Mar 28, 2006 at 1:23 pm #1218171
How’s it going guys,
I’ve been experimenting with my SMD Gatewood Cape for a couple of weeks now, and thought I’d post some setup pictures and initial thoughts. I usually wouldnt do this (I dont want to eat up the bandwidth), but the concept of the Cape is pretty new at this point in time, so I thought some pictures might be useful. I’ve done quite a bit of email tagging with Ron, so any questions you may have you can post here, or alternatively on the mirror G-spot post. My apologies for the scrambled ordering of pictures – before generating the code, I didnt really think to organize them.
1) Heres a picture of the colored harness thats used for stablizing the shelter. The harness should not be worn while using the Cape as raingear. I’ve found that attaching it takes just as long if not longer than actually setting up the shelter, and have thus found a way to attach it while still wearing the cape before setup (thus minimizing my exposure to the elements). I use a thumbtac at the end of my walking stick for insertion into the harness.
2) Once erected, entering the shelter can be accomplished by one of two means: undoing the full length zipper, or sliding the knotted hook up the front guyline, and then readjusting it once inside. I find the latter method to be easier, which is shown in the picture.
3)Heres a picture of me inside the Cape. I’m looking towards the vestibule area, which is the side of the tent that will always be a bit above the ground for ventilation. I prefer to leave the Cape flush with the ground on all other sides, but Ron reccomends using the included extra guyline to raise the shelter on each side at every stake out loop. As you can see, theres plenty of room for one plus gear.
4) The next picture is of the coverage area for the Cape with a fully loaded Essence backpack, which is even a bit thicker than most backpacks being used out there. My guess is that it would provide enough coverage for those at 6’2″ (I’m 5’11”) and under with a backpack under 4500 c.i.’s (most all of us).
5) The Cape in poncho-mode, without a pack and the hood down. The length in front is actually longer than what it appears, due to my raised arms.
6) Heres a photo showing how the arm slits are utilized. I find them to be quite conveinent, and provide more coverage area for the arms than the typical poncho. The material does tend to slide up and down your arm quite a bit when swinging a pole, so it will take some getting used to. Overall, I think its a nice solution.
7) Next is a photo of the hood closure in shelter mode. As you can see, its tightly closed and can be angled downwards to avoid any potential run-off. I dont see any realistic way that water could get in, but I am a bit worried about flapping in high winds. I’m sure there is a way that the drawcord could be used to cinch the hood around the top of the pole, which is protruding above the bottom hood seam.
8)The next is a picture of the Cape tucked into its integrated stuff sack. Size is aproximately 9″ X 7.5″ X 3″. It fits perfect into one of the side pockets on the SMD Essence pack.
9)Heres another picture of the arm slits while pitched as a shelter. As you can see, the double layer of alternating fabric pretty much eliminates any chance of leakage.
10) This photo does a nice job of portraying the size of the ‘living space’ inside the Cape. For cooking, I can sit fully upright at the center pole (the hood must be opened for ventilation), and I have ample room to roll around to the right of it. The vestibule area is located to the left of the center pole, which can be minimized (maximized living space) by angling the pole slightly towards the left side (vestibule side).
11) Heres the cape as shown from the vestibule/entrance side. I think it looks pretty stealthy, dont ya think? :)
12) Lastly, most of my confusion in setting up the Cape came from not knowing how to utilize the guyline with the stake out loops. After talking with Ron (and sending him this very picture), I found out that this is the correct way. The sliding knotted hook attaches to the left loop for a taut pitch, and can easily be adjusted for exiting and entering. My guess is that the right loop isnt meant to be used so that one has the option of rolling up the right side (I should have taken a picture of this, but Ron has a picture of this on his website, sixmoondesigns.com You’ll have to toggle the initial picture to see it).
I dont yet have any true field experience with the Cape, but my impressions have been very positive thus far. Ron has always promptly answered my questions (I’m sure hes getting sick of me flooding his inbox!), and I really couldnt be more pleased. Thanks for looking!
