I was issued a poncho during my service in the Marine Corps, as my job kept me in the field quite a bit. With that time in the field and the training I received, we learned to be creative with the poncho when it came to shelters. If used properly, the poncho can shield you from the elements Mother Nature will throw at you.

For the setup showcased in this article, I used a surplus USGI woodland poncho. There are several different configurations you could use to construct a shelter to protect you from the elements, but here we are going to use a low-profile configuration that could be used in an evasion scenario or if you’re simply wanting to stay hidden. The design is simple, easy, and quick to set up. It’s what I would call a five-minute shelter, and it offers a low visual signature.

One of the common USGI poncho shelter configurations used by LRRP and Pathfinder units in Vietnam was set up by staking down all four corners of the poncho, and then pulling the hood up using some type of cordage tied to a branch or sapling above.

The components needed for this shelter:

  • USGI Poncho
  • 550 paracord
  • (4) ABS plastic stakes – If you do not have stakes, you can use sticks. I prefer the ABS ones over titanium or steel. They can be used to dig with and can be used as an improvised weapon if need be. The name of the game in an evasion scenario is to improvise with what you have, adapt to the environment, and overcome any and all obstacles.

Here’s a parting tip: You can fashion loops out of the bank line for each of the four corners 0f your poncho, which makes using the plastic stakes much easier when in the field. The key here is to have your gear prepped and tested ahead of time, giving you the best chances of survival if you ever find yourself in a critical situation or need to hunker down in an undisclosed location.

*Featured image courtesy of Corporals Corner Youtube channel