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Tropical Bivvy Poncho Test

Review by Fung

The hot and humid rain forests of Thailand are a good place to test the bivvy bag poncho.

It was the beginning of the rainy season. Sunny mornings followed by thunderstorms with massive downpours in the afternoon. In short, ideal poncho weather.

Design

This bivvy bag poncho was designed like a large long poncho that can shelter two people either sitting or laid down. It was made of a soft breathable nylon that felt soft to the touch.

As I arrived at the lake in the forest the rain started to fall from the big dark clouds. I quickly pulled the bivvy poncho over my head, with hood up. It reached below my knees, just the right length for wading in shallow water.

Heavy Rain

The rain got heavier while I walked along the lake, keeping my hands inside the poncho at first. This felt cosy as the poncho was very wide, nicely draped around my body.

Condensation quickly formed inside the poncho due to the exercise and the wet nylon started to stick to my arms and clothes. After a while my clothes got damp and I wondered if I will get soaking wet.

When I put the hood down, water came in around the collar and ran down the front of my shirt into my jeans. This was to be expected as all rainwear does that. Get used to it.

I waded into the lake about waist deep with the poncho reaching the water. This slowed me down a bit, but was still easy to walk.

Around the corner I met my friend Poon, coming out of the lake, dressed in jeans and a thin anorak. He looked with interest at my bivvy poncho and asked what can be done with it so I showed him how to make into a shelter for two.

Into the Bivvy Bag

To setup up the bivvy bag, I sat down down by the lake, pushed up the poncho above my head and tied the hood close to keep the rain out. That turned the poncho into a small bivvy tent.

My friend Poon came inside. His wet clothes soaked mine as he sat next to me, but that didn't bother me as I expected them to get wet anyway during this test. It felt cosy and warm inside, with the heavy rain hitting the outside.

Although Poon's wet clothes steamed up the bivvy bag, the hydrophilic fabric sent a lot of moisture outside and he dried out a bit while we were inside the bivvy bag.

When the rain stopped for a while, I got out to take some photos while Poon stayed inside the bivvy bag. He moved into shallow water to play around and was fascinated by the bivvy bag and how behaved in the water.

Swim Test

Poon asked if it is possible to swim in this poncho. There maybe situations when hiking in wetlands where you have to go through water or go for a swim, so we checked it out.

I put on the other hiking poncho and we both walked into the lake to compare the look and feel. The air billowed up both the poncho and bivvy bag, but quickly flowed out.

Both ponchos floated around a bit, but once we started swimming they hugged our bodies and it was fairly easy to swim in them, even with clothes underneath. Since we didn't leave anthing on the beach, we swam along the lake shore to explore nature.

Wildlife Watch

As we reached a wooded area we met another hiker, hidden among the bushes. He sat in shallow water, covered in a green poncho, watching the local wildlife. Being submerged up to his chest, his poncho obscured his shape, so the animals didn't notice him.

Poon sat down in the water, still wearing the bivvy bag. I joined him inside and we watched the wildlife swim by, sitting up to our necks in water, looking out through the arm holes on either side.

The hiker found our roomy bivvy bag interesting, but recommened we should get a green or black bivvy one which would blend in better with the woodland.

Summary

Among different soft shell systems, the bivvy bag poncho can prove to be a perfect companion for outdoor adventures. While it is usually worn by only one person, two can sit inside during a meal break or a shower.

We decided to get green or camo bivvy bags for sitting in the lake to watch the wildlife. Worn in the water over light clothing this is the best way to enjoy nature in the wetlands.

With such a versatile piece of equipment, you never have to worry about wind and weather anymore. Bring on the rain!