May 12, 2006 at 6:18 am #1218562
@dancerLocale: Southeast USA
Has anybody used their gatewood cape out on the trail for shelter. How does it hold up in the wind and the rain..are there condensation problems?? I see a few reviews where people have bought them but cannot locate anything from people who have used them out on the trail.May 12, 2006 at 7:10 am #1356281
You can always get condensation with a single wall shelter if it is fully closed. Just like you can always get condensation on the inner fly of a double wall shelter if its closed up in bad weather.May 12, 2006 at 8:41 am #1356285
Gatewood Capes have only been shipping for the last few months. Since we’re only now beginning to enter the backpacking season, reviews or reports will still be a couple months away.
Both Backpacking Gear Test and BackpackingLight.com are currently reviewing them. Plus there are a number in use by both PCT and CDT thru-hikers.
Only time will tell if the Gatewood Cape proves a good as I hope. Still preliminary feedback is very encouraging.
RonMay 12, 2006 at 9:26 am #1356288
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
The issue of setting up a poncho tarp/cape while it is raining has been discussed here and elsewhere. I’ve never used a poncho/tarp before and am curious to try them, at least in good weather :).
I’m curious what people typically do about guylines. I’m imagining these would be unruly when using the tarp in poncho mode.
What are some favorite techniques for dealing with guylines, especially if it’s raining and you need to set up the poncho tarp? Do people carry the guylines separately and attach them while wearing the cape just before setting up?
DanMay 12, 2006 at 9:56 am #1356290
@pa_jayLocale: on the move....
>What are some favorite techniques for dealing with guylines
BMW UrsaLite Microbiners (.11 oz each) sold here, or something similar are a must for quick pitching. Ron Bell of Mountain Laurel Designs offers them $10 for a 6-pack w/ orders. You can wind each guyline around its biner, still attached – also consider color-coding if having trouble telling one guyline from another.
I keep my guylines separate from the poncho, but still handy. This way I don’t risk losing guylines when yanking the poncho out of its stuffsack during a mid-day storm.May 12, 2006 at 11:22 am #1356293
“What are some favorite techniques for dealing with guylines”
I tie a small loop in one end and make a lark’s head knot around the tie-out or grommet on the tarp side of things– that is, running the free end back through the loop. It takes just a second to remove them when packing up. The guy lines and stakes and the bridge for the pole all go in a small stuff sack for safe-keeping. I wrap the stakes in a small peice of Tyvek to protect from dirt and sharp points.
I haven’t had an opportunity to pitch the Gatewood “high” for more ventilation in warm weather– it’s only been out since February and I pitched it down tight for cold rainy weather on it’s inaugural run.
Actually, short lines (6″ or so) wouldn’t get in the way much, but I’ll pass on having fewer things dangling off me while slogging around in the brush and rain. You could easily put the lines on while wearing it for a faster pitch in the rain.May 12, 2006 at 11:40 am #1356294
Has anybody used their gatewood cape out on the trail for shelter. How does it hold up in the wind and the rain..are there condensation problems?”
I experienced some minor condensation when camping in 35F-40F weather with light snow and rain. There was a light film inside and far less than I expected. It wasn’t dripping in my face or getting my sleeping bag wet.
There were snow fields just above my campsite and some cold catabolic breeze was coming down the mountain (very low velocity) and I could feel that air coming under the edge of the tent, so I know I was getting some ventilation. I’ve though about propping up the hood on the Gatewood to act like the funnel ventilators on a boat. If it really started to pour, you could close it easily from inside.
I have no experience with the Gatewood shelter in strong winds. I did pitch it using the two extra side tie-outs to give a little more room and make sure all was well if it did get windy that night. I was pitching it on uneven ground so getting an over-all tight pitch without guy lines was difficult. The two side tie-outs and some toying with the main guy line and pole took care of any sags.
As others said, condensation *will* happen and it will vary with the coating on the tent, temperature, humidity, wind, moisture in the ground and the way the shelter is pitched. A bandana is handy for quick wipe-downs when it gets to be too much.
The wettest I’ve seen the inside of a tarp shelter was set up on grass– the moisture rising from the warm turf hit the fabric stretched out in the cool night air and condensed like crazy. Cold ground isn’t as cozy to sleep on, but there’s less rising moisture.May 12, 2006 at 11:48 am #1356295
I don’t quite see how it fits as a poncho. I assume the headhole is the top of the tarp. Is the zipper the front? Are those two “dark strips” the arm holes? If so, it would appear as though it were longer on your left side than the right. Maybe its the picture.May 12, 2006 at 12:58 pm #1356299
It is a cape, and yes, your arms go out the sides where the dark strip is on the photo of the pitched shelter. The arm opening is overlapped and forms a kid of cuff. The zipper is down the front and has double sliders so you can open it for ventilation, or to see your pack straps — or pee for that matter. That zipper is great when it’s pitched– you can open the door, wide, or open a crack on the top or bottom for air flow.
