Occasionally, I find a piece of gear that perfectly matches my requirements, such as Six Moon Designs’ Gatewood Cape. Lightweight and well made, the Gatewood was designed to function equally well as either a poncho or a shelter. It’s not often that a single gear item can do two jobs well, but the Gatewood is one of those rare exceptions.
Most of my hiking is in the desert, so for much of the year dedicated rain gear is just wasted space and weight. Likewise, true tents are just too hot most of the time, and over the past couple of years, my tents have been gradually retired for tarps, bivy sacks, and finally the stars. These days I only use a shelter if it is raining or very cold. Naturally, I don’t want to carry a four pound tent (or a two pound tarp shelter) that probably won’t get used. So how do you satisfy the need for rain gear and shelter without breaking your back or the bank? The Gatewood Cape, of course!
The Gatewood is made of 30D SilNylon and retails for $135 on Six Moon’s website. For an extra $20, they will even seal the seams for you. Mine weighs in at a meager 12 ounces with tie down lines, well less than any other rain gear/shelter combo I own. For comparison, my Bibler Tripod Bivy ($225-300) weighs 3 lbs 5 oz, and a military poncho (< $20) weighs 1 lb 11 oz. Plus, the Gatewood provides 35 sq ft of floor space and, unlike most ponchos and tarps, complete 360 degree protection from the weather.
I haven’t had to use the Gatewood as a poncho yet. However, I expect it to be fairly baggy and to catch the wind, but a length of cord for a belt should keep it manageable. Like any poncho, leg protection will be pretty marginal. It is definitely a compromise compared to Goretex or Event rain gear, but for the occasional storm it should be fine. I did use it as a shelter earlier this month and I was very pleased. The cape includes an ingenious suspension harness that clips in around the neck line. A trekking pole, tent pole, or stick is inserted into the harness to hold the shelter up. Six tent stakes are used around the perimeter and there are two additional loops on the body of the shelter for additional suspension lines. All in all, it is very easy to set up. I had forgotten my trekking poles on my last trip so I just found a branch to hold the shelter up. My camp site was loose sand on rock so my tent stakes were useless, but I just tied off on a couple of rocks and branches. The improvised rigging wasn’t pretty but the tent withstood the rain and 20 mph winds that night so I had no complaints!
Like all tarps, the Gatewood has no floor and is designed to be pitched up off the ground for improved airflow, so if you are worried about mosquitos and creepy crawlies in the night you may want to add Six Moon’s Serenity Net Tent to pitch inside the Gatewood or to buy a tarp shelter such as the OR Night Haven.
Overall, I am very pleased with the Gatewood Cape and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a lightweight shelter option.
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About the Author: Tucson, AZ Realtor & Investor. My true passions however are hiking and whisky (although generally not at the same time). If you have a question about any of these just drop me a line!