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Backpacking and Hiking with an Umbrella
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Matthew Zion
(mzion) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: Legs on 02/08/2012 08:21:14 MST Print View

"How do umbrellas work someone that is very tall, like myself, at 6'5"? I have used umbrellas in normal situations before but it always seemed my feet and lower legs would get wet"

They will Brett. But for me, not getting rained on in the face is worth it. Great mental boost

WV Hiker

Locale: West Virginia
Umbrellas on 02/08/2012 08:43:19 MST Print View

I going to agree with Walter on the location aspect of umbrella usage. Here in the mid-Atlantic we are almost always under a tree canopy or semi-bushwhacking. An umbrella would not do well. I would certainly consider one if in open areas out West. Another nickpick is that the last picture in this article seems a bit staged. Maui is sitting on a stump shading herself while only a short distance away are some nice pines that would provide much better shade and cooler temps due to the mass of the trees. Sorry, that one just jumped out at me.

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
I want one! on 02/08/2012 09:56:45 MST Print View

This seems like the missing pc of my gear list. I have to try it.

Hamish McHamish
(El_Canyon) - M

Locale: USA
_ on 02/08/2012 10:33:31 MST Print View

"If you lighten your total pack weight to under 10 kg (22 pounds), then you may discover that trekking poles are no longer necessary."

Look at Tapon's build. Like most who dismiss trekking poles, he's super thin and built like a flyweight.

"I guess you guys have never backpacked in the Southeast or in the mountains of TN/NC or VA. Using an umbrella here would be pointless due to the overhanging rhododendron and brush."

Yup. Try moving through the Linville Gorge with an umbrella.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Umbrellas on 02/08/2012 10:46:35 MST Print View

Great article! However, I find fault with this:
>>The lightest rain jackets weigh 8 ounces (227 g), but they aren't very pleasant in truly rainy weather. To get a good rain jacket that will keep you dry in a sustained downpour, you'll need something that weighs closer to 12 to 16 ounces (340 to 454 g).<<

You can get a Propore jacket for less than six ounces (men's large). They are extremely waterproof, and extremely breathable (second only to Event). They are, unfortunately, really fragile. This means that the places where they really don't make sense are the places where umbrellas really don't make sense. The author does a good job explaining the various advantages of an umbrella along with multiple dual use options. Like most of backpacking ultralight, there are trade-offs.

Ceph Lotus
(Cephalotus) - MLife

Locale: California
Trekking Poles on 02/08/2012 10:48:06 MST Print View

When your trekking poles also serves double duty as tent poles, which is very common these days with most ultralight tents, it kind of hard to abandon them.

Edited by Cephalotus on 02/08/2012 10:49:52 MST.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Senz on 02/08/2012 10:51:00 MST Print View

The rain i mostly have to deal with is horizontal, so an umbrella doesn't appeal to me.
If i was getting one though, i would look closely at the Senz stormproof line. Check out some of the videos on their site, HERE

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Umbrellas on 02/08/2012 10:51:52 MST Print View

Can't stand umbrellas - they don't do squat in driving sideways rain except attempt to take you airborne.

Edited by FamilyGuy on 02/08/2012 10:53:17 MST.

Marc Penansky
(MarcPen) - F

Locale: Western NC
Umbrellas on 02/08/2012 11:22:35 MST Print View

The inventor of the StickPic, Rod Java, is developing a retractable sun/rain shade that he is calling the "SierraShade" which attaches to your pack. I saw a prototype at last year's ADZPCTKO and it was pretty neat. He clearly has some issues to work out as to how to attach it to the myriad of pack types,shapes, and sizes but I thought it had some real merit. Probably not workable on the AT because of the amount of vegetation cover but much more useful on the West Coast. The obvious advantage is the "no hands" utility so that you can still use trekking poles, etc.

Darren Bagnall

Locale: El Portal, CA
Poles on 02/08/2012 11:32:32 MST Print View

I want to carry one but I can't ditch my poles. Maybe I will carry both; there are so many uses for the umbrella.

I'll add one use: for the reflective umbrella - it's an emergency signal. No one will miss that thing.

Geoffrey Lehmann
(yipper) - MLife

Locale: deep south
umbrellas in the deep south on 02/08/2012 11:42:37 MST Print View

"I guess you guys have never backpacked in the Southeast or in the mountains of TN/NC or VA. Using an umbrella here would be pointless due to the overhanging rhododendron and brush."

Pretty over generalized---I’ve happily used an umbrella in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. I’m a heavy sweater, so the ventilation aspect is key for me, but I also really appreciate the mini-shelter when taking a quick break or performing any sort of trailside chore.

Previously I only used a hiking staff and had no problems, but I’ve just begun using trekking poles so this will be something I’ll have to work out.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Maybe on 02/08/2012 11:48:29 MST Print View

I have never used an umbrella even in the city. But they do look like a viable piece of gear. In sun they provide lots of shade and ample ventilation. I see people using them in desert cities in the summer just walking around town.