The long corners of the cape just tuck up under and there are two snaps inside that are on the back side of the reinforcing patches for the side pull-outs. You just just put the snap through the tie out and you’re under way. It seems a little loose when you first put it on– it’s not a tight “ironed” kind of arrangement— and that makes no practical difference at all– the extra fabric is up out of harms way and three steps out you don’t even know it’s there. It’s tucked under, so it doesn’t add to snagging on things. The water runs off like it would with any poncho. Having your arms out the sleeve holes actually helps to keep it from blowing around and you could still add a waist cord if it was really windy. Remember, you are fully enclosed, so you don’t have the big gap on either side like a poncho.
I did seam seal mine and I stayed good ‘n’ dry hiking in a rain shower. I loved the extra ventilation– I make my own rain anyway!
The hood is good — SMD got the distance from the eyebrows to the top right, so the thing isn’t blinding you half the time. The face opening is large enough to fit round your neck to use the hood as a gasket and wear a brimmed hat instead.
The self stowing pocket is very cool. It is great for a map or glasses or a snack bar. It is large enough that it self-stows loosely, not a shoving contest to get it all in the pocket. When pitched, that pocket is over your head end and perfect for your flashlight, glasses, etc.
The cape does have compromises, much like ponchos do– not as good in the wind (I’m comparing to a rain parka now), more prone to catching on brush, your lower arms are out in the weather if you are using poles, and there is the what-do-you-wear-when-pitching-in-the-rain question.
On the other hand, you get to toss your rain coat, and your pack cover, and the extra weight of a larger or more complex shelter– 23oz in my case. It packs in a little more space than my ground cloth. With the loose pack in the self-stowing pocket, it just wraps around other stuff in my pack. I use a GoLite Trek and it can sit in the big mesh pocket to dry or be ready for the next shower.
To use my dollar per ounce look, I get $110/23=$4.78 per ounce saved. To save a near equivalent amount of weight on my sleeping bag, I would need to buy a $330 down bag (vs my 20F/48oz synthetic bag) and so $330/22=$15 an ounce— three times the cost to get the same pack weight.May 12, 2006 at 1:23 pm #1356300
do you have to pitch the cape the same way every time?May 12, 2006 at 2:56 pm #1356303
> I’m curious what people typically do about guylines. I’m imagining these would be unruly when using the tarp in poncho mode.
I just leave the bottom guylines attached. The front and back side guys go to the inside snaps; it’s easier to snap the lines than the wider tapes. The rear guy goes through the crotch and is hooked to the vestibule loop with a mitten hook, which keeps the cape from blowing around as much in the wind.
> do you have to pitch the cape the same way every time?
The shape of the cape when pitched taut is the same but you can stake it down to the ground, use the guylines to lift it off the ground 6″, stake one side down and lift the other, etc.May 12, 2006 at 3:26 pm #1356304
“do you have to pitch the cape the same way every time?”
You can pitch it so the sides are higher or lower to change the ventilation and the door can be zipped open or closed (or guyed out), but in general, it is a tent without a floor. It can’t be pitched in multiple configurations like a flat tarp could.
It is a one person shaped shelter. It is a gross simplification of the designer’s talent and good work, but it is much like the SMD Lunar Solo tent minus bug screen and floor, with a hood added to the peak– and half the weight and price.
I also have a GoLite Hut1 and the similarity of the 360-degree protection for wind and rain struck me right away when I saw the Gatewood. This is a smaller, lighter, fully enclosed shelter with the bonus of being used as rain gear and pack cover. I have to say that I would have jumped on the design if it were just a shelter. I imagine SMD could get it down a few ounces more if the hood and extra hardware were deducted and it was only a shaped tarp. I couldn’t see anyone sniveling at the idea of an 8oz, 35sq.ft. shelter with a door and 360-degree coverage!May 12, 2006 at 7:40 pm #1356315
@djaaronreedLocale: Central Rockies
Thanks to everybody for their keen insight and thoughts. I still have a couple of questions before I lay down the cash.
