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Need feedback on a gatewood cape and bug tent
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Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Need feedback on a gatewood cape and bug tent on 08/09/2009 13:50:59 MDT Print View

Need some feedback from someone that uses or has used one. Likes and dislikes.

I am either going to buy this setup or build a slightly modified one.


Erik Graf
(vango67) - F
One but not the other on 08/09/2009 15:48:54 MDT Print View

I have used a Gatewood Cape from the desert to the rockies to the AT. I've never experienced much of a flying bug problem so I have yet to buy a bug net but plan on doing so just to have it in case one of these days...

As for the GC. It's a trade off thing - if I know I have a ton of rain coming I go with something else - but most of the time I take the GC and normally hike at sub-8lbs skin-out weight.


*doesn't get much lighter - your tent and rain gear as one.
*so far GC has been bomb proof as a tent / kept me dry as a poncho
* pocket nice as its own stuff sack and a pocket when in tent mode
* more spacious than you'd think
* lots of head room.
* painters plastic or Tyvek larger that the "floor" size works great - just let it roll up the walls a bit

Dislikes (I can live with these)

* finicky to pitch at times.
* drags the ground as a poncho - I cross snap the long ends to raise it off the ground.
* not overly breathable as a tent or a poncho
* bugs as a tent - some mosq. in Zion, snails on the AT, daddy long-legs in Pisgah, and had to pitch on horse droppings on Mt. Rogers
* if you're in your tent and it is raining...if you gotta get out you're gonna get wet. ONly happened to me once so I fashioned a "rain vest" out of a Hefty Bag - worked well enough

That's about all I can think of. GC is an acquired taste I'd say but I absolutely love mine. Tent and rain gear can be some of the heaviest items in your pack - to have two in one at a light weight at that? Awesome and worth any minor inconvenience to me....


Edited by vango67 on 08/09/2009 15:49:29 MDT.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: Need feedback on a gatewood cape and bug tent on 08/10/2009 20:43:26 MDT Print View

I just bought the GC, and have the nettent on order --- when I called a few days ago they had the cape ready to ship, but told me that the nettent would be about two weeks out. I was quite pleased to get the GC literally the day after I ordered it (I live in an adjacent state which likely helps), and they won't charge my card for the nettent until it ships.

Anyway, all I have at this point is initial impressions; I walked around briefly in poncho mode and setup and seam sealed it as a tent.

I liked someone else's suggestion to get a very light (look online for "disposeable") poncho to use in camp if significant rain is anticipated --- or indeed, pick another shelter, as this is floorless. I got one of these from my wife that weighs 1.7 oz, less than 1 mil thick. Seems perfect for trips/situations where you need or want to move around camp in rainy weather.

Anyway, weight: 11.1 oz as shipped (counting various cord/harness, not counting the terse instruction card or plastic bag that the cordage came in) --- i.e., dead on accurate. Of course by the time I add in 6 light stakes, a polycro ground cloth, and seam seal it, the total weight (without net tent) will likely be about 15 oz. Then add 7 oz for net tent and it's 22 oz, but for shelter and raingear.

Using it as a poncho: The ventilation is in the front, none at the sides; I like it better having ventilation on both sides. In particular if it's raining hard I'd be happier having the sides open than the front. I’m concerned that this will be significantly less ventilated than a normal poncho, and hence that I’ll sweat in it too much; TBD. I live in WA state where raingear is something that doesn't just get carried, it gets *used*, so this is obviously significant. I saw a variety of reviews of the GC, but very little on the raingear aspect of it.

A cord around waist works to help keep it under control (I do this with an ordinary poncho), but in order to have enough fabric above that cord to move my arms enough to use trekking poles, I end up with less coverage of the front part of my body below the waist as I do with a normal poncho; crotch is covered and upper part of upper legs, but more of the upper leg down to the knee is exposed to wet vegetation than with my normal poncho.

To put it another way, for me a normal poncho is sort of a well ventilated rain jacket plus pack cover plus rain skirt all in one. The ventilated part and the rain skirt part both appear somewhat compromised here, but again --- I'll only confidently talk about this after I've walked with it for a while in rain.

The pocket in front is nice, though as designed it sits on the inside of the cape; not a big problem as the large vertical front zipper is right next to that, however. This could be helpful for things like maps. In general it's sometimes a problem accessing things in a poncho that are normally ready to hand and this should help --- both the pocket and the long vertical zipper in front.

Note that to solve the length problem it’s important to connect two loops on each ~side up inside the poncho lest they drag. I'm about 5' 10" and don't anticipate any drag-on-the-ground problem.

As a tent: Brilliantly designed; went up well the very first time. Seems to be a good amount of room inside, and I can sit upright in the middle (and for my height I'm tall in the torso). Using second pole either externally or (perhaps, haven’t tried yet) internally to push out tent wall a bit is a good idea too though not essential. No issues here, or at least that I’m aware of. With the net tent or with few bugs out, this will be a great setup. My only concern is high wind with rain, or literally water flowing through my camp site (the rare case where a bathtub floor is worth having). As Ron Moak says, good site selection is important there.

To address inside room from a different perspective, my solo tent is a tarptent Contrail, which is very roomy for a solo tent. I don't feel constrained in the GC, however. Unlike the Contrail, I don't have to shift around a lot to sit upright, nor do I have to hunch or crawl to get to any end/edge of the tent.

I think that to be happy with this a person shouldn't think of it as a floorless tent, but as a light tarp with excellent coverage! Expectations are everything. My next trip starts Wednesday I'll likely be camping by a lot of lakes (likely buggy), so without the nettent in hand I'll reluctantly go with my solo tent, but I'm really looking forward to using this on some trips.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Need feedback on a gatewood cape and bug tent on 08/10/2009 21:04:37 MDT Print View


Understand the water problem, as I have had several trips where I got flooded. Most of those were the typical, thinking I was in a good spot when I was not.

One bad one was in Estes park about 30 years ago. Rained for 3 days. I was in a tent with a tub floor and it still got flooded and it was in a good spot, just too much rain. Luckily I caught it before everything got soaked, got my rain gear on and dug a deeper trench. That was fun at night in the rain. I used to carry a large sponge back then and that helped a lot. Now I carry one of those super absorbant microfiber cloths.

A few days later my buddy and I got caught in a freak storm at about 12500 above the treeline with daypacks without much gear and got soaked. We both had ponchos but we should have had rain suits. Temp dropped to about 35. We both got hypothermia and it took us forever to warm up. Luckily our bags stayed dry. Lesson learned.

Nothing worse than getting a down bag soaked to the core though.

If I were to use a gatewood cape only like in the winter, I think I would setup a tub/groundcloth to fasten to the inside.

Jesse H.
(tacedeous) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
got it, love it ! on 08/11/2009 00:40:53 MDT Print View

subject says it all... I've got about 20+ nights in the nettent... (lovely to see the moon and stars) so far haven't pitched the GC for rain, just privacy... LOVE THIS COMBO!