I use a photo basics 5-1 reflector. It folds up into the size of medium pizza pan. When let out, it's 40" in diameter. It has a choice of reflective surfaces (gold silver, white, etc..) it also has a white screen which is good for producing diffuse shade on a sunny day. (good for outdoor product shots)
It is true you need often someone to hold it, but that goes for any tall outdoor lighting unless there is either zero wind or it's so heavy you don't want to lug it. You could clamp it to a spare tripod, but that's sort of a last resort. You really don't need too complex a lighting outdoors. A fill flash 1.5 stops under and a reflector are about all you need. You don't want to eliminate shadows so much as control their contrast range to something that's acceptable for your end results. If someone comes along with a P&S digicam to distract your subject, put them in charge of the reflector. Tell them where to stand and physically help them aim it till the subject notes that the reflector is shining in their face. Thank them and tell them not to move. Then you can do your work. Instead of being a copy cat, they are part of the process!