SIX MOON DESIGNS SILVER SHADOW UMBRELLA
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
August 02, 2019
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Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
126 lb (57.20 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a co-ed scout group which made a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since college in Pennsylvania. I have hiked 1/4 of the Appalachian Trail and 2/3 of the Pacific Crest Trail. My typical trip is in the Sierra Nevada from a few days to a few weeks long. My base weight is lightweight at 15 lb (6.8 kg) while still using a tent, stove and quilt. Longer mileage summer trips are now stoveless.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Six Moon Designs
Year of Manufacture: 2019
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.sixmoondesigns.com
MSRP: $35 US
Color: Reflective Silver with Black Underside
Listed Weight: 6.8 oz (193 g)
Measured Weight: 6.8 oz (193 g) umbrella only
Measured Weight: 0.2 oz (6 g) storage sack only
Listed Length: 10 in (25.4 cm)
Measured Length: 10 in (25.4 cm) folded
Listed Open Diameter: 38 in (96.5 cm)
Measured Open Diameter: 38 in (96.5 cm)
Listed Shaft Length: 20.5 in (52 cm)
Measured Shaft Length: 20.75 (53 cm)
The Silver Shadow Mini Umbrella is a collapsible umbrella with a UPF+ 50 rating. The fabric isn't listed but the frame is aluminum with a plastic handle. The outside of the canopy is a reflective silver with the Six Moon Logo and product name while the underside is black for providing shade. There is a strap to hold the umbrella neatly wrapped up when it is in a folded position.
The umbrella is manual operating meaning that it doesn't have a button to automatically open it. The top spring mechanism is similar to any other umbrella I've seen but the runner sleeve that holds the open position is new to me. It operates with a simple press. The eight stretchers are hinged backward to allow for folding to the mini size. The handle is a black cup shape. Finally, there is black string attached to the ferrule end (tip).
The umbrella came with a minimalist storage sleeve that slips over the umbrella with a snap to hold it closed.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT
My initial impression when the umbrella arrived was that it is pretty much as-advertised on the website. The silver color is quite reflective reminding me of some NASA space balloon while the underside is completely matte black. 'Silver Shadow' seems to be the perfect name!
The website doesn't mention that the eight stretchers have to be folded out and manually clipped into place before opening. But I have seen the exact design on another brand. I've learned that they don't actually have to be set in place one at a time but rather I can loosely open the umbrella, hold it over my head to allow the stretcher tips to hang down and push up the runner. This allows each stretcher to snap into place just from the movement of opening...easy! Of course, this does not apply when folding it up when I'll have to unhinge each stretcher one at a time for compact storage.
Although this umbrella is the mini version, the canopy opens to a large size feeling like any other standard umbrella that I've owned. The mini size description just applies to how small it can be collapsed for storage.
The small plastic cup that makes up the handle is a little bit small with a slightly sharp edge at the top. I'm wondering how comfortable it will be while trying to control the umbrella in windy conditions or for grasping for long periods while hiking in the sun. I also found that when I try to fold the umbrella back up, the cup has a snug fit over the ends of the folded stretchers. So, I have to slide the cup handle down first before wrapping the strap around to keep it folded. Otherwise I'm not able to get the cup handle all of the way down. Anyway, it's no big deal. I chalk it up to never being able to repackage something so neatly as when it was packaged by the manufacturer. Either way, the folded size of the umbrella is SMALL!
The storage sleeve is very lightweight. It doesn't have a hole at the bottom, so it covers the hang loop at the tip. This means that I won't be able to hang the umbrella on my pack with the sleeve in place.
Overall the construction seems to be very solid so it'll be fun to test out whether this umbrella is as durable as it appears to be.
The Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Mini Umbrella has a reflective silver canopy in a small package.
Silver reflective color
Comfort of cup-shaped handle
Durability in strong winds
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I used the umbrella on one eight-day backpacking trip, one overnight backpacking trip and several day hikes.
Pacific Crest Trail, Cascade Range, Northern California: 8 days; 112 mi (180 km); 2,065 to 6,128 ft (629 to 1,868 m) elevation; 45 to 93 F (7 to 34 C). Conditions ranged from clear and sunny to cloudy with moderate breezes.
