Why be hot? I carry my own shade. Ray Jardine claimed that he and his wife hiked comfortably by day in the desert by carrying sun-reflecting mylar covered umbrellas. Bells went off in my head. This idea has opened up a whole schedule of possibilities for me. No longer do I have to avoid summer (in Southern California) or midday hikes. Unless the ambient temperature is just unbearable, I can hike in moderate heat and in constant shade.
My first experience with the silver umberella was a homemade affair. I followed the instructions in Ray Jardine’s Beyond Backpacking. I took a lightweight travel umbrella and cut a silver emergency blanket to fit the top. I secured the mylar to the spines with small rubberbands, then taped around the edges with Duck tape. The end result was not going to win any beauty contests, but it did provide a significant amount of cool shade while hiking.
The downsides were that it didn’t fold up tightly so I had to rig a special storage sack for it, the silver sheet tore easily, and it was noisy in the wind. I decided to go ahead and order a professionally made silver umberella from golite.com. It isn’t just a parasol though, it also serves as a rain umbrella. Double duty and very light! It is now my constant companion. I attach it to my pack strap with Bongo ties and I can walk in the shade all day hands-free. Thank you Ray Jardine for giving me my superpower.