My feet began to ache as Hour Two of The Long Wait approaches. I had been hoping, no praying, for a steel encased hero to pull over as I wagged my thumb in the air where asphalt meets wilderness. The longer the wait, the fewer the cars, the more desperate my roadside courtship became.
As the day stretched toward afternoon, I sought refuge from the sun under the Six Moon Designs Rain Walker SUL Umbrella ... listening attentively for revving, rumbling sounds, a possible ride into town.
Yet another denied hitch passed … always moving over to the further lane … um, thanks?!?
When Garage Grown Gear reached out about a review of the Six Moon Designs Rain Walker SUL Umbrella, I immediately wondered whether it would work as well in the sun as its kin, the Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Sun Umbrella.
We thru-hikers know the Sun Umbrella well ... a collection of UFOs bopping along the desert floor, winding between sagebrush and cholla cacti. These silver reflective sun shades have become the mark of southern sections of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, growing in popularity with each successive thru-hiking season.
I was surprised when Garage Grown Gear informed me that Six Moon Designs recently created another umbrella, the iconic silver disk’s brother… or sister, the Rain Umbrella.
With near weightless material, the Rain Umbrella boasts a forest green (or teal) complexion that keeps the bearer from sticking out like an extraterrestrial sore thumb.
Yet here I am, a literal roadside sore thumb.
My mind wanders from town food and ice cold hoppy beverages to the stark wilderness surrounding me. I see something grey move against the brush, making its way toward me. A dog? What luck! Yes, please, come here and keep me company!
Oh no, looks to be a mangy stray… I hope it’s friendly…
Wait, that’s a coyote. Definitely a coyote. In the middle of the day. Trotting straight at me.
I begin yelling at it and cracking my trekking poles together in an effort to scare this obviously sick wild fanged animal away from me.
The coyote is now less than ten feet from me.
In a panic, I grab my umbrella, flap it open and closed manically, surely looking like that dinosaur from Jurassic Park, hissing and screaming.
That does the trick.
The coyote scampers off, and in a wave of relief and confidence, I stick my thumb out for the next truck.
Ding ding ding! Winner!
Town, here I come.
Fast forward nearly two-thousand miles along the Continental Divide Trail … and what feels like hundreds of more hitches ... not to mention the road walks that go on for days.
My trusty Rain Umbrella has seen me thru it all.
What the Rain Walker lacks in sun protection … yes, sometimes it can create a balmy, greenhouse effect … it makes up for in weight and structure. The prongs stood up to wind gusts better than older Six Moon Designs umbrella models.
I also found that the material dried immediately when exposed to the sun, and the additional weight of a dampened umbrella was negligible if packed away before given time to dry.
To save weight and create a product that will dry this quickly, Six Moon Designs sacrificed durability, using a thin rip stop material for the panels. But that is the name of the game we Ounce Counters are all too familiar with; and plus it’s nothing some gear tape can’t mend.
Toss in the added protection from your average rabid coyote, I think it’s a valuable addition to any backpacker’s kit.
Pros of the Six Moon Designs Rain Walker SUL Umbrella:
- Works seamlessly to keep torso and pack dry in rain showers
- Lightest trekking umbrella on the market (5.5oz / 10 D Silnylon canopy)
- Dries rapidly
- Holds up in windy conditions
- Sturdy carbon fiber frame, less likely to conduct electricity
- Subtle green canopy is unobtrusive to surroundings
Cons of the Six Moon Designs Rain Walker SUL Umbrella:
- Fragile / rips easily on branches
- Green canopy captures heat like a greenhouse in some conditions (if sun is your main concern, I’d suggest carrying the extra weight (8.9oz) and buying the Six Moons Designs Silver Shadow Umbrella)
- Length of shaft is taller than most UL packs (23.5in)