-Dave:)Mar 28, 2006 at 2:16 pm #1353655
Thanks for posting the pix. I’ve held off asking Ron any questions, as several others have been doing so. Would you mind going through your ‘conversation’ and making a “best of” summary? It might save Ron a lot of duplicate questions, and help others get more info about the cape.Mar 28, 2006 at 2:35 pm #1353658
Ryan FaulknerBPL Member
looks like it could be a four season poncho shelter.
I was about to buy an oware alphamid, but this could be an optionMar 28, 2006 at 5:22 pm #1353679
Miguel ArboledaBPL Member
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
I’m curious about the hood. From the photos here and on the SMD site it looks a little crude. Is it well-fitted?
Also curious if the hood can be opened as a vent when in shelter mode. I would think that would be a very possible and crucial design element. If the hood had a wire brim it would seem to help with both the cape and the shelter configurations.
I’m asking because I’m seriously considering the Gatewood. Just got the Essence pack and am very impressed.Mar 28, 2006 at 5:45 pm #1353681
@pa_jayLocale: on the move....
Wow, this thing looks really clever, I’m thinking about snagging one too. 2 (more) questions:
When wearing, if you cinched it around the waist w/ a stretch-cord, would the front coverage and arm-slits still work well?
Just for reference, how long is your walking stick in these pics?
Anyway thanks for posting these, Dave. Cheers.Mar 28, 2006 at 6:36 pm #1353684
Mark LarsonBPL Member
@mlarsonLocale: Southeast USA
Wow, that’s pretty slick. Thanks a lot for the photos. This one is definitely a possibility.
-MarkMar 28, 2006 at 7:24 pm #1353690
>I’m curious about the hood. From the photos here and on the SMD site it looks a little crude. Is it well-fitted?
Yes, very much so. In the photo on the SMD site, he has cinched the hood around his face, and his face is pointing up; it does look odd. But when I did so just now, with my face level, the hood formed itself into an inverted triangle, with the top forming a line across my eyebrows and the point at my chin, without encroaching on my eyes. I suppose this is full-on storm mode. However, when the hood cinch is relaxed, it looks more like a monk’s cowl. It still remains in somewhat of a triangle, drooping to form a brim across the forehead and holding the sides out. I don’t know how he did that, but it’s really neat. The hood’s neck hole is very large (about 11″ in diameter), and the face hole is raised up a bit; there is about 3″ of fabric between the bottom of the face hole and the front edge of the neck hole. This allows air to pump through the neck hole (if you haven’t cinched down the face) yet protects the neck from getting wet. If you fold down the hood, it forms a nice raised collar around the neck hole (you don’t have to cinch it closed, as in the above photo). The hood itself has a reasonably large volume. With the hood cinch relaxed, it’s just visible to the left and right without obscuring peripheral vision. I put on a Sunday Afternoons hat (3.5″ brim), an OR Sahale hat (in cowboy and bush modes), and a Petzl Ecrin Roc climbing helmet, and all fit without binding or deforming the face hole.
>Also curious if the hood can be opened as a vent when in shelter mode. I would think that would be a very possible and crucial design element.
Yes, it can. You can fold it back and have a hole open to the sky, as in a tepee, or you can drape it over the pole and have a directional vent with adjustable diameter. Since the pole is above the neck hole, the face hole should stay open when the hood is draped over the pole. I don’t have it set up right now, so I can’t say exactly what might be necessary to _force_ it to stay up and open, but it appeared that it might do so on its own, unless there’s enough wind to flap it around and maybe lay it on its side. This needs a bit more research for a conclusive answer on the directional vent mode.
>When wearing, if you cinched it around the waist w/ a stretch-cord, would the front coverage and arm-slits still work well?
