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Montbell ‘Sun Block Umbrella’

with 21 comments

montbell-sun-block-umbrellaHello Adventurers!

Here is a quick video on the Montbell ‘Sun Block Umbrella’ which has been a really nice umbrella to use.

It is, for all intents and purposes, a baby chromedome. The weight is not all that different from the chromedome (47 grams / 1.66 oz lighter) but the overall pack volume, or stored length (for when you are not using it) that it offers is a massive savings!

If you are like me and pack volume is precious, it just makes sense going with this little umbrella over the chromedome.

Specs:

mine weighs: 178 g (6.29 oz)
folded length: 25cm (8.9 in)
full length: 53cm (20.9 in)
diameter: 98cm (38.6 in)

The video quality did not come out very well but I did not feel like reshooting it all, but the important stuff is covered in the video.

You can buy this little guy directly from the montbell website and it is priced at $45.00

Thanks for reading,
+John Abela
HikeLighter.Com

As of the time of this being published I am a sponsored hiker of Montbell. I purchased my sun block umbrella as I do with ~99% of my gear. This article was originally published on my patreon page, if you feel like having early access to my article and sharing a dollar a month to help the cause, please consider becoming a patron!

Written by John B. Abela

December 26, 2016 at 3:17 pm

21 Responses

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  1. Great looking umbrella John! It looks like a good option to save almost 2 oz (in my case, my Chrome Dome weighs a hair over 8 oz…) And the smaller pack size is interesting, although, to me it is not as nice as the weight savings… The space that my Chrome Dome takes up outside my pack is not used for anything else, however, when my pack is smaller, it does stand up taller than the pack, which as you likely know, will catch on everything! I think having both would be nice in that the smaller, lighter umbrella could come along on warmer trips in which packs are smaller and lighter, and for colder trips where packs are a little bigger, the extra height won’t make such a big difference, and the extra space under the umbrella will come in handy.

    What do you think about all the extra moving points on the rib stretchers on the smaller umbrella though? That would be one of my concerns… more points of movement equals more points of potential failure. I have seen a few umbrella’s flip inside out, including my own Chrome Dome, but they seem to always survive. Also, what do you think about the handles locking mechanism? An old camera tripod I had pulled apart like those and locked with a little button that popped up into a hole. Within a year those little buttons started failing, and one simply fell out! That was such a bummer because I really liked that tripod!

    ~Stick~

    Stick

    December 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    • Hey Chad,

      What do you think about all the extra moving points on the rib stretchers on the smaller umbrella though

      Zero issues with all the moving parts. Three years of using (on and off) the Snow Peak Umbrella and not a single issue with it.

      what do you think about the handles locking mechanism?

      Again, no issues with either the SP nor the MB versions. I actually prefer them over the CD because of the easy of closure.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      John B. Abela

      December 26, 2016 at 4:58 pm

  2. I tried to go with the snow peak to save a couple ounces on my hike of the Washington PCT last summer, but the way it opens and closes is, well, vexing. I left mine in a hiker box, and will be going with the original chromedome on my next hike (CT). If the new “mini” has the same design to open and close, I say no bueno.

    Michael Douglass

    December 26, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    • Hey Michael,

      Yep, I agree the inner-folding part can get annoying. I usually just leave them snapped outwards so I do not have to deal with that. Still waaaay smaller pack volume than the chromedome, even when they are extended.

      John B. Abela

      December 26, 2016 at 4:55 pm

  3. Nice article and video as always, thanks.
    I love umbrellas and do most of my hiking above tree line. Any comments on how the Montbell handles strong wind compared to the others?
    I use the chrome dome and so far it has been stable enough.

    TomasO

    December 27, 2016 at 4:52 am

    • Hey TomasO,

      Thanks!

      These little guys (both this one and the snow peak one) are just not up to the toughness that the Chromedome is – but that is one of the things that has always been great about the CD, it is an umbrella you almost never hear having problems.

      Have heard of people having issues with the chromedome while on the PCT in the Mojave/Tehachapi region, but that is just a naturally umbrella friendly location anyway.

      John B. Abela

      December 27, 2016 at 5:35 am

  4. One of the things I love about the CD is the handle — I hike primarily in the Southwest, so I’ll spend hours hiking with it for sun/wind protection (when I can, I rig it hands-free, but often that isn’t a great option as I’m negotiating brush, short trees, etc.). The CD handle is long enough for my hand, the foam is very comfortable & doesn’t pose an issue if my hand gets sweaty.

    The MB’s handle looks short & plasticky — any comment on the MB handle’s comfort for long carries?

    Mercedes

    December 27, 2016 at 7:30 am

    • Hey Mercedes,

      I really suppose it all comes down to the word “compromise”. That is a mainstay word in the world of ultralight, and lighter, hiking. You ‘compromise’ something (warmth, protection, comfort, etc) in order to lose something (weight, etc).

      Once a hiker starts getting into the world of sub 40 liter backpacks, pack volume is the priority above all else. You start making compromises.

      I really think this little umbrella is a prime example of that. You compromise a significantly tougher and slightly larger umbrella, for one that has a bit of hassle to deal with, is not as strong, but is waaaaaay smaller in pack volume (key for those of us with small volume backpacks with no side pockets!)

      John B. Abela

      December 27, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      • Thank you — very good point re volume. On a shorter trip with a smaller pack, it would be nice to have less volume and awkwardness to deal with.

        Mercedes

        December 27, 2016 at 4:41 pm

  5. Hi, I’ve not used any umbrella with a reflective surface. Have you ever tested the SP and MB against each other on a warm, sunny day?
    Is it effective enough to give any significant difference in the percieved heat?

