How to Make a Poncho Tent

How to Make a Poncho Tent
Knowing how to make a poncho tent means you can quickly provide yourself an emergency shelter on the fly if you are suddenly caught in inclement weather. On a short trail hike or day trip, you will not be carrying a tent and may not have a tarp or groundcloth, but most of you will carry basic rain gear to meet changing weather conditions. The remainder of the materials to anchor your shelter can be found or improvised along the way.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:
  • Poncho Walking stick or fallen branch Rope, twine or cordage Rocks, dirt or logs
  • Poncho
  • Walking stick or fallen branch
  • Rope, twine or cordage
  • Rocks, dirt or logs
Step 1
Push the end of your walking stick several inches down into the dirt. If the ground is hard and compacted, you may instead support the stick by propping rocks against the base, using a pack or other gear to help steady it or simply holding it upright. If you do not carry a stick, a fallen branch can serve instead.
Step 2
Drape the poncho over the walking stick. You may insert the stick into the hood if you face the opening away from the wind.
Step 3
Pull the sides out to make the material taut. Secure three corners under rocks, logs or mounds of dirt.
Step 4
Leave the fourth corner free as an entrance to the shelter. Two people or one person and a pack can fairly comfortably fit beneath such a shelter.

Basic Lean-To

Step 1
Tie a length of rope (twine or cordage) to each of two adjacent corners of the poncho. If you prepare ahead, you can install grommets on two corners of the poncho for this purpose. If you are caught out on the trail and have trouble attaching the rope, gather and knot the fabric of the corner before attaching the rope.
Step 2
Attach each rope to a nearby tree. The rope height should allow the trailing edge of the poncho to reach the ground with four to six inches of material touching.
Step 3
Place a rock at each of the other two corners to anchor the back side of your shelter. For heavier wind or rain and a more solid shelter, other gear or debris may be used to weight the back side, or it may be buried under a mound of dirt.

Article Written By Alice Moon

Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.

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