Has anybody tried and or is it possible to stake the tent or partially set it up while completely under the cape? I really hate being wet while setting up a poncho/tarp.This forces me to bring along a rain shell just to set up shelter. Then I have to dry off before getting the bag out and going to bed. Can the cape be erected with a pole and a couple of stakes (from the inside) first? Will doing this minimize the time in the rain or prolong it? It would seem to reason that you could achieve this somewhat as a start and then work on the guylines/tight pitch from the outside. Is this a pipe dream? I’m hoping it is like the BD Lighthouse way of setting up shelter: Completely from the inside, just to stay a little drier!
Will someone who is 5’5″ need chaps or gaiters? What about the arms? Would some good long rain mitts be worth the weight penalty for the Colorado Rocky Mountains?
Thanks again for all the input and experience. This may be my poncho/tarp replacement!
Edited for clarity and grammar.May 13, 2006 at 3:36 am #1356321
@jgelackLocale: North East
I was wondering if the Gatrwood cape is big enough in shelter mode for someone 6ft 2, or would my head and feet be pressing up against the walls. thanks JohnMay 13, 2006 at 1:56 pm #1356335
>Has anybody tried and or is it possible to stake the tent or partially set it up while completely under the cape?
Good question. I didn’t know the answer, so I went outside and tried it. I attached the pull-out guys while wearing the cape and attached the pole harness with the cape pulled over my head. I then staked out the back and back side guys (lightly), put the pole in the harness and staked out the front side guys and front. It took a second round of stake adjustment to get the cape angled properly, and a third round to make it tight. I put down my ground cloth first so I wouldn’t have gotten muddy from the wet ground (I had to lay down). I then opened up the cape, hopped out, staked down the pull-out guys, set one or two of the stakes a bit better, and was back in the cape zipped up within 30 seconds. I’d probably be wearing my DWR windshirt so that wouldn’t be long enough to get wet. It wasn’t the most pleasant thing in the world to do, but it is certainly possible.
>Will someone who is 5’5″ need chaps or gaiters? What about the arms?
I doubt chaps are necessary. I’m 6’2″ and the cape hits me just below the knees (I rig mine a bit long). Gaiters should be sufficient. Your arms will get wet depending on whether you use trekking poles, and whether you put your arms through the slits. (It’s possible to use trekking poles underneath the cape.) I don’t mind my arms getting wet (I pull up the sleeves of my windshirt or long-sleeved shirt, which helps keep the arm slits from riding up) but I usually bring gloves because my hands get cold in sleet. I’m going to pick up some Dancing Light Gear long silnylon overmitts and see if they help, although I doubt most people would find them necessary.May 13, 2006 at 2:08 pm #1356336
> I was wondering if the Gatrwood cape is big enough in shelter mode for someone 6ft 2, or would my head and feet be pressing up against the walls.
It’s a close call. I’m also 6’2″. While the cape is certainly long enough from end to end, a strong breeze can push the cape fabric down enough to touch my feet (or head, rarely both). This is much less likely if the pull-out guys are tied up to trees rather than staked out to the ground. I figure if it’s that windy there won’t be much condensation, so I don’t have to worry if the fabric occasionally touches the foot of my bag (or I could throw something waterproof over my feet). I tied overhand knots in the middle of my guylines so that I could guy it up just a few inches. This is just as effective as staking the loops down to the ground in a strong wind but gives a bit more headroom.
[EDIT: see follow-up post below.]
Another trick that might help if you have two trekking poles is to use a small loop of cord to tie the pole tips together so you can support the cape with an A-frame (one pole tip goes through the harness grommet and the other pole tip is looped to it; the loop against the dirt baskets keeps the poles from slipping apart). This increases the tension on the back and allows more room to move around inside.May 15, 2006 at 2:09 am #1356408
@jgelackLocale: North East
It sounds like the length of the cape should be OK for me when set up as a shelter, especially if I tie the side pullouts like you suggested. Thank you for your response. JohnMay 15, 2006 at 10:05 pm #1356445
>It sounds like the length of the cape should be OK for me when set up as a shelter…
I read the setup instructions again and realized I had set the pole too short this time. I re-pitched it at the full 45″ height and staked the pull-out guys to the ground, and with a 15mph wind the cape fabric did NOT touch either my head or feet. I ran the pole guy out through the hood then clipped the hood rim to the pole guy so the hood stayed open but covered the neck opening. I spent the night under the cape, and although the wind dropped during the night there was no condensation on the cape in the morning. It worked quite well as a shelter.Jun 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm #1507079
MY GATEWOOD CAPE EXPERIENCE : RIPOFF OF THE CENTURY
Rating: 1 / 5
Worthless instructions, possibly the laziest, most completely useless, and
worst-written of all time.
