Harpo sporting her own shade , cruising south through the Cascades
I’ve reviewed the Chrome Dome at length before… Harpo and I are on our second thru hike, and our second set of brollies. I thought it appropriate to restate that the Chrome Dome is still one of my favorite pieces of gear. In the above tree line sections of the north Cascades, and through the burn areas and clear cuts further south, it’s hard to even count it as base weight, since it’s out so often as a sun shield. Although Go-Lite no longer makes the Chrom Dome, a similar version is available here.
Groucho using the Chrome Dome as a sun shield just over Constance Pass in the Olympic Mountians
Harpo and I followed Ray Jardine’s model and started hiking with umbrellas before we walked the AT last year – it made sense, living in the Northwest it rains every time you step outside. Or at least it could…
We started with free collapsible umbrellas, but the cheap metal hardware would rust and/or fall apart… Jardine modified his umbrellas to remove extra parts, and fitted them with mylar panels functioning as solar shields attached with dental rubber bands. In the era of cottage industry ultralight backpacking gear, we saved the effort by purchasing GoLite’s Chrome Dome trekking umbrellas. Weighing in at 8oz, with a 45″ canopy and offering 50SPF sun protection, the Chrome Dome offers substantial coverage as a rain and sun shield. I don’t think there’s any going back.. .
On the AT we forfeited conventional rain gear, favoring lightweight wind-breakers and wind-pants – 8oz total + the 8oz brolly, rather than a 11oz or heavier rain jacket and 11oz pants – offering a lighter overall solution for the long haul. Not to mention the umbrella is faster to deploy in sudden showers, and keeps it breezy, meaning better ventilation. Recently on the PCT and in alpine areas of the Olympic mountains, we’ve been happy using the Chrome Dome as a sun shield, allowing us to skip the sunscreen.
Of course, the umbrella fails in some conditions – dense, low forest like some in southern Maine snags the canopy, and it was impossible to use in the high winds atop Mt. Washington and in Goat Rocks. Outside of these extreme circumstances, the umbrella works great – the polyester canopy has never collapsed and resists tears, and the fiberglass spokes seem indestructible… we have hiked over 3500 miles with our original Chrome Domes, and are only now considering buying new ones.
Overall, this is one of my favorite pieces of gear to own. Every time I open it, it’s something in between Marry Poppins and a clown show – and it’s definitely the most commented on accessory I own, bar none. Harpo & I enjoy the umbrella hiking experience so much we formed our own umbrella gang – the Brolly Bunch.
Harpo keepin it breezy in light rain hiking next to the Housatonic River in Conneticut