Okay, so most grey nomads try to plan their trips to avoid the rain as much as possible … but sometimes Mother Nature just doesn’t follow the script, does she?
And, this being the land of extremes, the Australian weather Gods aren’t often satisfied with a few annoying drops of the wet stuff, they have to throw down a bushwalk-wrecking, clothes-soaking deluge.
But what’s a poor grey nomad to do?
You can’t very well cart an unwieldy, spring-loaded, eyeball-threatening umbrella around with you 24/7 just on the off-chance today’s the day the drought’s going to break.
Help is here!
In great news for all of us who have spent squillions of rainy days living in fear of a poke in the eye from a clumsy, brolly-wielding fiend, it appears the days of the metal-poles-and-canopy umbrella could be numbered!
Yup. Time to say hello to the ingenious Air Umbrella which repels rain, courtesy of its powerful air jets.
The device uses a lithium battery to power a motor and fan, which creates a cycle of air flowing through its tip. This forms a protective layer which – incredibly – deflects the rainfall. Apparently, it works! And the umbrella’s ‘shield’ is sufficient to protect two people – and possibly even more – if the rain isn’t too heavy. Wow!
And this thing is easy to carry. There is a mini-version which is 30cm long; a midi version which is 50cm long; and a wet season busting maxi version which is 80 centimetres long.
The variants weight 500g, 800g, and 850g respectively. The mini versions have a battery life of 15 minutes, and the larger two a battery life of 30 minutes. Not enough time to allow you to stroll the Bibbulmun Track in a downpour, but just about enough time to get you back to the van or some other refuge in most circumstances.
On the downside, the air umbrella won’t be casting any shade or protecting over-heating grey nomad bushwalkers from the relentless Australian sunshine.
The Air Umbrella is, as you would hope, waterproof. It can be fully recharged in about an hour. While it is still in development stage, deliveries of the Air Umbrella are expected to start from December, 2015. The Chinese designers behind the project expect the final retail cost will be around $200.