Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis set up with its front beak extended using a second trekking pole.
At 13 ounces, the Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis is the lightest bug-proof one-person shelter on the market. The design is based on the popular Gatewood Cape, with the same shape and protected area (35 square feet). However, it is not wearable as a poncho like the Gatewood, so the Wild Oasis is a single-purpose shelter. How does its utility and performance compare with the Gatewood Cape?
- Bug proof shelter for one person
- Very light weight, only 13 ounces
- Trekking pole support
- High protected area to weight ratio
- Top vent for extra ventilation
- Fast setup
What’s Not So Good
- Mesh reduces ventilation
- Velcro closure catches on the mesh and damages it
|2007 Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis|
|Three-season, one-person, bug-proof, floorless, single-wall shelter|
|30d, 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon canopy; 0.7 oz/yd2 (24 g/m2) no-see-um mesh skirt|
Poles and Stakes
|Requires one trekking pole or optional carbon fiber pole for support, plus six stakes (not included)|
|Length 105 in (267 cm), width 66 in (168 cm), height 45 in (114 cm)|
|6 in x 5 in (15 x 13 cm)|
|Measured weight 13.1 oz (371 g), manufacturer specification 13 oz (369 g)|
|Measured weight 14.3 oz (405 g); includes shelter, extender loops, and six titanium stakes|
|35 ft2 (3.25 m2)|
Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio
|Carbon fiber pole (1.8 oz/51 g, $25)|
Although the design and dimensions of the Wild Oasis are the same as the Gatewood Cape, it’s a distinctly different shelter. It’s not a dual purpose product (rainwear and shelter) like the Gatewood; rather it’s designed to only serve as a shelter, providing bug-proof protection for one person. It has a high vent instead of a hood, and an 18-inch mesh skirt has been added around the perimeter to make it bug-proof.
The Wild Oasis is hexagon shaped, with six corners that are staked out with short (6-inch) extender loops. I followed Six Moon Designs’ setup instructions and obtained mixed results. The procedure is as follows: 1) set a trekking pole to 45 inches, 2) lay the shelter out flat on the ground in the desired position, 3) stake the two front outside corners, 4) stake the rear center, 5) insert the trekking pole tip into a grommet at the peak and raise the tent, 6) stake the front center, and 7) stake the two rear outside corners. That process produced the pitch shown below on the left.
Following the manufacturer’s instructions yields a pitch shown at the far left. The shelter is 106 inches long and 72 inches wide, but the sidewalls are at a low angle and nearly touch the ground (center photo), which limits headroom and ventilation. Extending the front entry with a second trekking pole (right photo) helps to provide more protected area and ventilation.
I personally prefer a taller pitch for the Wild Oasis, shown here with a 50 inch trekking pole. With a taller pole and extended entry (top left), the protected area measures 98 inches long and 60 inches wide, which leaves less floor space but more usable room due to the extra height. The canopy is lifted above the ground a little more (top right and bottom left), providing better ventilation. The top view (bottom right) shows the shelter’s shape.
However, going to a taller pitch requires a different setup procedure: in step three, stake the front outside corners loosely, then insert the trekking pole in the grommet and stand up the front of the shelter, then continue staking as outlined above.
The shelter’s 18-inch mesh skirt extends inward (top right) so it can be overlapped with a ground sheet. The front opening in the mesh skirt is secured with two Velcro patches (top right), which catch on and damage the mesh. With the front of the shelter extended (bottom left), the mesh skirt still reaches the ground for bug protection. A tall pitch reduces the shelter length to 98 inches, but it is still ample for a taller person (I’m 6 feet tall) without touching the inside of the tent walls (bottom right).
I used the Wild Oasis on several backpacking trips in spring and early summer where bugs were a definite issue, and am pleased to report that it is definitely bug-proof. After swatting the mosquitoes already inside the tent with my hat, the shelter remained bug free the rest of the night. It helped to overlap the shelter’s mesh skirt with my groundsheet to seal the floor, and to use my boots to seal the front entry in the mesh. Protection like this is most appreciated when biting insects are an issue.
The two Velcro patches used to close the front of the mesh skirt easily damage the fragile mesh, resulting in a collection of snags after several trips. A user solution to help mitigate the problem is to make sure the Velcro patches (hook and loop) are attached before stuffing the tent into its stuff sack. However, that’s only a partial solution; the mesh will still get damaged from using the closure. A better closure is needed.
