In defence of wellies and brollies

There seems to be a general consensus that to go walking you must wear big, heavy boots and only use a jacket to keep you dry. Wellies are for kids, farmers and horse riders and umbrellas are for use in a strictly urban context, or so the thinking seems to go.

And yet Nicholas Crane – explorer, TV presenter and author always takes his trusted umbrella on his expeditions and often points out the multiplicity of its uses in some of his books.

Nicholas seen on the cover of one of his earlier travel books with umbrella proudly on display

Likewise with wellies. Growing up in the countryside these are something I wore every day as a child even in the height of summer because it spelt adventure. You could go anywhere and do anything. The impassable became the possible.

The amazing range of wellies available at my local outdoor store

This was brought home to me recently when I facilitated a corporate walk and one of the attendees, a seasoned walker, turned up in wellies and with good reason here in the clay soiled and muddy Ouse River valley.

Wellies do have some obvious downsides however that limit their use; they have poor grip on wet rock, next to no support and can be very hot and sweaty in the heat or cold and clammy in the cool.

Even so, the quality of wellies (invented in 1852 when one Hiram Hutchinson met a Mr. Goodyear) is becoming ever better – and with that more expensive.

Given they are easy to put on and take off,  keep the bottoms of your trousers clean and dry, and can be hosed clean, there is much to recommend walking in them – just not too far or too high!

In defence of umbrellas

With an umbrella, we always tend to assume that they are only for keeping you dry when you are out and about in town. However, they can be extremely useful in the great outdoors when perhaps you want to stop and eat and keep your food dry, open your bag, check your phone, or open out a map (without a case).

They can also be a good form of defence if it comes to it. Look at what Indiana Jones’ dad was able to do in the bird-scaring scene from ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’!

They can also be a lifesaver for keeping you cool when it is hot and much like wellies there are now some very adaptable and incredibly small ones available.

My replica Nicholas Crane maple handled brolly bought from James Smith & Son, London and my super small go anywhere pack away bought at Amsterdam airport

It is also worth noting that I have found that gore tex waterproofs don’t work as well in the tropics, so an umbrella can be really useful when trekking in the rainy season.

As most of us don’t trek regularly in the tropics however it is probably always worth having one for that very British possibility of being ‘caught out’ when typically we have four seasons in one day.

In defence of umbrellas

  1. Always take a number of fold away umbrellas with you if you are leading a group or taking out a family. You will be star of the show if it becomes either too hot or too wet.
  2.  If you are keen to make sure that you get out (and don’t use the weather as an excuse) then invest in some decent wellies, which will prompt you to go regardless of the conditions. Who knows you may find yourself splashing in puddles as you did when you were a toddler.
  3. Read as many of Nicholas Crane’s books as possible. He has always been a major inspiration for me.
  4. Ignore what others say and take what it requires to keep you and your co walkers warm, dry and happy.
  5. Go for a lovely walk and then come home and watch (or re watch) ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ with a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake for umbrella defence training techniques.

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