Why Sun Umbrellas are Becoming Thru-Hikers’ Favorite Piece of Gear

The Trek (July 31, 2020) by Katie Kommer

Any piece of gear deemed worthy of Anish on her 2013 FKT of the PCT deserves serious consideration. Eight ounces of weight is a fair price to pay for a reprieve from the desert sun. Though I wasn’t using my umbrella to shade me from that extreme of heat, I’m still completely sold on it. I carried Gossamer Gear’s Liteflex Hiking Umbrella on my most recent trip to the High Sierra, and was protected from both searing sunshine and pounding rain.

Gossamer Gear carries the world’s lightest full-size trekking umbrella. For years, ultralight hikers have chosen umbrellas as an alternative to sweating out rain gear or accepting relentless desert heat. Increasingly, more and more hikers are catching on. The benefits of carrying a lightweight, compact umbrella cover nearly any weather encountered on our beloved trails.

“My first experience with using a sun umbrella was during my 2016 thru-hike of the Arizona Trail. I knew that shade can be at a premium in the desert, especially during the hottest parts of the day. When I was able to take a break in those afternoon hours, my sun umbrella gave me ready shade to relax under when the Saguaros offered no shadows.  On the days that I had to keep making miles, I was able to attach the open umbrella to the shoulder strap of my pack and enjoy 15 degrees cooler feeling temperatures in its shade.

Another unexpected benefit of my umbrella was its ability to deter the threatening advances of an over-territorial bull in southern Arizona. Rapidly open and closing it as I crossed his range, I was able to keep the bull at bay. Or perhaps, just confused it enough to allow me to pass safely. I’ve carried the umbrella on every desert backpacking trip since.” — David Kurneta

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