How to Hike Hands Free with an Umbrella

Panamint Valley - Death Valley National Park
Panamint Valley – Death Valley National Park

All part of a hiker’s life.

A lightweight hiking umbrella is standard in my backpacking kit. It can fend off heat stroke and exhaustion. In rain, it is the difference between being soaked to the bone or slightly wet.

Many of you have asked, “How can I hike with an umbrella while using poles?” or “I just don’t want to continually hold the handle of the umbrella while hiking, how can I hike hands-free?”

I have tried many different combinations of ties, pads, and small bungies. All have been okay, but moved around a bit. My latest system works perfectly. The system is balanced, stays in place, easy to attach and take off, inexpensive, and lightweight. The straps used to attach the umbrella were recycled off old packs and gear.


  • narrow velcro strap like this one or this one
  • about 6 inches of 1/8″ cord with a  mini cord lock (we used cord with a slight stretch)

Note: Two cords with a mini cord lock would work also. The velcro strap just seemed to keep the umbrella in place better.

Velcro Strap and Cord with Mini Cord Lock
Velcro Strap and Cord with Mini Cord Lock



  • attach velcro near top of shoulder around pack strap (be sure this is attached to the pack: loop or suspension strap)
  • attach small bungie below sternum strap around vertical webbing, loop, or whole strap

Attach the Umbrella:

  • slide umbrella handle through velcro
  • IMPORTANT AND THE SECRET TO SECURING: slide umbrella handle under clipped sternum strap
  • slide end of handle in cord
  • tighten both sternum strap and cord

Note: Dan likes to loop the umbrella handle cord under bungie and sternum strap, so the cord does not flop around.

Examples shown below are on the new Gossamer Gear Gorilla and Mariposa, but these variations will work on most packs.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla No-hands Umbrella Set-up
Gossamer Gear Gorilla No-hands Umbrella Set-up
Gossamer Gear Mariposa No-hands Umbrella Set-up
Gossamer Gear Mariposa No-hands Umbrella Set-up


Lady on a Rock Reader Exclusive!

In addition to my favorite pack, the Gorilla, many small items I carry and love can be purchased at Gossamer Gear. It is like a one-stop-shop for lightweight gear. Have fun!

Gossamer Gear






  1. Hi Christy – enjoying your current posts from NM -interesting route! I also came up with a system for my umbrella, but I used part of an old tent pole, which will join in with the bottom of the umbrella once you cut the very bottom open. A piece of shock cord holds them together (like tent pole pieces), and folds out of the way when not needed. This piece extends down to the waist belt, where I used half of an old PETZl e-lite case for it’s rest. Similar to yours, a velcro strap secures it to my pack strap up high. Sounds complicated, but it’s not! Used it many times in Grand Canyon and Sierras – could have sold it many times, too 😉

  2. OMG! Tucking handle under sternum strap .. .. .. Duh! Sometimes the simplest solutions are last to come. Carrying what I have come to call my “parasol” has been a godsend here in the Arizona desert. Have yet to use it in the rain. HA! Thanks for your photos, they made all the difference.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      I know!!!!! It is the trick. Seriously. Makes all the difference. Yep, umbrellas are my jam too.
      Thank you for commenting.

  3. Sunburn Ed

    All these tips would be great except for the fact that lightweight backpacking umbrellas are always sold out! Please bring back the Chrome Dome.

  4. Pictures are worth a thousand words, I saved the pics to a folder on my mobile, now a have a reference for the future, you most certainly rock! Thanks.

  5. Our 2nd Alaska summer coming up – thanks for this post – looking forward to giving it a try!

  6. Thank you Christy. I will et busy at the weekend. The photographs really help.

  7. Thanks Rockin! I’m going to try this on my daily hikes as it isn’t getting any cooler here.

  8. I just might have to try this. I have a love/hate relationship with my umbrella. I’ve carried it in the closed position for sooooooo many more miles than I have had it open. It doesn’t quite seem worth the weight. But it sure has kept me warmer in the few rain storms I have walked thru. And I used it every day this past February while day hiking in Death Valley. Congrats on a successful Lowest to Highest and thanks for sharing this tip. Why Not?!

    • Why Not,
      You are so funny! and a bad ass. Who needs an umbrella when YOU hike so fast and far? Rain, wind, and sun just slide right off. Hope you are well and so want to hike with you someday.

      • Let’s make it happen. I would LOVE to hike with you. I don’t know what I’m doing this year. 3 thru hikes in a row has left me with lots of undone things on the home front. But my feet are getting itchy!

  9. Great post! I needed a better description with good pics to see how this was done. Thank you. Hope you are coming right along after your tussle with Mt. Whitney!

  10. bmort12753

    Great technique and advice. I’m presently making the adjustments to my pack :)……Loved your new you tube video !!!!! missed them.
    How goes the healing ?

    Brian aka Loki

    • Loki,
      Awwwww. I am so not a video editor, but they are super fun to make. You have given me motivation to make a couple more. Namely, Mount Russell and Scotland. I am ALL healed and riding in a bike century this weekend. Thank you. Let me know if I can help or answers any questions about the pack.

  11. Very timely as I continue inventing McGyver solutions but haven’t found the perfect solution yet. I’ll give this one a try. Thanks!

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