Sierra Nevada Foothills, California: 2 days; 6 mi (10 km); 1,200 to 1,900 ft (370 to 580 m) elevation; 58 to 82 F (14 to 28 C) with partly cloudy conditions
Multiple hikes in Auburn Recreation Area, Sierra Nevada Foothills, California: 2.5 mi (4 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 55 to 83 F (13 to 28 C); mostly clear to partly cloudy conditions to light rain
Monroe Ridge, Sierra Nevada Foothills, California: 4 mi (6.4 km); 743 to 1,262 ft (226 to 385 m); 60 F (16 C); light to moderate rain
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Early in the testing period, the weather still provided rainy conditions to test the umbrella out in what one is typically used for, rain. The Silver Shadow performed well with nothing unexpected or notable really. It worked like an umbrella! Until several years ago, I had typically just backpacked in the rain wearing a rain jacket. But I find it pleasant to hike with an umbrella. It kept the rain from hitting my face and kept my pack much drier. It also provided a way to have a small dry area for eating during the rain that kept lunch or snacks from getting wet.
Later in the testing period I took the umbrella on an eight-day backpacking trip to hike a section of the Pacific Crest Trail near Mount Shasta, California. Part of this section includes the Hat Creek Rim which is notoriously hot and miserable. With temperatures in the 90s F (mid 30s C), lower elevations, minimal shade and a jaunt near and through a lava field, the section lived up to its HOT and MISERABLE reputation. Fortunately, I had the Silver Shadow with me to ease some of the discomfort.
|Hat Creek Rim - HOT|
The black underside of the umbrella worked well to provide a dark shade when there was none to be found otherwise. The silver outer reflected the sun's rays so that there wasn't heat build-up underneath the umbrella. I found the handle to be comfortable even after miles of hiking and when there was a breeze that required my grip to tighten. The handle is small enough for my hand to envelop the end and grasp tightly to the shaft. None of the edges are sharp enough on my hand and fingers to cause any discomfort. I usually wear sun gloves too, so they protect my hands as well.
The durability of the Silver Shadow was fantastic. Even when strong gusts of wind got under the canopy, the arms held with no fear of folding backward. The limiting factor is certainly my ability to hold onto the umbrella rather than the strength of the umbrella. Despite my efforts to be careful, I dragged and scraped the canopy against trees and brush with no apparent damage to the umbrella.
I like the shade of the umbrella much more than just my wide-brimmed hat since I can stay cooler with nothing on my head. So, while the umbrella excels in open areas, I found myself choosing to use the umbrella rather than a hat even in partially shaded stretches. This kept my head cooler while providing plenty of shade. I hiked with the umbrella in one hand and a trekking pole in the other. Then I would put the umbrella up any time that I saw a stretch of sun coming up. I would put it back down in the shade. I really didn't mind this routine. The only conditions that precluded my use of the umbrella were strong winds, rough trail that required two trekking poles and overgrown trail that snagged on the umbrella. This was especially a concern at lower elevations where there was a lot of poison oak hanging on the uphill side. I was afraid that I'd brush it with the umbrella and then manage to get the oil on my skin by later handling the umbrella.
The only issue I had was with the little lever that unlocks and locks the runner sleeve to keep the umbrella open. It works great but I often found myself accidentally pushing the lever in while I was trying to push up to open the umbrella. Then since I had it pressed in; it wouldn't lock in place. I finally found myself opening the umbrella by pushing the spreaders instead which wasn't as comfortable on my fingers, but it kept this from happening. I'm not sure if the lever is just in the wrong place for the way I open the umbrella. I like the ease of use of the lever but haven't discovered a good method for preventing this issue, yet.
On the trail, I found it easiest to open up the arms of the umbrella for the first use and then just close the umbrella and store it in my side backpack pocket until next time. I didn't bother folding the umbrella completely down until I was back at home and ready to store it in my gear organizer. Even then, I sometimes just hung the umbrella from the loop at the tip.
|in the side pocket|
I didn't use the storage sleeve on the trail figuring that I would store the umbrella in a pocket anyway and probably just lose the sleeve. I used it at home at times for storage but don't really see why I need it. The umbrella stays in a nice compact package just with the strap.
I've owned a backpacking umbrella for some years and at first felt a little bit odd hiking with one. But they work so well that I've seen them really gain in popularity. I don't get strange looks and odd comments like I used to years ago. When people do ask about the umbrella, they seem about ready to buy one and are just looking for that final confirmation. Well, they certainly get encouragement from me. The price and light weight are well worth the benefit on the trail.
The Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Umbrella is amazingly useful for protection from the blazing sun, rain and even cold wind.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.
Silver reflective color
Strong in wind
Can hike without a hat
Clipping in 8 arms (but I've found a solution)
Open/close lock mechanism (no solution yet)
This concludes my Long-Term report and this test series. Thanks to Six Moon Designs and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.
Read more reviews of Six Moon Designs gear
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith