Gear Review – Snow Peak Ultra Light Umbrella
One of the rewards of a successful through hike I promised myself – the 800 mile Arizona Trail (AZT) in the spring of 2017. Desert sun!
One of the things recommended for a desert hike is an umbrella.
So I decided to try out an umbrella on the AT. Not for the sun. For the rain.
I’ve only seen a dozen umbrellas on the trail in the first 700 miles. Most swear by them. I’ve read of a few who sent them home. And I’ve received some funny looks.
But so far, with one caveat, I love it.
I use a Snow Peak Ultra Light Umbrella, 4.7oz, $35-45. (I did not receive one for this review.)
First I read of folks who give up using a hiking pole to hold the umbrella. I knew that wouldn’t work for me. I need both poles to stay upright.
And people report difficulties securing it to a backpack.
I use an Osprey Atmos 50, and it seems to be built for securing an umbrella. It slides in a band upon on the shoulder strap, and a loop strap at the bottom holds the bottom in place, as if it was designed for it.
When I slackpack and use a daypack, I pass it through a band at the top of the shoulder strap, and place it under the chest strap and waist strap. I did have to add a short strap to hold it close to the shoulder strap, as it tended to drift to the middle. Again, it works great.
When using the umbrella, I don’t have to put on a rain coat or poncho,
and I stay much cooler. It’s kind of like sitting on a porch during the rain. You can almost enjoy the rain, feel the mist, but don’t get soaked.
The caveat? It won’t work in a strong wind, especially updrafts. The Snow Peak is designed to collapse so it isn’t damaged in wind, but a collapsed umbrella offers no protection. It doesn’t take much to adjust the webbing again, but it just isn’t recommended for windy conditions.
While 4.7 oz is a small weight, its limitation in wind means that you have to have other rain gear as well, so it’s not really a weight savings.
I’ve not had trouble with the trees and branches on the AT. It does limit your vision of what’s overhead, but then so does a rain hat. And if you run into something, the umbrella telegraphs that to you before you try and make an impression with your head on a limb or rocky overhang.
The other day the rain had stopped, and I was still hiking with the
umbrella deployed. It just wasn’t worth stopping to take it down. I walked by another hiker, and when they looked at me quizzically, I said “Guarding against sun stroke.” For the AT, that’s a joke. For the AZT, it’ll do double duty.
It may not be for everybody, but I’ll never be without one again.
Dave Michel, aka Pitchit
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I have one too and love it! I stay drier (no sweating up a rain jacket) and pair it with a rain kilt. Putting away or getting your food out of a bear box is much nicer in the rain with this baby. The ULA Circuit has bungy cords on the straps that allow for hands free hiking too
I brought one with me in Joshua Tree this past fall, expecting to use it for the sun but lo and behold it rained all day in the desert so it was still nice to have. They are great if you’re trying to take photos while it’s raining, too–don’t have to worry about raindrops on the lens or damaging any equipment. I probably wouldn’t bring one with me on the AT, but only because of the extra weight–they definitely make a number of things easier, especially if you can rig it up to be hands-free like you’ve done.
We just had a friend diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma. Umbrellas are good for lots of reasons. Glad you saw the rattler. Enjoy Memorial Day and stay safe. Rex
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