Can a trekking umbrella protect you against lightning? No. Lightning is attracted to the highest thing around. So if you’re in an open field and you open an umbrella above your head, there is a higher risk that lighting will hit you.
It doesn’t matter if the handle of your umbrella is made of a conductive material or not. Umbrellas with a carbon fiber handle (Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Carbon), a fiberglass handle (Zpacks Lotus Umbrella) or an aluminum handle (Gossamer Gear Lightrek Umbrella), will all attract lightning if, when held aloft, they make you taller than the surrounding landscape or vegetation.
How is it possible that a non-conductive material can conduct electricity? It’s simple: that lightning bolt is so powerful that anything it strikes will either conduct the current or it will flow around it and continue its course. The electricity can even jump to adjacent objects that are not in direct contact with the original target.
To put things into perspective, a typical lightning bolt is about 300 million volts and about 30,000 amps, which is enough electricity to power a small town for an entire day. In comparison, household current is 120 Volts and 15 Amps. So it doesn’t matter if the thing lightning hits is a conductive material or not. That much power will completely overwhelm anything it comes into contact with and keep on going down your umbrella handle and your arm.
Net net. Don’t be the highest thing around when its starts to thunder and lightning.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.