One of the most popular pieces of gear issued to American troops is the poncho liner, or “woobie.” Developed in the 1960s or 70s, it’s basically a lightweight quilt with ties around the perimeter, allowing you to tie it into a poncho and use them together as a warm weather sleeping bag. It can be used to add a bit more warmth to a sleeping bag, and you can also use the ties to secure the woobie as a sunshade.
I’ve used an old ERDL camo VietNam-vintage woobie for camping off and on since the late 1980s. Lately, I’ve been sleeping in a recliner at home because of back issues, and dug it out of my camping gear to serve as a blanket.
Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Brigade Quartermaster offered a poncho liner with Thinsulate instead of the old fashioned polyester batting insulation. They are long out of production, but other vendors now sell poncho liners/woobies that are both warmer and more compressible than the GI poncho liner. Among them are:
- The Wiggy’s Poncho Liner, offered with ties or with a zipper
- Kifaru Woobie, Doobie, Artic Woobie, and Woobie Express
- Hill People Gear Mountain Serape
- Snugpak Jungle Blanket
All of them are quality pieces of gear. The Woobie Express and Mountain Serape are designed so that can wear them as a great coat. Of these newer designs, I decided to try out the Jungle Blanket.
I chose the JB for its reasonable price, the good reputation of the manufacturer, and it’s feature set. Specifically, I wanted a blanket, I don’t mind the lack of ties, it’s very compressible and comes with a stuff sack, and one side is wind proof and water resistant.
Snugpak gives it a comfort rating of 45 degrees with a low of 36 degrees.
Even using it in the house, the increased warmth of the Jungle Blanket over my four decade old GI poncho liner is noticeable.
I also took it out on my back patio while it was in the upper 30s, and wrapped myself up, using it like a matchcoat over just a T-shirt and dress shirt. There wasn’t much of a breeze and after a few minutes it warmed up nicely.
Due to the texture of the material, I had to hold the JB in place. With a belt or cord to hold it in place around your waist, and maybe a safety pin to keep it up around your chest, it would make a pretty decent survival blanket/coat down into the upper 30s.
I remain a fan of the GI poncho liner for warm weather or for adding a little bit of warmth to a sleeping bag, and doing it at a low price. However, the Snugpak Jungle Blanket is a definite improvement offering more warmth with less bulk, and at a price point just a little north of the old woobie.