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A History Piece on the Poncho

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Hey, Curious Campers!Ponchos pre-date Hispanic Central America belonging to the ancient Paracas tribe of South/Central American natives.

If you get curious about the history of some of your camping gear as we do, then check out the history of the poncho! We carry a handful of ponchos from an assortment of brand names such as GSI Outdoor, Red Ledge, and Coghlan’s. But how long have these effective pieces of rain gear been in existence and how did they come to be?

These outer garments were developed for protection from wind, sandstorms, rain, and to provide warmth. We’ve traced the history of the poncho back to 500 B.C. along the Andes Mountains. The natives that first wore ponchos were known as Paracas. They lived in South America on lands that are modern day Bolivia and Peru. Over hundreds of years, the poncho slowly made its way north into modern day Mexico and beyond.

Just a simple large sheet of fabric with a hole in its center for your head, ponchos have developed a few more features over the years. By the 1800s, ponchos were made with fasteners so that the sides could close around your body to provide better effectiveness. They also gained hoods for further protection.

By the 1800s everyone was wearing a poncho!

And just 50 years after that, ponchos were adopted by the U.S. military. They started making their ponchos out of a latex-coated cloth that was waterproof and they became part of popular attire The military has become big fans of the poncho too.for soldiers in the Civil War. Not only would they use their ponchos for clothing, but they proved handy as a ground sheet to sleep on as well.

While ponchos nowadays are still strongly associated with the Americas and the natives who first created them, they have made a comeback in modern fashion design as well. The Ponchos are a point of fashion nowadays.simple sheet shape hasn’t changed, but the material these fashionable ponchos are made from has. They can be knit from wool or yarn or any number of materials.

Rain gear is a must at summer camp when you never know what the weather may be like, so take a look at our Outerwear Department  by clicking here and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

Posted in History Lessons


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