Aug 09 2010

Grab Your Brolly! The Many Uses for An Umbrella

I like hiking in the rain, and I don’t forego shooting pictures simply because it’s wet outside. I sling my camera strap around my neck and keep the camera itself tucked inside my jacket, protected but still ready for action. A wide-brimmed hat helps keep the drizzle off my lens when I shoot, but there’s an even better way: an umbrella. I have several, and I always stow a compact brolly in the slot behind one of my rucksack’s side pockets so it’s with me whenever I need it.

Under the Brolly

Then, when I’m done, I close the umbrella and slide it between my rucksack and my back. The weight of the pack keeps it in place, ready for quick deployment.

Tucked Away

An umbrella’s utility extends well beyond its role in keeping the rain off your lens (and your pate), too. It can also be put to work at other jobs, like keeping your gear dry while you answer a call of nature:

Under Cover

Of course, brollies have their limits. A stiff breeze will carry one away in the blink of an eye. You’ve been warned. But don’t be deceived. They’re not just foul-weather friends. Umbrellas can be used in the midday sun, too—to minimize lens flare, to shade a subject, or as a refuge from the heat while you snatch a few Zs along the trail. And if you meet an unfriendly dog who’s running free—an all too common occurrence, I’m afraid—and if he seems keen on getting up to mischief, just point your umbrella at him and open it up. The effect is often dramatic, and even if it doesn’t send the dog packing there and then, it still buys you time while you fish around in your pocket for the Halt! For all I know, it might work on bears, too. Worth a try in a hard chance, at any rate.

Umbrellas. They’re lightweight, cheap, and versatile. Fair weather or foul, a compact brolly is the best of companions. The only surprise is that more backcountry wanderers don’t carry one.

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