A hundred and five in Moab and no rain in sight for weeks. Why are we thinking umbrellas?
Not because we like the Mary Poppins look, but you’ll find umbrellas, well, incredibly and comfortably shady. Even a compact umbrella can shade most of your upper body, and the breezes will find you–just hang on tight. Ultralight gear guru Ray Jardine considers an umbrella an essential item. He of course strips them, discards unnecessary parts, reduces the weight by half, and discards the junk along with his toothbrush handle. Several manufacturers now offer umbrellas with silver reflective fabric, to ward off the hot rays of the sun. Much cooler.
Needless to say, a long stay in Portland convinced me that an umbrella topped any sort of rain gear in all but gusty conditions. Often in the drippy forests that contain the wind, the umbrella rules. The best part is the open ventilation. Rain hats and hoods just seem to divert rain down my clothing, and even with the best rain gear you can be steaming.
What if you are a two handed trekker or out to shoot photos? It really is no trouble to attach the umbrella shaft to the front strap of your pack or in some combination of pockets and straps on the pack itself. Simply take velcro straps and attach the umbrella at two points on your strap and make sure to attach through the looped cord of the umbrella, in case gusts do come up.
Telescope Handsfree Umbrella
The TeleScope Hands Free Umbrella does just that. It can be easily attached on the shoulder straps and hip belt on nearly all kinds of backpacks. It can be also attached via a carrier-belt-system made by EuroSCHIRM. Both hands remain completely free which is ideal for walkers who don’t want to go without trekking poles in rain, either. Also the perfect umbrella for nature photographers, map readers, etc.
Helinox Trekking Umbrella
The Helinox Trekking Umbrella is a tough Walkabout unit from our friends in Australia. Big enough for a crowd, it opens to 39 inches, with a 24 inch shaft. Even the bright red fabric offers UPF 25 of sun protection. Weighs only 200 grams. Not easy to find in the US.
We’ve been keeping our eye on an Indiegogo project called the Ginkgo Umbrella. Not necessarily made for the rigors of the outdoors, it is however made of entirely recycled plastic that snaps together. No metal parts or springs to bend and break. Best news is if it every goes south on you, caught in a gust and busted, you can always heave it in a No. 6 recycling bin and call it done. They raised their goal, so it should be on the market soon.
The GoLite Umbrella is something I will use when I’m out hiking, both for rain protection and to hide from the fierce sun at higher elevation. The GoLite Chrome Dome weighs in at 8oz, but does not collapse. When I’m hiking in the backcountry I slip it in a side pocket. It’s tall enough to provide shade from there. GoLite offers a collapsible version, but all the extra parts add 3oz to the weight of the GoLite Collapsible Chrome Trekking Umbrella. The big Canopy of the Chrome dome measures 45″ (114 cm) edge to peak to edge / 39.5″ (100 cm) edge to edge. Length is 25″ (63.5 cm). Frame features high-density fiberglass ribs and a highly flexible and nearly unbreakable full stick handle. Grip is high-density EVA hard foam with grooves that ensures a dry feeling on the handle when wet. The top is lightweight, waterproof and tear-resistant polyester UV Reflective Coating (UPF 50+) that Blocks Harmful Rays and Keeps you cooler on hot days. Now I’m trying to figure a way to reverse configure this so I can concentrate the sun for a little solar cookery.
Sea to Summit Trekking Umbrella
The Sea to Summit Trekking Umbrella is made of waterproof 30D Siliconized Cordura, weighs only 8 oz. The 9.5 inch package opens out to 38 inches of rain and sun protection. I like the sturdy feel of this unit. The flatter crown is more compact and offers minimal protection, but is less likely to hang up on trail obstructions. It hangs easily on the shoulder without fancy attachments. The shaft is aircraft grade aluminum with a rubber handle. Solid brass rivets lash it all together. Comes in Black Gold and Gray.