One of those pieces of gear that fits a niche, but not every situation. Not for me, but they do work well for some folks.

Piotr Z.
(piotr) - F

Locale: SF South Bay
Umbrella works on 02/08/2012 12:23:13 MST Print View

When I was mountain climbing during the 80's in Poland, I was taking an umbrella with me on the climbs. I remember a couple of times using it in the wall to wait out a rain, and walking on the trails in the rain as well. It worked well, especially in warm summer rains. I still have this umbrella with me, but the likelihood of summer rain in the Sierra is so low I did not use it.

Scott White
(sdwhitey) - F

Locale: Smoky Mountains
umbrellas in the southeast on 02/08/2012 12:26:39 MST Print View

"I guess you guys have never backpacked in the Southeast or in the mountains of TN/NC or VA. Using an umbrella here would be pointless due to the overhanging rhododendron and brush."

"Yup. Try moving through the Linville Gorge with an umbrella."

I have done quite a few summer trips in GSMNP with an umbrella and no rain jacket. Since you are usually under a tree canopy most of the rain is falling/dripping from straight overhead. Windblown rain is not usually a problem. The warm and humid summers there can make a rain jacket feel very hot and stuffy. I've rarely encountered thick brush that was problematic.

If you're backpacking in the summer months in the southeast I highly recommend giving an umbrella a shot.

Edited by sdwhitey on 02/08/2012 12:27:40 MST.

Francis Tapon
(ftapon) - MLife

Locale: Earth
The windshirt I used on 02/08/2012 12:35:23 MST Print View

Casey/John: I used a GoLite windshirt that they no longer make: the Wisp.

I still have a new one that I treasure. :)

Edited by ftapon on 02/08/2012 12:45:05 MST.

Francis Tapon
(ftapon) - MLife

Locale: Earth
Re: Re: Backpacking and Hiking with an Umbrella on 02/08/2012 12:38:44 MST Print View

Christopher Yi: No, I don't use trekking poles. I address the issue in the article. Thx!

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
Re: Umbrella & Trekking Poles on 02/08/2012 12:41:52 MST Print View

"I use both, each depending on the circumstances. I don't 'have' to use either one. I prefer using the trekking poles on steeper ups and downs, not so much otherwise. The umbrella gets used when it's raining or in the middle of a hot sunny day. "

I use trekking poles 99% of the time if there's any elevation gain, as it keeps my hands busy and prevents sausage fingers. I like the overall idea and it'd be additional protection with the tarp, but it seems like it'd be a hassle swapping back and forth, especially with my twist lock poles. Can't knock it till I try it. Not sure it would be worth it in the Sierras in the summer though.

Francis Tapon
(ftapon) - MLife

Locale: Earth
Re: umbrellas and being tall on 02/08/2012 12:49:27 MST Print View

Brett: The windier the conditions, the harder it is to protect your legs from getting wet with an umbrella. Then again, a rain jacket NEVER protects your legs or feet from getting wet!

Since you'll tall, you'll get a bit wetter than someone a foot shorter, and if that bugs you, then get lightweight rain pants or chaps.

There's practically no way from preventing your feet from getting wet when it's raining hard (except for rain boots). ;)

Kevin Wallis
No hands needed. Umbrella straps on 02/08/2012 12:57:08 MST Print View

Get 2 pieces of elastic cord, each about 6" long with 2 cord locks and use these to secure the umbrella to the shoulder straps of the pack. Wrap them around the strap and the shaft of the umbrella about 6" apart and cinch it down with the cord lock. I use a compact type umbrella made by Snowpeak. When I am not using it, I collapse it and keep it strapped on. If no rain in the forecast, I can easily loosen the cords and remove it. No hands needed, adjustable, and just as effective as holding it with your hands.

Francis Tapon
(ftapon) - MLife

Locale: Earth
Re: Umbrellas on 02/08/2012 12:58:34 MST Print View

WV Hiker: I address the bushwhacking and tree canopy issues in the article. I've thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and hiked extensively in the Olympic National Park in Washington State - the only place that has a temperate rain forest in the USA. There's also lots of tree canopies in the jungles of Costa Rica, where I've backpacked. Bottom line: an umbrella works well (for me).

However, as I mention in the article, for truly heavy prolonged rain (4+ days), having double protection may be best.

Lastly, the last photo was not "staged." That photo is taken when Maiu and I were thru-hiking the PCT. As you can see from the photo, the sun was directly overhead, so the trees provided minimal shade.

More importantly, no thru-hiker in his/her right mind will walk "a short distance" to get shade while his/her partner is consulting a map or taking a pee break. You have to save every ounce of energy. ;)