Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape Review 2019

  • Ultralight Backpacker
Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape
$135

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape Overview

The Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape is an ultralight backpacker’s dream come true. This lightweight rain poncho — dubbed a “cape” to make you feel better about wearing it — provides full waterproof coverage for you and your backpack during rainy days and snowy nights. The dream part: it doubles as a tarp tent, and can literally shelter you all day as you hike, and all night as you sleep.

Due to the low weight and extreme versatility, we have given the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape our Classic Pick rain poncho award for Ultralight Backpackers. While there are other options that work well, nothing matches the dual purpose and weight savings of the Gatewood Cape.

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Breathability
  • Waterproofness
  • Fit
4.1

Summary

Replace your rain jacket, tent, and pack cover with the ultralight Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape. Weighing 10 ounces and packing down to the size of an orange, this do-it-all rain poncho is like a rainy day Transformer.

A quick note about language: Six Moon Designs insists this is a “cape”, not a “poncho”, because it does not have side vents/openings like most ponchos. While we appreciate this distinction, and believe this unique design makes it an outstanding product, we still think it’s pretty much a poncho in function, so we’re going to call it both a cape and a poncho! Semantics be damned.

Read the full Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape review below, and see how it compares on our Best Rain Ponchos guide.

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 10 oz. (284 g) Incredibly light for both a rain poncho and a tarp tent.
Layer 2-Layer Most ultralight ponchos don’t do much in the way of layers or waterproof membranes. This is just a waterproof material that drapes over your body, and uses ventilation to breathe rather than complex layering. More on layers in our Guide.
Waterproof Membrane N/A The Gatewood Cape doesn’t have a waterproof membrane. Instead, its fabric is waterproof and the ventilation lets it breathe. More on waterproof membranes in our Guide.
Fabric Silicon Nylon A typical ultralight material for jackets, ponchos and tarp tents. Good strength to weight.
No. of Pockets 1 Just one pocket allows you to hold a map or snacks, and serves as a pocket when setup as a tent. Also stuffs into this pocket.
Pit Zips No No specific pit zips on the Gatewood Cape. Instead there is a long main two-way zipper for ventilation and sleeves that roll back.
Water Resistant Zippers Yes The main zipper is water resistant.
Packs Into Itself? Yes It packs into the single pocket.
Seams Not Seam Sealed You can buy this tent with seam sealing, but it doesn’t come standard. Make sure you know how to seam seal before purchasing that option.
Manufacturer Warranty Limited Lifetime Six Moon Designs stands by all of its products for life. Get in touch if something fails.
Retail Price $135 A high price for a versatile, ultralight rain poncho and tarp tent. It’s less than most rain jackets and tarps individually or combined, so if this works for you it’s worth it. Add $20 for seam sealing.

Gear Review of the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

The Cascade foothills east of Salem are home to a temperate rainforest that sees 27 inches of rainfall per year. I chose to take the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape as my only rain protection into these verdant, wet woods on my trip through Silver Falls State Park.

Heavy rain and slick, melting snow greeted me at the trailhead early in the morning, so I scuttled to the trunk of my car, slipped on my backpack, and hurriedly pulled the Gatewood Cape over my head. In a flash my entire self, gear included, was protected from the wet weather.

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape review hood-and-smile
The Gatewood Cape as my only rain protection. Not too shabby.

At first, I let the Cape hang loose as I hustled out of the parking area to find some tree cover. Completely unfurled and secured only by the collar around my neck, the Gatewood Cape hung well below my knees when I stood still, but caught the breeze like Marilyn Monroe’s skirt when I ran for the trees.

I was well-protected while the Gatewood Cape hung all loosey-goosey, but it wasn’t ideal. Under the cover of a thick tree canopy, I found a moment to adjust the cape’s snaps and straps to better fit my frame. With the loose fabric rolled up and secured, the Gatewood Cape felt like a well-fitting, solid piece of rain gear.

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape review cape-loose-fit
When loose, the Gatewood Cape is sure to pick up a breeze. Use the assorted straps and ties to secure it closer to your body.

Being able to quickly throw on an all-covering rain poncho at a moment’s notice was much appreciated, as was the ability to adjust the cape’s fit and length to reduce any unnecessary wind-age.

Digging Deeper

Comfort – 4 Stars

The soft silicon nylon fabric feels good on your skin and slides over your gear with ease. Weighing in at a floaty 10 ounces, the Gatewood Cape is little more than a waterproof shell — you’ll soon forget that you’re wearing a cape at all.

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape review bent-over-cape-covers-all
The face of moderate comfort.

The dangling cords can be a nuisance, though, and the non adjustable neck collar may be tight for some people, so I deducted a star from the comfort.

Durability – 3 Stars

The ultralight silicon nylon fabric is exceptionally thin. The lightweight cape begs to ride with the wind, causing it to graze against all sorts of trailside snags. I was caught by fallen trees and thorny plants on a number of occasions, and each event filled me with enough dread to stop me dead in my tracks, fearing something would rip. Nothing has torn yet, but with continued use I believe it’s inevitable.

Breathability – 5 Stars

With an open skirt design, dual zipper pulls on the main zip, and arm holes, there is no lack of ventilation in the Gatewood Cape. Air out your sweaty self!

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape review adjusting-ventilation
The full zipper, open skirt, and adjustable arm length seriously helps with breathability.

Waterproofness – 4.5 Stars

Six Moon Designs crafted a cape so watertight they decided to make it transform into a shelter as well. I was impressed with how well the snug hood and flowing skirt repelled water and snow clumps away from my body. No part wetted out or dripped where it wasn’t supposed to.

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape review arm-slots
Full coverage and full waterproofing.

The armholes were watertight when kept shut, though every time I stuck my arm through I unintentionally brought a wet arm back inside which then clung like a wet fish to the nylon. This is a general poncho issue, but one the Cape hasn’t yet solved.

Fit – 4 Stars

The Gatewood Cape is like a tarp that gives you the tools required to make it fit. The non adjustable collar is a little tight, and the hood is on the smaller side. The rest of the cape is loose all around, including the caboose, but you can tighten it as you wish with an assortment of cords and snaps. A large backpack can fit under the cape without issue.

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape review shelter-3
The Gatewood Cape converted to its tent form. It fits like this too!

Grievances

The dangling cords were irritating. It’s cool that they exist to turn the Gatewood Cape into a full-fledged shelter, but they are difficult to tuck away and get easily snagged on reaching branches.

This grievance is about when the Cape is worn, rather than set up as a tent. This is really the only tradeoff I see in using this as a one-stop shop for rain protection, and it’s worth it. But if you plan to take a separate tent, there are other ponchos that may fit the bill better.

Final Word

The Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape excels as a multi-use, waterproof cover-it-all rain poncho. Hikers will appreciate its ability to turn into an emergency shelter and ultralight backpackers will love its lightweight functionality.

Where to Buy to Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape

The Gatewood Cape is made by Six Moon Designs, a cottage gear manufacturer. You can only buy it from them, and you can customize certain aspects and get high quality customer support for this product. It’s offered in two colors, and doesn’t normally come seam sealed, which most people that aren’t in the ultralight cottage gear world don’t know. If you don’t know how to seam seal, SMD will do it for another $20.

See the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape below.

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape
$135
arthur mcmahon bio pic

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. Whether it be in the mountains, on the beach, or along the city streets -- he believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. He and his wife chronicled their journey in their book Adventure and the Pacific Crest Trail. They now regularly travel into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest seeking new trails to hike. Follow his adventures at arthurmcmahon.com and on Instagram.

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