Yes. You can clip the bottom corners up under a pack to get them out of the way, which makes it unnecessary to belt it, but you can certainly do so. I just did and with the slits at my elbows was able to raise my arms to horizontal without pulling the cape out of the belt or exposing much more of my lower body to the weather. With the slits up above my biceps I can raise my hands over my head without pulling the cape out.
Here’s a bit more about the slits. With the slits above the biceps and arms low, it drapes down and covers to the elbow. Nice. On me, the slits naturally fall at the middle of my forearm when using trekking poles, although I can pull them further up the arm. Also, the arms can come out the front sides, with the cape draped over them like a poncho, without using the slits at all. However, the slits might gape open a little in this case.Mar 28, 2006 at 7:43 pm #1353692
Thanks for answering all of the posted questions. I was out for the evening, and didnt have a chance to check the messages. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to sum up my conversations with Ron, as I just deleted all of my old emails a couple of days ago! It seems like you have a pretty firm grasp on the functioning of the Cape though, and the answers to any additional questions that you might have are sure to be stored ‘up there’ somewhere. One thing I do remember that hasn’t been posted is Ron’s belief that it may take a while for the Cape to catch on. He may be right, but if you really think about it, a full coverage poncho-tarp is really one of the best options available to those looking to save weight and conserve volume, especially since they dont necessitate the use of a bivy sack, which like Ron says…is just another single purpose piece of gear. The only potential drawback (other than minor construction flaws, which are bound to be corrected in time) is a lack of ventilation. But, with a zipper, folding door, adjustable hood opening, and extra guylines that could be used for raising the sides of the tarp, I think Ron has has hit the target. I look forward to putting it to use.
-Dave:)Mar 28, 2006 at 7:45 pm #1353694
@happycamperLocale: South Bayish
It’s great to see some excellent pictures of the gatewood cape. Well done!
regarding the hood and ventilation as a shelter(i think douglas is right on and…)
i haven’t taken the cape into the field (i will later this week) but backyard ‘tests’ have shown the hood to provide awesome ventilation. i think the advantage comes from having a wide hole at the peak of the shelter allowing for ideal ‘chimney venting.’ the hole stays open easily and cinches easily as well. it is possible to ‘puff out’ the hood as though someone was wearing it, but i think it would only stay that way without wind, which is unlikely in a rainstorm or other weather. maybe it could be propped open.
Also there are snaps that can be ‘snapped’ together in the back to create a belt-like effect, but that configuration wasn’t very comfortable to my 6′ frame.Mar 28, 2006 at 8:12 pm #1353695
>Ron’s belief that it may take a while for the Cape to catch on.
It might. I was a bit hesitant to be an early adopter, but I didn’t have any kind of poncho, cape, or poncho/tarp for raingear, and I liked the size and full enclosure of the Cape in shelter mode, so I took a chance. I really just bought it as raingear. But once I put it on (and up) many more things made sense, and it’s clear that a lot of thought went into this design. I think this is one of those items that would benefit from a demo, as it’s a bit hard to take a purchase like this on faith. I’m hoping that by some of us answering questions here (and hopefully forwarding useful answers from Ron Moak) that BPL’s forums can compensate for the lack of a FAQ from Six Moon Designs for this product.
(I didn’t notice any construction flaws.)
>The only potential drawback is a lack of ventilation. But,…
I think your subsequent list addresses that issue very well for shelter mode. This is at least as much as a single-wall tent offers, and you can tip or raise the shelter much as you can a tarp. With the neck hole open in tepee mode there should be significant ventilation for body heat and even cooking. As worn raingear, the neck hole does noticeably pump air through the hood. The zipper can be opened about 8 inches (from the neck hole down) before it starts to gape. By putting velcro dots on the storm flap, the zipper could be opened much further for significantly better ventilation without much exposure (or weight gain).Mar 28, 2006 at 8:49 pm #1353699
>the answers to any additional questions that you might have are sure to be stored ‘up there’ somewhere.
