GoLite Poncho Tarp Long term review

I have had this GoLite poncho tarp made of silnylon since I started backpacking. It weighs in at 9 oz and has been a staple of mine while backpacking here in Colorado for a while. I only this last year got into a rain jacket (this one) and I find that that works well for my hammock setup. I am still chasing elusive 5 pound base weight dragon though and a 14 oz tarp, and 10 oz hammock are too heavy.

I’m finding that integration is the key to reduce your weight. Dual use or triple use items are where its at in regards to extreme weight reduction. So I’m back to my poncho tarp.

GoLite Poncho TarpThe poncho tarp setup as a quick shelter from the rain while eating lunch.

I’ve came close to that 5lbs dragon with my current setup, I’m down to 6.88 lbs.  This poncho tarp is an integral part of the system.  I’m still working on it to customize it for me, it’s a small shelter, and my current backyard tests aren’t yielding great results on windy stormy nights. You really need to know where the storm is coming from and which direction the wind is blowing to make sure that the opening isn’t facing into the wind.

When in poncho mode, it has snaps up the sides that will keep it closed, but it will still billow due to the fact that it’s really wide. It’s a very good solution here in Colorado although it wouldn’t be quite the same, or I suspect as good, in places like Pacific Northwest. I can also use this as an asymmetrical hammock tarp, or if it’s hot and a little rainy, I can roll up the front and I get a great breeze, while keeping my pack dry.

GoLite Poncho Tarp
The GoLite Poncho Tarp as an asym hammock tarp.

Current issues with a ground tarp setup:

  1. I’m 6’3” and 220LBS. So I’m really big for this shelter type.  This leaves my head or feet exposed to the wind and rain.
  2. Using an umbrella or rain jacket to seal one side won’t fix the issue if the rain is coming on the diagonal, or doesn’t fix the issue of setup in precipitation.
  3. The outside pole needed to seal the hood and pull it from my face to create room means I WILL get wet if I use this as my only rain wear.


Current Pros:

  1. Its super light at 9 OZ.
  2. As a dual use piece of equipment, it saves the weight of taking a separate shelter and rain gear. Depending on the rain gear, it could be from 4 to 12 OZ or so.
  3. With only slight modification, it could be a great three season shelter.

My plans moving forward are to modify the side of the tarp so that it can become an effective shelter for someone my size.  And I’ll post that up when I get it done.

But the poncho tarp is great for people that are under 6 foot, and setup in the half-mid pitch it would work really well. Since I’m bigger I need to use the pitch in the picture.


This is a great product for use in areas with low humidity, and has served me well for about 5 years on the trail. Not many things will last that long with as much trail use as this sees. If you can find one, get it.




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