Spent at least twenty hours trying to erect this thing and get it to stay
taut, to no avail. Spent a like amount researching the advice of others on
A less rainworthy ripoff cannot be imagined (except for the Black Diamond
I am a five-time JMT thru-hiker b.t.w.
Numerous phone calls to Six Moons, never answered phone or called back. Yes,
during business hours. Eventually spoke to a series of weaselly teenagers
who had clearly never actually set up one of these things. Asked for my
money back…I had ordered directly from Six Moons…and was told by a
"supervisor" that Six Moons would not refund my money. Sent it back anyway,
Six Moons never had the courtesy to reply. Six Moons Design is a sleazy,
sleazy company. I urge you all to never, ever buy any Six Moons products.
I bought a Mountain Laurel Designs Poncho-Tarp, and it set up easy as pie,
and tight as a drum the very first time. I've never had a lick of trouble
with it. In complete contrast to Six Moons, when Mountain Laurel Designs had
production problems three yrs. ago,the company president personally
apologized, refunded all the deposits for unfilled orders, and suspended
operations for many months until he could deliver the kind of service that
customers deserve.Jun 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm #1507093
Our angry youth ;-)Jun 9, 2009 at 6:59 pm #1507100
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
Strange. I set my Gatewood Cape up tight as a drum on the first try following the directions enclosed. All I had to do after setting the last peg was adjust the tension on two of the individual lines. Using taughtline hitches makes this easy although you could use linelocks with equal ease.
Since then, I've found that within reason, the higher you set the peak, the better shelter it seems to be. Personally, I like 47 inches rather than the 45 in the instructions. That said, in a driving rain or big wind, I'd point the back into the wind and peg it to the ground, as I would any shelter, be it tarp or tent.Jun 9, 2009 at 7:00 pm #1507101
@joshuaLocale: Santa Cruz,Ca
Ian, Are you for real? The gatewood is a classic. Sorry you had trouble returning it. I have had nothing but good service from Ron.Jun 9, 2009 at 7:21 pm #1507108
@socalpackerLocale: Southern California
I really don't have anything to add to this discussion except to say thanks. I was just looking at the Gatewood on the SMD site yesterday and giving it serious consideration. I have dri-ducks that weigh in at 12oz and then you add the weight of the tarp and you're talking over a pound for rain gear and shelter. But, I figure I could save myself 8-10oz or more by using the Gatewood. I think I remember that in Will Reitveld's review he demonstrated a few different set up options, although the basic shape remains the same. This was really helpful for me. Thanks guys! Great discussion!Jun 9, 2009 at 7:23 pm #1507110
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Gosh Ian, that is quite a rant.
I am not a tent person. Prefer tarps only when necessary.
I bought a Wild Oasis last year, almost identical to the Gatewood. Set it up once in my back yard. There was a little bit of a fiddle factor, but I got it right using the instructions.
On a trip last December I used it two nights. The first night I set it up in a mushy sleet storm. Set it up in 1/2 the time my son took to pitch his Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight; a pretty simple tent to pitch. Both nights had snow/sleet/rain and I was completely dry. The tent stayed nice and tight. Later in the month I took it on a trip in sub freezing temperatures and windy conditions. It did well. Those are the only times I have used it, with excellent results. Normally I bring a poncho/tarp.
I also have a MLD poncho/tarp. Very happy with it. My experiences with both companies and their products have been excellent, and I have no problem recommending either.
Now if the results of you calls and product return are accurate, then SMD does need to get dialed into the customer service arena.Jun 9, 2009 at 8:20 pm #1507122
@tarasbulbaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Last year when I first got my Gatewood I was so excited to field test it that I headed out for the mountains without doing a dry run in the back yard first. Upon arriving at my spot I discovered there were no instructions…I had left them on the table back home. So I winged it and found the set up pretty intuitive and easy the first time. For the center pole I used my 48" alpenstock. After returning home I read the instructions and discovered that I'd done it all wrong. Oh well. I prefer my method and continue to use it: first I stake out the two corners of one end, then pop in the pole, then reach over to stake out the other two corners while holding the pole, finially I stake out the middle and door guy line. Easy! BTW it snowed ~1" that night which it handled quite well. The Gatewood is a splendid piece of gear and one of my favorites. Sorry you had a bad initial experience.
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