The 10 Best Umbrellas
10. Totes Signature Clear
9. LifeTek Kingston 54
8. Kolumbo WindMaster
7. Crown Coast Travel
6. Repel Easy Touch
5. Saiveina Sports
4. Totes 9302
3. Kung Fu Smith Vintage
2. Lewis N. Clark Compact
1. Collar and Cuffs London
How to Choose an Umbrella That Will Last
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.
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.