Why Hiking with an Umbrella is the better option

5 October 2014  |  Admin

The other week we stumbled upon a blog post by Paul "Bigtex" Bunker, who is a 50 year old outdoors enthusiast who discusses 'all things hiking' at his Blog www.appalaciantrails.com. It was his recent blog post about Why an Umbrella is Better than Rain gear that got our attention, and we have to say, we do agree with his arguments.
Personally, I love walking outdoors too, and I have climbed a lot of the hills and mountains around Scotland, however I have always bought into the idea that you need expensive rain gear to cope with the elements. Now that I've read Paul's persuasive arguments, I might have to reconsider.
When it comes to rain, he points out that much of the hiking rain wear available is rarely entirely rainproof, nor is it always breathable, so you end up with so much sweat between your skin and the outer layers as to render them useless. Instead he tried using a lightweight umbrella. This offered protection from the rain, but also from sweat too as you remain cool while hiking. He does say that gaiters are important to prevent being soaked from water splashing up from the ground. Furthermore, he points out that the rain jackets are useful more as an extra layer of windproofing, so it's best to carry a light one in your backpack should the winds pick up.
An additional benefit rarely discussed is that the umbrella also provides vital protection against the sun. I know how easy it is when you are hiking in summer to be fooled into thinking that the sun isn't burning you when you are walking in the hills and it feels cooler in the bracing winds at higher altitudes. But, if the sun is out, you are still being burned, regardles of how cool you feel. Using an umbrella, however, as a parasol is an excellent option. Paul points out that:
"Not only does this prevent sunburn of the face, neck, and ears, it also reduces the temperature of your head. A hat, while offering shade, does trap heat escaping from your head. The ability for air to circulate around your head assists in the cooling process and venting. I also believe this assisted in reducing water usage as your head, and therefore body temperature is reduced, so your need for water is reduced (note: this is opinion not scientific fact)."
In addition to protection from the rain and the sun and allowing you to pack lighter, he also outlines some other fantastic multi-use benefits of the humble brolly:
  • To cover my pack when I had to leave it in the open, such as leaving it outside rather than bringing it inside a shelter (and subsequently soaking the floor).
  • We would cook under the brolly in the rain, using it as a shield.
  • When in town I would carry the brolly instead of needing to take a rain jacket round with me; it was easy to walk with a collapsed umbrella rather than a jacket.
  • I even used it to scare a bear by opening and closing it while pointing it towards the bear. Worked like a treat so no need for those big bear spray canisters!
Okay, this last one isn't really going to be an issue in the UK, however it may be useful when an overly curious deer or highland cow comes into view :)
So we hope you have enjoyed these suggestions, and you can check out his blog post in more detail here. Do you have any more suggestions for novel umbrella uses? Let us know in the comments below!