My order arrived today. It's dark so I'm not going to set it up in the back yard, but all looks good.
As to the garment end of things, it suits me fine. The hood is a good fit. I like to wear a hat (Tilley T-5) and the hood will tuck down into a makeshift collar. I've done this with ponchos before, just lowering the hood and snugging the drawstring up a bit. You can pull it up in the back as you might with a jacket collar to keep the breeze off the back of your neck.
The length is good for me. I'm 5'10" and long-waisted (30" inseam) and it hits me a few inches below the knees. As Wade said, it will be a nice combo with some long gaiters. I would be hauling rain pants with any other combination and the weight savings is more than enough to afford taking the pants with.
The arm slits are located well for me and I can see using trekking poles, although just walking with cape on would be dry and comfy with your arms tucked inside. It does hang naturally. It will work well on rest stops, sitting on a pad and draping the cape around you.
When using poles, the cape will move some with the arm movment, but not radically.
I would use toggles rather than the snaps to hold the side up for the cape mode-- I doubt if they would come loose and the toggles would be simple in the manufacturing process and actual use.
You can un-zip the front (it's like a huge pants fly) to get to your pack straps, etc and to ventilate. I don't think it will be much different than a poncho for ventilation. The sides aren't as clean and straight as a poncho's, although it won't make much difference in use-- it's just an artifact of the multi-use design. The newness of the fabric adds to the lumpiness too. I think it will handle better in the wind and won't be any more prone to catching brush.
The color-coded web assembly to bridge the head hole is a work of art. I can see that I could jury-rig one from line if I lost it in the field. I think I could tie up something useable in a few minutes. The front guy line just goes right out the hood opening. It's easy enough to snug the hood down and I can see it will be great for ventilation in good weather. I'm wondering if the hood could be propped open with a twig to catch a breeze, like a Dorade vent on a sailboat.
And the design is made to use with the pole tip-up and handle down. That suits me fine as it doesn't poke holes in the ground cloth. The Walrus Trekker tarp had an arrangment to use poles handle up-- it was a massive wad of Velcro straps to form a pocket around the pole handle. Believe me, the grommet-and-tip arrangment is much easier to work with. If you are really sweating the pole sliding on the handle, you could make a small depression for the handle to sit it.
The self-stowing pocket is cool. It begs to be used as a map pocket on the trail and your glasses and a granola bar could live there too-- its big. Same deal at night-- glasses and flashlight in a known spot.
It looks like I'm going to be sealing the seams this week and I'm going to add some small zipper pulls.
All in all, it is what I expected and I feel like I got my money's worth. I am much more confident about taking off in rainy weather with this rig than I would with a plain poncho/tarp.
When I first saw this design, I made a plan to use it as my warm weather kit, with DWR wind pants or convertible pants. It drops my pack weight by 4 ounces on the shelter side and 12 ounces on the rain coat (Marmot Precip), for a full pound off my pack. I'm teaming it with six of the BMW Ti tent stakes.