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OK umbrella peeps...let me have it!
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Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
OK umbrella peeps...let me have it! on 05/14/2014 08:56:17 MDT Print View

I'm thinking of getting a chrome dome for the JMT this year. I'm super sensitive to the HEAT of the sun - I called it my "afternoon lassitude" last year, but wow was it awful. Basically I'd get up before dawn, do really well until about 1 or 2 - then drag myself until maybe 4 or 5, then had a great second wind until 7-8.

Could have been the altitude, could have been lunch, could have just been fatigue and my not eating nearly enough overall for the trip.

But a friend of mine (who loves his chrome dome) is really pushing me to try it this year - saying it will make that 3p slog up the Golden Staircase actually tolerable......

So what's the consensus (HA! consensus on BPL??? Guffaws!!!) - is it worth 8 oz or not??? Or should I just plan for a really nice but longish nap in the middle of the day in the shade to recharge and avoid the sun, then hike again from 3:30 or so to 7-8?

I just can't imagine it being a good idea to schlep an umbrella...but like trekking poles, once people get 'em they love em....

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
Umbrella Dillemma on 05/14/2014 09:03:08 MDT Print View

Take a long afternoon break! Stick to the early morning and late afternoon hiking in the Sierras and save those hot afternoons for a good river or lake cool down! I find taking a swim in the heat of the day in a freezing-a$$ cold lake has a way of recharging my batteries. I tried the umbrella once and as a trekking pole user, found it very cumbersome. It was a major annoyance after day two, and it hasn't made my gear list cut for many years now!

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: OK umbrella peeps...let me have it! on 05/14/2014 09:33:12 MDT Print View

You could get a Birdiepal instead.

Same exact umbrella, possibly made by the same underage Chinese girl, just not the huge Golite logo. MB makes a lighter and compact one, but it is a bit like a parasol.

I used to use one all the time. They are wonderful for very minimalist situations. Great to take a nap while lying in the middle of an open field of flowers in the Sunol Wilderness, I found. Great for blocking the wind a bit in your minimalist tarp. Fantastic in the desert. But I'm thinking JMT, in the longest stretch between resupply, maybe you have bigger fish to fry with that 8 oz. For one thing you don't want people to accuse you of being lightweight instead of UL! :-O

But seriously the tendency to pack for one or few instances comes right after the "what if" instance. Another example: do I bring a lightweight day pack just so I can leave my pack at turnoff but still bring my water and insulation on the round trip to Whitney.

On the other hand, if it is a especially an issue for you in the afternoons, then you could make an argument you may use it a lot.

So no answer. Your welcome. :-)

Edited by millonas on 05/14/2014 09:48:25 MDT.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Worth giving it a try ! on 05/14/2014 09:36:51 MDT Print View

You can always break it over your knee and never use it again if you find it's not for you.

Of ALL the gear that I used on my PCT thru-hike last year, my Chrome dome (Euroschirm BirdiePal Liteswing actually) was my favorite item -- and I am a trekking pole user who had never used an umbrella before !

I used a single carbon trekking pole and my umbrella, and that umbrella saved my bacon from frying on more than one occasion. Snow, sleet, rain, and blazing sun, it kept me comfortable when all seemed lost. I swear a had some women almost steal it from me in the Sierra's.

In all my 5,000 miles I've never liked something as much as I liked the versatility of my umbrella. With a $30 investment, there is really no great reason NOT to try it. You will get a lot of looks from other hikers, but mostly they will be looks of envy - so try not to gloat too much!

Jake S
appropriate tool for an appropriate job. on 05/14/2014 09:37:49 MDT Print View

Considering what it replaces, it will lower your skin-out weight but will raise you base weight. I think that's a case FOR it's use.

Personally, I think it's a more than appropriate tool for treeless environments if you are willing to forgo a trekking pole or two. I'm usually not.

Edited by spags on 05/14/2014 09:41:44 MDT.

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
NOT an umbrella peep, but... on 05/14/2014 09:43:16 MDT Print View

I bought one this spring, just to see what all the fuss was about. After all, it looks great on paper, and there's something serene, and a maybe a little romanticized, about being dry under the pitter patter of an overhead shelter. So being a very wet spring so far, I tested it out when I went to check mail one day. It's only about 50 yards to the mailbox, but what a struggle! Even the slightest breeze would try to yank it out of my hand, or throw it off my shoulder. Walking back, I had to point it out in front of me, forward off my shoulder, just to not feel like I was walking uphill with a parasail dragging behind me.

