Reviewed in August, 2021
from Sackis Outdoor-Gear
Reviewed on August 17, 2018
The idea of using an umbrella for rain protection while hiking or backpacking seems a little absurd at first, but it’s actually quite functional.
I believe the idea first emerged with the GoLite Chrome Dome umbrella, which was sun-reflective and weighed about 8 ounces. That’s quite a bit of optional weight to add to one’s pack, but many hikers felt it was worth it to get relief from the hot sun.
I first tried an umbrella for day hiking, where weight is less of an issue, and found hiking in the rain less unpleasant, even fun, when the rain was not pounding on my head and running down over my face. I still wore a rain suit, but the umbrella made the experience more pleasant.
Then I discovered the Montbell Travel Umbrella, which weighs only 3 ounce,s and it got my attention. Carrying an umbrella this light is feasible as part of a lightweight or ultralight gear kit, if it is functional enough to justify the weight. That’s the topic of this gear review.
Montbell has a total of seven different umbrellas, ranging in weight from 3 to 7.1 ounces. The protected area, materials, and purpose vary, depending on your needs. Their Sun Block Umbrella is similar to the Chrome Dome. I focused on the 3-ounce Travel Umbrella because of its light weight and availability in white, which should keep it cooler underneath in the summer sun.
The Travel Umbrella has a telescoping shaft that opens in two stages. The canopy also opens in two stages; each spine is hinged and needs to be extended to full length. The collapsed umbrella fits into a carry sleeve that weighs just 0.05 ounce.
In the Southwestern US we carry our rain gear a lot more than we wear it. Precipitation is often just a brief shower, but heavy showers and hail are possible. It’s foolish to go on a mountain hike or backpacking trip without rain gear. The rain gear recommendation for our situation is to carry the lightest that will do the job.