Backpacking

Chrome Dome Trekking Umbrella

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Portable shade

While this umbrella will keep you dry, the main thing it dispenses is portable shade. Unless you are deep in the woods, on most trails you blast along day after day under the sun, particularly high and desert places. You end up marching from shady patch to shady patch. What you really want, the serious trekkers realized, is to carry your own shade. This umbrella does that better than any other for a couple of reasons. It is very opaque; many lightweight and light-colored parasols actually let a lot of light through. Black umbrellas block more light, but turn it into heat which radiates downward. Either way your brain basically cooks. The Chrome Dome, on the other hand, is silvery light reflective on top, thus opaque, and non-reflective black underneath, so no light passes and you get to enjoy a deep cool shade. On some trails in the summer you’ll be an object of envy from other hikers as you carry around what they are looking for. It’s light, only 8.5 ounces, which is important since you hold it up a lot. It has a short shaft, which is easy to brace on your backpack, handsfree. High wind is an issue. But the great luxury of the Chrome Dome is that you can hike without a hat. Your hatless head is more free to sweat, catch the breeze, and without a hat I feel my head is more out in the world.

-- Stewart Brand 11/30/15

(GoLite Chrome Dome is no longer in production. The Swing Trek Liteflex Umbrella is a highly-rated alternative on Amazon, and a prototype to the GoLite Chrome Dome. — editors)