Friday, November 17, 2006
Travel Umbrella or Poncho?
If you are going on a round-the-world journey or just an extended trip as a backpacker, sooner or later you're going to get rained on. But carrying a clunky umbrella is a pain: even a small one takes up a lot of room and the metal parts add to your overall weight. Considering that you only use it now and then, this is not a good use of valuable space and not worth being weighed down for.
The best options are a travel umbrella or a cheap plastic poncho. The former tends to work better for a vacation than for long-term travel. I've found that after frequent use, the travel umbrellas tend to fold inside out or get whipped into an avant-garde sculpture by the wind. But the one pictured here from
Magellan's only weighs 7 ounces and folds down to a flat 5-1/2 inches, so a good bet if you're not planning to use it for months on end.
Those waterproof jackets that stuff down to nothing are nice, but there's just one problem: they don't cover your backpack. So unless your pack is extremely waterproof, your belongings could get doused while you scamper down the street looking like a wet turtle with a giant shell getting rained on.
So the best solution is to carry a cheap plastic poncho. It will cover you, your head, and your pack and keep all of them dry. Not too stylish maybe, but it doesn't take up much room and if it rips or wears out, just buy another one. You can find one in a travel gear store for a few dollars--even less on location sometimes. I bought one in Cusco last year for one dollar.