Gear Review: Gatewood Cape and Serenity Net-Tent.

Picture from: Because I don’t want to go set up my tent in the snow this morning.

This has been my trail shelter for years.  I think it’s the perfect set up– the ideal vagabond kit.  It’s a mosquito net, it’s a rain poncho, it’s a tarp, it’s a doubled wall tent.

The cape/tarp weighs 12 oz (340 grams) and the net-tent weighs 11 oz (311) and quickly sets up with 6 stakes and a trekking pole.

I believe the Gatewood Cape was named after Grandma Gatewood,  who walked the Appalachian Trail with a shower curtain that was her rain gear and her shelter.

cape_worn_78x138  In Colorado, I would use it as a rain poncho in monsoons and then, when I got smart, would quickly set it up as a tarp, crawl inside and take a nap till the monsoon was over.  cape_open_60x106

I walked the Camino in Winter.  I was a little worried about crossing the Pyrenees in winter as some pilgrims get caught in snow storms and die.   I brought my tent stakes and my 4 ounce carbon Z- trekking pole and felt secure that if that happened, I could set up my Gatewood Cape and safely wait out the storm.    Although I never needed to set it up as a shelter, on the Camino, I wore it often as a rain poncho.

Serenity_NetTent_5349c52c75bc5A mosquito net is the worlds best invention—why would anyone not carry one?  Whenever I watch survival shows where they can only bring a few items, no one ever brings a mosquito net, but that is the first item I would add.

If the bugs are bad but the weather is nice, I can sleep in comfort in just the net tent.   When I want to take a break from the mosquitoes or biting flies, I quickly set it up, crawl inside and restore my sanity while I eat my dinner or take a siesta in peace.

Sometimes, when it’s  really cold, I sleep inside the collapsed net-tent like a bivy and it adds a surprising amount of warmth.

Although I’ve never tried this, you are supposed to be able to hang it in a shelter for a bug free sleep.

You can leave the net tent attached to the Cape and set it up as one– as quick as a tent—and its a complete double walled tent.

Gatewood_Cape_4c1bbeec14c43It blocks the wind nicely.   No where does the net tent touch the walls of the cape, so, no waking up wet from condensation.   There is a big vestibule for cooking and to store muddy shoes.      The door is high enough for you to get a little view, even when closed, as you lay in your bag.

The hood of the cape makes a top vent.   If it’s raining and you want to make a protected top vent you can stick your hat on your pole, pull the hood over it and make a little protected air vent.   You can open and close the vent from your sleeping bag.

There is a big pocket that works as a pocket while using as a rain poncho,  an inside pocket when using as a shelter and the cape and net-tent can be stuffed inside the pocket for packing–although I usually just stuff it in my pack or in the outside pocket of my pack if its wet.

One disadvantage of  sil-nylon, is it relaxes once you set it up and can become quite slack in the rain, so, you have to leave your tent and tighten things up.   I solve this problem by setting up the cape with my trekking pole at an angle.  When I feel the tent slacken, I pull the pole towards me and everything is tight again.  There is also a tension adjuster inside the tent, on the new ones, that will further tighten things up if needed.

Tip for quick set up:  Tie one color of flagging tape on the back tie out and tie another color on each of the two front side tie outs.  This makes it easy to see  where everything is. First stake the back,  then stake the two front sides leaving a little slack.   Insert pole and stake out front.  Stake out the two remaining  pull-outs and go around and adjust everything so it is very taut.    There are two additional pull outs on the side walls, but I never use those and I can’t see how they would improve anything.

If you plan to use it as a rain poncho, I recommend making a little shock-cord belt for it so it doesn’t blow around so much.   There are snaps to snap up the excess when using as a rain poncho.  This isn’t my only rain gear, I carry a Z-packs rain coat and a trash bag rain skirt as well.

Tent stakes:  I used to go with all super light thin titanium stakes but after I got a trail lesson in high winds and soft soil, I started carrying at least 3 better holding stakes like these hex stakes.   Last year on the Oregon Coast trail, I tried carrying a few MSR Groundhog stakes; they held well in the sand and wind.

