mild weather. I even have a waterproof poncho for when it rains!

I think they look good, and look a bit more unique than some boring coat!

By Monika — On Nov 07, 2011

@ceilingcat - That is a good idea. However, I have to say that I think the best winter poncho is a coat! Seriously.

Ponchos look awful, and they definitely don't keep you as warm as winter coats do. Winter coats have something that ponchos are missing: sleeves!

I did try out a poncho a few years ago when they were really in style. It made it hard to carry a purse or move my arms around. If I did move my arms a lot, it would let cold air in under the ponchos!

Like I said, I'll just stick with a coat.

By ceilingcat — On Nov 06, 2011

I think the best way to get winter ponchos is to just knit one yourself. That way, you can customize it. You can make your winter poncho out of whatever material you want, whatever color your want, and whatever weight you want. The possibilities are endless.

Plus, making your own will probably be less expensive than buying a nice one. There are tons of free poncho patterns on the Internet. Yarn can get expensive, but you don't have to buy expensive yarn for a poncho. There are plenty of nice yarns available at local craft stores for a moderate price.

Also, ponchos aren't that hard to make, so they would be a fine first project for a new knitter.

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