EuroSCHIRM Swing Trek Liteflex Review
Cons: Fixed shaft length makes it a bit longer, not as stylish
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EuroSCHIRM Swing Trek Liteflex
Check Price on Amazon
|$20.00 at Amazon||$22.99 at Amazon||$19.50 at Amazon||$14.08 at Amazon|
|Pros||Lightweight, durable, easy to use||Strong, excellent rain coverage, stylish||Classy, durable, versatile||Affordable, stylish, ample rain protection||Compact, wind vent, adequate rain protection|
|Cons||Fixed shaft length makes it a bit longer, not as stylish||Large, unwieldy in high winds||On the heavy side, larger for a compact model||Heavy, not as easy to transport||A touch heavier than other compact models, plain style|
|Bottom Line||Simple and protective with exceptional quality for the low weight||A more traditional, quality model at a great price||Reliable automatic open and close capability with added style notes||The see-through canopy on this fun umbrella is more protective against the rain||A great price for an automatic compact umbrella that works well|
|Rating Categories||Swing Trek Liteflex||totes Auto Open Wooden||Balios Double Canopy||totes Clear Bubble||AmazonBasics Automatic Travel|
|Rain Protection (30%)|
|Ease Of Transport (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Swing Trek Liteflex||totes Auto Open...||Balios Double Canopy||totes Clear Bubble||AmazonBasics...|
|Measured Canopy Diameter||37.5 in||42 in||40 in||33.5 in||38 in|
|Depth of Canopy||9.75 in||10.25 in||9 in||16.75 in||8 in|
|Sleeve Included?||Yes, w/ shoulder sling||No||Yes, with zip||No||Yes|
|Measured Weight, Including Sleeve||10.0 oz (w/case); 8.0 oz (w/o case)||18.5 oz||15.5 oz||16.0 oz||14.0 oz|
|Measured Length (collapsed)||25.25 in||36.5 in||14 in||35.75 in||11.5 in|
|Measured Length (deployed)||25.38 in||36.75 in||25.5 in||35.75 in||21.5 in|
|Handle Design||High-density EVA hardfoam||Wooden crook handle, button operation||Wooden ergonimic grip, inset button operation||Plastic crook handle||Short, Comfort-Grip handle, inset button operation|
|Canopy Material||Teflon-coated polyester, velcro closure||Polyester, velcro closure||300 Thread count water repellent fabric, snap fastener||Thermoplastic polyurethane, snap fastener||Polyester, velcro closure|
|Support Structure||High-density fiberglass||Wood and aluminum||Steel and fiberglass||Unknown metal and carbonfiber||Steel|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Swing Trek Liteflex is an excellent product to take on your next adventure, for both the pouring rain and the blistering sun. Easy to maneuver, operate, and stash, the design is both innovative and simple.
The canopy on the Swing Trek is the ideal size and shape to maximize coverage from the rain (and sun!) while remaining light and compact enough for easy transport — a high demand for a product geared toward ultralight trekkers and backpackers. The diameter measures 37.5 inches and has a depth of 9.75 inches. This combination is what helps maximize protection for its relatively smaller size. We measured the arc length range from 41 to 44 inches due to the slightly scalloped edge of each panel. In addition, the circumference is approximately 116 inches, and the design is comprised of an octagonal shape.
During testing, rain would sprinkle us from about the waist down, particularly if there was any wind involved. In our wind test, the Swing Trek maintained its relative shape without breaking or exposing us to the elements. And while the bold color might not be the most ideal in the sun, we still could find comfort in the shade created. For achievements above and beyond the scope of most of its competitors, we certainly appreciate the thoughtfulness of design.
Ease of Transport
What sets this model apart in this review is its hands-free potential. This product is easy to lash to a backpack (best if that backpack has a Velcro loop normally used for the hose of a hydration bladder), providing truly hands-free operation. We tested this in rain and snowstorms, as well as sunny hikes. Note this means you must have a backpack that it can attach to, though we found many ways to get creative in our lashing methods.