Hiking shirts

I only have one outfit—I’ve worn the same thing, on trail and off, summer and winter, everyday for years—a macabi hiking skirt and a nylon shirt.

Since I only have the one outfit, I carefully select my clothes like a super hero selects their outfit.

Although this combo works well most of the time, I’ve been unhappy with nylon shirts in the hot desert because they are hot and aren’t breathable enough.  So, before heading out to the Arizona Trail,  I bought a Columbia Sportswear omni freeze shirt.   My conclusion?– Basically they have taken every disadvantage of a nylon shirt–hot and not breathable enough, and combined it with all the disadvantages of a cotton shirt–cold when wet and slow to dry.

So the next year, when heading back to the desert of the Pacific Crest Trail, I decided to just go with a light weight cotton shirt–breathable, quick to dry, cools when wet and very comfortable.   Worked great and would use again for deserts.

There, however, is a reason you never see a super hero wearing natural fibers— they quickly disintegrate when adventuring.    Even though I kept repairing it with dental floss, in less than a thousand miles, it looked liked I had been marooned for 20 years— that shirt was nothing but a hopeless rag and had to be replaced; where as a nylon shirt will last years and multiple long hikes.

I replaced it with a nylon shirt but I would definitely go back to cotton next time I’m hiking in the desert.

An idea: I was thinking, if a person was sending themselves boxes on a trail, it might be an idea to buy a bunch of used shirts at a thrift store or yard sale and pop out a new shirt every resupply.   That way you could look spiffy when hitching a ride back to trail instead of trying to hitch in a stained raggedy shirt.   You  also wouldn’t have to do laundry, and you wouldn’t have to keep repairing your cotton shirt.  I’ve seen shirts at yard sales for .25 a piece.

Trail food: Roasted seaweed

81HVmFjWwRL._SY606_I discovered roasted seaweed at the little hiker store in the hostel in Lone Pine.  After doing the math, I calculated it had a whopping 165 calories per ounce (6 per gram)–pretty good for vegetables–although I assume, most of the calories come from the oil they are roasted in. 31Jpkh6DOYL

I eat them like chips, but the worker at the store said she crumbles them in anything she is cooking–contributes salt, oil, and veggies to any meal.

71hnYgfYVpL._SL1500_The packaging is quite bulky; I emptied them all into a baggie and threw away the packaging.

I think it may be cheapest to buy from Costco.

Gear review: Western Mountaineering Flight Jacket

flightjacketI’m in a motel room in Idyllwild.   Even though it’s late May in Southern California, winter is never far away when playing in the mountains and its freezing in the San Jacinto’s and I don’t want to leave the warmth of the motel room so I talk myself in to staying another night.

I’m snugged up in my warm sleeping bag and its time to get hiking but it’s  too cold to leave my sleeping bag, so I stay in bed.

I stop for a break and suddenly I’m freezing.

This is why I carry this jacket:  Instant warmth.   It gets me out of my sleeping bag in the morning and keeps me happy and hiking when the weather turns frigid.

It doesn’t have logos on the chest.  It does have a tag on the side of it which you can cut off or take a sharpie to ink out the name.  You can also ink out the logo on the zipper pull.

I’ve carried it for at least 6 years; 11 ounces (311 grams) I never regret taking.

Western Mountaineering Flight Jacket


Resupply on the go

I’ve resupplied out of little stores on the trail now for years.  I look at it like foraging.   I don’t go in with an expectation of what I want but more a “lets see what’s available today” kind of attitude.    If I’m open and look at everything, I walk away with a resupply that is better than anybody’s box of stale food they dried months ago.

Once, while sitting out at the picnic table at Echo Lake,  a couple asked me if I got my box.  I said “no, I buy as I go.”    He said, “Well, I guess that’s okay if you don’t care what you put in your body.”   I watched them get their box, that they paid 35 dollars to have shipped from the East Coast, and unpack it.   Inside they had: organic instant oatmeal, organic ramen, vegan gummy bears,  organic dried apples and organic chips.    I had whole wheat tortillas, Cheese, nuts, peanut butter, fresh apples, and chips.  No wonder they were so crabby.

