Tag Archives: ultralight

Gear Shakedown: GoLite Chrome Dome Trekking Umbrella

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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┬áthe 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.

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Harpo keepin it breezy in light rain hiking next to the Housatonic River in Conneticut

We Love the Tiny Bottles

Tiny Bottles

We love tiny bottles. Also foam hats, tye-dyed shoelaces, weird markers, umbrellas and other junk we really DO need for $1.59. Daiso is a Japanese based dollar store that has 2 outlets in Seattle – one near Uwajimaya, and the other in Westlake Mall – and apparently an online store as well, though the real pleasure of the Daiso experience is wandering in wonder through the narrow aisles stocked to the ceiling with unrecognizable shiny plastic stuff.

Occasionally you find a real gem – these ‘sauce bottles’ work great for everything from hot sauce to Arnicare, and come in sizes ranging from .2oz to .8oz – way less than a full tube of cortisone cream or the smallest size Spenco Sencond Skin… also, so cheap.

Daiso, we love you.

Tiny Bottles

Shoulder Your Duds

20130728-151444.jpgAlthough we’re not hyped on carrying 9 days of food, we managed to keep out pack weight at 26 & 27 lbs, which is light by many standards. Any standard, in fact. After a little trimming in Stratton our base weights are below 12 lbs, so the rest is all snacks – and we can’t wait to lighten our loads! Now if only get these wooden Sherpas off our backs…