We measured the weight to be only 8 ounces, which is an incredible feat. This umbrella is so light that even though it does not retract like the telescoping options in this review, it doesn't lose points for being longer. Too, with a packed length of 25.25 inches, it isn't as long as other traditional fixed-shaft models we tested. We were able to tuck it into most of our duffels or shoulder bags with no problem. It is also well balanced — enough so that it didn't tip out of our reusable grocery bags when our hands were too full to carry it.
Designed with a fixed-length shaft instead of a telescoping shaft, the Swing Trek doesn't shrink down: the length is nearly the same whether stowed or deployed, with only a slight increase when fully open (25.375 inches). Additionally, the model comes with an adjustable shoulder sling storage bag, which adds another carrying option for trekkers and general users, with or without a backpack to strap it to. The total weight with this bag comes to 10 ounces — still very lightweight. The sleeve the umbrella slides into has mesh to allow a wet canopy to air out a little when stowed quickly after a downpour.
We thought we pushed this product so far that we broke it during our high wind test. It made audible snap noises, and the canopy folded sideways, but as we slowed down the vehicle, it popped right back into place with no perceptible damage done. We were floored.
The only catch is that the canopy flexed sideways at a relatively low speed of 20mph, and it even bucked around significantly at 15mph, inverting easily at only 10mph. This meant it might not function in severe winds, but if a gust catches you off guard as you crest that mountain pass on the Pacific Crest Trail, know that the stays will bounce back unscathed. The fiberglass frame of this umbrella proved to be indestructible in our testing. For those with a distinct preference for reducing metal, this is a great choice.
The Swing Trek Liteflex is easy to collapse after it inverts, even when under tension from a headwind. Unlike umbrellas with metal stays and multiple joints in the spokes, there is little to break or bend. Additionally, there is no button on this model, which means one less mechanical feature to potentially break.
Ease of Use
In the most practical sense, opening and closing an umbrella is often a gamechanger when it comes to comfort or how willing someone is to use it. While the popular trend is for automatic, spring-loaded mechanisms, we appreciate the tried-and-true stability of the Swing Trek Liteflex. The operation is entirely manual, with a slide that is fluid and easy to grip. Without much effort at all, the canopy deploys and collapses — no extra buttons or tricks. The deployment action of this model feels like unsticking a magnet: it is smooth yet securely closed when collapsed. The handle itself is also easy to hold and doesn't slip around when wearing gloves.
Additionally, it's possible to lash this product to things like trekking poles, which will allow you to take breaks with the umbrella propped overhead. The handle has a lower profile, and the shaft is a bit thicker than most telescoping models, which means that you can wrap a ski strap (or use any tying mechanism) around a trekking pole, and it'll rest flush and secure with the trekking pole. The soft handle provides enough friction with whatever it is mounted to, helping to keep it securely in place. Also, the drawcord leash at the bottom of the handle gives another adjustable attachment tool, aiding in the much-coveted hands-free experience.
Finally, we like that all of the typical pokey bits on the tips of the canopy are covered with plastic caps and that there is nothing to pinch you accidentally, from handle and shaft to stretchers and tip. We found this to be a great advantage when working outdoor education programs with little kids in the rainy Pacific Northwest spring season, for example.
This umbrella is certainly more technical and outdoorsy looking than a typical stylish urban model. The foam handle is soft, light, and ergonomic but contributes to the more casual nature of the design. The black and bold color combination also makes it look more standard than pattern-happy models, which can either be a plus or a minus, depending on your personal preferences. Certainly not the most fashionable item, we still enjoy the charming color and simple features. Sometimes less is more, right?
When judged among other technical models, the Swing Trek Liteflex is well worth the cost. However, it is much more expensive than your average drugstore umbrella. Depending on your needs and wants, however, we think this will make for an excellent, reliable option.
The EuroSCHIRM Swing Trek Liteflex is one of the lightest in this review. It is on the longer side, but this allows a much larger and deeper canopy, giving it excellent weather protection for its incredibly low weight. Trekking umbrella connoisseurs and casual users alike will find true value in such an innovative and durable design.
— Sara Aranda & Lyra Pierotti