9 Military Poncho Survival Shelter Confirguations: How To Set Up A Military Poncho Shelter

An essential item for ANY outdoor outing and certainly in every Survival Kit and Bug Out Bag is a good quality Poncho.  If you don’t have one and need one go to the NOT IF BUT WHEN STORE HERE. There is nothing more miserable (and dangerous) than getting soaked by rain. There are 100′s of different ponchos to choose from. I prefer a Military Style Poncho with grommeted corners and snap closure sides. These are typically constructed of a nice quality rip-stop nylon material that not only makes them water proof but very durable.

I like for items in my pack to be multi-use items – meaning they can be used for more than 1 purpose. My Poncho is no exception.  Besides protecting me from rain, I can also use my Poncho as a Ground Tarp to act as a moisture barrier.  I can also use it as a tarp to protect my gear or to keep a wood pile dry.  It can also be used as a make-shift shelter, which is the subject of this post.  I’ve slept in a make-shift poncho shelter many times and if set up properly it will keep you as dry and comfortable as any tent on the market.

Below I have detailed 9 Different Military Poncho Set-Ups that can be used for multiple scenarios.  I’ve listed when each one works best and when it doesn’t.  I’ve listed the supplies needed for each one and also the knots I use to set them up.  Hopefully you find this useful.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Military Poncho Shelter # 1:  Basic Lean-To (HORIZONTAL)

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 3 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 2:  Basic Lean-To (VERTICAL)

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 2 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment:  Low Wind, No Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 3: Ridge Line Lean-To

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 5 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Heavy Wind, No to Heavy Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 4:  Flat Roof Lean-To

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 3 Stakes, Center Pole (optional)
  • Uses: Sleeping, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 5:  Ghost Man

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes, Center Pole
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Hunting Blind
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small)
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 6:  Hood Hoist

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes,  2 Poles (Optional)
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Hunting Blind, Sleeping (When set-up low and long)
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain, High Wind & High Rain (Low & Long)
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small – when set-up high), NO when set up low
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 7:  Poncho Tent

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Sleeping
  • Ideal Environment: No to High Wind, No to High Rain, Works well in COLD temps
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small out front)
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 8 & 9: Connecting 2 Ponchos By Snapping Them Together – using 1 as a ground tarp

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, Stakes
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed,Sleeping
  • Ideal Environment: No to High Wind, No to High Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Below is a Basic Lean-To Set-Up that I use quite often in fair weather.  I use a tarp to keep ground moisture at bay and a wool blanket for warmth.  The Poncho Shelter acts as an excellent heat shield to deflect heat right on the sleeping area from a fire out front .

 

POST UPDATE:  Below is a 10th Poncho Shelter Option I call the DIAGONAL.  It involved tying off one corner to a tree and staking the opposite corner to the ground.  The 2 remaining corners can either be staked or guy-lined out for added room.  This is a great shelter set as well.

If you are using any of these shelters and are expecting rain you will want to tie a knot with paracord around the hood to prevent water from leaking inside.

If you don’t have a good grommeted poncho – you can pick one up for under $25 at the NOT IF BUT WHEN STORE.

As always I would love to get your thoughts on these. Let me know if there are any questions. Or if you have any additional ideas – post them in a comment below!

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About Willow Haven Outdoor & Creek Stewart
Creek Stewart is the Owner and Lead Instructor at Willow Haven Outdoor - a leading Survival and Preparedness Training Facility located on 21-acres in Central Indiana.  For more information on Survival Courses and Clinics offered at WHO, click HERE.  Creek is also author of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit and The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide.  Visit Creek's personal web-site here: WWW.CREEKSTEWART.COM. You can contact Creek directly at creek@willowhavenoutdoor.com.
 
 

Comments

  1. tsherry says:

    Thank you for posting this. I recently bought a mililtary poncho and was wondering about the best way to use it as a shelter. Most of the designs I found online involved poles. This post is perfect. Thank you!

  2. John says:

    Another great post Creek! I need a Poncho now! :) What is your opinion on a poncho liner? Thanks from Idaho

    • Creek says:

      John- I don’t own one personally but I ironically just spoke to B.Fuller from KY the other day who uses one as a part of the shelter system as a mild weather sleeping bag substitute. He said it works really well. I’ve been thinking about getting one. Creek

      • John says:

        Thank you!

      • John says:

        I spent several years in a scout platoon in the 82d. First time in the field with the platoon, I took my sleeping bag, it was in November. It rained the first night & all my gear, bag included, got drenched. I spent the rest of the exercise trying to dry the damn thing out. After that, I carried a heavy poncho in winter, and a light one in summer, both with a poncho liner. The only exception to that came when we went to Alaska. We had a saying back then: “Pack light, freeze at night”, but it didn’t matter, we were mean & lean, and didn’t get much sleep anyway. After I left there, I found that all S.F. & Rangers carried the same equipment, and the same saying. The poncho & poncho liner are both great pieces of equipment. I have one of each for every member of my family, along with the new army sleep systems.

  3. Jason says:

    15 years in the military and the only times that I never used the poncho liner for my sleeping bag was during winter camp, basic training, and when I was in Iraq (I had a twin bed and mink blanket.)

    Very nice job with the different setups! A few of these were new to me and I have been around military ponchos since 1991!

  4. Chuck Haggard says:

    Having used the GI poncho quite a bit when I was a cav scout and had to pack light I have an idea of the good and bad of that gear. Good write-up on some of the uses.
    I do have to throw in a recommendation on the poncho liner, or "woobie" as all of the Army guys I know still call it. A poncho with liner has saved my life in the past so I have a fond place in my heart for my woobie.
    The liner isn't perfect, but with modifications for a head hole one can set-up the liner so that you can wear the poncho with the liner inside, works as an extra layer in cold weather, works well during a halt while on a road march when your body temperature starts to drop, just as one example.

  5. Kristen Davenport says:

    where can I buy a military poncho like this online?

  6. If you get two ponchos together you can have more room. Three Ponchos and you can have a tube tent for two. We used two ponchos in Marine Corps Boot Camp for our tents.

  7. Jasmine Rosales says:

    How do you keep snakes away at night?

  8. Phillip says:

    I used my poncho as a shelter during a spring snowstorm in the Zirkel Wilderness in CO. Stayed dry and warm all night long. Works good with a hammock too.

  9. can I use the blue tapoline sheets and put more people under shelter thanks for all the survival tips but haven't found out yet about the things to store as it goes to buying qa book and haven't got money to do this thanks anyway.

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    and everything. Nevertheless think of if you added some great graphics or videos to
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    Very good blog!

  11. Aden Wachtel says:

    What kind of pack is that in the last picture? maker / model?

  12. Aden says:

    Awesome article, thanks! What kind of pack is that in the last picture? It looks like mine except better..

  13. Victor says:

    Another good shelter is the military “pup” tent, also if rolled properly with a wool blanket it works like a flotation device.
    Victor
    From the top of the world Barrow A.K.

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  15. Daniel Kelly says:

    Debbie Rowley ebay new £17

  16. Don Russell says:

    You can also suspend the poncho from one point, like a teepee, with the hammock underneath it, and go to sleep sitting up, or even well up in a tree, if dangerous animals are about. A very few grams of Benadryl will let you sleep siting up. Just do a doubled bow knot to hold yourself upright (back against a tree). I put my pack underneath my butt, out of the rain and helping with my weight. Either my longjohns or my bug netting won't be needed, so that item becomes my "neck pillow", holding my head up enough to let me sleep.

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