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Old 05-03-2011   #11
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,012
I've got a Sombrero and agree with everything Pierce said. But for me, the extra hassels are totally worth it and not that big of a deal. Having a 2 and a 4 year old, shade and weather protection are key. On one river trip last year, a gust suddenly blew up and the three Sombreros on the trip didn't even break a sweat while every umbrella was inside out. I do have the sliding mounts which may alleviate some the issues Pierce talked about by allowing me to slide it forward when up and backward when down. Most of the issues talked about by pierce are non-issues when mounting them on cats. Since cats don't rise up in the stern like rafts do, you can mount them so they lie totally flat behind the captains chair when down. On a cat I wouldn't hesitate to get a Sombrero. On a raft you have to decide if the hassles Pierce talked about are more of a concern to you than having wind-proof shade.

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Old 05-03-2011   #12
RFV, Colorado
Paddling Since: 94
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 234
Bimini Top!

I have had a sun shade top, On my boat for as long as anyone can remember. Shade is the best thing. Unbrella's will shade the sun. Although they will not keep the direct power of thje sun. off of you!!!

Big Dave
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Old 05-04-2011   #13
jeffvdgo's Avatar
durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 49
Great discussion on the pluses/minuses of umbrellas and Sombrero's. My partner and I started RS after a family trip in which he had rigged a bimini top, and all the kids spent the entire trip under it while the rest of us roasted. At camp we watched raft after raft float by with sunburned occupants and decided there had to be a better way...

A couple of suggestions for mounting Sombreros for the least hassle. First, we generally recommend mounting behind the oar locks so the Sombrero when folded can rest on the rear of the raft and clear the gear pile. As pierce notes, that's not always the best solution if you want shade in the front, so you can flip it around and mount in front of the oar locks. The Sombrero can fold down in either direction, so you could also drop it to the front. With decking, the slide tracks are a great way to go because you can mount it in one position when up and slide it back for stowing. I'm always happy to answer questions and brainstorm about your particular setup!

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Old 05-04-2011   #14
RFV, Colorado
Paddling Since: 94
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 234
Bimini Tip #1

Use 9' loop straps. Attach the straps to your frame, So that you can run small stuff. ( If you attach to D-Rings the flex of the boat will cause havoc). Also this will allow you to "Clam Shell" By pulling all the way back Tilting and throwing shade from the the back to front, Or vice versa.
Big Dave
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Old 05-05-2011   #15
Dupont, Washington
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 2
For mounting an unbrella, I took a piece of PVC pipe, glued a cap on one end, and strap that to a thwart. Quick and easy, and it's also easy to remove the umbrella and strap it to the frame when not in use.
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Old 05-05-2011   #16
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 262
When I used my umbrella I took a NRS LoPro fitting with a 12" piece of pipe, drilled a hole in the pipe through the umbrella pole and used a pin and clip to secure the umbrella pole, it worked well, the umbrella not so much...

Now I will be using that same lo-pro and pipe to secure my windsock pole to fly my windsock and tribal flags on the know some river flair...
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Old 05-05-2011   #17
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 22
One thing I feel I should add is, even though my River Sombrero doesn't exactly fit my needs, it is a very well made bimini top and the company was great to work with.

We'd thought about buying a cheaper bimini from one of the other online retailers (Cabela's I think) but in the end I'm glad we bought one from River Sombrero instead.
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Old 05-05-2011   #18
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 22
This is the bimini I mentioned before on the Cabela's website for ~$180

Cabela's: "Best Value" 3-Bow Bimini Top

It's similar to the River Sombrero (for $240) but the Cabela's "best value" bimini is an imported product, quite a bit shorter (36" vs the River Sombrero 54"), and doesn't come with a storage boot.

If you're thinking about buying a bimini top, my advice is that you don't want it any shorter than the River Sombrero. In fact taller would be even better.

Also, I was surprised at how handy the storage boot is. If your transport your frame on your roof rack (like we do), the boot is really nice to keep all the extra material from flapping and/or tearing apart in the 75+ mph wind.
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Old 05-05-2011   #19
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 22
Let's see if this link to Cabela's works better:

Cabela's: "Best Value" 3-Bow Bimini Top
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Old 05-05-2011   #20
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 665
pierce, how long is your raft? Just curious how length impacts ability to stow it. In the picture, it looks like it's close to being able to be stowed more behind the gear pile, so if your raft is a longer raft, maybe it would work better on mine.

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