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Poncho tarp, GW Cape or flat tarp? Help me!
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Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Poncho tarp, GW Cape or flat tarp? Help me! on 04/17/2011 09:25:29 MDT Print View

Alright, I'm going insane trying to pick out a new shelter for the coming warmer seasons. My ideal goal is be able to do a 2 nighter with very minimal gear meaning everything will have to pull double duty. My general base weight is 10lbs but I want to be way under that with very little $$$ so my intention was to just leave at home everything I dont really need and just take the bare essentials.

I use a cheap blue tarp (8x10) weighing in w/everything @ 28oz. It's ok but the grommets aren't where I want them and it's just plain bulky. I've had my eye on the Gatewood Cape and have been really set on that but from what I hear the extra material makes it difficult when in poncho mode. Then I started thinking about getting a Go Lite poncho tarp but I'm affraid because the coverage area looks so small when in tarp mode :( the length doesn't bother me so much as the width. And then my final thought was to just get a lighter flat tarp and use my existing rain jacket and kilt for rainwear.

I don't get to get out much for overnighters and can't see spending the cash for a real "tent" that would only get used once or twice a year. I do a lot of day hikes and I figured a poncho tarp style would really get more use in the long run.

Me: I live in Seattle and generally do long high mileage days in the cascades. I'm looking for something that can do multiple jobs on the trail. And yes I do know that I'll have to use a bivy if I got a poncho tarp :) My budget is $150 give or take but I feel that's plenty of money for something like this.

Please help me!!!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Poncho tarp, GW Cape or flat tarp? Help me! on 04/17/2011 09:40:47 MDT Print View

Poncho tarp: pros: light, provides rain gear and pack cover for same weight. Cons: least protection, needs bivy (added weight and cost), lots of strings and stakes.

Gatewood Cape: lightest (no bivy weight), provides rain gear and pack cover for same weight, 360 degree protection, easy pitch (6 stakes, one pole, one guy line).

Flat tarp: pros: many pitches possible, very "universal" gear, larger size (8x10) can be used for 2 people. Cons: not as much protection as GW Cape, smaller sizes (5x8, 6x8) need a bivy for full protection, lots of strings and stakes, no rain gear/pack cover options.

If it is just a couple nights a year, you can probably find a lighter poly tarp. Or wait like a spider for a deal on a tarp.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Poncho tarp, GW Cape or flat tarp? Help me!" on 04/17/2011 09:52:48 MDT Print View

No question........GATEWOOD CAPE................$135 for both shelter and rain gear.

I've used mine for years on the PCT and the CT. It can handle our PNW weather, and you don't need a bivy sack with it. Take the bivy $$ and buy the new revised Serenity Net Tent for it.....if you hike during heavy skeeter season.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: Poncho tarp, GW Cape or flat tarp? Help me! on 04/17/2011 10:27:28 MDT Print View

I have both a G.C. and a Golite poncho, and agree that if your focus is on the best combo of rain gear AND shelter, the G.C. is the better choice.

As a poncho, I like the Golite better, but as a shelter I like the G.C. a lot more than I prefer the Golite as raingear.

You can certainly mitigate the downsides of the G.C. as raingear with some experience.

Caveat: I'm assuming that you're not really tall, that could shift priorities if you found the G.C. on the short side for you when in shelter mode. Note also that if you have a fairly 'tall' sleeping pad (i.e., a neo-air or something that thick), this shifts you higher with sloping walls, making the G.C. effectively even (a little) shorter. Search for and read extent threads about the G.C. for more on this (and just in general).

Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Height on 04/17/2011 14:53:08 MDT Print View

I forgot to mention that I am 5'-11" and sleep on a short length z-lite with a regular length sleeping bag. Even if I'm a little tall I wouldn't mind just wrapping the bottom portion of my bag with a garbage bag to help my bag from getting wet.

For any users out there how would rate condensation for the GW Cape? By the design of it I would think it vents well.

Matthew Zion
(mzion) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: Gatewood on 04/17/2011 15:25:21 MDT Print View

Firstly, I don't think you need a bivy with a poncho tarp necessarily. The gatewood gives quite a comfortable amount of coverage. The rainiest and most humid experience I have with it is in Olympic NP and I had lots of condensation. Granted I also had the same problems camping in the snow in Zion NP so I would probably blame the low temperatures rather than the tarp.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
poncho tarp/bivy on 04/17/2011 17:05:26 MDT Print View

^ I would concur if you expect no rain :) I think a bivy is almost mandatory for any of the popular poncho tarps (ID, Golite, MLD, etc), unless you happen to very small- at 7 oz (MLD Superlight) a bivy isn't too bad a hit, also gives you bug protection and adds a few degrees to your bag and eliminates the need for a ground cloth (in addition to the rain spray protection of course)

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
RE on 04/17/2011 18:10:29 MDT Print View

I'm tall and use long bags so the gatewood doesn't work that well for me, but I love poncho-tarping.

It's pretty easy to get a poncho/bivy combo for less than 14oz, which gives you shelter, raingear, bug protection, groundsheet, and a little extra warmth (or draft protection for quilts). Plus I love the open feeling of small tarps.

The gatewood weighs more than a poncho, and it's harder to offset the weight saved on a bivy when adding back in groundsheet and bug protection (leaving draft blockage aside). The cape I had weighed ~12oz, which only leaves 2oz to spend on the ground sheet and bug protection (could do polycryo and a headnet for just under 2oz, but I don't like sleeping in headnets).

The cape/serenity net tent combo is a pretty cool setup, but it doesn't save you any weight over a poncho/bivy combo.