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Who uses/hates the umbrella?
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Christian Guertin
(cguertin) - F

Locale: New England (& ADKs)
Who uses/hates the umbrella? on 11/15/2005 20:45:10 MST Print View

Seriously, does anyone use one regularly. Jardine devotes an entire chapter to it, but I'm not convinced. I took one for a spin on a short trip with inconclusive results. Just a short, but major, downpour while we were stopped at a shelter to eat. I didn't like the idea of carrying the metal when lightning was a possibility, but I am sure I could find one made of a nonconductor. Thoughts? Give it to me straight!! Pros/cons?

David Stenberg
(dstenberg1) - F

Locale: South
Re: Who uses/hates the umbrella? on 11/15/2005 22:25:46 MST Print View

I have used an umbrella in the summer with no rain gear in an absolute downpour. I liked how it kept my head dry, but everything else ended up getting soaked! Not necessarily fair since I wasn't wearing any other rain protection. I have also used it in misting rain in the fall and liked the protection a lot. Did not get wet enough to care but the wind and mist barrier for my head was nice. The only problem by then I was using trekking poles and it was annoying not to have both of them. I don't like holding one arm up while hiking, seems awkward, and impedes my hiking rhythm. Overall, not going to continue to use one. Good for misty, sprinkling rain but not sustained downpour in my opinion. Not the best when you are using two trekking poles and have to figure out what to do with one of them.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
Umbrellas on 11/15/2005 22:32:18 MST Print View

Let's see...hiking pole in my right hand, hiking pole in my left hand, umbrella...oh, yeah. Now I remember why I don't use one.

William Siemens
(alaskaman) - F
umbrella on 11/15/2005 23:53:31 MST Print View

I have not used one for rain...with a cap and hooded rain gear, in our cool Alaska climate, just doesn't seem to be a niche. BUT I do hope to do some of the PCT trail some day, and I think an umbrella would be wonderful protection from the brain-frying sun...I hate hats in hot weather. So will try the "bumbershoot" approach..anyone else like them in desert conditions?

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Umbrellas on 11/16/2005 00:32:56 MST Print View

Actually, I worked out a scheme where the umbrella was attached to the shoulder strap of my pack with a watch band and a velcro loop. The upshot was the umbrella was nicely locked in place and my hands were free.

This works until way grows brushy...

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Who uses/hates the umbrella? on 11/16/2005 02:54:28 MST Print View

have one - a GoLite. nice umbrella. bought b/c RayJ uses one and i was, at the time, reading his BB book. tried it. rarely use it.

1. to be really useful, since i use trekking poles 90+% of the time, i'd like to figure out how to reliably attach it to my pack (it would probably damage the pack in the wind) or pack straps. better yet, to my back - sorta' like the unit/clan/family flag of a Feudal Japanese Samurai or Ashigaru (lesser foot soldier). hmm...let's see, i should come up with my own clan "mon" for the umbrella - a pair of crossed trekking poles, perhaps? to affix it to my back. Fornshell-san, tsunoru, kudasai.

2. for some rains it works fine - subject to it's primary limitation, at this time, viz. #1 immediately above.

3. when it comes down heavy or in torrents. it's little use except to keep my head dry which my poncho and OR Nimbus Sombrero do also.

4. wind driven rain - umbrella offers little protection. something is always exposed. umbrella actually works better under heavier tree cover (on trail - not bushwacking) - less wind & less rain.

5. 40mph gusts with T-storm activity. i don't use it when storm is nearby. if i'm not under heavy tree cover (happens once in a while) with the storm farther away, the winds alone often make it unusable. i'm fighting with it the whole time the wind is blowing hard. this is why i can't find a reliable method of affixing to my pack or pack straps. anything that can put up with 30+ minutes of 40mph gusts and 25mph wind is perhaps not a viable attachment option. an umbrella shouldn't be used in these conditions, IMHO. so if i also need other rain gear, why should i carry the umbrella?!!

6. i hike in the NE - forests/woods, trails both with lots of tree cover. <5% of the time i might be exposed to the sun, sometimes even less.
however, i can understand why someone in the SW might want to use one. you can't argue with RayJ's experience - he sure has enough of it.

