Defcon 5 poncho liner?

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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
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Berlin
I currently think about how to upgrade my equipment for exceptional cold weather. Exeptional cold can mean in eastern Germany -25*C. That doesn't happen every year but it can happen.

My Snugpak Special Forces 2 bag sleep system goes until -20*C as lowest recommendation. There are missing 5*C.

But I also use my stuff in southern France in the summer, where a sleeping bag that's lighter than 1 kg is a good idea. The SF1 can become too warm there in the summer. I usually use the Snugpak jungle bag there and usually that's enough.

Do you think the Defcon 5 poncho liner would be a good investment for me?
They tell here it would be 210 cm x 168 cm but the rain poncho - which I already own, but currently can't measure to check it - seems to be 200 x 168cm.
One or the other declared measurement seems to be wrong.
I guess both fit of course together.

I could put in extreme cold weather the poncho liner in between my both sleeping bags.

The poncho liner could also be used as additional layer in hiking intermissions or in the evening around the campfire like a blanket if it is cold.

But I could use it in very warm conditions also instead of a summer sleeping bag. And in such conditions the camouflage pattern would blend very well in Mediterranean vegetation.

Do you have experiances with such stuff?
Do you find that handy in extreme cold and also very warm conditions?

What do you think about such poncho liners generally?

Does someone own it perhaps or use something similar?


 
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Herman30

Settler
Aug 30, 2015
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Finland

Firstly, this is not me. It´s Mel Terkla.

But I have this Kifaru Woobie Express-poncho (in different color: green/brown). Mostly used (carry with me) in wintertime when traveling as a extra warming layer in case I have to wait outside for the bus or something like that. Saved my a** from freezing a couple of times. It´s possible to fit arms inside.
Packs quite small (about 2 litres) and lightweight. Filling is climashield.

Judging from what I read on-line the Defcon 5 liner could be used in same manner.
 

Erbswurst

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Mar 5, 2018
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Is it possible to wear yours under the shoulder straps and the hip belt of your rucksack?
 

Erbswurst

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Mar 5, 2018
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I think I will stay in my system, as I already have the very good and outstanding light Defcon 5 water poncho. (350g)

My question is mainly what's your experiances generally with poncho liners and how you use them.

I guess they all are pretty similar.
 

Herman30

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Aug 30, 2015
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Finland
I have played a lot with this thought; with my Kifaru woobie express (or the Defcon poncho liner) and a rainponcho one could spend a fairly comfortable night out at least summertime. I E they could work as an emergency shelter.
 
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Erbswurst

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Mar 5, 2018
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I often have slept in a sleeping bag and used the non moisture permeable old oliv green German army poncho as bivvy bag.

(That poncho was like all the other NATO ponchos and is currently sold for approximately 20€ every corner in usually very good conditions, round about 800g.)

The trick is to avoid unnecessary condensation, and that can be done like this:

The dimensions of the poncho are
210 cm x 165 cm.

You put the sleeping bag, or in this case the poncho liner, on a "half" of 210 x 75 cm. The nose will point to the edge of the poncho.
On the opposite side you have now 210 x 90 cm free fabric. This you fold in half. You get a rain protected surface of 210 x 45 cm which you don't use.

You always sleep like this. To protect yourself against dew you just sleep under a tree.

If it starts to rain now, you feel it in your face immediatly in the open or simply hear it.
You awake and pull all the spare fabric over yourself and can close the buttons or just overlap the sides. You breath of course out of that bivvy bag, not into it.

The fabric you pull over you is dry from inside if you do it like this. You didn't collect dew and the first raindrops in it.

If you do it like this you usually have no condensation problems. But would you fold the poncho from the beginning of the night over you, you would become pretty whet from inside due to condensation.

Of course a moisture permeable military poncho would be the best as bivvy bag. The German army indeed issues currently a Goretex poncho which also can be bought new by civilians, but unfortunately this Goretex poncho isn't wide enough to use it as a bivvy bag!

It's only 220 x 150 cm. You can't roll yourself effectively into 150cm fabric!

 
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Erbswurst

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Mar 5, 2018
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The Snugpak jungle bag is pretty convincing constructed but not very warm, it is made for Mediterranean summer conditions, and you really have to spin dry is SLOWLY.

If not, the seam pulls the threads out of the fabric and you loose the wind protection of the outer shell. (This imported Snugpak sleeping bag is obviously something totally different than the UK made high end Snugpak qualities.)
And my horror is that ticks and other insects could enter there and find a comfortable home...

It drove me crazy to use it together with the Snugpak Special Forces Bivvy Bag, because the sledge of the zipper always bites into the outstanding thin fabric of the bivvy bag.

This combination really can't be recommended. I will never more carry both together!