Here’s one: I was wondering if the hood would stay open on its own as an adjustable, directional vent. In the last picture of the first post, the main guyline runs down the inside of the vestibule, out the front, grabs onto the loop, and then goes to a stake. What if instead the main guy was run out the hood and outside the front of the vestibule? The pitch appears to be just about as taut. In that case, the top of the hood’s face hole would rest on the guyline and thus the vent hole couldn’t collapse. Further, with the addition of a small toothless alligator clip or something similar Prusiked to the main guyline, the hood could be stretched out to prevent flapping and ensure the vent remained fully open and that no rain could enter through the vent.
Just a thought.
Also, in this case, it might make sense to replace the main guyline cord with Kelty Triptease Lightline, depending on how non-stealthy you want to be.Mar 28, 2006 at 9:27 pm #1353703
Stephen – What is your method for cinching open the hood for ventilation in shelter mode? I haven’t done much experimenting with this, and would be interested in hearing you’ve tried.
Doug – It’s odd that you mention the alternative way of using the front guyline (running it through the hood, rather than under the vestibule area), as my initial instinct led me to believe that the guyline was meant to thread the hood like this. It could work, although I previously emailed Ron with this very question and his response was that the guyline was not meant to be utilized this way. My only concern would be that in the event that an unexpected storm passed through in the middle of the night, you would have a difficult time cinching the hood closed over the guyline without a possibility of leakage or the drawcord coming undone. Nevertheless, I’m interested in trying it out tomorrow to see how things look.
-Dave:)Mar 28, 2006 at 11:05 pm #1353714
@pa_jayLocale: on the move....
Wow guys, thanks so much for the Q&A. Well done.
My main reservation at this point is the color-coded harness system. I can’t imagine how to attach this while wearing the cape, as I think Dave mentioned he’s able to do. (Not that monkeying around w/ 6 guylines on a conventional poncho-tarp is necessarily better, that is.) Can one of you say anything more about this feature?
thanks again, you comments are much appreciated!Mar 29, 2006 at 7:35 am #1353743
The walking stick that I’m using as the support pole for the Cape is the collapsible one that I constructed with the help of those in the ‘Make your Own Gear’ forum. Its 52.5 total inches in length, but collapses (via two fitted PVC conduit pieces) to two pieces that are 10 and 42.5 inches in length. The latter piece is what I use for my support pole, and fits snugly into the harness insert with the addition of a red thumbtac (which is removed when used as a walking stick). Ron told me that the range of acceptable pole sizes, without raising the edges with the extra guyline, is 42 – 44 inches. Sorry…that was probably more of an answer than what you really needed!
In regards to attaching the harness: Well, it’s not the most thoughtful way of going about attaching it, but I simply slide the hood off my head a bit, bring my arms inside the poncho, and proceed to attach the harness from there. The back of your legs will be a little more exposed (and your front will be a little more protected), but I find it to be a much better solution than being completely exposed during attachment and setup time. Most likely, you’d be able to temporarily find some sort of cover (trees, an overhanging rock, large bushes, etc.) in the area to stand under while you attach the harness from the inside. Just make sure you remember that theres nothing keeping the poncho from blowing away in a strong wind (right off of your body) once your arms are no longer in the slits. You’ll need to keep a grip of some sort on the poncho while attaching the harness to keep this from happening (which I have not found to be troublesome).
An alternative method that I’ve experimented with is attaching the harness when the Cape has only partially been setup. By staking out only three corners, its not that much of a pain to crawl under the shelter and tuck one of the remaining corners under you (to keep it from blowing over top of you, which would lead to exposure) while attaching the harness above you. I’ve found that this method is slightly less conveinent since it requires you to crawl in and out of the shelter one extra time, but it seems to work just as well.
