The hooded poncho is worn in many cultures around the world to ward off the rain and the cold. A traditional poncho is a single piece outer garment of some waterproof material. It has a central head opening and arm openings, and side fasteners or cords are usually provided to secure the garment in place after it has been draped over the body. These days, in addition to a regular rain poncho, the trend for a fashion poncho has grown in popularity.
Ponchos are comfortable to wear as they allow for easier body movements while providing warm and protection from climatic elements. The common materials used to make a hooded poncho are wool and cotton yarn, but canvas, synthetic fabrics, rubberized cloth and plastic are also widely used. The materials used to make a poncho are generally lightweight.
A hooded poncho is available in knitted, crocheted and woven forms. It may be of a solid color or come in multicolor design patterns. The poncho may be worn for a practical purpose, or draped over skirts, trousers and other garments to make a fashion statement. In some ethnic communities, bright colored ponchos are worn on special festive occasions.
The hooded poncho may be in a cape pattern or more like a jacket, and may cover the arms entirely, partially or not at all. The length of a hooded poncho is variable, depending on the practical or fashion purpose the wearer intends it for. Some ponchos can be quite long, up to ankle length, while others are of knee length or waist length. The sides of the hooded poncho may be straight, swirly or uneven, and the alternative poncho, worn in fashion, may have fringes and decorations for a more eye-catching effect. The hood of the poncho may be fastened with a clasp, a button or a draw cord.
On the practical front, ponchos are regularly worn by military and rescue operation personnel. In addition to being voluminous enough to protect both the wearers and their equipments from the wind and the rain, these ponchos can also serve the additional purpose of being used as groundsheets and tents when required. The use of ponchos in the armed forces in modern times became prevalent in the USA first, notably during the American Civil War, and since then the use of ponchos has become quite prevalent in the armies of other nations as well. A hooded poncho has also proved popular with trekking and camping enthusiasts.