Bimini Vs. Umbrella - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-22-2017   #1
gobigohome's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 170
Bimini Vs. Umbrella

Looking for some Buzzards different thoughts on positives and negatives of both Bimini vs. Umbrella. We have an umbrella, for our 15'6 D and it works but not great in wind. Seeing if some buzzards have some good pics of both set-up on your rigs. Some of my concerns with changing to a bimini are:
1. $$$$$
2. put-up and take down
3. storage while not in use / as well as access once boat is packed
4. risk of a flip even when down and how well it will fare.

We have a Sept. GC launch and can't decide if it is worth the change.


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Old 06-22-2017   #2
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 46
We use the Sport-Brella for both the dory and raft. Like it because we can simply pull it for lunch and shade down on beaches. Best $50 we have ever spent, We added two adjustable lines to attach to frame for wind, does fine in wind till it doesn't.

I like the bimini and think its a great product. However, we just had some friends float the Upper San Juan, Pagosa, wind came out of nowhere, turned the boat sideways, hit a pourover, the wind flipped the boat with kids on it. Needless to say, there is no longer a bimini left to sail.

Wind is wind, it usually sucks, the difference in "drag" between the two is splitting hairs. Functionality for your use is most important.
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Old 06-22-2017   #3
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 495
I use the SportBrella on my 15' cat. It is much stronger than a typical umbrella but it is also has a lot of wind drag. We use the SportBrella as a 'tent' by adding a mosquito net and rain fly supported on some shock corded tent pole hoops. When in use is gives the rower great protection from the sun, but not so much the front passenger. For a quick setup shelter for two chairs it is unbeatable, we use it all the time for lunch stops, for protecting the coolers, etc.

I am considering upgrading to a bimini top after watching them perform (other boats) on a windy San Juan trip. The bimini tops are designed for power boats that regularly cruise at 30 mph or higher. They can handle much greater winds and have a low profile to reduce the 'sail effect'. They also provide a much larger shade area. They go up or down in seconds with just 1 or 2 straps.

What stops me from converting is finding a good way to mount without interfering with my oars (I row open oarlocks, the bimini mount location would prevent me from shipping the oars) and rearranging my rigging so the top would have a place to fold into. (I currently have a bench seat in the front and a dunage pile in the back which would prevent the bimini from folding flat.
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Old 06-22-2017   #4
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 513
1. $$$$$ Check Amazon, less than $150 for a big one.
2. put-up and take down Takes 5 seconds to unclip the front or back and fold down.
3. storage while not in use / as well as access once boat is packed I lay mine on the bow and strap it to the front d ring, easy to access to put down and pull back up.
4. risk of a flip even when down and how well it will fare. Rig to flip, strap it down and row hard.
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Old 06-22-2017   #5
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 507
I bought one of the 8-foot leader ones on amazon. Replaced stock deck hinges with steel ones since they're the one part that is always on the boat. Bolted (not screwed) the hinges directly to my wooden side decking. My towers are a little back of center, so I put the hinges a little in front and inside the towers. I set the bimini "backwards", so the crook of the first two outer supports give a little more oar clearance. When I drop it to the stern it sits more or less around the gear pile. I haven't used it much, but it seems great and gives a nice patch of shade for me and my passengers. Never tried an umbrella.
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Old 06-22-2017   #6
Big Sky, Montana
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 40
Pro Bimini

I am a big fan of the Bimini. I also have it reverse mounted so the shade and protection is on the front seat passengers. Mine in bomber in all wind/weather events. We use it more for protection from the rain for the little ones. I have used it everywhere in all types of rivers. If your stressed about flipping just put it down. I secure it with one strap to the front of raft and the buckles that support it are still attached on one end , so it can be deployed in 15 seconds. It is the single best thing I have bought for the family for our raft. Game Changer.
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Old 06-22-2017   #7
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 103
We also have an Amazon 8 foot bimini on our 16 foot boat. My dad takes amiodarone and would turn blue if he was exposed to too much sun (smurf dad would not be cool) so I put one on and have been really happy. Excellent shade, can row with it up in pretty strong wind without problems. It goes down in a flash and mine has a built in zippered cover which keeps things from getting caught and keeps the situation clean . Also, with it zippered up, it travels on the trailer with no problems or flapping at highway speeds. If I want it down fast, I fold it forward because it would get caught up on the oars if I tried to go back by the gear pile.
I don't get much shade out of it when I row, but it is really for my dad, wife, and kids. I plan to put it on sliders some time and get me some shade too, but now, I don't want to deal with the hassle. Definitely buy the 8 foot version.
The Amazon ones come with plastic mounts. They are just fine. I notice that stores that sell power boat supplies have the metal ones. When I switch over to metal, I plan to replace the bolt that connects the mount to the poles with a pin so I can pull the whole thing quickly if I want.
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Old 06-22-2017   #8
Aurora, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 623
I used an umbrella for a lot of years. It seemed like whenever we really wanted to use it, it was windy out. Last year we bought one of the cheaper Amazon biminis, and I really like it.
-It is better than the umbrella in wind, though I don't know I'd trust it to 30mph.
-It is way easier to take up/down: two loop straps get hooked up and tightened to a pre-determined spot. To take down, undo those straps, and secure it with 1 or 2 3' straps tied to the frame. (With the umbrella we were always using straps to guy it out- not too big a deal, but still a pain compared to snugging up 2 loop straps.
-Way more shade.

There are two things I dislike about it:
-I think it's probably more fragile than the umbrella. Haven't broken it yet, but just waiting for one of my big oaf, kayak buddies to just smash the shit out of it.
-It makes rigging/derigging, or even just shopping in the boat just a little harder. If it's up, you have to duck to go back and forth, and if it's down it's laying on my sweet diamond plate decks, whereas an umbrella can get stashed away in the bottom of a drop-bag.

Overall, for me it's the way to go, especially now that I have a 2 year old and I'm doing more fair-weather trips, and fewer winter GC trips. The negatives are not critical, but they're also not trivial- I can definitely see a day when I decide that the extra shade isn't worth the hassle.
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Old 06-22-2017   #9
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 507
"When I switch over to metal, I plan to replace the bolt that connects the mount to the poles with a pin so I can pull the whole thing quickly if I want."

The ones I ordered have a little spring pin that is totally easier than the threaded ones. I did have to open the hole on the bimini support a little to take the larger metal pin.
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Old 06-22-2017   #10
Eastside, Washington
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 53
If you fish a lot, you will want an umbrella, not a bimini.................
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