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Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite2 Poncho

photo: Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite2 Poncho waterproof jacket

Specs

Price MSRP: $19.99
Current Retail: $12.71
Reviewers Paid: $12.00-$15.00
Weight 9 oz
Other Certified ASTM F 1670/F 1670M - 17a

Reviews

2 reviews
5-star:   1
4-star:   1
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

Light, breathable, and versatile, the Frogg Toggs UL2 Poncho provides the rain protection you need without busting the bank.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Covers you and your pack
  • Waterproof
  • Price/Value

Cons

  • Forearms and legs exposed
  • No bill in the hood to keep rain off your face
  • Not a great warmth layer
  • Uncertain on long-term durability

After being pleased with FT's Waterproof Boonie Hat, I really wanted to try their poncho. I also wanted to know how it would stand up to the pricier options. At the same time I was testing this, I was also testing a $350 rain shell for the Review Corps. I wanted to know if a $12 poncho was even close in rain protection (If you don't want to read the rest of the review, it is.)

For the record, the 4.5-star rating is based on what the product is. I list a number of cons below, but that is based on the functionality of a poncho. As I would not ding an alcohol stove for not being a cannister stove, neither can I fault the poncho for not being a jacket.

IMG_20200530_100131280_HDR.jpg
Fits over the pack, at the expense of length to the legs.

My spring 2020 backpacking trip was a wet affair—6 days, 95 miles, and plenty of rain. Storms and steady rain moved through constantly both day and night. One evening I had to trench around my tarp to divert the runoff away from my site. 

IMG_20200527_090810793.jpg
This is the trail, not a stream. I was wearing Merrell Altalight Waterproof  hikers. Another backpacker I encountered was wearing plastic bread bags in his shoes. You can see the bottom of the poncho. Note the wet pant legs. 

Waterproof 

Yes! As the rain refused to let up day-after-day, the poncho never soaked through. It kept me...and my pack...dry the entire week. 

Breathability, Moisture, and Warmth

As a poncho, you can expect it to breathe. The upside is that even in hot weather, the inside of the poncho does not feel clammy from sweat. The downside is you cannot expect it to be a substantial warmth layer. In colder weather, I will layer my rain jacket as a final windshell over my warmth layers. While the poncho will provide some protection, a ponch just doesn't provide the option of zipping up pit vents and mesh pockets. 

Fit and Comfort

The fit of the poncho is affected by the use of a backpack. I cannot see a practical way to wear a pack over a poncho, but I don't know why I would want to. The poncho serves as a great pack cover. The hood fits comfortably, but it does not have a bill to keep rain away from my face (There's your 1/2 star removed in the rating.). A ball cap under the hood solves the problem. 

Besides the lovely hunchback appearance, having the pack on shortens the coverage of arms and legs. The picture above shows my pants were wet below the knees. 

IMG_20200530_100152838_HDR.jpg
"Sanctuary! Sanctuary!" -- Quasimodo
IMG_20200530_100209372.jpg
Pack shortens the coverage on legs.
IMG_20200530_100158743.jpg
I already have long, monkey-arms. A pack under
the poncho provides even less coverage.

Weight and Packability

At 8.7oz (in its waterproof bag), the UL2 is lighter than any other rain gear I have used. It packs down to about the size of a 1L Nalgene bottle. 

IMG_20210215_083613584.jpg

 An Added Bonus!

The poncho draped over a hammocks ridgeline can keep the wind out of your face at night, should it creep in around the tarp. And this...

IMG_20200528_061637223.jpg
I had just finished slinging my hammock and tarp when I heard the storm moving in from the west. Gale-force winds came in with the leading edge of the rain. As horizontal rain started blowing in under the tarp, I quickly shoved my pack, containing most of my gear, under the poncho hanging over the hammock. The winds turned my tarp into a sail and pulled up my eastern tarp stack. I leaped up to hold the tarp down. About 3 or 4 harrowing minutes went by, as I stood holding onto the tarp. In the end, everything I was wearing and the foot end of my hammock were soaked through. But my down quilts and everything else in my pack stayed dry under the poncho. There's no way that would have worked with just a rain shell. Fortunately, with the post-rain wind, my hammock was soon dry.

Abrasion and Durability

You have to really handle a Frogg Toggs product to understand how weird it feels. You get the impression that if you started pulling on the two ends, you could rip it in half. I actually tried a steady, aggressive pull on the bag it comes in, and it held. At the end of my 6-day trip, the poncho was no worse for wear. I expect to get plenty of wear from this product... 

Price and Value

...and this leads me to my 4.5 star rating. For $12, the UL2 poncho is an incredible value. I would need to go through 29 of these ponchos before I paid for that $350 shell I tested.

IMG_20200530_100139646_HDR.jpg

So which would I choose for my next trip? That entirely depends on the situation. The shell and the poncho have different pros and cons. If cold is a factor, I would want the shell. Warm weather—give me the poncho. 

Experience

A very wet, 6-day, 95-mile hike through Shawnee National Forest, as well as a few shorter weekend hikes.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $12

About the Author

Jeffery Gosnell is a caver, backpacker, hammock hanger, and marathon runner. His first backpacking trip was on Isle Royale National Park in 2007, where he was given the trailname Goose. Since then he has logged hundreds of miles in Shawnee National Forest and Mark Twain National Forest. He has climbed Mt. Rainier and paddled in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area. He regularly visits some of the most epic caves in the eastern U.S. Through all his adventures, Goose deals with the pain of osteoarthritis. He follows the advice of his former physical therapist—"You can sit on the couch and let the pain control you, or you can stay active and manage the pain on your own terms."

Sean Van Cleve GUIDE/OUTFITTER

WOW!


8 months ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Excellent review and recommendation of this inexpensive poncho, Goose!


8 months ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

p.s. I just learned that this poncho is certified blood resistant. I didn't even know that was a jacket certification, so you never know when you'll learn something new..."IPS Tested and Certified to meet ASTM F 1670/F 1670M - 17a Standard Test Method for Resistance of Materials Used In Protective Clothing to Penetration by Synthetic Blood."—https://www.froggtoggs.com/frogg-toggsr-ultra-lite2a-poncho


8 months ago

Replacing DriDucks poncho that I used on BWCA canoe trips about five times before one of the seams gave out. It had a few tatters from snags on the brush during portages, but was an excellent product. This item is essentially the same, so I expect it will work and last just as well.

Pros

  • Packable and light
  • Keeps dry and dries quickly

Cons

  • Snags on brush easily

No pockets. Drawstring hood works well. Snaps on sides held up well.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $15

DrPhun

They sell them at Walmart. $12 for the heavier version and $6 for the lighter version.


4 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Welcome to Trailspace, R Ertel! Was your original poncho one of these? https://www.froggtoggs.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=Dri-Duck+poncho


4 years ago

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