Building a Poncho Hooch

Building a Poncho Hooch

I was having a beer the other day with a prepper buddy and the conversation turned to what types of shelter are best to carry in a bug out bag… and that’s when the discussion turned to the poncho hooch also known as the poncho shelter.  The poncho hooch is basically a tarp shelter made from a poncho, and a little cordage.  Building a poncho hooch is easy so let’s look at a few alternatives:

Two Man Poncho Hooch

Figure 10-2. Two-man shelter, TC 21-3 SOLDIER’S HANDBOOK FOR
INDIVIDUAL OPERATIONS AND SURVIVAL IN COLD-WEATHER AREAS

Two Person Poncho Hooch:

  1. Gather your materials
  1. Unsnap ponchos so that you can spread them all the way out
  2. Tie hoods closed
  3. Spread the ponchos on the ground, hood side up with the long ends next to each other.  Make sure that there are two trees available  and close enough for you to use when you tie off your center line.  You can also use sticks as end poles as depicted but this shelter is much less sturdy than using trees.
  4. Run your rope or 550 cord along the ground under the long edges of your ponchos where they meet
  5. Snap or tie ponchos together where they meet (long edge)
  6. Tie off center line to first tree at your desired height
  7. Tie off center line to second tree making sure that the rope is tight and doesn’t dip in the middle
  8. If you are using a third poncho as a ground cover snap it to the others at this time
  9. Stake down sides of poncho with tent stakes.  Cheap alternatives to tent stakes are large nails or sticks from the trail.  A little extra 550 cord on a loop through the poncho’s grommet may make it easier to stake your poncho down and adjust height of the bottom edge if necessary.
  10. Snow, sod or debris may be used to seal the bottom edge if necessary
One Man Poncho Hooch

Figure 10-1. One-man shelter, TC 21-3 SOLDIER’S HANDBOOK FOR
INDIVIDUAL OPERATIONS AND SURVIVAL IN COLD-WEATHER AREAS

One Person Poncho Hooch

  1. Gather Materials as above (this hooch uses 1-2 ponchos)
  2. Unsnap poncho so that you can spread it all the way out
  3. Tie hood closed
  4. Spread the poncho on the ground, hood side up with the short ends pointed towards the trees you intend to tie your center line to.  Make sure that the trees are close enough for you to use when you tie off your center line.  You can also use sticks as end poles as depicted but this shelter is much less sturdy than using trees.
  5. Run your rope or 550 cord under the center line of your poncho, long way
  6. Tie off center line to first tree at your desired height
  7. Tie off center line to second tree making sure that the rope is tight and doesn’t dip in the middle
  8. If you are using a second poncho as a ground cover snap it to the other at this time
  9. Stake down sides of poncho with tent stakes.  Cheap alternatives to tent stakes are large nails or sticks from the trail.  A little extra 550 cord on a loop through the poncho’s grommet may make it easier to stake your poncho down and adjust height of the bottom edge if necessary.
  10. Snow, sod or debris may be used to seal the bottom edge if necessary

Note:  Site your hooch perpendicular to or parallel to the prevailing winds depending on the weather and environment.  Build your poncho hooch perpendicular to the wind if the temperature is cold or rain is expected.  Build your poncho hooch parallel to the wind if your primarily goal is keeping cool and/or keeping flying insects away.

Andrew’s Poncho Hooch:

The above two examples are great, quick shelters to build with a minimum of equipment and therefore weight…these are ‘book’ examples from TC 21-3 Soldier’s Handbook for Individual Operation and Survival in Cold Weather Areas (Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited).  Now, let me explain Andrew’s quicker and easier way to build a poncho hooch (I’m sure I stole this idea from someone… but it was back in the 1980’s so the statute of limitations has certainly expired).

My hooch is built on the same basic principles as those above but instead of rope I use bungee cords.  Two cords clipped together make the center line.  Four cords, (one at each corner) extend to saplings or rocks to spread out the hooch and keep it taut.  A sixth bungee cord extends from the hood (in the center of the poncho) up to a high point in a tree to keep the roof up.  The bungee cords also do double duty by allowing you to easily attach items to the outside of your bug out bag.

Building a poncho hooch is a quick and easy.  This lightweight shelter solution may be the perfect solution for you to include in your bug out bag or get home bag.

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