Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Honcho Poncho Down: Warmth and comfort on chilly nights

Therm-a-Rest®, a company that specializes in sleeping mats, sleeping bags and other essentials aimed at keeping campers warm, had a hit with their original Honcho Poncho.  But their new Honcho Poncho Down is even better as it’s down-filled and will keep you warm on even the coldest nights.

This item was pitched to me by Therm-a-Rest’s PR team, and I have to admit I was skeptical at first.

I had questions. Why did a poncho have sleeves? And why 3/4 sleeves? What is Nikwax Hydrophobic Down?

After explaining that Nikwax Hydrophobic Down is natural down that has been treated to make it even more water resistant, and makes it dry three times faster than alternatives, Therm-a-rest’s marketing rep suggested I hold off on the questions and try one out and the rest would be become apparent.

She was right! After using the Honcho Poncho Down during some recent chilly mountain nights, I have come to LOVE this accessory. It’s kind of like wearing a sleeping bag, but one you can move around and do things in.

The Honcho Poncho Down is practical outdoor campsite loungewear that’s warm, comfy, and cozy.

Why sleeves? So there is less bulkiness and overall fabric to contend with.

Why 3/4 sleeves? So they don’t get in the way when doing things like stirring the fire, or playing your next hand of cribbage. In between tasks, you can pull your arms inside and use it as a poncho/coverup.

The Honcho Poncho is also a multi-tasker. It can open up more or less flat to be used as a blanket. Or, stuffed inside its large front pocket, it makes a terrific little camp pillow.

What I especially like about the Honcho Poncho Down

  • I love that there is a large front pocket to store your keys, phone, or whatever.
  • That front pocket serves double duty as a stuff sack that stores the poncho in a small, compact bundle when not in use. This can also do double duty as a pillow if you don’t need to wear the poncho.
  • Even though it is down-filled and ultra-warm, it’s still thin and lightweight.
  • Both sides are held together with snaps and the front has a large zipper. This means you can open the poncho up almost flat and use it as a lightweight down blanket.
  • It’s water-resistant. The 100% recycled nylon shell features a water-resistant DWR coating, plus the Nikwax Hydrophobic Down filling also repels water.
  • It’s R.D.S. Certified (Responsible Down Standard). This certification tracks the down from farm to final product and certifies down and feather products against animal welfare requirements.
  • The shell is made with 100% recycled rip-stop nylon.
  • The Honcho Poncho Down’s packed size measures a mere 13” X 9” and weighs just 1 lb. 3 ounces (unpacked measurements 48” X 42”).
  • It doesn’t get much more comfortable than this, with the possible exception of being naked, and that would be too cold.

What can be improved?

It’s the nature of the beast with high-quality down products, but with a suggested retail price of $259.95, this item is a financial commitment for most people. However, if you camp where it is chilly a lot, it’s well made and should serve you well for many, many years.

Available in blue, burgundy, or olive green, the original Honcho Poncho comes in more color choices, but that’s nitpicking on form, not function.

Order the Honcho Poncho Down from Amazon:


Cheri Sicard
Cheri Sicardhttps://cannademy.com/
Cheri Sicard is the author 8 published books on topics as diverse as US Citizenship to Cannabis Cooking. Cheri grew up in a circus family and has been RVing on and off her entire life.


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Calvin Wing
1 month ago

Cheri, as a backpacker, Eagle Scout and professional with the BSA I’m wondering who Therm-a-Rest is targeting for their market with this item.
It will be interesting to see if this product makes it on the market. Adding water resistance to down will add weight and weight is the constant enemy of backpacking. Waterproofing down garments has been an ongoing experiment but Gore-Tex has shown to be the standard to beat for 2 generations. Also the cost places it higher than many Gortex down sleeping bags and quality down jackets. Also does this new down have a fill power rating?

Cheri Sicard
1 month ago
Reply to  Calvin Wing

This item is VERY lightweight. I can check on the rating. The market is anyone hanging out outside in cold weather. Personally I LOVE mine and use it all the time (except in summer).

Artful Dodger
1 month ago
Reply to  Calvin Wing

Part 1:
I too, am an avid backpacker, former Boy Scout (only got to Life, though), a fisherman/hunter, a professional Ski Patroller and all around outdoor enthusiast. I probably spend far more time outdoors than indoors, and most of it in cold weather. I’m also a retired retail/garment/textile executive, so I know my way around this topic fairly well. Down, when used in an outdoor setting, once had its place. However, once it’s wet, it loses all insulating properties, takes days to dry out in nature, and is generally worthless. With so many great synthetics out there, there are far superior alternatives to down, even 100% goose, or duck, down (most of which aren’t 100% down)..

Artful Dodger
1 month ago
Reply to  Artful Dodger

Part 2:
If you wish to stay with natural fibers, then there is NOTHING better than Merino Wool; lightweight, not itchy, no “wet dog smell”, machine washable w/no shrinkage, and best of all, loses NO insulating properties when wet. This poncho seems like a good fit for sitting around a campfire, but after that, imo, not so much. Thanks for your review, Cheri.

Unrelated side note: I’d wager Calvin knows the backpacker’s axiom of “ounces make pounds”. I have a fellow backpacking friend who has managed to get to a 14# setup. I haven’t reached that lofty goal yet, but I did finally manage sub 20#. There’s hope for me. Lol

Time spent on outdoor activities is not subtracted from ones life!

Cheri Sicard
1 month ago
Reply to  Artful Dodger

This poncho is designed for hanging around camp and it is treated to be water resistant.

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