(German army) poncho as a bivy bag, and some news

I like rugged gear. I really like rugged and multi-purpose gear. And I really, really like rugged, multi-purpose and cheap gear. Anyone familiar with the German military surplus poncho will know that this item fits all these criteria and more. One use that I have found for this versatile piece of kit is as a bivy bag around my sleeping bag and sleeping pad. I image this trick would work with any poncho that has double-sided snaps. Here’s the poncho in its normal configuration.

To use the poncho as a bivy bag, first lay it out with the “inside” facing up.

Then lay your sleeping pad and sleeping bag on one side of the poncho.

Fold the poncho over the sleeping bag and fasten the snaps, making sure to overlap the top over the bottom, and not the other way around.

Finally, bunch up the poncho at the foot end and tie it off with some cord, making sure it’s nice and (water-)tight. I always keep a short length of paracord attached to the poncho for this purpose.

And here’s how it looks when finished. The sleeping bag I used for this demonstration (EDIT: Swiss army surplus) is extra long because of the hood attached to it. I normally pull this hood into the sleeping bag, so no parts of the bag extend outside the bivy.

I admit that this setup does not provide quite as much protection as a made-for-purpose bivy bag, but it does work quite well. I’ve used it in a variety of conditions and have not gotten wet. Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes, this setup works so well to keep moisture out that it also keeps moisture in (evaporation from the body). This is easy to remedy. Instead of snapping all the snaps, snap every second one or even fewer. This will allow the moisture to escape, but will still keep the poncho wrapped around you.

 And now for the news. I don’t usually talk about personal issues here at TWW, but over the past few months, I’ve been dealing with a difficult one. In a significant way, my life has been turned upside down. This is one of the reasons why long stretches have gone by without any posts. Until things settle down a bit more, I can’t promise that I’ll be able to put out new blog posts regularly, but I will do what I can. I will be continuing with the permanent bushcraft camp series and also have some other exciting things in the works. Thanks for reading and being patient. 😉 In the mean time, check out my friend Alex’s continuing adventures at 62nd parallel north.

10 comments on “(German army) poncho as a bivy bag, and some news

  1. You just gotta love this German stuff!
    Well… the poncho anyway. I am not too thrilled about the sleepingbag; too heavy and bulky in comparisson to the keeping warm-part.
    I really like what you came up with. Homemaid or learned about somewhere?

    And drop me a line, whenever you feel the need to….

    • Thanks for the comments, Ron! The sleeping bag I’m using is Swiss, not German…or did you know that? I’m confused! 🙂 The Swiss bag is on the heavy side, but it’s still pretty warm and is an integral part of my sleep system (large in size, allowing nested bags inside it).

      I came up with the poncho bivy a few years back while experimenting. Only recently have I started using it again (in an effort to reduce the amount/weight of gear I carry).

      Thanks Ron, I appreciate the offer. 🙂 I’ll be in touch soon.

      • Of course! You mentioned having a Swiss NOT German sleepingbag in an earlier post.
        I have a German one and they look very much alike. The giveaway is the flap with pressing studs covering up the zipper (I assume). The German one I have only has a zipper…. minus the zippyuppullerthingy… It was cut out when the bag became surplus, only the seller “forgot” to mention that to me back then.

  2. Frank says:

    I love ponchos, and this one looks great, but as Ron mentioned, the sleeping bag is just too heavy for backpacking, you can find lighter ones out there.

  3. lostinthewoods says:

    Jeez, you really still have snow up there in April?

    • These pictures are from early March. 🙂

      Most of the snow is usually gone by the end of April in eastern Finland (except big piles of plowed snow), but this year, the little snow that fell melted much earlier than normal because of the mild winter we had.

  4. I actually have this near exact same poncho. It was sold to me from Major’s as a “French Rubberized Poncho.” Love it. Great stuff.

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