There are places though that a person walks through that don’t have a store and for those places a box would be very convenient.    Unless you have a person to send boxes for you, that can make it tough, on a long trail, as some places don’t want to hold your package for a long time and it’s hard to predict what you want to eat months in advance.

I’ve discovered a few options.   One is Amazon prime Pantry.   Where you can buy single items, instead of the bulk packages they usually sell,  and have it shipped to you for a flat rate $5.99.   You don’t have to fill a box; you can order as little as you want or as much as you want–up to 45lbs (20.4 kilos).   Looks like they even sell tortillas.  I don’t think they will ship to a post office though.

Another is Sonora Pass Resupply.   They have an online store and you can order food and other trail needs and they will ship to you anywhere on the Pacific Crest Trail maybe anywhere.    I think you can also send them your stuff and they will ship it to you.   Shipping is free on orders of 50 dollars or more.   They will also meet you at Sonora Pass and  hand deliver a resupply to you for 50 dollars.   They will also pickup and mail your bear can home from Sonora Pass for 15 dollars postage included and take out your trash.

Another is Zero day resupply.   They have an online store and I believe will ship anywhere.  They are even set up to do a bucket resupply at Muir Trail Ranch.  They  have a weight and calorie calculator for your order that makes things easy.


Current Gear List

  • Carried a Ursack through the Sierras–Probably not legal
  • NRS Neoprene Sandal Sock —for cold
  • light weight ice axe–  (the Camp Corsa is the lightest one now) and microspikes for snow sections
  • Rain pants in addition to rain skirt in Washington.
  • May need extra water bottle for dry sections.

All this gear, with the exception of the shirt,  has been trail tested for thousands of miles.  If any of it broke, I would replace it with the same thing.

Time and snow

snow glorious snowI had almost eaten all the snow off of my porch when I new supply was delivered overnight.     I love snow.  Mostly for the same reason I like being sick– I don’t feel like I should be doing anything  besides laying by the fire and swimming in time.

I parked my truck down by my gate, so with some digging I guess I could get out, but not easily.  My truck hasn’t moved in over a month.   Besides a bag of onions and a few heads of garlic, I don’t have anything fresh but there is a little log cabin store a couple miles away that I  snow shoe to through state land.   I can also start sprouting for some fresh greens.

At my water access only cabin in British Columbia, I would get dropped off by a boat taxi and he wouldn’t come back to pick me up in a least a month, sometimes two.   That is the best feeling to me—no where to go and nothing to do.

Keeping your phone charged on the trail.

I love having a smart phone.  It’s a GPS, compass, emergency flashlight, holds maps and trail data.  I can listen to podcast, music, audio books.  On my Iphone, I had Wikipedia offline.  You can store books on it.    To me, its worth its weight.   If I need some gear, I can sit on a mountain top and order it sent to the next town.    I can keep abreast of fire closures and trail info.

Besides the water report in Southern California, I hike the PCT paperless now.

The GPS works even without cell service.  You can turn the sim off so it isn’t spending battery life searching for service.   I hiked the Camino in Spain and though I used the maps and the GPS through GAIA GPS app,  I never turned on the sim once.  Sometimes the GPS is not as accurate as a real GPS but it’s so much easier to load with your tracks and way-points.

phone chargersIn southern California, on the Pacific Crest Trail, I carry a Suntatics solar panel and a small Jackery 6,000 mAh auxiliary battery.  The solar panel weighs 8.2 ounces (233grams) and the auxiliary battery weighs 5.5 ounces(155grams) There is plenty of sunshine and I’m usually laying in the shade when its hot, so I have plenty of time to charge my auxiliary battery with the solar panel while I sleep.    You need to be careful that your phone or auxiliary battery stays in the shade though.  Sometimes I would make shade for what ever I was charging with my umbrella.   The towns are close together  in So CAL and I just want to get in and out of them quickly and not wait for my phone to charge.   It’s freeing to have your own source of power.

It would work great in Arizona and New Mexico too, but as I move north the sun becomes a less and less reliable energy source.   I then send my solar panel home and up my auxiliary battery storage.

