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MYOG Gatewood Cape - Finished
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Ryan McCulloch

Locale: NOVA
MYOG Gatewood Cape - Finished on 08/24/2010 16:20:37 MDT Print View

I just finished my first MYOG backpacking project, my version of a Gatewood Cape. Its pretty close to Ron's design and he and Roger actually gave me some advice on how to make it in another thread. In reading some reviews of the SMD Cape, folks love it, but it is often noted as a bit cramped if you over 6'. Since I'm 6'2" I decided to make one that is a bit larger than normal.

This was my first complex sewing project other than stuffsacks and such, so it took me awhile with some advice and pointers from my wife. It was a bit challenging at times (figuring out the arm slits, and how to join the hood), but I made something that works for me.

I also made a net tent for bug season and I tried them out this weekend in the Mount Rogers, VA area. Luckily, it rained really hard while I was sleeping and while I was hiking. So, I got to wear it as a poncho in the rain, and sleep in it as a tent and stayed dry in both cases!

The cape came in at 10.9oz, and the net tent came in at 8.3oz. Anyway, here are some pics (just don't look to close at the seams:-) I had to learn how to use a seam ripper pretty well for all the mistakes I made.

Here it is set up in the backyard:GC frontGC side

Here it is in poncho form. It looks a little longer here than it is in practice. When hiking the back drapes over my pack and then I tie a line around my waist to keep it billowing, so a bit of excess ends up above my waist, and the length turned out perfect for me.GC poncho

Here they are stuffed (net tent on left, cape on right - the cape stuffs into its own sewn in pocket).GC stuffed

Finally, here it is on my overnight trip this weekend. Sorry for the quality, its from my camera phone.GC in woods

Thanks for looking!

Edited by rdmcculloch1 on 08/24/2010 16:26:59 MDT.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: MYOG Gatewood Cape - Finished on 08/24/2010 16:38:43 MDT Print View

Wow, great job! I like that the poncho fits you, too.

JJ Mathes
(JMathes) - F

Locale: Southeast US
Re: MYOG Gatewood Cape - Finished on 08/24/2010 16:51:05 MDT Print View

Ryan- very nice job! Can you set up the cape then set up the inner net in case it is pouring rain?

Ryan McCulloch

Locale: NOVA
Re: Re: MYOG Gatewood Cape - Finished on 08/24/2010 17:13:30 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments.

JJ- I did the reverse of that actually. It started pouring rain in the early morning hours and then when I got up about 6:30 it was still pouring rain. I had my pack in the "vestibule" area and packed up everything inside my pack, pulled down the net tent and put it away all while under the cape. Then I pulled the stakes, put on my pack, stood up with my head through the hood, and I had my poncho on! The design is really neat that way, but its all due to Ron Moak at Six Moon Designs. I just made a bigger version of his cape.

Nancy Twilley

Locale: STL
this is great! on 08/24/2010 21:50:15 MDT Print View

I am actually planning to do the exact same thing! Have my little model worked up and am about to order materials. Only I am 5 feet tall and so I'm making it ever so slightly smaller than normal and mine will be a dedicated shelter. Wild oasis with a bug inner tent instead of perimeter netting.

Would you have any other details you could share on its construction? Issues you ran into? Are you getting a nice tight pitch?

I am thinking of doing slight catenary-ish curves on some of the sides, do you think that would be helpful?

I assume you made the back and sides all of a piece, and sewed the front doors on to that piece, is that correct?

Derek Goffin

Locale: North of England
MYOG Gatewood Cape - Finished on 08/25/2010 02:03:27 MDT Print View

I had heard that the gatewood cape was a tight fit used as a shelter. Your cape does not seem to use the hood as part of the shelter. I wonder if you could make a cape that was shorter whilst wearing it, but bigger as a shelter by incorporating the hood in the shelter and gathering it into a hood for wearing using a neck draw cord in a tunnel?

Ryan McCulloch

Locale: NOVA
Re: this is great! on 08/25/2010 07:09:30 MDT Print View


The toughest part for me was figuring out how to cut long (6' +) straight lines in silnylon. Its pretty difficult, since its such a slippery material. I used a long straight edge, but the material kept slipping under it. I tried spraying silicone on my straight edge to get a better grip on the material, and it still slipped. I never came up with a perfect method. But the best in the end, was skipping the rotary cutter, and using a dry erase marker to mark my line and then cutting very patiently by hand. I'm going to try to figure out a better system for my next silnylong tent project.