Edited by pj on 11/16/2005 03:16:29 MST.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Who uses/hates the umbrella? on 11/16/2005 06:15:15 MST Print View

One thing I like in the umbrella is the sheltered feeling it offers when it pours down for hours or even days. it helps with that "I don't know where to hide" feeling that sometimes happens, to me at least.
It's probably more a psychological than physical issue. Maybe not enought to carry one? I use an ultralight one with the handle cut off and use a hiking pole as the handle so the weight comes down to 4.5 oz. I'm not absoulutely convinced it's worth it though

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Re: Who uses/hates the umbrella? on 11/16/2005 06:50:33 MST Print View

They work about as well as they do in the city, i.e. find if you have other rain protection, it's not too windy, and you have another place to get dry. I share Inaki's appreciation for the psyschological shelter an umbrella offers. An umbrella can be nice for something like the Appalachian Trail, where trails are generally well-groomed, exposure is minimal, and rain can sort of linger for an entire morning or afternoon. But even RJardine still advocates a full set of waterproof tops and bottoms, even though he carries an umbrella. I have no desert experience, but that seems like an ideal application.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Who uses/hates the umbrella? on 11/16/2005 08:42:25 MST Print View

I have been using one since summer of 2004-when on a whim I grabbed an old beater on the way out of the door for my Wonderland trip. Best thing I have ever taken. I take a light grey umbrella with me now on every trip since. I have walked in snow, in rain in frying sun. I have figured a way to rig it to my packs if needed.
I do take it down though if going over areas needing hand scrambles, ice, snow fields, in brushy areas.
I think for me the biggest thing is I can hike upright in the rain-and not have my glasses coated in rain. It is mental defintely, but it makes it better in rainy times. I still wear rain gear and a pack cover though!
There is a definte advantage though in camp-when it is freaky cold outside and you need to make dinner in a wind, get the wind behind you, pop the umbrella behind you and bingo, you have a massive wind shelter! It defintely makes cooking in the rain easier-especially if sitting under trees.
Love them so much my son has his own umbrella-and has had one since he was 7 ;-)

Adam McFarren
(amcfarre) - F
umbrella use on 11/16/2005 08:51:05 MST Print View

I had a golite umbrella, at least until it broke when I was walking to work when the wind blew it inside out.

Before that I found it best for a sun shade when I was taking long day hikes in T. Roosevelt Natl Park in mid June. Worked great there.

I find a large brimmed hat (Tilley or other) provides the same sheltered rain protection that lets this glasses wearing hiker keep my head up and glasses mist free in all but the worst storms.


Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Re: Umbrellas on 11/16/2005 09:02:01 MST Print View

I also have a GoLite umbrella and have gotten one for the same reason as PJ did. I have used on occasions, but like others I use trekking poles more often than not. I have tried a few times with little success attaching it to my pack or straps.

An umbrella does provide some wind blockage for a cook stove and also is a nice addition to the opening of a tarp for wind/weather block and privacy screen. I always bring it, but it may be left behind in the car depending on location and season. In reality, I feel my Oware poncho/tarp, MH gaiters, GoLite Reed pants and Helios jacket (in any combination) while donning a cap work much better.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: Umbrellas on 11/16/2005 09:59:42 MST Print View

has any one used the montbell ul umbrella?

Gabriel Lewis
(gabriel) - F
Montbell UL umbrella on 11/16/2005 10:17:07 MST Print View


I own one. I have carried it on the trail twice; but did not get rain on either trip. It is very small, reasonably light, and very well made. I have used it in town and found it to be very effective and convenient. The nylon material sheds water very effectively. One shake and it is dry. I will continue to carry it on future trips as I am certain that it will meet my needs. Your mileage may vary. Extended periods of rain, wind driven rain, or a requirement for having both hands free would make an umbrella a less effective choice. IMHO


Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Who uses/hates the umbrella? on 11/16/2005 11:38:51 MST Print View

I use a GoLite Chrome Dome - 10.1 oz.

It is great for desert hiking.