Although I pitched the shelter with trekking poles ranging from 45 inches to 51.5 inches, I was never able to raise the sides of the shelter off the ground more than a few inches (see photos above). The mesh skirt is designed and sewn so that it extends inward from the canopy edge (rather than downward), so it lies on the ground where it can be overlapped with a groundsheet. With this design, the canopy can be raised only a small amount without raising the mesh above the ground too much, so variable height pitching is limited. It would be nice if the sides could be raised 6 inches or more to expose more of the mesh for increased ventilation when desired. I tried using longer (12-inch) extender loops on the tent corners, but that didn’t raise the canopy above the ground very much more, unless I propped up the guylines with sticks.
Using my tall pitch and extended entry technique, I found headroom and length to be adequate. There were times when the foot end of my sleeping bag got damp from brushing against the tent wall, and my head also brushed against a wet tent wall as well. Overall, the Wild Oasis provides a good deal of protected area for its low weight.
One thing I missed is the Gatewood’s zippered storage pocket. The shelter stuffs into the pocket for packing, and the pocket is used for storage in shelter mode. The Wild Oasis comes in a stuff sack instead, so there’s no interior pocket to stash eyeglasses and other fragile items overnight.
The Wild Oasis is certainly storm worthy, but it has definite limits because of its single trekking pole support. On one windy alpine evening at 12,500 feet, I staked the shelter to the ground to reduce breezes through the tent, and put rocks on the stakes for insurance. Its hexagonal shape handled a 20 mph wind just fine, but it flapped a lot. A really strong wind would be worrisome.
Summer showers and even extended rains were no problem for the Wild Oasis, if you don’t mind sitting out a storm in a confined space. It’s important that the perimeter mesh does not stick out beyond the edge of the canopy, because it will draw streams of water inside the shelter. The Wild Oasis is strictly a three-season shelter, and is not intended for use in snow at all. Although I did not have an opportunity to test it, this shelter would probably handle a light snow okay, but would probably sag a lot under the weight.
The tradeoff for bug protection is reduced ventilation and more condensation. Because its mesh skirt restricts ventilation, the Wild Oasis is more prone to condensation compared to tarp-like shelters I have tested. That said, the Wild Oasis is not a condensation chamber. The combination of its high vent and taking advantage of site conditions and available breezes allowed me to minimize condensation much of the time.
A vent at the peak (bottom right) helps to exhaust moisture and reduce condensation.
Interior wall condensation is normal for a single wall tent, especially on clear, calm nights with a large temperature drop. With the perimeter mesh skirt sealed up to exclude bugs, the Wild Oasis is more prone to condensation because the mesh restricts ventilation. For more information on condensation in single wall tents and how to minimize it, see my article on Condensation in Single-walled Shelters: Contributing Factors and Tips for Reduction.
With a taller pitch to maximize ventilation, the Wild Oasis (with the vestibule and mesh skirt closed) is prone to condensation (left), similar to tarptent-type single wall shelters. On this clear/calm/cool night, the shelter developed heavy condensation, starting at about 11 PM where the air temperature reached the dew point temperature (right). Note that the taller pitch causes the condensation to run down rather than drip inside.
For me, the Wild Oasis is an ultralight seasonal shelter, to be used during the bug season in spring and early summer when mosquitoes are a significant issue. In some locations it’s bug season all the time, and the Wild Oasis is definitely a good ultralight bug-proof shelter for those areas. However, in other locations, like the Alaskan tundra, any floorless shelter, even one with the features of the Wild Oasis may not be adequate to exclude bugs.
One question that begs asking is: why not simply develop a detachable mesh skirt for the Gatewood Cape? Then one could have the Gatewood’s dual benefits of rainwear and shelter, plus bug protection when needed by adding the skirt. The challenge would be to devise a lightweight attachment system that is convenient and bug-proof. Velcro is not necessarily a good solution because it would add too much weight and it snags badly on the mesh. This concept is food for thought, and perhaps our readers can offer some design ideas.
At 13 ounces, the Wild Oasis is the lightest bug-proof single person shelter on the market.
Recommendations For Improvement
- Add an interior storage pocket that doubles as a stuff sack
- Revise the design and instructions as needed to allow for a taller pitch that provides more headroom and exposes more of the mesh skirt for better ventilation
- Design a Velcro-free closure for the front of the mesh skirt