Hey folks, welcome back. Remember when we took a look at the Terra Hiker tarp poncho a few weeks back? In short, we were impressed, but wanted to see how it held up to the counterpart offered by 3F UL Gear. And now that the 3F UL has arrived, we can give you the lowdown. But before we get to the tarp-off of the century, let’s take a look at the specs for the 3F UL.
Overview & Specifications
The 3F UL Poncho Tarp is pretty comparable to the Terra Hiker in terms of weight, size and even price. In fact, it’s hard to put a hair between them based on specs alone – it’s definitely going to come down to performance! Here’s the stats:
Size & Weight
When folded, the 3F UL squeezes into a pretty compact 12 x 8 cm stuff sack. Definitely a slight edge on the Terra Hiker there. The same goes for size, where the 3F UL comes in at 230 x 150 cm, compared to the Terra Hiker’s 220 x 145 cm. The 3F UL weighs in at 220 grams, compared to 265 grams for the Terra Hiker. So with the 3F UL, you’re actually getting slightly more tarp for a lower weight. But, it’s marginal at best.
Design & Materials
The 3F UL Tarp Poncho is made of 15D Silicone, with a hydrostatic head rating of 5000mm. This is a bit of an improvement on the Terra Hiker, and should keep you dry even in a heavy downpour. The 3F UL features an eyelet on each corner, but – unlike the Terra Hiker – also has two guy rope attachment points in the centre as well. For some reason though, the 2 centre attachment points come on the long side of the tarp, rather than the short. I’m not quite sure why it was designed this way, as it makes tarp setup a little less effective, but we’ll get into that more in a moment.
Like the Terra Hiker, the 3F UL features an adjustable hood toggle for when it’s being used as a poncho. There’s also a velcro strap on the neckline, which gives a little bit more neck freedom if like me you sometimes feel smothered by tight clothes. The sides of the poncho strap together with velcro, but also feature a popper on each side as well.
3F UL Gear Poncho Tarp Review
Not having had the chance to hit the trail lately – and with the weather not exactly being tarp-camping friendly – I had to settle for setting up the 3F UL in my local park. Here’s my thoughts on how it stacked up versus the Terra Hiker:
As A Poncho
Much like the Terra Hiker, the 3F UL poncho feels big when you’re wearing it. It should comfortably accommodate a large backpack and still keep the rain at bay. When doing the tap test, the 3F UL withstood all the water we could throw at it. When the tap was on full blast it did start to feel a little moist on the underside, but it’s unrealistic to expect that level of rain when you’re out on the trail. Unless you’re going somewhere for monsoon season I guess. Still, for waterproofing we have to give the 3F UL Gear poncho a definite advantage over the Terra Hiker.
As A Tarp
Okay, here’s where the 3F was a bit of a let down. Remember those centre guy attachments I talked about earlier? The ones on the long side of the tarp? Well yeah, that’s been bugging me. A lot. I just can’t figure out what exactly they’re there for. If they were on the short side of the tarp, it would make sense as a trekking pole attachment point. This would let you set up the tarp in a diamond / arrowhead shape for personal shelter. But with them on on the long side, I just don’t know what exactly it’s supposed to accomplish. It’s just a bit… baffling.
With the short side attachment points, I guess I can see the 3F UL being used in an arrowhead shape as purely a sun shade or gear shelter, but not much else. You can also set it up as a basic wind break just as well as the Terra Hiker. But it feels like everything that the 3F does as a tarp, the Terra Hiker does better.
So, which is the better tarp poncho? Well, it turns out that’s actually a difficult question to answer. The reality is that the 3F makes a better poncho, and the Terra Hiker makes a better tarp. And neither one quite manages to nail being good at both functions.
If I wanted a good poncho that I knew would keep me and my stuff dry on a hike, I’d take the 3F UL Gear. On the other hand, if I were expecting clear skies and mild conditions then I’d sleep more soundly under the Terra Hiker. Swings and roundabouts I guess.
Well folks, that’s all for now – I hope you enjoyed this 3F UL Gear Poncho Tarp review. If you like this sort of thing and want to hear more, don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog. Until next time!