I found an old, used, and abused wool military blanket in some of my old gear. I never really used the blanket, well not like I use my newer one. This one was being used to cover some boxes and packs in a storage closet. I decided to put it to a better use.
As I pulled it out of the closet I noticed it had a hole right in the center. This cant be any good I thought to my self. That’s when it hit me to just cut out a head hole and make a poncho.
I see a lot of blanket coats and capotes, while these are awesome I wanted something a little better suited for desert environments. It does get cold here here in the desert, and I mean cold. Wool being one of the best materials to use as an insulating layer I knew this could be a well suited article to use in the field.
I got to thinking about the military ponchos and poncho liners. If the liner gets wet in winter you are still at risk for hypothermia. Nylon still gets cold against your body if it gets wet. With my wool poncho I could even use it as a liner for the military poncho. I would even stay well insulated even when wet.
In order for wool to be effective in the cold it really does need to as close to the body as possible.
With this I cut the hole and tried it on. Right off the bat I could tell this was going to be a great addition to my winter gear. There was only one thing left to do, try it out. I took it on a video shoot with me to do a winter snow shelter in Flagstaff. With all the moving around, building shelters digging the snow for a fire pit, gathering boughs for the bedding and insulation it really wasn’t that cold. My body was working to keep me warm. Once I was done even sitting by the fire was a little chilly.
The night began to come in and the temp dropped fast. I grabbed my wool poncho out of my pack and put it on. Immediately I was warming up. I always use a wool beanie, wool glove liners, wool socks, and a polypropylene base layer in the cold weather. With the edition of the poncho I was given just that much more protection.
At night I used it to wrap up inside the shelter. With a small candle and a fire reflector outside by the campfire I was not at all uncomfortable. It wasn’t the best, but it sure wasn’t the worst night I had ever spent out in the snow.
It is always nice to find new uses for older gear and rejuvenate it making it useful once again. The wool poncho will now be with me on all winter trips into the field.
This video shows a snow shelter I made a few years ago while on a trip to Flagstaff. At the end of the video I discuss my wool blanket poncho.