Backpacking with a Birdiepal Swing Liteflex in Olympic National Park.
Using umbrellas when backpacking is a practice that is scoffed at by some and celebrated by others. For those that love using umbrellas like I do, the ability to hike in all-day downpours while wearing lightweight layers under the protection of a lightweight umbrella is sweet. However, the options for lightweight umbrellas in the past have been limited to just a few models by Golite and Montbell. Several exciting new models in the extensive lineup from the German manufacturer Birdiepal will give brolly lovers something to talk about.
The Birdiepal Swing Liteflex, Dainty, and Light Trek umbrellas (left to right)
The Birdiepal Swing Liteflex, Light Trek, and Dainty umbrellas (back to front)
In the Birdiepal line, there are three umbrellas that are excellent choices for ultralight backpacking:
The Swing Liteflex is a fixed-length umbrella that is great competition for the classic Golite Dome. When compared to the Dome, the Swing Liteflex is a bit lighter and offers slightly greater coverage. The EVA handle of the Swing Liteflex is comfortable to hold and the umbrella stood up well to moderate winds and constant downpours. It is my current favorite for rainforest hikes.
When compared to the compact Montbell U.L. Trekking Umbrella, the Birdiepal Light Trek is heavier but offers full-size coverage, a longer handle, and beefier construction. It is a good choice for those that want an umbrella that packs small but provides full-size coverage.
The Birdiepal Dainty is the lightest around and quick to deploy but the fabric panels don’t have the same tension as other models.
The Birdiepal Dainty is very similar in weight and size to the Montbell U.L. Trekking Umbrella but compacts a bit smaller and is easier to open from its compact size (the Montbell requires snapping each aluminum extension into place). However, the Dainty doesn’t provide the fabric tension of the Montbell or the other Birdiepal umbrellas and it tends to flap more in light wind. Still, if you are looking for the lightest umbrella around (by 0.1 oz) and quick deployment is a priority for you, the Birdiepal Dainty is a good choice. I often carry this umbrella as a backup when wearing only a wind shirt and it’s held up well to frequent usage.
For those that spend a lot of time hiking in direct sun, UV reflective umbrellas are a great idea. Like the Golite Chrome Dome, Birdiepal offers reflective Silver Metallic coatings on many of their trekking umbrellas. For a small weight increase and a $3.50 up charge, you can get these special silver umbrellas. While the silver may look a bit space-age, I found them to be very effective in exposed areas on hot summer days. I would seriously consider taking one on my next desert trek.
The Birdiepal Swing Liteflex with Silver Metallic Coating (left) and looking directly into the summer sun with the umbrella’s protection (right). (Note the overexposure in the photo of all parts except what was shaded by the angle of the umbrella.)
Here is a comparison of the Birdiepal umbrellas with other popular backpacking models:
|Birdiepal Swing Liteflex||7.3 oz||24.9 inch length||38.5 inch span||$26.00|
|Golite Dome*||8.0 oz||25.3 inch length||36.1 inch span||$25.00|
*Manufacturer claim (newer model than mine)
|Birdiepal Swing Liteflex- Silver Metallic Coating||8.0 oz||24.9 inch length||38.5 inch span||$29.50|
|Golite Chrome Dome||10.0 oz*||25.3 inch length||36.1 inch span||$30.00|
|Birdiepal Light Trek||9.0 oz||10.7-22.9 inch length||38.0 inch span||$29.00|
|Birdiepal Light Trek- Silver Metallic Coating||9.1 oz||10.7-22.9 inch length||38.0 inch span||$32.50|
|Birdiepal Dainty||5.4 oz||6.0-19.5 inch length||33.6 inch span||$25.00|
|Birdiepal Dainty- Silver Metallic Coating||5.2 oz||6.0-19.5 inch length||33.6 inch span||$28.50|
|Montbell U.L. Trekking Umbrella||5.5 oz||9.0-19.6 inch length||33.5 inch span||$35.00|
Features and Specifications
Birdiepal Swing Liteflex fixed-length umbrella
- Weight: 7.3 oz (206 g) / metallic: 8.0 (226 g)
- Weight- case: 1.8 oz (51 g)
- Length: 24.9 in (63.5 cm)
- Span: 38.5 in (98 cm)
- Materials: high density fiberglass shaft and ribs, EVA foam handle and tip, wrist loop, polyester fabric with Teflon coating
- Features: 8 color options including silver metallic
- MSRP: $26.00 / metallic: $29.50
Birdiepal Light Trek compact umbrella
- Weight: 9.0 oz (254 g) / metallic: 9.1 oz (259 g)
- Weight- case: 1.0 oz (27 g)
- Length (compact): 10.7 in (27 cm)
- Length (extended): 22.9 in (58 cm)
- Span: 38in (96.5 cm)
- Materials: frame parts: fiber glass, anodized aluminum, and fiber glass polyamide, hard foam grip and tip, polyester fabric with Teflon coating
- Features: integrated compass in handle, 9 color options including silver metallic
- MSRP: $29.00 / metallic: $32.50
Birdiepal Dainty compact umbrella
- Weight: 5.4 oz (152 g) / metallic: 5.2 oz (147 g)
- Weight- case: 0.4 oz (10 g)
- Length (compact): 6.0 in (15 cm)
- Length (extended): 19.5 in (49.5 cm)
- Span: 33.6in (85 cm)
- Materials: aluminum frame with fiberglass parts, plastic grip and tip, polyester fabric with Teflon coating
- Features: integrated compass in handle, 8 color options including silver metallic
- MSRP: $25.00 / metallic: $28.50