Sometimes I want the simplicity of a flat tarp.
Or perhaps something better suited for shoulder season.
Or maybe I just want a straight up tent if making base camp or sharing a shelter with someone else.
All depends on what I am doing, who I am with, the type of terrain, etc.
In the past year or so I’ve been going on some mixed conditions trips.
Where it would be convenient to have something to set up quickly, have a shelter that is under a pound, has some bug netting, and could be used well into shoulder season. Back to a quiver of one…or close to it.
Then I remembered something in the bottom of my gear tote. Something I have not used for a while: The Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis.
The zipper failed on a Utah trip, so I went back to using a tarp mainly. No coincidence, my day job starting ramping up and being very busy at the same time… 🙂
So why am I revisiting this shelter? I have some trips planned where I think the versatility, lightness, and small footprint will be desirable.
The shelter is essentially a pyramid tarp shelter. And is a direct descendant of the SMD Gatewood Cape still being sold by SMD.
I used the SMD Gatewood Cape quite successfully on my CDT trek. And I loved it as a shelter.
It served me well for four months of hiking. And even handled some moderate snow loads.
What did I not like about it? The poncho aspect. I never did care for ponchos. I found most ponchos are not the best cut for my 5’6″ frame. I know some people love them, but I’ve personally found them awkward to use.
Two or three years later, The SMD Wild Oasis was available. Almost the exact same cut as the Gatewood Cape but made to be just a shelter. And had the added perk of bug netting. Under a pound (about 14 oz with some bank line for cordage) and makes a nice little shelter.
I purchased a Wild Oasis in 2008 and used it quite a bit. Most notably on my Benton Mackaye Trail trip and the Tahoe Rim Trail among other trips during a glorious year of unemployment back in 2009 – 2010.
The Wild Oasis was a crackerjack shelter that worked well for a variety of conditions. And was set up quickly.
Though not spacious, it was space enough. Again, I am only 5’6″. I never felt as if I was confined too much. Taller people may have felt differently!
But I missed the versatility, simplicity, and small footprint versus other shelters in my quiver. And, again, with some possible trips coming up, I think the SMD Wild Oasis will be put to more use this Summer and well into Fall. SMD repaired the zipper for free (Thanks!), and I rediscovered just how much I like this shelter. And when I compare the cordage and (possible) bug netting added even to a DCF tarp, the weight penalty of the Wild Oasis vs. an 8’x10′ tarp is not quite as pronounced. I could go smaller with a tarp of course but would want a bivvy sack. Call it a wash…
I think I’ll go back to using Wild Oasis shelter again. This shelter and its close sibling served me well for many nights in the backcountry through different conditions. I suspect it will continue to do for some planned trips.
Why am I using this shelter again? It is a light quiver of one for many different situations. Useful for some possible planned trips to come. And, I don’t need to buy more gear. 🙂
What alternatives are there to this shelter? This shelter is no longer made. EDIT: As noted in the comments, the Deschutes Plus is very similar, however. The SMD Gatewood Cape is, as mentioned, the predecessor and still available. Mountain Laurel Designs also a few similar shelters.
Disclosure: I purchased this shelter with my funds.