This is what I’ve been able to come up with, and with a little practice, I’m sure both would be reasonably successful ways of dealing with the issue. I’d be interested to hear what anyone else thinks might work. If you’re carrying a wind shirt, chances are it will keep you protected enough for the amount of time it takes to actually setup the Cape (under two minutes with a little experience)once the harness has been attached. Thanks,
-Dave:)Mar 29, 2006 at 9:27 am #1353750
I just tried setting up the Cape with the front guyline running through the hood rather than under the zippered door. You’re right, the pitch is nearly as taut, but that extra material that has collapsed near the peak of the cape (due to a lack of support underneath from where the guyline would normally be) could really be a problem in high winds. I was wrong though – the hood can still be drawn shut quite easily even with the guyline strap in the way. I’m just not sure if I i like the extra sagging in the vestibule wall….more testing is definitely needed.
Just out of curiosity, has anyone out there seam-sealed their Cape yet? Did you cover every outside seam line, including those at the base of and top of the hood? What about covering the zipper with some sort of seam-sealing spray, as recommended by Ron?
-Dave:)Mar 29, 2006 at 9:47 am #1353751
@happycamperLocale: South Bayish
“Stephen – What is your method for cinching open the hood for ventilation in shelter mode? I haven’t done much experimenting with this, and would be interested in hearing you’ve tried.”
Nothing fancy really. What I have done is more or less what is shown in your first pic. I just open the drawcord and open the hole as wide as possible. Now is you are referring to keeping the hood up and open in shelter mode, then the only method I have tried is to manually give is shape and form and then let it be. This seems to work for a little while. I suppose a twig or other support could be used to maintain the shape.
Also I think the arm slits could be propped with twigs/sticks to keep them open but I’m not sure this would be of any benefit, maybe for lookout holes:)
“My main reservation at this point is the color-coded harness system.”
The harness is something of a novelty and I’m sure the design will improve with time. The main time consuming factor I have noticed is slipping the webbing through the fatty plastic hooks. It would be much easier with thinner webbing or loops made of thin cordage. All in all I think the system is effective.
Another tidbit: I am using a carbon fiber pole that I ordered from 6 moon designs as support. This seems to work well. The pole tends to bend from tension when the cape is fully set up, but this can be adjusted somewhat. This may be a bonus because a bend towards the doorway increases living space. The bend also slightly decreases headroom which is a drawback.Mar 29, 2006 at 10:09 am #1353756
I sealed mine from the outside with silicone seam sealer. It isn’t pretty, but it’s waterproof and the sealer adds some strength to the seams around the arm slits. I sealed all the seams and the black reinforcing patches too. If it leaks, there ain’t much point :)
Didn’t hear about the zipper thing. It is storm-flapped.Mar 29, 2006 at 12:59 pm #1353768
That was a bit unclear. The purpose of sealing the zipper is to prolong its life, not to prevent leakage. I’m not exactly sure how this works, as I’ve never done it, but I do remember reading about it on the sixmoondesigns.com seam-sealing FAQ. Does anyone have experience with a seam-sealing spray? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen something like that.
-Dave:)Mar 29, 2006 at 2:12 pm #1353772
It’s always interesting to see what people have to say about your designs both positively and negatively (fortunately not much negative so far). I would say that the feedback provided by the current owns to questions is pretty much in line with any comments I’d make.
When ask specific questions about the Cape I try to give general recommendations to its optimal use, at least from the designer’s perspective. This can be both good and bad. It can be good if it helps sort out problem that may inhibit effective use. On the downside advice can limit your creativity if taken literally.
I design from basically a personal perspective, one in which I can only hope covers a wide variety of usages and conditions. Users will obviously view it from a different perspective, often ones that I can scarcely imagine. That’s where the fun begins.
A few have mentioned the awkward attachment of the harness to the cape; well you should have seen it before it was color coded. Anyway, I’m looking to improve the connection with different connectors. However sourcing micro connectors is frequently a frustrating task, one that can last for months or even years. I hope will get it sorted out before the next production later in April. It should make attaching the harness a snap, literally.
