Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape SPOTLITE REVIEW

Compared to a poncho/tarp, is it possibly a better poncho AND a better shelter?


by Will Rietveld and Aubrin Heinrichs | 2006-05-15 03:00:00-06


Is the Gatewood Cape better than a poncho/tarp? The introduction of the Six Moon Designs’ Gatewood Cape in Spring 2006 has generated a lot of interest - especially from those of us who have weathered wind-driven rain (or sand) under a skimpy poncho/tarp. But what exactly is the Gatewood Cape, and how is it different from a poncho/tarp?

In poncho, err cape, mode, the Gatewood Cape is very similar to a poncho/tarp, except it has arm slits in the sides and a full zipper in the front for extra ventilation.

In shelter mode, it creates a real shelter rather than a glorified umbrella. The sheltered area measures 105 inches long by 66 inches wide, providing a floorless area of 35 square feet. That’s more space than many two-person tents! However, the walls are fairly flat, so much of the space is only usable for gear storage. In case you’re wondering, the shelter is long enough for a taller person. The height is only 36 inches in the center when the sides are staked nearly to the ground, but more headroom can be gained by raising the sides. Overall, it’s a roomy one-person shelter.

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape SPOTLITE REVIEW - 1
A birds-eye view of the Gatewood Cape set up as a shelter. It is supported by one trekking pole that connects to a clip-in harness under the hood. The small rectangles on either side of the hood are arm slits for use as rainwear. The zippered entry in front of the hood also serves to provide ventilation when the cape is worn. The cape packs into the pocket at the left front, which also serves as an inside pocket in shelter mode and a chest pocket in rainwear mode.

The shelter is supported by a single trekking pole at the front center, under the hood. Entry is from the side via a zippered door and vestibule. Six stakes (not included) are required around the perimeter, and the sides can be staked to the ground to provide better wind or bug protection.

At 11.65 ounces with the pole harness and extender loops on the tieouts (our measurement), the Gatewood Cape is 2-3 ounces heavier than a silnylon poncho/tarp and about 5 ounces heavier than a spinnaker poncho/tarp. However, with the Gatewood, you don’t need to also carry a lightweight bivy or bag cover weighing 5 to 7 ounces.

We’re really excited about the possibilities for the Gatewood, and are eager to get out and test it. It most likely will work in a SuperUltralight backpacking system, allowing us to stay under 5 pounds base weight, while gaining in rain protection and shelter. Look for our full review this summer.

Specifications and Features

  • Manufacturer: Six Moon Designs (
  • Fabric: 30d (1.3 oz/yd2) silnylon
  • Rainwear Features: attached hood with front drawcord, arm slits, integrated stuff sack that doubles as a chest pocket, full-zip front opening for ventilation
  • Shelter Features: sets up quickly with one adjustable trekking pole and six stakes, integrated stuff sack doubles as an interior pocket, zippered entry door on front vestibule
  • Included: Cape, integrated stuff sack, pole harness, lightweight cord to make tieout extender loops
  • Measurements: 105 in (267 cm) long, 66 in (168 cm) wide in center, 36 in (91 cm) high in center
  • Weight: Measured weight 11.65 oz (330 g) with tieout extender cords and pole harness, manufacturer specification 11 oz (312 g)
  • Floor Area: 35 ft2 (3.25 m2) canopy coverage
  • MSRP: $110


"Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Will Rietveld and Aubrin Heinrichs. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-05-15 03:00:00-06.