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SMD Gatewood Cape Users?
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Ryan Luke
(rluke) - F

Locale: Atlanta (missing CA)
SMD Gatewood Cape Users? on 04/03/2009 12:31:51 MDT Print View

I have searched past forum topics extensively for answers to this question and, based on the information I gleaned from these threads, have not been able to form a solid conclusion one way or the other.

I am approximately 6’3” (maybe a little taller). I was looking at purchasing a Poncho/Tarp for my trips this summer and I had settled on the SMD Gatewood Cape. I read Will Rietveld’s review of the shelter and thought it would serve me well on my trips in CA, CO, and NC. However, after reading the threads associated with the Gatewood, I am concerned that my height may be an issue. I called SMD and talked with Brandon and he said that I may be right at the limit/capacity of the shelter as far as length is concerned. He said that even though the length of the Gatewood is sufficient, the main issue may be my making contact with the sloped walls at the head and foot ends of the shelter.

One solution I had considered is taking a bivy with me (MLD superlight bivy) and pitching the Gatewood a little higher (similar to Will’s setup in the BPL review). Does anyone have experience using this technique? Are there any tall users of the Gatewood who would care to share their experience(s) with the shelter?

My first choice is the Gatewood Cape, but an alternative would be the MLD Silnylon Poncho/Tarp. If there are any owners who would care to comment on this shelter, I would appreciate your feedback as well.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: SMD Gatewood Cape Users? on 04/03/2009 13:03:24 MDT Print View


At 6'2" (and size 13 feet - make sure you take shoe size into consideration), I can tell you the Gatewood works for me, and with a bivy (when needed) it's great for draft prevention as a bonus.

I think if I were a little taller it would still work, provided I pitch it a little higher as you mention. Pitched to the ground you will definitely be touching the end(s).

The Serenity is an awesome addition, but you may touch one end. Staking out the side panel loops helps with this.

In short, I love this shelter so much that I recommend if you're borderline, then order it, set it up and if it doesn't work, then return it or pass it on to another BPL member via gear swap.


Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: SMD Gatewood Cape Users? on 04/03/2009 13:25:51 MDT Print View

Ryan, I agree with what Todd says. I'm 6'2 1/2,, 185 lbs and the cape can be a little tight, but I fit and my gear also.
Unless there is a heavy wind I stake it up a little higher then the 6" that they recommend. It give a little more room and I like the extra ventilation.
You are about at the very max size wise.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: SMD Gatewood Cape Users? on 04/03/2009 15:50:47 MDT Print View


I have a Wild Oasis, same size as the Gatewood, but not a poncho. I am 5'11' and it is kind of claustraphopic inside. I have gone back to a poncho tarp (GoLite silnylon) and bivy. I ordered a MLD Silnylon Poncho Tarp 8 weeks ago, and it is finally being made this week.

A lightweight breathable bivy and the MLD poncho/tarp is probably going to weigh a couple more ounces that the Gatewood, but it provides much versatility as a sleep system. Plus I much prefer a tarp configuration with open sides to a tent-ish set up.

The Wild Oasis generates a lot of condensation in light snow or cold nights if pitched close to the ground; and if I need to pitch it higher, I just might as well go with a conventional poncho tarp set-up.

I do like the WO, and am probably going to keep it; but it is not my normal go-to shelter. If I don't use it in the next year or so, then I will probably sell it.

Ryan Luke
(rluke) - F

Locale: Atlanta (missing CA)
Re: SMD Gatewood Cape Users? on 04/03/2009 21:03:06 MDT Print View

Todd, Tad & Nick,

Thanks for the feedback!

Todd & Tad; I like the look of the Gatewood Cape, but I am just nervous that I will have to make too many compromises with it. If I always have to pitch it high, I wouldn't see any use in having a shelter like the Gatewood when I could just go with the MLD shelter for similar $$ and less weight.

Nick, I would LOVE to feel comfortable with the MLD poncho/tarp, but I don't have a lot of tarp experience and I would be making a pretty big "leap" out of my comfort zone with that purchase. I really like the thought of sleeping in an "open" environment as opposed to a closed shelter, but I just haven't done much of that type of camping. However, at this point I think am leaning farther towards the MLD option.

Anyone else with feeback/advice?

