The Hide Poncho is an over-chest-covering armor type that can be crafted as a default blueprint by all players. The current iteration can be traced back to the implementation of Leather as a component as early as August 2015.
Unlike other types of leather armor, there is no direct burlap item to compare with the hide poncho. Instead, the Jacket or Wood Chestplate most closely resembles the hide poncho in terms of armor placement and statistics. When comparing it to the jacket, the hide poncho boasts higher scores in areas like radiation, melee, and explosion protection, but falls short with regards to projectile and cold protection.
Leather can be considerably harder to obtain than cloth. However, those killing animals for Low Grade Fuel will quickly find themselves with excess to spare.
While in an ideal world there are plenty of resources for all, but on a small map during a fresh wipe day, you make gear from what is available. Cloth, in the beginning, can be a rare resource, and being able to fashion gear from leather instead might just leave you with enough materials to craft things like Sleeping Bags.