    I would also like to point out that the difference in weight between those two are 36 grams, not 16. (About 1.3 oz)

    Thanks for a nice video, keep up the good work to inform the hiker community!

    Daniel Helander

    December 27, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    • Hey Daniel,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      >>> Have you ever tested the SP and MB against each other on a warm, sunny day?

      Nope, as I am not the type of person to carry around two umbrellas ;)

      >>> Is it effective enough to give any significant difference in the perceived heat?

      If you mean the SP vs the MB, yes, the SP is going to feel much warmer being under.

      >>> I would also like to point out that the difference in weight between those two are 36 grams, not 16. (About 1.3 oz)

      Yeah, I typed that wrong inside of my text within the video, just did not want to recompile and reupload the whole bloody thing for that small typo. Thanks for the reminder :-D

      >>> Thanks for a nice video, keep up the good work to inform the hiker community!

      Thank you!!

      John B. Abela

      December 27, 2016 at 5:53 pm

  6. Thanks John one of the few pieces I need for my upcoming PCT is an umbrella. In one spot you covered all the options.

    David Rowell

    December 31, 2016 at 6:16 am

  7. Hey John, thanks for the great review. You’ve mentioned in the comments section that the CD is more robust than the MB. Is this based on personal experience where the MB kept giving you issues or just your perceived observation? I don’t mind as much that an umbrella gets blown inside out if it can just be blown back to its correct configuration by facing it into the wind. But my biggest concern is if there is a any breakage with the MB after it experiences these issues. Have you ever had a MB or SP break during a hike and what was the failure point in the structure? If you haven’t had any true failure issues, then it seems like a no-brainer to skip the CD.

    Have you investigated the MB 3 oz umbrella? For nearly 1/3 the weight of the CD, it seems like an amazing option.

    Last point I wanted to ask about, (sorry how long this is) I’m very skeptical about the true benefits of the silver UV coating. I believe it helps some but more on the order of single digit percentages, not massive improvements in UV protection. The air under the umbrella when walking would seem to be constantly replaced with new cooler air and the UV protection from sunburn would seem to be very high under any umbrella due to just physical blockage of most of the UV rays.

    Thanks!

    Brent Welborn

    January 3, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    • Hey Brent,

      Love the long comment. Happy to share some thoughts.

      >>> Is this based on personal experience where the MB kept giving you issues or just your perceived observation?

      It is just a fact of one being beefier than the other. Both are good build quality, but one is just a small little thing, the other is a big hunking thing. I have had zero issues with either of them.

      >>> Have you ever had a MB or SP break during a hike and what was the failure point in the structure?

      None so far. I have had the little SP umbrella in some pretty decent wind+rain, had to do some angleing (spl?) that favored in protecting the umbrella over the rain, but meh, that is what the rain gear is for, and part of the “compromise” that I wrote about in my comment above to Mercedes.

      >>> Have you investigated the MB 3 oz umbrella?

      The little Monbell Travel Umbrella… no, I have not used it. Just never felt like buying another umbrella when I already had the SP one, which I guess is ~2 oz heavier. Could be something I toss into my next Montbell order, but no idea when that will be, I just placed a good size order with them a couple months ago (and yeah, that hurt the bank account)

      >>> I’m very skeptical about the true benefits of the silver UV coating.

      So are a lot of other people.

      But every year I read people’s “post pct hike” write-ups and pretty much everybody that talks about going out with a non UV umbrella, has been, for years, saying they ditched it and bought a chrome one. That says a whole lot.

      My own experiences are the same. They have proven themselves to me when out in the Mojave Desert, Death Valley, and elsewhere down there.

      Of course, I am also a huge fan of wearing sun protective garments (ref 1, ref 2).

      John B. Abela

      January 3, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      • Thanks for the excellent reply that covered my questioned perfectly. Just a couple of follow up points:

        Due to this insight you have gained from people’s post hike write ups, do you still think there is a purpose for your SP in your gear or did people’s experience influence you to also ditch the non silver umbrellas?

        Also, I’m fully on board with using clothing for additional sun protection.

        Brent Welborn

        January 10, 2017 at 11:26 am

        • Hey Brent,

          I suppose the overall purpose of this video & article was not to really say that one is any better or worse than the others.

          It just all comes down to what a person wants and needs.

          The CD is the big daddy
          The MB is the baby CD
          The SP is a non uv

          Own all three and take whichever one you need for the given adventure :) … like we do with quilts, backpacks, and thermals.

          John B. Abela

          January 10, 2017 at 12:22 pm

          • Final follow up comment. For the MB, have you had a wind gust turn it inside out yet? I’m resigned to the fact that there is a strong possibility that a wind gust will happen and I just want to make sure that it can handle the inside-outing and get popped back outside-in without the ribs being damaged. I’ve seen videos with the CD, where they demonstrate it’s robustness with surviving an inside outing and how it can easily be popped back into place by quickly jolting it the other way, or in the case of in the field, just pointing it into the wind and letting the wind pop it back into the correct orientation.

            I aknowledge that your video isn’t saying which one is the best. But wisdom is the application of knowledge and I’m trying to translate the information you supplied into a useful decision on which one will best suit my “given adventure” (as you put it). Just trying to understand the “baby” CD’s limits, so I can use the right one for the right situation. If i’m on the JMT, i’d like to just bring one and i’d prefer the baby CD if I could feel some confidence in it’s inside outing survivability.

            Brent Welborn

            January 26, 2017 at 1:20 am

  8. Thanks for the great review! I am looking for one of these for this season and this helped me weigh my options. I definitely want something more compact. :)

    Snuffy

    January 5, 2017 at 7:26 pm


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