The 10 Best Umbrellas
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in May of 2015. Keep yourself prepared for wet weather conditions with one of these durable umbrellas. Not only are they available in a plethora of colors and styles to suit any business professional or family member, but many also feature automatic opening and closing capabilities, sturdy ribs, and designs capable of withstanding strong winds. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 03, 2020:
Designed in the United Kingdom, the newly added Balios Prestige Travel has one of the more elegant handles you’ll see on an umbrella; it's handmade from wood (and therefore, no two look alike), with finger-notches for comfort. The canopy’s material is highly water repellant, so excess water can be shaken off in no time and you won’t be carrying around a drippy umbrella all day long. It’s small enough that it’s an easy umbrella to travel with, yet large enough to cover you fully once the rain starts. It comes with a zippered sleeve that’s equipped with a wrist loop. It resists inverting with strong winds, which sets it above most others, and therefore is a good value for the price, which currently is less than $23. It’s also available in a wide variety of colors, so there’s something for you whether you prefer neutrals like black, navy, or brown, or vibrant options like aqua, orange, or red. It replaces the Crown Coast Travel on our list, which is no longer available at this time.
We kept the Collar and Cuffs London in the top spot, since it’s hard to beat when it comes to a sturdy design that you can rely on in a storm to help keep you dry and comfortable. The vented canopy allows wind to pass right through, but if it does become inverted, the flexible ribs will soon enough revert to their original position without any damage. For a highly compact and lightweight choice, look to the Repel Easy Touch, which won’t hog lots of space in your tote bag, briefcase, or backpack. What’s more, it’s light enough that you might not even notice it’s in there, until a storm comes on and it’s needed. And, it dries quickly, so you can tuck it away again soon after the rain has stopped.
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte Umbrella Based on the 1884 post-Impressionist masterpiece that pioneered the Pointillism technique, this folding umbrella will brighten up any rainy day. It’s made of polyester fabric and an aluminum shaft, and opens up to a 37-inch diameter. It’s equipped with a secure wrist strap for easy carrying once the rain has stopped. The design is also available in a matching tote and eyeglasses case. artic.edu
Clear Rainbow Umbrella This cheerful selection is sure to add splashes of color to any dreary day. Its eight panels feature pink, white, green, yellow, blue, teal, and orange colors, and the straight, comfortable-grip EVA handle comes in your choice of red or blue. It features an automatic open function and a canopy span of 38 inches. It comes at a budget-friendly price, with matching kid-sized models also available. umbrellaheaven.com
Choose Your Dog Breed Umbrella You can have silhouettes of your favorite breed parading around the perimeter of this polyester, fiberglass, and steel umbrella that measures 35-by-40 inches. Choose from Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Pugs, and more. Whether you're walking your pooch or simply walking to work, this is a great way to show your preferred pet. uncommongoods.com
How to Choose an Umbrella That Will Last
These convenience-store umbrellas are a far cry from the cream of the crop.
People often wonder why umbrellas remain so prone to malfunctioning. The primary reason is that the average umbrella contains more than 150 parts, which means that if anything slips loose, the entire mechanism could be shot. The secondary reason is that the biggest-selling umbrellas retail for an average of six dollars. These convenience-store umbrellas are a far cry from the cream of the crop.
If you want to find a decent umbrella, the most comprehensive place to shop is online. Shopping online allows you to read several product descriptions, while keeping an eye out for terms like durable, weather-resistant, hand-tested, and sturdy. Shopping online will also allow you to see what an umbrella looks like once it's opened. This is critical because the more rounded an umbrella's canopy, the less risk there is of that umbrella flapping in the wind.
If you plan on using an umbrella often, it's helpful to find a model that features a J-shaped handle, which can prevent the umbrella from spinning, while its smooth finish can prevent you from developing any painful blisters along your hands.
Umbrellas that open with a touch of a button offer considerable convenience. But these models are also built with more parts, which means an increased chance of breakage. More to the point, people tend to fiddle with their automatic umbrellas, popping the stem while the canopy is unopened. This could lead to a spring breaking or, worse yet, the entire umbrella not functioning at all.
As a precaution, be sure to take note of an umbrella's weight and diameter. Certain umbrellas are custom-made to be light, but an umbrella should weigh in at a little over a pound. The diameter is only a factor if you're a tall or wide person or if you plan on using the umbrella to shield more than one person at a time.
A Handful of Umbrella Hacks That Are Both Easy & Fun
Umbrellas offer a multitude of available functions beyond simply protecting you from the rain. They can be attached to the back of most any beach chair, thereby providing you with shade for relaxing or reading. Their bases can be inserted into topsoil for use in protecting your fledgling plants and seeds. They can be turned upside down and used to consolidate any inflatable toys in your swimming pool. They can also be hung by their handles, while their flaps are leveraged to store hats or gloves by your front door. Most umbrellas can block out the sun for taking photos, they can protect a toddler when attached to the back of a stroller, their canopies can be used as homemade shades for any hanging lamp, and their J-shaped handles can double as hooks for reeling in items that are out of reach.
You can purchase an extremely offbeat umbrella so that friends can always spot you in a crowd. LED strips can be added to the spokes of any umbrella so that people can find you in the dark. A well-rounded, black umbrella could even be used as a giant candy bowl for Halloween. One could even be used as an antenna, while covering your transistor radio in the rain.
A Brief History of The Umbrella
The earliest parasols were nothing more than vast palms, usually held by servants over the head of aristocrats for shade. As the separation between nobility and common people grew, particularly in Ancient Egypt and China, aristocratic parasols became the expressed province of the wealthy. Pale skin was associated with being part of the upper class. It denoted a person who did not spend his or her days laboring in the sun.
Parasols remained an accessory for wealthy women, but umbrellas were being bought, or more often rented, by European businessmen in droves.
This distinction remained intact for several centuries, until the utility of an umbrella began to evolve during the eleventh century. The Chinese had taken to waterproofing their parasols, rendering the device twice as useful as before. Over the next two hundred years, trade routes to Europe allowed for a mass proliferation of the umbrella. Parasols remained an accessory for wealthy women, but umbrellas were being bought, or more often rented, by European businessmen in droves.
The next great era for the umbrella occurred during the Industrial Revolution. As the marketplace grew, so too did the new patents. There were pocket-style umbrellas, adjustable umbrellas, and those devices that could automatically open and close. During the twentieth century, beach umbrellas became a fixture along American beaches, while parasols became a fashion statement for those who were en vogue.
Today, umbrellas are a billion-dollar industry with the Chinese accounting for 85% of all manufacturing, while the United States, Japan, and Brazil account for the biggest markets. Umbrellas continue to be a viable product because they are both necessary and replaceable. More often than not, if an umbrella breaks down, it makes more sense to buy a new one than to consider looking into repairs.