Handsfree umbrella

Tips and theory Kristian Ingemansson is a lightweight backpacker whom we met at the Fair Enough fair in Bodafors, Småland. He has the by far best solution we have seen so far when it comes to wearing an umbrella and still have the hands free. A couple of photos and a film will illustrate this perfectly.
By Jörgen Johansson
Kristian with his handsfree umbrella.

The idea struck Kristian that he could in fact use his baseball cap to hold his light Dome umbrella in place, simply by twisting the cap into this Dennis the Menace-looking fashion. This works really well and the umbrella does not press uncomfortably on top of your head, at least not with this umbrella.

The second problem is of course that you need two attachment points for this to work handsfree. Kristian cleverly knotted a short piece of elastic bungee cord to the wrist loop of the umbrella. This elastic is then attached to the waist belt of the pack or pants. Kristian simply pulls it through the belt, but some sort of hook would probably work as well. The elastic is then tightened a bit using the cord lock and the umbrella is held in place this way. The neat thing about the elastic is that it takes up and gives slack in the slight up and down motion that walking brings.

The umbrella in its shoulder holster, ready to be drawn at the drop of a raindrop.

Kristian has also found that he can carry the umbrella tucked under his arm and the shoulderstrap of the pack. It is safely held in place by the elastic cord that can be attached to some convenient loop on the shoulder strap.

The movie below will show all this in action. Right now I am planning on adding an elastic headband to my umbrella, so that I can wear it like this even without a baseball cap that has a conveniently located hole and strap. The weight of the whole contraption will not exceed 20 grams.

Comments on this in English below, and in Swedish here at Utsidan


  1. An interesting umbrella wearing concept. How useful is this, if there is a headwind with 15km/h plus my own speed of 3km/h. All of this in an alpine setting with almost no trees or above treline.

    I usually hold my umbrella in a right angle to the almost never straight falling rain. So I have the best protection.

    By the way I had very good experiences with my umbrella, when I hiked on the Nordkalottleden in 2003.

  2. Glad to hear that you are also fond of the umbrella. Regarding your questions:
    My own approach would be to adapt to the circumstances. If the wind is to strong for the umbrella when it is strapped on like in the movie, I would switch to handheld and point it into the wind and horisontal rain. Most people that have not used an umbrella while hiking would be surprised to find how strong winds they can handle. And if the wind is too strong for this I would fold it up and carry on in my rain jacket and rain pants.

  3. I'd say wether an umbrella is of any use hiking or otherwise depends on avarage windspeeds at your destination!) In my native western Norway (around Bergen, weather statistiics here http://www.yr.no/place/Norway/Hordaland/Bergen/Bergen/statistics.html) an umbrella is mostly dead weight when hiking if the wind is blowin. Also the wind almost always blowing harder when you get aboce the treeline. I'd rather carry extra snacks than an umbrella given that I'd still have to carry rain gear if the weather forecast was unertain...

  4. Thank you for your answer.

    I also adapt to the circumstances. As long as I can hold the umbrella with two hands in a right angle into the wind, without destroying it, I use the umbrella, if the wind is stronger,I change into the rain jacket.

  5. I think that both the comments from Gaute and Hikingharry shows what it is all about. Adapt to the circumstances and make your fact based decisions. Instead of condemning umbrellas out of hand. The same goes for lightweight backpacking in general. I'm surprised at some comments you can get from people without personal experience who claim certain techniques do not work, in spite of the fact that you yourself have been using them for years.
    Keep an open mind, adapt to your circumstances and give it a try. That is how I first started, using inspiration from Ray Jardine, Ryan Jordan and others in the Scandinavian mountains.

  6. Hmmm. Don't hike along a road in Southern Europe carrying one...unless you're looking to make a little extra money...


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