Thanks for the comments and if you got more questions or suggestions let me know. I’ll be town for LA tomorrow so I won’t be able to respond until I’m back early next week.
Have fun,Mar 29, 2006 at 3:32 pm #1353779
Ron, you solved a big problem with poncho tarp tents with the harness. One thing about the current design is that it is field repairable or even replaceable with some light line, which I carry for repairs anyway. I’m sure my field replacment wouldn’t be as strong or pretty, but I would still have some shelter. It is one of those items that needs to go straight into your pack or in the pocket of the cape so it doesn’t get lost. Snap buckle connectors would be quick, but more prone to breakage, more expensive, more work, etc. If you go that way, leave enough loop to run some line through to fake one in the woods. I think I said before that the only thing I would change would be to use toggles rather than snaps to hold the spare cloth out of the way in “cape mode.”
Any shelter that does double duty as rain gear is going to come up against the “what do you do if it’s raining” question: wait for the thundershower to pass, carry a big garbage sack, or one of those cheap plastic ponchos to wear while you put it up. That harness is sure a lot easier to mess with than trying to thread poles through wet tent sleeves or getting a tarp guyed out in a small space. I’ll spend a night in a blow in your rig any time over a poncho tarp! While the others smother in their bivvies, the Gatewooders will be snug inside, reading a good book over a hot cuppa tea :) Yawwwwwwn…Mar 29, 2006 at 4:09 pm #1353782
Indeeeeed. I wonder if the new harness system Ron has in mind (if he finds that others feel there is a need for one) will be adaptable to the current model. If he’s simply going to be replacing the hooks with microconnectors or snaps of some sort, it does seem likely.
-Dave:)Mar 30, 2006 at 9:17 am #1353827
You could lash on your own. Keep in mind you would have the little buckles dangling about your neck which makes the current design easier to live with on the trail. The loops will break in after a few pitchings and be easier to assemble too. It sure beats some kind of Velcro or other contraptions. Simple is a good thing :)Mar 30, 2006 at 10:26 am #1353832
Agreed. I’m not really worried about the current harness system, as multiple ways of getting around any potential problems has been discussed. Ron did mention to me this morning that any new snap or microconnector system he decides to implement will most likely be adaptable to the current model with a bit of easy sewing at home. More than anything else, I’m just anxious to see what he comes up with (in the event that he feels there is a need to come up with something new, as stimulated by user feedback).
-Dave:)Mar 30, 2006 at 10:40 am #1353833
Miguel ArboledaBPL Member
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
This is all just completely speculation since I haven’t seen the Gatewood firsthand, but why can the harness not be permanently attached to the area that would be at the back of the neck when worn as a cape. As a cape the harness could then simply be draped down the back of the neck. When setting the shelter up it could then be simply hooked to the other side of the tent. Why is the harness designed to detach the way everyone is talking about?Mar 30, 2006 at 11:33 am #1353835
I was kind of wondering the same thing, and asked Ron at one point whether the harness could be worn behind the neck while using the Cape as a poncho. His response was that it could not (although in actuality it could) because the harness would get in the way and would be pretty uncomfortable. I agree with him, it is a bit uncomfortable, but mostly only because of the large attachment hooks rubbing against your back and neck that I imagine would be rather uncomfortable a couple of miles in (I myself have a hard time not focusing on small little pains and annoyances like that while hiking). If a slimmer, snap-in system was used, I’m not sure this would be as much of a problem. More than anything else, I would’nt feel comfortable wearing the current harness system inside the Cape while hiking in risk of it falling off without notice. With dangling, loose harness straps, I can pretty much guarantee that the hooks would unhook themself from the loops at some point along the trail, and you’d most likely be out of a sheltered nights sleep. All of this could be addressed by implementing new connectors, or simply by using the Cape as it was meant to be used by following the methods described above. Thanks,
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