I couldn't imagine wrestling with it in an area with swirling or changing breezes. It would take some really, really calm weather to even think about one of those fastening, no-hands systems. Now obviously there's a learned skill involved here, that I clearly lack. But as a first time user, I thought I'd throw out my first impressions through a set of "new eyes". I purchased the silver topped version, for sun use too, but I'm sure rain or shine is still the same effect. Needless to say, YMMV.

Edit: The lite-flex was the one I purchased as well.

Edited by Glenn64 on 05/14/2014 09:44:54 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Alternate headgear? on 05/14/2014 09:44:50 MDT Print View


Edited by millonas on 05/14/2014 09:49:19 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: OK umbrella peeps...let me have it! on 05/14/2014 09:47:02 MDT Print View

I don't get umbrellas and I could make a long list of negatives. But I have never used one -- even in town. So there might be a long list of pros.

But it would provide portable shade; don't know if it would be enough to make a difference. But heck, it's cheap. Go ahead a try it. If it works, great. If not, probably easy to sell it and recoup most of your investment. The problem with any specialized gear there are the fanboys and the nay-sayers. Hard to get objective feedback.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"OK umbrella peeps...let me have it!" on 05/14/2014 10:14:17 MDT Print View

I tried the Luxury Lite umbrella which is designed to attach to my pack frame; so no hands needed! The only problem was that it didn't take very much wind to force me to fold up the umbrella. No big deal in a way, as it just rode on the pack frame until the winds died down. Then I'd redeploy. But I found it was more trouble than it was worth. A big sun hat seems easier.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: OK umbrella peeps...let me have it! on 05/14/2014 10:16:14 MDT Print View

I've used umbrella a couple times recently.

If it's not so windy that it breaks and rain blows underneath, it is worlds better than rain jacket - zero condensation from sweat.

My brain is churning ways to get fabric off me, especially my head and shoulders. That umbrella hat is an idea, but there's probably something better.

John Klinepeter
(johnzotk) - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies, USA
Sun Protection on 05/14/2014 11:32:37 MDT Print View

When I resumed my hiking and backpacking hobby about 15 years ago after a 15 year hiatus I noticed that many of my friends were using umbrellas and hiking poles. Didn't notice much use of those in the "old" days. My initial reaction was "why bother carrying that stuff" but after a few years I somewhat begrudgingly tried both and learned to appreciate them.

A few years ago as a USFS volunteer I was mapping downed trees on a local trail. The temp got up to ~90F degrees, very hot for this part of the world. The umbrella made a huge difference in comfort and was an eye-opener. Ordinarily I would probably have chosen not to go for a walk in such conditions but it (sort of) had to be done.

The downside is that the weight is not zero. My backpack base weight usually remains at a highish 11 to 12 pounds because I tend to carry the umbrella and a few other items such as a monocular, a GPS data logger, some other goodies.

I definitely use it when it rains, but since that was not the emphasis of your question I will leave that area without any more comment.

My umbrella is a Birdiepal Dainty and weighs 5.4 ounces.

Just In Time
(ArcturusBear1) - F
Re: Sun Protection on 05/14/2014 12:30:28 MDT Print View

It would be interesting if someone could develop both a really strong and UL umbrella. Materials like aircraft grade anodized aluminium (spokes/fabric frame or handle?), carbon fiber (handle?), silnylon (waterproof fabric material), dyneema or spectra (woven into lighter nylon material to increase strength and durability?), etc come to mind.

Then combine those UL materials with more aerodynamic shapes like Senz* uses, then it would really be interesting. I would imagine that you could get a decent sized umbrella down to around 3 to 4 oz using more specialized materials. But i doubt most umbrella manufacturers really think a lot about weight beyond not making something overly heavy as to not be used practically.

*i have one of the cheaper and smaller Senz umbrellas. Does handle wind a lot better with less need for adjustment, but i think it could use some adjustments as far as coverage, though part of that is a general size issue. To me, 3 or 4 oz wouldn't be a much of a weight penalty for something that can provide so much comfort for varied conditions.

Angus A.
(mangus7175) - F

Re: OK umbrella peeps...let me have it! on 05/14/2014 14:27:34 MDT Print View

Full Disclosure: I am a fanboy of umbrella's!

