Reasons to Hike with an Umbrella

Reasons to Hike with an Umbrella
Many people would probably cringe at the thought of bringing along an umbrella while hiking.  While they may look silly or out-of-place, they can actually be one of the most practical items to have on hand.  Let's look at a few reasons why you may want to consider taking an umbrella with you the next time you're heading out on the trail.
Very few good raincoats, if any, provide us with good ventilation.  This is the reason that we get so hot and sticky when hiking with a raincoat.  It may help to keep rainwater at bay, but what's the point if we're going to be drenched in sweat anyway? We need ventilation to help our bodies conserve fluids and regulate temperatures.  Consequently, hiking with a raincoat can lead to fatigue as well as causing us to increase our water consumption.  Umbrellas, on the other hand, keep a lot of rain away while helping us to stay dry and cool. 
Sun Protection
Chances are that you will need to use less sunscreen, be able to wear more comfortable clothing and enjoy more shade by using an umbrella.  Sun hats provide a minimal amount of protection for the head and face, but an umbrella will create a shadow that can cover most of your body while you're hiking.
Improvised Shelter
The canopy of the umbrella is a great source of shelter, whether for sleeping, having some privacy or protecting items on-site in wet conditions.  While it won't replace the protection you get with a tent or a tarp, you also don't have to set it up in order to enjoy the benefits.  Just pop it open, lean the canopy against something, and you're good to go. 
It can also be used to compliment your existing shelter by providing you with an additional buffer against wind and rain.  Finally, you can use your umbrella to secure your tarp if you're in an area where there are few trees or other suitable anchor points.
Hiking Stick
While umbrellas may not be as sturdy as a walking stick or ski pole, you can still use them for similar tasks.  They can provide a little bit of support while hiking up a steep incline or crossing a stream.  You can use them to defend against animal threats, and some have even used umbrellas as improvised ice-axes while climbing. 
These are just a few examples of a million-and-one different uses for umbrellas in the field, and chances are that it won't take long to come up with some helpful ideas of your own.  Don't think twice about bringing an umbrella with you on your next hike, and you'll quickly discover how it can make life much easier for you on the trail.