90 Survival Uses for a Plastic Poncho

Besides the obvious, what other ways can you use a plastic poncho? In a survival situation, the more uses you can get out of an item, the better. The fewer things you pack in your bug-out bag leaves room for more important gear, such as food, water, fire starters, medication and first aid supplies,. Further, the less you pack the more weight you cut down. If you do not regularly train or exercise with a 20-pound or more backpack strapped to your back, you are going to be in for a painful and tough lesson if you ever have to hoof it.

Shop NowCompared to current manufactured cheapies, a Mil-Surp poncho is built to last and has an unlimited number of alternative uses during a disaster. Cheaper Than Dirt!’s original Swiss military rubberized poncho measures 32 inches wide and 46 inches long. It is finished in extremely vibrant Alpenflage camo. The rubberized nylon material with sealed seams guarantees to be waterproof and the broad cut of the shoulders provides enough room to cover a military-style backpack.

Picture shows a rubberized military surplus rain poncho in Alpenflage camo.
Compared to current manufactured cheapies, a Mil-Surp poncho is built to last and has an unlimited number of alternative uses during a disaster.

If you are not wearing a cap or helmet, the snap on the drawstring hood provides a rigid visor to shield your face without interrupting your vision. The opening for your arms measures 19 inches long and has two snaps to adjust for the size of your arms or how much access you want to the inside of the poncho. Snapped together, there is still enough venting room so you do not sweat.

At the bottom of each side of the poncho are two snap holes to connect more than one poncho together. You may also use them to snap up the ends of poncho to allow easier access to a sidearm or thigh holster. I discovered using these snaps to tie up the ends of the poncho, because it is incredibly large on a shorter person. I am 5’5” and the poncho fits me as if I just cut a hole in the middle of a queen-sized bed sheet! The arms holes are too wide for my smaller body, but this poncho would definitely keep my pack, legs, back and the front of my torso dry.

The Swiss military surplus Alpenflage poncho is more circular than square like a traditional Mexican poncho. However, this cut lends the poncho well to full coverage of the wearer and the wearer’s gear.

The only downsides to the construction of the poncho are the lack of grommets and its non-stealthiness. The material is quite loud when rustled. As far as overall construction and usefulness, these military surplus ponchos—especially when used with a bit of an imagination, duct tape, paracord and a knife—are worth much more than their under $6 price tag.

Add a few of these invaluable plastic military surplus camo ponchos to your survival supplies.

  1. Shelter or lean-to
  2. Ground cover
  3. Collect water
  4. Tie the ends up and make a bag
  5. Stretcher
  6. Game drag
  7. Sled
  8. Distress signal flag
  9. Trail marker
  10. Blanket
  11. Wound dressing or bandage
  12. Sun shade
  13. Rain gear
  14. Gear raft or float
  15. Solar still
  16. Camouflage
  17. Hunting blind
  18. Sail
  19. Minnow trap
  20. Death shroud
  21. Quarantine area
  22. Waste or trash bag
  23. Sleeping bag cover
  24. Sleeping bag liner
  25. Prophylactic
  26. Cordage
  27. Patch and repair
  28. Butchering game and meat processing
  29. Wind block
  30. Privy privacy
  31. Shooting or sniper’s mat
  32. Pillow (rolled up)
  33. Bear-proof food storage (tie in a tree using rope)
  34. Broken arm sling
  35. Tie up a splint
  36. Gather fruit, berries and nuts
  37. Repair the soles of your shoes
  38. Cover firewood
  39. Hide supplies
  40. Nuclear fallout protection
  41. Shield you from chemtrails
  42. Separate chaff from wheat
  43. Rain fly
  44. Chaps
  45. Haul firewood
  46. Zombie guts barrier
  47. Waterproofing shoes
  48. Latrine bag (bucket liner)
  49. Bellow
  50. Rifle case
  51. Bartering and trade
  52. Clothing
  53. Window covers
  54. Mask
  55. Hooding
  56. Scarecrow
  57. Sandbag
  58. Gloves or mitts
  59. Water bladder
  60. Ice pack
  61. Suicidal parasail
  62. Mattress
  63. Sleeping bag
  64. Bug-out bag cover
  65. Make smoke signals
  66. Decoy
  67. Game trap
  68. Warmth
  69. Stealth from IR and night vision
  70. Insect screen
  71. Protect crops from freeze and frost
  72. Sleeping quarters curtain
  73. Hammock
  74. Baby papoose
  75. Seat cushion
  76. Insulation
  77. Greenhouse
  78. Splint padding
  79. Pose as an ally or foreigner
  80. Makeshift/ Hazmat/NBC suit (Hey! It’s better than nothing, right?)
  81. Shoe liner
  82. Wound irrigation
  83. Solar shower/water heater
  84. Tourniquet
  85. Quiver
  86. Transpiration bag
  87. Rock boil water
  88. Heating pad
  89. Sling seat
  90. Padding

Even though the seams are sealed, as an extra precaution treat your ponchos with waterproof spray. In addition, don’t forget to pack duct tape, paracord, a sharp knife or multitool with scissors, canteen or cup and a water filter to your bug-out bag. Many of these uses require extra tools to either cut up or secure the poncho.

For more lists, read the following posts:

For an alternative, click here to view the Czech military surplus oversized poncho.

What other uses can you think of? Tell us in the comment section.


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (7)

  1. @ OLD&GRUMPY.

    Popular Science conducted a color study, and found that ROYAL BLUE stands much better in wooded terrain the RED or ORANGE colors. Because in late Fall when leaves start too change colors, RED and ORANGE tend too blend in with the foliage better the BLUE colors.

    There was also a Project Study made during WW2, called the US. Navy Research Project “YEHUDI” in 1943, using lights and colors. Too break-up visual acquisition perception using different color and lighting schemes.

    NOTE: Light Pink or “Mountbatten Pink”, is one of those colors, that actually go invisible on you the farther yo go from it,

    1. Thanks. I guess royal blue in the new orange.Did you ever think we would grow up to talk about Deep woods “fashion” and color coordination?

    2. @ OLD&GRUMPY.

      No I didn’t. But, actually I’m fascinated by colors. And how you can break-up, make larger or smaller and even invisible by the applications of colors. A perfect example in Nature, is the Polar Bear. Whose fur is actually Transparent, but because of the color spectrum. The Human eyes see’s it as White in appearance. Or that the Human Eye and perceive the color GREEN, 8-times better than any other color. If you Live in a foggy area like I do. When I look down a long road, I can detect the Green Traffic Lights. Further down the road, then I can with Yellow or Red. What was that saying they taught us in high school science class, “Roy G. Biv”

  2. Ponchos do all those nifty things,and most Mil-spec items are hardy.
    But “vented so you dont sweat?”…C’mon
    A “rubber backed” anything will drench you in just about any climate.Military equipment is designed/supplied by the lowest bidder and is guarnteed to make you hurry up and finish the war so you can quit using the stuff.
    Its still a good pc of equipment to have along at the price,but I live in the South and cannot see having this thing over my head for any reason, except maybe to sweat off weight.

  3. Poncho or tarp, same stuff. Refer back to Take a tarp blog.For hunting you want cammo. for kids get red or orange. Just saw that a Poncho is just a long Hoodie ! Deep woods Gangster?? Probably not.

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