Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review: Cascade II Rain Poncho

A poncho is a poncho, right? All you have to do is slip a poncho over your head and slough through the rain.


It's all about the material and the hood.

Although my first rain poncho served well in keeping me dry, the hood was terrible, sliding back whenever it could which was whenever I wasn't holding onto it. Plus, even when I did hold on, it couldn't be pulled forward enough to shield my face.

The next poncho was too heavy and hot. The hood was better, though. I could wear a ball cap to have the visor shield my eyes and the hood would stay on even when I turned my face from side to side.

That's why I'm happy to review the Cascade II poncho that I got from Campmor two years ago. It's made of polyurethane-coated, mini-ripstop nylon with a DWR finish that's lightweight, comfortable because of the breathability, keeps me dry, drip-dries quickly when hung over the tub, and folds up small to be stored in the included envelope. I selected the Backpacker model because the extension would cover my hiking pack and travel pack when worn as a backpack without decreasing the amount of coverage for the back of my legs.

Fortunately, I've yet to have the opportunity to try out the extension.

As for the rest of the poncho, in very windy conditions, I felt the fabric was flapping more than I was used to with my other, heavier, ponchos and rectified it by attaching 5/8" (15mm) Velcro® adhesive-backed coin sets along the sides. I sewed them on with a few stitches in the center of each coin using thread matching the color of the poncho because I wanted to be sure they stayed in place.

One coin set went about 7" above the snap on the left side because I felt the arm spaces were too generous for me. (The sturdy snaps are located midway between the shoulder and bottom edge.) Another coin set went onto the same position on the right side. Enough space remains for me to pull my arms inside the poncho, like a turtle pulls in its legs, without needing to unfasten the Velcro® which permits me to carry items like my purse and another article under the protection of the poncho.

The third coin set went about 9" below the snap on the left side. Another set went on the right.

The next two sets went near my knees on the left and right sides of the poncho. I thought they might have to be unfastened to allow me to walk, but they never hindered me.

[Updated July 9, 2011 - During one heavy thunderstorm when I probably should have been indoors, the driving wind separated the Velcro coin sets near my knees making the poncho flap uncontrollably. As a result, I decided to put eyelets in so the sides can be tied together.]

In perhaps what was a fit of overkill because I had the rest of the pack of coin sets left over and nothing else to do that evening, I then stitched a couple of pairs equidistantly between the snaps holding up the extension flap.

(Tip: I laid the poncho on a flat surface and ensured the sides were straight and even before peeling off the protective film and attaching one side of the Velcro® adhesive coin. Next, I put the opposite side of the coin onto its mate. After double-checking that everything was still even, I removed the backing film, and pressed the poncho onto the adhesive back. Then, I separated the coins and stitched them into place.)

The best part of the Cascade II poncho is the hood. First, it has a zipper to close up the neck opening with a storm flap that has Velcro® closures to keep the storm flap secure.

Second, there is an adjustable Velcro® tab in the back of the hood to customize the fit of the hood.

Third, there is a visor on the hood.

Last, there are drawstrings to snug up the face opening so that only my eyes show, protected by the visor, of course.

These features have kept me completely dry inside this poncho that is the best I've ever used. After two years, it still is in excellent condition and looks only lightly used.

In addition to those features, perhaps more for preparedness and hikers/backpackers than for travelers, there are 3/4" wide loops at the corners to help create a groundcover, tent, lean-to, or roof over a hammock.

[Updated July 9, 2011 - On the regular poncho, these loops can be used to tie the edges together instead of using Velcro or installing eyelets to keep the poncho front and back from flapping in the wind. Using the loops isn't practical on the backpacker version because the loops on the back are at a different level than are the loops on the front.]

The care instructions are:

"Machine wash cold
Gentle cycle
Mild detergent
Tumble dry no heat
Do not iron
Do not bleach
Do not dry clean."

The Cascade II ponchos are available in two sizes, Regular and Long, and in two models, Regular and Backpacker:

Regular poncho, item #77704, measures 52" x 80"

Long poncho, item #77705, measures 52" x 104"

Regular Backpacker poncho, item #77706, measures 52" x 92"

Long Backpacker poncho, item #77707, measures 52" x 118".

Highly recommended.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gail

Thank you for such a detailed review of the humble poncho. It sure looks like cascade's given their best thoughts to their poncho!

I'v wondered a lot about the various companies on the web, not sure about which (within a reasonable price range, eg Moonbow is too pricey). Very little has been written about each of the ponchos at +/- $30. All assumed to be a standard no frills poncho, but you and I know that that's far from the truth.

Anyway, thanks again. Im writing to see if they do international sale through USPS. Probably not, if that's the case, I need to find a way to buy it.

Thanks and take care!

Kind regards

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