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How to Attach a Trekking Umbrella to a Backpack

How to attach a trekking umbrella to a backpack
How to attach a trekking umbrella to a backpack.

A trekking umbrella is a useful piece of backpacking gear for rain and sun protection. But an umbrella can be a real pain in the butt if you have to hold it up for hours at a time using one arm, especially if you use trekking poles to hike.

Here’s a simple technique to attach a trekking umbrella to your backpack so you can use it in “hands-free” mode. This really works and it’s simple to do. If you have to hike in rain for a few days, you’ll find that the extra 8 ounces of a trekking umbrella is well worth the added weight. The same holds for protection from desert sun.

Attach the cord and cordlocks to your backpack's shoulder strap.
Attach the cord and cordlocks to your backpack’s shoulder strap.

You’ll need two pieces of cord for this trick and two cord locks. I find that stretchy cord works best, but your mileage may vary. It really helps if you have a backpack that has daisy chains sewn to the front of your shoulder straps because they’ll hold the cords at the spot where you attach them and won’t slide down the strap.

The ridges on the Chrome trekking umbrella handle keep the cord from slipping as you hike.
The ridges on the Chrome trekking umbrella handle keep the cord from slipping as you hike.

I also prefer using the classic Chrome Trekking Umbrella (currently sold by MyTrail Company) because it has a ridged handle which holds the cord in place better than a smooth handle. While you can buy trekking umbrellas made by the same manufacturer (euroSCHIRM) elsewhere, check the handle. The ridges make a huge difference in keeping the umbrella from slipping down your shoulder strap.

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10 comments

  1. Thanks. I’ve been thinking of trying to attach my old GoLite Chrome Dome to my backpack. Now, I don’t have to think so hard!

  2. I am just starting to goof around with umbrellas. Since I am not committed to them I hate to carry much weight. The Montbell UL umbrella is 4.5 oz but the handle is too short to attach your pack. If you are willing to give up one trekking pole temporarily, you can attach the umbrella to the pointy end of a trekking pole. I slotted the plastic knob handle on the umbrella so the pole locks in and added two strips of velcro. Pretty solid. Still not convinced I want to use an umbrella, so for now it is just a new toy to experiment with. Not for the serious umbrella enthusiast.
    For the really twisted, check out the Montbell Umbrero. My wife is Chinese. It makes her crazy when I wear it. Which is a twofer :)

    • Lint, the triple triple crowner, uses his umbrella as a door on an A-frame tarp pitch and a place to hang a bug net from when he sleeps. An umbrella can have multiple uses, you just need to be creative.

      • Cool info. I will never be a “hardcore” hiker, just a recreational hiker who likes to experiment. I thought the visual of someone walking with a parasol hooked to the tip of his PacerPole might be amusing :)
        The longer shaft of the Pacerpole does allow a solid connection like the euroSchirm hands-free umbrella. (which is cool but heavier than their trekking umbrella).
        California summer hiking is more about baking sun than rain. One thing I have learned: An umbrella is not equivalent to hiking in the shade. In the shade, the ground is cool. In the sun, the umbrella blocks the direct sun but the hot ground still radiates heat up on you. Not a dramatic discovery but my guess in those conditions an umbrella is the is about 60% equivalency to shade.

  3. I really like umbrellas but found it difficult to use one and still keep my hands free for my trekking poles. So this year I purchased a EuroSchirm trekking umbrella. It has an extendable handle and seems to be well built. I hope that it works well.

  4. I’ve taken an umbrella with me for years. I used to get strange looks from hikers but more folks use them these days.

    Great to have when nature calls from your tent or hammock. Sitting out a rain shower under an umbrella beats most alternatives. I’ve used an umbrella to keep fire wood dry.

    In the summer, I usually just bring a light, water repellant wind jacket and umbrella. Most of my “breathable” rain jackets are an overkill in warm weather.

  5. Simple but gold! Thanks a lot, will certainly DIY this!

  6. Great post. I’ve not attached my umbrella to the pack yet, and I’ve not felt the need so far (others’ mileage may vary, of course). My suggestion for people who hike a lot in the hot sun or in the rain is to invest in an umbrella, bring it along on a few day trips, and see how it fits into your style of hiking.

    I used the euroSCHIRM umbrella on a ~50 mile hike of the Transcatalina Trail (http://www.catalinaconservancy.org/index.php?s=visit&p=hike_the_trans_catalina_trail) and I also take it on rainy treks in the Pacific Northwest. I love having it as an option.

    The umbrella excels in the following circumstances:
    -Hot Sun. Non-technical, non-brushy terrain, with heavy direct sun and little wind.
    -Rain. Non-technical, non-brushy terrain, and raining, but not too windy.

    In the two situations above, I don’t use trekking poles, and I alternate the umbrella between hands. I find it non-annoying, not that big a deal at all. You are always hiking in the shade and/or you can hike uphill in the rain in a t-shirt or windshirt.

    For short technical stretches or brushy stretches, I will put away the umbrella and pull out a trekking pole or poles. If sunny, I put my sun hat on. If rainy, I put on my hard shell. When the technical stretch is over, I go back to the umbrella.

    When I’m doing a technical hike, where I’m using both trekking poles the whole time, I’ve left the umbrella behind… I’ve not worked out an “attached to pack” set up that works for me in those situations (again, others may have had a different experience).

    My overall suggestion, again, is to experiment. Mounting the umbrella to my pack has not been necessary for me, and to me, it’s simpler just to carry it and keep flexible about my set up.

    I love chugging up big climbs, in the rain, without having to wear a shell. I love being in the shade instead of the direct sun.

    Happy hiking!

  7. I love my umbrella. I usually just put the handle in a shoulder strap pocket (Six Moon Designs Fusion, 2014 design) and then tilt it whichever way the sun is coming from. I’ve used cordlocks as Philip is suggesting to steady it on occasion. Only issue I’ve run into is abrasion on the shoulder, but this can be dealt with by cutting a small length of pipe insulation for padding. Rambling Hemlock has a good tutorial on this strategy.

    The umbrella was an especially good option at Philmont with Boy Scouts – I got envious looks from many when we were hiking in a sweltering river valley and I still had good ventilation under my sun/rain protection.

  8. I’ve looked at some of the hiking umbrellas for sale and none of them have vents on the top to keep the thing from wallowing around as much and even turning inside out. Duh! I will use my Walmart golf umbrella. Cheap huge and it has vents on top.

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