Gear Review: Poncho Men's Performance Shirt
Updated: Sep 15, 2021
Overview: Even in this modern day and age, weather forecasts often amount to an educated guess, and anglers seldom have the luxury of predicting Mother Nature’s fickle mood. Then again, quality clothing goes a long way toward comfort on the water.
To wit, fishermen are constantly on the lookout for the latest and greatest apparel – the perfect waders, the most ideal insulating base layer, a fresh lucky hat, or the ultimate waterproof, windproof shell… In all honesty, it’s a quixotic quest for the most part, but every so often, some article of clothing rises above the rest.
Enter Poncho Outdoors, a Texas-based company that specializes in lightweight shirts that fit better, dry quicker, and just plain look nicer. Poncho derives its nickname – and ethos – from St. Francisco – the patron saint of animals, ecology, and conservation. Like their namesake, Poncho is committed to conservation, as well as garments focused on premium performance and aesthetics.
Recently, I had the opportunity to field-test Poncho’s Grey Ghost shirt, and it wasn’t long before I realized my search was over.
It retails for $75
What I Like:
Fit: For starters, the fit is nothing shy of excellent. The fabric incorporates a bit of spandex, offering a cut that’s not too loose, not too tight… juuuust right. The sleeves are cut long enough for ape-armed guys like me, and there’s no baggy fabric anywhere.
Versatility: Thanks to a benevolent friend, I received my Grey Ghost shirt as a gift, and it became a steady companion during a recent fly-in fishing trip to northern Ontario. That week, the temperatures fluctuated wildly. Afternoons soared into the high 80s, but some evenings dropped into the low 40s. We swapped outfits with the conditions like performers in a Broadway musical, weathering wind, sun, and driving rain. The Grey Ghost never disappointed.
Customer Service: And versatility is only one of Poncho’s strong suits. In a day and age when customer service feels like a lost art, Poncho’s warranty is fantastic. They offer free to-and-from shipping – a generous policy I put to the test.
The friend who gave me my Grey Ghost assumed a large-slim was the right size for me. Bless his heart – I wish that were the case – but a steady supply of bourbon, smoked meats, and an occasional donut meant that a large-regular would be a better option. After wearing the shirt around the house to confirm what I already knew, I began the exchange process, which turned out to be quick and easy.
Style: Another mantra at Poncho states: “Everything you need. And nothing you don’t.”
That credo brought back memories of a buddy who recently retired from the SEAL teams. For years, he also led our SWAT unit, and his voice sounded like he’d been eating crushed gravel for decades.
“Streamline yourselves,” he’d growl before our shooting competitions, and we’d strip off any unnecessary gear in hopes of gaining an incremental edge. That old Master Chief knew that high-speed, low-drag translated into economy-of-motion, and ultimately, a win.
The folks at Poncho seem to agree.
Their shirts offer minimalist breast pockets that fasten via rare-earth magnets and a vertical pouch that secures with a zipper. In short, there’s storage in all the right places – and nothing where it isn’t needed. Or, as Poncho promises, “no frills, and no gimmicks.”
While bass fishermen swear by the doctrine, “the more pockets the better,” those blousy, tournament-style shirts with all their superfluous compartments seem a bit excessive. Besides, pockets are like pole barns: all that vacant space just begs to be filled, whether it’s necessary or not.
Durability: The Grey Ghost proved highly durable. The stitching is robust, and it’s crafted of quality fabric. As mentioned previously, there’s also some stretch, which seems more forgiving when snagged.
That said, a stouter shirt would be heavier, stuffier, and stiffer – everything the Grey Ghost isn’t. Assuming due care near campfires, Nicaraguan cigars, and oversized streamer hooks, this shirt is sure to go the duration.
What I Don’t Like:
Nothing. The Grey Ghost isn’t perfect, but it’s darn close.
Perfect For: Fly fishing, a casual night out at a local pub, or any conditions when temps range between 55 and 85 degrees.
Case in point: this morning I wore the Grey Ghost shirt to church, then headed to the range and shot some clay pigeons in the afternoon, and finally closed out the evening by tying a batch of flies for a local shop.
This is do-all apparel, and I just ordered another shirt for fall.
“We wanted to be different. And better.” Poncho says.
And they are.
Stars: 5 out of 5
Learn More: https://www.ponchooutdoors.com/collections/original/products/the-grey-ghost