For the Oregon Coast Trail, this year, I used one huge battery.   The Anker 16,000 mAh.  It weighs 10.9 ounces (310 grams).

I also understand why people hike without a phone.   It can and most probably will distract from the experience.   There is a place on the PCT , off trail a little bit, with the most amazing sunset and views of many mountains in the distance.  I’ve camped there before and felt thrilled for such beauty.  Last time through, I climbed up there just as the sun was setting and laid out my pad and sleeping bag.  I glanced at my phone, saw there was service and when I glanced up again the sun was gone and it was dark.    I hope now that I have high speed internet at my cabin,  the internet won’t seem like such a treat that I give up enjoying a sunset on a mountain top for it again.

Related post: How-to-remember-your-cell-phone-when-leaving-town

No calorie snow treat

I love lemon sorbet but its full of sugar plus you can’t buy it out here.

yummysnowI bought some stevia and true lemon packets from amazon and combine with a big bowl of snow to make a delicious no calorie treat.   Often I eat this 10 times a day.

In a big bowl dissolve 1/2 teaspoon Mommy Knows Best pure stevia power  and 6 packets of True Lemon  with a little hot water.  Add snow, mix and enjoy.


The Pacific Northwest Trail

Besides hiking the Oregon Coast Trail, I didn’t hike this year.  I don’t know why, just content, I guess.

That is until I picked up some hikers hitchhiking into the town by me.   One of them was Freebird.   A “repeat offender” long distance hiker, like me.   I have met him a few times on the PCT and we know some of the same hikers.

He was hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail.   A trail that runs from Glacier National Park to the Washington coast.  It crosses the Pacific Crest Trail.   It comes within 5 miles of my cabin.

Even though in the past, the PNT has not been a popular trail, there were 13 hikers in town that day for a small concert that was happening.   They said that earlier there was kind of a trail days celebration in another town nearby.

It was weird seeing hikers in my town.  It was like my worlds collided. Seeing other hikers made me discontent and made me long to be on a trail.

I have a couple books on the trail but Freebird gave me Li Brannfors  email.  He is the Johnathan Ley of the PNT   li_brannfors at  After emailing him I had the maps, tracks, way-points and notes loaded up in my smartphone Gaia GPS app and was ready to head out when fires broke out and threatened my cabin and closed the trail.

Then I got all excited about my cabin burning down and started planning on living in a tepee for the winter and forgot about hiking.

Well, the fires didn’t make it to my cabin,  so, I’m tucked away in my cabin for another winter.

I still plan to hike that trail.   I think I’m about at the halfway point.  I live between the CDT and PCT, so it’s cool to know I could walk out my door and walk to either trail.

I always worried about the water situation, but Freebird said there was lots of water.    All the hikers I talked to said they liked the trail.


Backwoods wrapping paper

presentTime is what I have lots of and though I’m mostly not very productive,  I did create some wrapping paper, I like, with supplies I had in my cabin.

I made wrapping homemade wrapping paperpaper by painting newspaper with  house paint,  then putting a branch down on top of it and lightly spraying with metallic gold spray paint.   I then sprayed it with some glitter hair spray and stuck some greenery on top.

Me and my internet.

As you might have predicted, I’m not using the vast opportunities of the having high-speed internet to take any  interesting life changing courses but instead I’m mostly consuming a steady diet of trash TV sprinkled with videos of animals being funny.   I have a theory that all roads will lead you to the same place anyway.

I did find this course by the “Iceman“.   He teaches you how to swim in ice-water and climb Everest in your underwear.    The course cost 200 dollars.  It requires a printer to print out the handbook and a shower, which I have neither.    He has a free mini course at   I’m practicing by going for long walks without a coat and bare-legged and taking deep breaths when I get cold.     If I find some discipline I’ll sign up for the course and develop my “super powers”.   There is plenty of snow to roll around in and I guess that could be my cold shower and I know someone with a printer……

Here is a link to a documentary about him

If you are looking for something great to watch on Netflix, may I suggest, “Small Town Security”.     Without a doubt the greatest reality show ever made.  If Errol Morris made reality TV,  I think  it would look something like Small Town Security.   There are 3 seasons.   Start at the beginning.