Gear Review: Montbell Versalite Rain Pants

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Looking for a light weight solution in rain equipment? Montbell’s Versalite rain gear is an ultra-compact and ultra-light solution for one bag travel. I tested the rain pants on a 5-1/2 week trip to South America, which included mountaineering, jungle treks, and cruises. I was delighted with the performance.

The best rain pants for one bag travel

Montbell is a Japanese corporation that sells a large line of outdoor equipment.  They are known through the ultralight community for their light weight and high quality products.  You may pay a premium for the equipment, but it performs very well.

I decided to purchase the Versalite rain pants for my November trip to South America. We were trekking to Machu Picchu via the Salkantay trail.  This trail goes over a 15,190 foot (4630 m) pass in the Andes. November is on the edge of the rainy season which increases the chance of bad weather. I had recently lost weight so used the trip as an excuse to replace my rain gear.  I had a 7 kg limit on my overseas flight and was looking to save weight any way possible.  The Versalight kept coming up in ultralight backpacking forums as a reliable, breathable rain pant.  I also had recommendations from some of my caving/mountaineering friends.  I bought the pants.

Cindy at Salkantay Pass

Wearing the rain pants at the top of 15,000 foot Salkantay Pass. Note the foul weather in the background. It started pouring about 15 minutes after this picture was taken. I’m also wearing my Kyoto rain trench over my Patagonia nano-puff jacket and Lands End rash guard.

The Versalite rain pant weighs in at 3.6 oz (102 g).  This is one of the lightest rain pants around.  It has fully taped seams and is breathable.  The pants are unisex but I found them to have generous room in the hips (usually a problem for women).  The pants have no zippers, even on the legs.  The legs have a generous cut and I found that I could easily pull them over my hiking boots.  At one point I wiped out on the trail and slid down a muddy hill.  The pants never leaked, even when embedded with mud.

Montbell Versalite Rain Pants

Montbell Versalite Rain Pants are a great solution for those needing foul weather gear while traveling lightly.

The pants have a simple design, which is why they are so light. There are no zippers, pull tabs, or toggles to add weight.  I hiked for several hours in the rain but had little condensation in the pants.  That attests to the breathability of the fabric.

waist of Versalite pants

The pants have a drawstring waist. note the hanging loop at the back of the pants.

hem of versalite pants

The pants have an elasticized loop at the bottom. The pants have a generous cut so you can pull them over your boot.

cinched rain pants

I tied the hem elastic into an overhand knot when I wanted to cinch the pants around my ankle.

Versalite rain pants stuff sack

The pants come with their own stuff sack. There are two drawstrings on the bag, ensuring that water doesn’t get in or out.

Versalite pants in storage sack

The Versalite pants pack down very small.

Versalite on scale.

The pants and the stuff sack together still weigh less than 4 oz (110 g). You can’t get lighter than that!

The Versalite pants retail for $85 US.  That price is competitive with other high end rain pants that weigh twice as much.  Remember that you are paying for light weight, quality, and performance.  The Versalite pants are a great one-bag solution for any trip that involves rain, camping, or snow sports.  I strongly recommend them.

Montbell also sells a Versalite rain jacket.  It weighs 6.7 oz. (189 g).  I’m vain enough to want a stylish jacket. That said, if you are looking for a super light jacket you should consider Montbell.

In closing, I’d like to reference a post on “Stupid Light” by Andrew Skurka  It’s a great discussion on how going too light and leaving things behind can cause major problems.  You don’t need all the gear – just the right gear.