Now it is even easier to decide to carry an umbrella on a hike. The Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Carbon Umbrella is lighter than fiberglass chrome-dome style umbrellas (~8 oz), at just 6.8 ounces. And the improved design is even more durable.
The weight savings is due to the lighter carbon shaft and spokes. While the size and fabric are similar to other chrome-dome style umbrellas I’ve used over the years (e.g., GoLite), the shape of the umbrella has also been modified to make it more wind-worthy. It seems just as spacious, but it has a steeper arc/ dome to prevent inversions.
Is Silver Shadow umbrella more durable?
So far, yes! I used the SMD silver shadow on a 600-mile section hike of the PCT in Oregon and on a dozen trips in Utah and Nevada over the summer. Not once did it invert or collapse in the wind! The mechanisms appear strong, but longer-term durability is still TBD.
I’ve had several previous chrome dome umbrellas break under windy conditions and invert many times. I can’t say for sure for the source of this success of this new umbrella; perhaps because I have learned to point the umbrella into the wind or collapse my umbrella during high winds to avoid broken spokes. Maybe because of the improved design and stronger materials? But it seems great so far!
Compared to other umbrella designs?
The design is more straightforward than the fully collapsible version, so has fewer moving parts to break. The long length fits against the side of my pack. The Silver Shadow is easy to get in and out of the side pocket of my backpack; no need to take off the pack.
Why carry an umbrella?
Umbrellas are versatile. I use it to stay more comfortable in rain or heat. And when I’m not burning hot or freezing cold, I feel happier and can enjoy my hike more. It saves me from frying in the sun of southeastern Utah. Even in the more forested Oregon section of the PCT, it was still useful for hot road walks, burn areas, and rest breaks.
In heavy storms, I have used an umbrella to protect myself from side-blown wind coming my under tarp.
Umbrellas are considered optional by many people. And seem to be preferred by those of us who are more sensitive to sunburn and heat-related illnesses. Or who spend a lot of time in the rain. But for those of you who are on the fence due to durability issues or weight, these changes might tip the scales for you.
UPDATE: I wrote an article on my hands-free rigging of the umbrella
Disclosure: Six Moon Designs provided the umbrella at no cost to Joan. As of summer 2019, the umbrella retails for $45.