I'm getting a tight enough pitch. If I don't guy out the back sides (you can see in my picture) it doesn't pitch as tight as I like. However, when I guy it out it pulls out my net tent as well (they are attatched at those points - just like Ron's design) and I get a lot more interior space. So, its worth the weight of a little extra line to be able to get the larger interior room for me. Plus, I get a great pitch that way.

The way I understand it, caternary curves are almost always good to have if you have a long straight ridge of material only supported at either end, but they would seem a little complex (at least for me) to integrate in this design. As you mentioned, the back and "sides" are all one piece, but the two front panels are separate sewn on pieces. So you could incorporate a caternary curve in those pieces, but There would be no way to incorporate it in the back three "ridge" lines if that makes sense. Unless you cut them apart and sewed them back together with a curve.

Hope that helps. Good luck, it was a challenging (again, for me) project but was really fun!

One other comment, I copied my hood design exactly from a camp-mor poncho tarp b/c I loved how it fit me, and the hood works pretty good on my cape.

Edited by rdmcculloch1 on 08/25/2010 07:16:22 MDT.

Ryan McCulloch

Locale: NOVA
Re: MYOG Gatewood Cape - Finished on 08/25/2010 07:14:57 MDT Print View


My cape does use the hood as part of the shelter, the trekking pole sticks up through the neck hole, and the hood cinches closed over the top of the trekking pole. Clearly its a bit baggy over the top of the trekking pole b/c its needed to provide a bit of clearance over the trekking pole. I'm not sure your idea would be implemented b/c the harness to attach around the circumference of the neck hole has to protude up through the neck hole to to be in line with the ridges coming down to the ground stakes. (hard to explain in words, but you can kind of see in the pics). Additionally, if you want a hood in poncho form, it really has to be shaped correctly to get it to stay on the top of your head, and to pull up under your chin.

Nancy Twilley

Locale: STL
thanks! on 08/25/2010 07:44:53 MDT Print View

Ryan, thanks for your response.

Is the trekking pole in some sort of harness as in the gatewood cape, or does it directly contact the fabric?

I am sure I will have more questions for you once I get cutting! I have found just marking the line and cutting by hand to be the best on silnylon. Actually, I was thinking of just doing curves on the edges of the tarp, instead of "ridgeline" curves, since as you mentioned there really aren't any ridgelines on the back / sides. That would of course sacrifice a little bit of coverage, but...

Derek Goffin

Locale: North of England
MYOG Gatewood Cape - Finished" on 08/25/2010 08:45:16 MDT Print View

The draw cord I was imagining was a way of having a larger neck hole so that the harness could stick a lot further up into the hood, if not right to the top, allowing a bigger shelter. Then when you want to use it as a cape the draw cord brings the neck hole back to the size it is in your design. The top of the hood could still be shaped as a hood. The neck of the hood would end up gathered as would the shoulders. There would certainly be problems to solve! In wearing you would have a shorter cape. I have no experience to decide whether that is a worthwhile aim.
edit a further thought, if the neck gathering was restricted to over each shoulder and over your rucksack, the gathering might actually make a nicer fitting shoulder area.

Edited by Derekoak on 08/25/2010 09:06:16 MDT.

Ryan McCulloch

Locale: NOVA
Re: thanks! on 08/25/2010 11:20:48 MDT Print View

Nancy - I did use a harness like Ron's. He said he uses 3/8" webbing and buckles, but I couldn't find those, so I used 1/2" but I didn't really seem to have any weight penalty, esp. since my cape, even though it is bigger, weighs the same as SMDs. I'll be interested to hear how your catenary cut comes out.

Derek - Well, my harness and trekking pole tip do extend a fair amount up into the hood, but I see what you mean, but for me with my limited sewing skills, it would be a lot of more complex construction that wouldn't be worth the payoff - but it may be no challenge for you! I'd like to see that too.

Skip Booth
(the1skipper) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
Re: MYOG Gatewood Cape - Finished on 08/25/2010 21:02:06 MDT Print View


Nice work on the Gatewood Cape clone. Also, it was great to meet you on the trail over the weekend in Mt Rogers. Given the weather it was definitely a good weekend to be testing out the poncho and tarp :)


Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
. on 08/26/2010 01:36:05 MDT Print View

Great job on the cape. Looks nice & way roomier than the original. I'm 6', and the biggest drawback to me is the size of the original. Well done!

Ryan McCulloch

Locale: NOVA
Re: Re: MYOG Gatewood Cape - Finished on 08/26/2010 18:20:55 MDT Print View

Thanks again for the comments, it is nice having the shelter, and have it fit me!

Skip - it was great to meet you too. It looked like your crew was having a great time. What kind of berries were you eating by the way? I meant to ask, but got too interested in your ULA pack.