12 Days of Trail Gifts For Under $50
Gift 6: Gear for rain & shine
Give your hiker a rain suit and an umbrella this winter. Protection from the elements is very important on the trail, and it can be so simple to provide. These are two low cost gifts that can help your hiker trim weight from their packs and give them some sanity and safety during nasty storms and relentless sun.
Driducks rain suits are super light (~ 10oz for top and bottom), super cheap (under $30), and they actually WORK! The pants can be kept as rain pants or easily converted to a rain skirt. At first it was hard to believe a jacket that looks like it’s made out of paper would function properly, but after a few storms on the Grand Enchantment Trail back in 2008, I was sold on the silliest rain gear ever. Driducks sizing is pretty huge, and there is no women’s cut. As long as your hiker doesn’t mind looking like they are wearing a bag, this rain suit is for them.
Umbrellas are multifunctional tools that provide shade, hope, and precip protection. On desert hikes my umbrella has become one of my favorite pieces of gear. The first time I ever carried an umbrella was on my wintery southbound hike of the Appalachian Trail. After getting soaked in a hurricane offshoot in the Mahoosucks I sloshed into town and picked up a pink purse sized umbrella. I used it most days of the AT until it shredded in the Smokies, and figured out how to strap it onto my pack so my hands could be free. Umbrellas don’t work too well in strong wind, but if you are good about angling it into the breeze it can provide protection in most storms. In my opinion, an umbrella is a great addition to rain gear, but is not a substitute for a rain jacket.
There might be a few Golite Chrome Domes out there still, but Golite is no longer in existence, so they are much harder to track down. Montbell, Sea to Summit, and Snowpeak make some interesting alternatives, but I still haven’t found one with the blackout fabric that made the Chrome Dome so effective. Too bad golf umbrellas are so friggin heavy- but giant 62″ silver umbrellas do exist, just in case you were wondering.