Snugpak Special Forces 1 sleeping bag and Special Forces bivvy bag are without any doubt the by far superior combination, and in olive green the SF1 isn't expensive at all. And in my opinion this is the currently best available summer and 3 seasons option. This and a good military poncho as tarp and raincoat is all I need in most conditions.
The weight of my Defcon 5 poncho is 350g, the Snugpak SF bivvy bag weighs 340g. That's together lighter than usual real military ponchos.
(SF1 sleeping bag just 1030g)

But I start to spoil here my own thread:
A sleeping bag is no warm jacket, but the above mentioned poncho liners can be used like this.
Poncho and liner are usually less warm but more versatile and if chosen in good lightweight quality the whole concept becomes ultra light by using tough NATO issued equipment.
And that's one reason why I am interested in the Decfon 5 combination and already tested the Poncho with great success.

That seems to be indeed a superior lightweight summer hike concept, because poncho and liner can replace tent or bivvy bag, sleeping bag, fleece jacket and rain jacket.

And instead of carrying jackets and tent or tarp just in case all the summer that's really something to consider.
If it is warm and dry enough, one could tension the poncho as tarp and just sleep in the liner on the grass on a ground wave, or should it become cold and whet and muddy for a few summer days one could just collect some sticks and twigs for a bedding, as it was always done before they recently invented the insulation mats.

We used in Mediterranean summer conditions successfully just 175 x 180 cm large square NVA cotton tent sheets as coat, tent, sunsail, and sleeping bag.
The only downside of this concept was, that we had no blanket if we needed a tent, because it was raining, and just in shorts, T-shirt and field shirt it was a bit fresh during the night in whet grass...

With poncho and liner one has tarp and blanket or an insulated bivvy bag. And one can choose between open warm poncho, with cord or strap closed warm anorak, just rain coat or waterproof warm coat, open or closed.
That are a lot of options!

That is of course a spartanic concept, but if I expect to wear usually just shorts and field shirt and to sleep usually in the blanket on the poncho under the stars, because it's high summer, I have all I need in unexpected unfriendly weather and the stuff will work still pretty good.

My stuff becomes so compact that it fits in the smallest day pack and for hiking that's off course pretty comfortable, if I don't carry just in case stuff around that I don't need.
 
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Ceannairc

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Dec 6, 2020
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Hi Erbswurst,

I recently got the Defcon 5 poncho liner. I bought the poncho itself based on the recommendation in a Beginner’s outfit thread you wrote (and which I learned loads from - I mostly bought 2nd hand stuff rather than Decathlon but I followed your principles and was very comfortable during three weeks hiking in Scotland). I’ve been very happy with the poncho and also thought the liner and thought the liner might make a light weight alternative sleeping bag. I was particularly inspired by this video:

My liner is 207cm x 166cm and is slightly larger than the poncho itself. Maybe there’s a reason for that that I don’t understand, but this seems stupid to me. My poncho is about 163cm x 195cm, give or take a couple of centimetres.

I’ve only just gotten the liner so I haven’t had the chance to test it in real life, but to be honest at the moment I kind of regret buying it. It was very expensive for what it was – a 100% polyester blanket. Any blanket with some tie-outs sewn on would work just as well. While I’ve never had any other poncho another liner, I suspect you could probably buy a surplus liner for a different poncho that would be 5 times cheaper and work just as well. The defcon liner is also bulkier than I expected it to be – I think the Snugpak SF 1 bag packs down smaller than it and is surely warmer (although I know it’s not cheap to buy two of them). Hopefully I’ll get use out of the Defcon liner but I’m not sure I will. Possibly in summer as a sleeping bag, and maybe in winter as a warm layer for under the poncho in the day and then as an extra blanket to use along with my sleeping bag and bivvy at night.

Overall my recommendation would be to buy a different, cheaper liner that has similar dimensions, rather than spending £50+ on this one.
 

Tonyuk

Settler
Nov 30, 2011
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Scotland
I have an old dutch poncho liner.

Its fine, light and not warm really. It was ideal carrying out when traveling as you could take it out the daysack and get some kip after the inevitable delay with flights etc..

It's also useful in hot countries, it's not as warm as the old jungle bag.

For proper cold i would look into something else. Be careful about snugpaks temp ratings, there notoriously "optimistic" A better bag, good mat, good shelter and decent pair of thermals will be far easier and more comfortable than messing about with blankets or whatever else.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
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@Ceannairc

I am very glad to read that my efforts to write a beginner's equipment list did serve you well.

It's always worth to have a look in military surplus shops and other thrift shops, because often one can find there incredible good offers. I mainly wrote about the Solognac equipment for the case that people can't find such offers in their areas. That's why I bought and tested all the Solognac clothing, but I look in Thriftshops myself if I come along there and I got there a lot of very good and very cheap clothing and other equipment and military surplus equipment is usually a very good low budget option anyway, because it costs a fraction of most new civil equipment but will last far longer, especially if bought in relatively good conditions.

But regarding padded clothing, sleeping bags and poncho liners one has to pay attention with military surplus. Usually the padded stuff looks still good outside but is broken inside.
The ability of the heat retention of most padded military surplus stuff is much lower as the new product provided it but the weight didn't change. The fibres of the filling are broken because the equipment was often used, compressed and washed. Such stuff you can use if you transport it with a canoe for example, in a car, or if you use it in a cottage somewhere. But it is no good choice if you want to carry it on your back.