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Re: SMD Gatewood Cape Users? on 04/03/2009 21:12:39 MDT Print View

How about the MLD poncho with a serenity nettent? That way you have the option of using the nettent and having the ends closed off or just using the poncho and being out in the open. Or just using the nettent and stargazing.

I've been using the gatewood the last couple of years and am now switching to a tarp. I like you felt insecure about being exposed to the elements, but now wish I had just sucked it up and saved some money.

Another thought though is are you sure the poncho/cape is what you want to do? I found the cape, fairly annoying while walking and am now making my own silnylon jacket. By switching to a cuben tarp the combo should be about the same weight. There's a number of lightweight rain protection options out there and if you have to deal with rain frequently the poncho might not be the way to go.

Ryan Luke
(rluke) - F

Locale: Atlanta (missing CA)
Re: SMD Gatewood Cape Users? on 04/03/2009 21:27:59 MDT Print View


I am attracted to the Poncho/Tarp setup because of the weight savings (pack cover, tarp, and rain gear all in one) AND because I do most of my long trips in the Sierras.
So, I usually don't have to deal with perpetually wet conditions like I would in some other regions. I also like the economical value and versatility of the poncho/tarp. I am a grad student, so funds are pretty limited right now.

I like your statement about having to "suck it up" and save some money in the long run. I feel that I am migrating towards a tarp/bivy combo, so I might as well just do it now :)

Thanks for the feedback!

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: SMD Gatewood Cape Users? on 04/03/2009 22:34:42 MDT Print View

Ryan, you'll do just fine, especially if you give it a high pitch. I hike with a 47" alpenstock instead of treking poles and use it to set up my Gatewood, which gives it a few inches higher pitch than recommended. Also, there are some tie-out points at each end midway up which can be used to pull the fabric out for more room inside. When pitched high, the opening is like a porch roof, providing an ample view and plenty ventilation. At nearly 6' I've found it to be adequately roomy. Happy trails!

Ryan Luke
(rluke) - F

Locale: Atlanta (missing CA)
Re: Re: SMD Gatewood Cape Users? on 04/04/2009 07:50:18 MDT Print View

Thanks Monty, part of the reason the Gatewood looked so attractive initially was because of the pictures of the "high pitch" shown in Will's review of the shelter.

Regardless of whether I choose the Gatewood or a Tarp, I love the thought of waking up to great views instead of the inside of a tarptent!

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: SMD Gatewood Cape Users? on 04/04/2009 10:42:56 MDT Print View

Ryan you mentioned that you are a little nervous about a tarp- to ease in to this go buy a 6x8 sheet of plastic (about $5) and some mason's string ($1.99) and make a tarp out of it and try it out on a short hike. You can Google "tarp setup" and get many way to set it up.
You use a Sheet Bend knot to attach the tarp corners to the string. and then just run a ridge line.
Use your existing tents stakes for the tarp. Your expense is minimal and you can try it out in your back yard.

John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
re: tarp on 04/04/2009 11:33:49 MDT Print View

FYI - If you decide to go with a tarp consider contacting Joe at Zpacks. He made me a custom 9x6x5 0.6oz cuben fiber cat tarp for $130 which was cheaper than anything else I could find. It weighs 3.25oz before adding guylines.

You can get that and a tiGoat bivy for roughly the same cost as similar cuben tarps I've priced out.

(I haven't had it out in the field yet so can't give a full review but it sets up drum tight and looks sweet.)

Edited by JohnnyBgood4 on 04/04/2009 11:34:34 MDT.

Ryan Luke
(rluke) - F

Locale: Atlanta (missing CA)
re: tarp on 04/04/2009 13:42:06 MDT Print View


Thanks for the tip! I have ordered items from Joe in the past and I am always impressed with the quality of the items he produces. If I do decide to go with a pure tarp I will definitely keep that in mind.

Edited by rluke on 04/04/2009 13:44:22 MDT.

Ian Crawford
(joeback) - F
THE GATEWOOD CAPE: RIPOFF OF THE CENTURY on 06/09/2009 18:48:01 MDT Print View


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

the net.

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.

(dirtt) - F

Locale: So. California
Gatewood Cape on 06/09/2009 19:02:11 MDT Print View

Thanks Ian, I think we got the point in the other thread where you posted the exact same thing.