Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite2 Poncho
Light, breathable, and versatile, the Frogg Toggs UL2 Poncho provides the rain protection you need without busting the bank.
- Covers you and your pack
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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.
- Packable and light
- Keeps dry and dries quickly
- Snags on brush easily
No pockets. Drawstring hood works well. Snaps on sides held up well.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $15
Where to Buy
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Current Retail: $12.71
Reviewers Paid: $12.00-$15.00
Certified ASTM F 1670/F 1670M - 17a