There are many ways to rig it for hands free operation:
★ Buckle your sternum strap through the wrist strap and put the handle under the sternum strap and rest the handle against your neck.
★ The SMD Starlite pack has a zippered pad packet. Unzip the top of the pocket and slide the handle between the pads in the pocket.
★ Put it in the side mesh pocket.
★ Rig it with the pack compression straps.
★ One or more Velcro loops on the shoulder straps.

Sun protection for the head is very important for desert hiking, but any hat blocks the cooling air flow from your hair. The umbrella seems to act as natural funnel and it feels like there is a breeze even when it is still.

Desert foliage is sparse and seldom provides as much shade as an umbrella.

I drilled a hole in the top ferrule of the umbrella and put in a key ring and mini-carabineer. The umbrella can be hung:
★ From a tree to provide complete shade.
★ On your hammock line.
★ On your tarp line to block wind and blowing rain.

A poncho and umbrella combination is about the perfect rain wear and shelter combination for places like the Grand Canyon. However, I only use the umbrella for desert hiking.

Edited by food on 11/17/2005 08:28:52 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Who uses/hates the umbrella? on 11/16/2005 11:58:50 MST Print View

good hands free suggestions.

can see the value for desert hiking or light-mod rain with little or no wind.

my guess, i could be wrong, is that none of them will hold up to long term repeated use under windy conditions. either the umbrella will wear/damage the pack mat'ls (it must move about at least a bit under windy/gusty conditions), or loosen up and fly away.

based upon your experience, do you feel that this assessment is incorrect?

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Umbrellas in Rain and Cloud Forests on 11/16/2005 12:07:20 MST Print View

The only time I have ever found umbrellas a necessity has been in certain S.E Asian forests where it became an essential shield from mass defecating and *BEEP* flinging tree-living monkeys.

Any protection from rain was incidental.

Edited by kdesign on 11/16/2005 12:07:53 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Umbrellas in Rain and Cloud Forests on 11/16/2005 12:32:31 MST Print View

interesting use. don't remember reading that in BB.

Edited by pj on 11/16/2005 12:33:40 MST.

Re: Umbrellas in Rain and Cloud Forests on 11/16/2005 12:34:17 MST Print View

a round or two into the trees works well too - unless conditions demand silence.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Who uses/hates the umbrella? on 11/16/2005 13:53:55 MST Print View

I use a GoLite umbrella and I don't think there is much metal in the frame.

It is good for covering your kitchen setup in a drizzle, or as a windbreak, but I wouldn't get the stove too close. Great for rest stops or lazier sections of the trail.

An umbrella always ventilates better than the best rain gear, but don't bother in strong wind, and it is not really primary rain gear-- think if it as a very large hat.

In light rain it is much more comfortable and mangagable than a poncho. You can help block the end of your tarp setup with one too, and use it to keep the bug netting off your face when sleeping.

If you use your poncho as your shelter, there is your umbrella for walks from camp, cooking, or latrine calls. If I were hiking in sun country, I'd try one of the silver ones for a little shade.

I stow it on the side of my pack with a couple shock-cord bands tied to the hardware. I did drill a hole in the lower end of the handle and tied a loop of line in it for a lanyard, etc. I think Mont-Bell has loops top and bottom, but the GoLite has none and the top has no point or cap like a street umbrella. I guess if I were really in need I could glue a fabric loop to the top. The GoLite was $20 vs. more like three times that for the Mont-Bell or other brands and it weighs just 9oz.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Who uses/hates the umbrella? on 11/16/2005 14:39:38 MST Print View

I don't think any attachment scheme is going to work very well in windy or gusty conditions. Realistically, an umbrella won't work at all well against wind-driven rain anyway.

But I do find that there are an astonishing number of rainy days where an umbrella works very well. For me, at least, when the temperature is in the mid-40's it can still be too cool to just let myself get wet, but too warm to be comfortable hiking in raingear.

I also find umbrellas are very easy to pulverize. Rather than fuss with a more expensive umbrella, I've stuck to the compact umbrellas available at dollar stores. There are very inexpensive and light. They are also easy to replace when they inevitably break.