And these cheap offers in army stile they throw everywhere behind you, sold by Miltec, MFH, Brandit or other cheap brands usually are simply disappointing.

Decathlon's Solognac clothing is really an exception in the low budget range because that stuff is worth the money.
But as you see, that isn't falsed military equipment, it's cheap hunting equipment, and I guess the competition for hunting equipment is worth a look too. Hunting equipment has to be resistant, and they don't tend to make so called ultra light constructions, which one also could call weak and cheap, how usual trekking equipment is made nowadays.

The Defcon 5 equipment is already very cheap. And the same we can say about Snugpak products, the imported quality as well as the British made high quality stuff like the Special Forces Sleeping bags. That is very very cheap for such qualities. And that's why both brands are a very good recommendation. The Defcon 5 Poncho is current Italian army equipment, some Snugpak products like the Special Forces sleep system have a NATO stock number too.

I called Defcon 5 and asked why the poncho liner is a bit larger than the poncho itself. They don't know it. They made both items according to the specifications of the Italian army. The difference in size is no fault. There is obviously a reason to do it like this. But because Defcon 5 is the cutter, the manufacturer, but not the designer they can't tell us why it has to be like this. They simply made it exactly how the army ordered it. So we have to find it out ourselves or ask the designer in the Italian army, what probably would be a bit difficult.

Regarding the video:
We have here the case of a usual beginner's trap that comes with YouTube videos in English language.
You hear your language, and you think as a beginner a neighbour would talk to you.
But is he English if he talks English?
No, he could as well live in Alaska, Canada, Australia or somewhere else.

The guy in the video you show here is well known in the US American bushcraft community. He lives in Georgia, the neighbour state of Florida.
And as far as I know he lives there somewhere in the south, what means nearly in Florida.

His recommendations come from a very experianced bushcrafter and they have without any doubt a high value. But would he talk Spanish, Italian or Greek to us, we probably would think twice, if we really can adopt his opinions to the weather conditions we have to expect in our own surrounding.
In our forum here we know in which country the members live and in which area exactly. If we talk about water proof clothing I am mainly interested in what British or Dutch members think, if we talk about equipment for really cold conditions, I pay attention about recommendations from Finland.
American bushcrafters often still swear by cotton equipment. Probably because they live in relatively dry areas. Inhabitants of middle and northern Europe seem to prefere Cordura nylon rucksacks and they often use waterproof dry bags inside too...

I think the Defcon 5 poncho liner can replace in England a sleeping bag perhaps in July and August. If you keep on your clothing of the day (without water proofs) you perhaps can work with it as a blanket in June and September too.

But for the rest of the year just the liner would be pretty tough!

But I can imagine if you combine it with the Snugpak Special Forces 1 sleeping bag and a good bivvy bag like Snugpak Special Forces bivvy bag or a military surplus Goretex bivvy bag, British, French, German, Austrian or Dutch for example, the combination will work fine a bit below the freezing point.

And in such conditions it is surely nice to have the liner around the shoulders in the evening by the fire.

I own SF1 and SF2 sleeping bag because we can get -25*C in Berlin. Not every year, but it can happen.

But I have to tell you that I don't use the SF2 so very often. Camping below -5*C becomes a bit unpleasant, not only because it's cold. It is also pretty dark in winter times.

I tend to clean up my writing desk between December and February and go for hiking and camping in nicer conditions. Yes, of course I often did sleep in the snow. But before a beginner buys a sleeping system for -20*C he really should first try out winter camping around 0*C to see, if he really likes it.

And it's also worth to mention that camping below -5*C can be done with a good equipment but that this is a relatively dangerous hobby. A beginner has to train winter camping at first around 0*C anyway, especially if he is unguided and alone.

So, what I mean is: I recommend you to get the SF1 sleeping bag and to combine it with the Defcon 5 liner and a good bivvy bag below 5*C.

This keeps the option open to buy later the SF2 and to create a sleep system for really cold conditions. But perhaps the SF2 is already the material over kill for usual British conditions and the average Bushcrafter.

Winter camping with a friend might be nice. But not everybody loves to sit alone in a dark forest during a long winter night. I personally find it pretty boring.
We surely have a few members who love it, but I guess it's the minority.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
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Berlin
@Tonyuk

The point is that the sleeping bag ratings, the recommended comfort temperatures of all European sellers and makers assume that the sleeper wears long merino underwear as pyjamas.

That seems sensible for winter sleeping bags. But to keep the rating comparable it is assumed for summer sleeping bags as well!
That's simply how the system works!

So if you sleep in shorts and T-shirt in your summer sleeping bag and the temperatures get under the recommended comfort temperature you will feel a bit cold. Because they did the rating for merino base layer pyjamas!

That's a point most people don't realise.
 

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