At the end of the day, you will either like it or dump it. It's all preference really. I personally like it and it has saved my butt on those warm and sunny hikes.

I can also tell you that my daughter loves it. Pictured below was a hike my daughter and I 10AM, it was already in the upper 80's and without the umbrella, I know she would have stopped and asked if we could just turn around.

chrome_dome 1

As others have stated, get one...keep it if you like it or sell it if you don't

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
GoLite umbrellas on 05/14/2014 15:16:15 MDT Print View

I like the GoLite's except they collapse in what I consider to be mild winds... maybe 20 mph or so... much easier than a normal umbrella would. They are not permanently damaged and spring back to life, but it is annoying.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: OK umbrella peeps...let me have it! on 05/14/2014 15:50:55 MDT Print View

I really like my Chrome Dome for minimizing solar exposure. But I still need a bandana or hat or sunscreen for sunny, windy stretches.

I like the Chrome Dome even more for staying cool. Full sun, no breeze is the worst and it works well in that situation. Mild breeze and it's still okay. In a stiff wind, I fold it up and resort to something else for sun or rain protection.

Since I have it along for sun and heat, I also use it during periods of rain but little wind. I like that there is 360-degree visibility and much more ventilation than with a parka/poncho hood. In windy, rainy conditions, my Hoodini is enough protection in the summer, so I'm not counting on the Chrome Dome as my universal rain hat.

It's hard from a UL perspective to justify something that adds weight without displacing something else entirely. I certainly bring less sunscreen with a Chrome Dome. I might forego a dedicated sunhat and just use a bandana in high winds. Mostly I bring it because I don't like being sunburned, I don't like hiking when hot, and if I was trying to make miles, I would hike more hours in the afternoon and hike a little faster on the uphills with its cooling effects.

Now, if the INSIDE was silvered and you could use it as a solar hot-dog cooker, you could skip the stove and fuel!Solar Death Ray

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: OK umbrella peeps...let me have it! on 05/14/2014 16:31:01 MDT Print View

Hi Jen

I think I go with Robert P - 2nd posting in this thread.

It's not just the direct sun which is hot - also the air. An umbrella won't deal with hot air.


Edited by rcaffin on 05/14/2014 16:31:19 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: OK umbrella peeps...let me have it! on 05/14/2014 17:42:58 MDT Print View

"An umbrella won't deal with hot air."

Patently untrue! I was poked with one and it shut me up....

Nathan Wernette
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
Blunt umbrellas on 05/14/2014 18:02:39 MDT Print View

.8 pounds too heavy?

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: OK umbrella peeps...let me have it! on 05/14/2014 18:21:31 MDT Print View

"It's not just the direct sun which is hot - also the air. An umbrella won't deal with hot air."

One thing you do notice when you have good overhead coverage with an umbrella, if it very hot and very rocky, is how much heat is radiating off the hot stones from below. So yeah, hard to escape completely in some circumstances.

I like the idea of multi-purposing it - if it could be integrated with your cooking system as David implies, then maybe it would be more ultralight. Can't help but think use as a satellite dish or small radio telescope can't be far off.

I agree the golite/birdiepal aluminumized ones are the best for this. I admit to owning one of the Montbell ones as well that are 5 oz. Even the spokes fold up. Its light but not simple at all. And you would have to add the space blanket bit. The super tiny ones always remind me of Wile E. Coyote's boulder umbrella. Might as well get one that works well, or not at all.


Edited by millonas on 05/14/2014 18:45:45 MDT.

Just In Time
(ArcturusBear1) - F
Re: Re: OK umbrella peeps...let me have it! on 05/14/2014 21:38:31 MDT Print View

Hi David,

If one used a fully reflective umbrella, wouldn't that tend to increase UV exposure via UV bouncing off ground some, then off reflective bottom to face, arms, or hands? I don't enough about the subject, but i've heard that you can still get some UV damage from sitting under shade because of UV that bounces off the ground or other surfaces.

Whatever the case, i do like the multi purpose aspect of the idea, though, as far as Solar cookers go, i think conical is a better design since it's safer. Some years back, i got really into Solar cookers. Made a conical one out of cardboard and aluminum and did a lot of experimentation with it, and was impressed by the design. It cooked a largish loaf of very dense, grainy whole grain bread (sprouted and then sour doughed Kamut and Spelt) within about an hour.