What Makes a Good Umbrella?

The Best Umbrellas Have These 5 Features

umbrellas in sky
A sturdy umbrella is a weather must-have. lethang photography/Moment/Getty Images

Umbrellas. Most of us own one, but carrying it is often an afterthought for us -- even on rainy days. Or if we do remember to travel with it, we'd rather run for the door in a downpour than be bogged down with the cumbersome contraption. If any of these sentiments ring true for you, the reason why may be because you haven't found the right umbrella.

Here are our recommendations for picking an umbrella that's so perfect, you might very well look forward to the next chance of rain in your forecast.

1. A Taut, Dome-Shaped Canopy

The classic arc shape of umbrellas is meant to discourage the puddling of raindrops overhead. But while all umbrellas are curved, those with a more rounded dome do this best. The rounder the shape, the more sloped and easier for raindrops to roll off -- and away from you! 

2. Waterproof, Micro-weave Fabric

I know what you're thinking..."Isn't a waterproof umbrella a given?" If you've ever had rain seep through the inside of your umbrella and drip on your head, you know from experience the answer to this is "No." While all umbrellas shield you from rain and snow, some do it better simply because their fabric is more tightly woven which creates an airtight barrier that precipitation can't seep through. For maximum fabric protection, look for an umbrella that boasts a tightly woven or "micro-weave" canopy or one whose canopy fabric has a thread count of 190 or 210.

Fabrics with coatings that repel water will further encourage water to bead and roll off (rather than sit and sink in). Water repellency also makes for a quick drying umbrella once you're indoors. And why risk bad luck waiting for an opened umbrella to dry if you don't have to!

3. Wind-Resistant Framing

When it comes to an umbrella's bones (it's inside wire frame) you want a material that's strong enough to resist the strongest winds yet flexible enough to absorb and bounce back against their force.

High-grade steel, fiberglass, zinc alloy, and aluminum do this best.

Another wind-resistant option is to consider a vented canopy. The idea behind venting is that wind will pass through it instead of underneath the dome where it can flip the entire canopy inside-out. (But a sturdy set of ribs is really all you need to fight inverting.)

Related: How does rain make rainbows?

4. A Comfy Handle

Like canopy design, color, and opening style (automatic or manual), handle shape is another element that's really up to your personal style. If you'll be running shopping errands in the rain, you might like to go with a crook handle so that you can carry your umbrella on your arm and go hands free. Straight handles are great for gripping in either your right or left hand. No matter whether you prefer crook or straight, we do suggest steering clear from handles made of foam rubber as they can make your hands sweat (not to mention hold more germs than other options like wood, metal, or leather).

5. As Few Collapsible Parts as Possible

All umbrellas have a collapsible canopy (it remains folded until opened during use), but when it comes to the less collapsible parts, the better -- mainly because there's less stress points and so less chance for .

Unfortunately, the more compact an umbrella is, the more collapsible it is, since, in order to fit into your carry-on or pants pocket it must fold down to an iota of its full size. If it's convenience you crave, go with a model that compromises on size and strength like one that's 11 or 12 inches long when closed and has at least a 7-rib frame (versus the standard 8- or 9-rib).

How Long do Umbrellas Last?

With proper use, a high quality umbrella should last you many years. Many high-end models like those by Davek ($90 and up) even come with a forever guarantee. But if your umbrella budget is in the more modest $30 to $40 range, it's good weather etiquette to replace your brolly every 2 to 3 years.  

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Means, Tiffany. "What Makes a Good Umbrella?" ThoughtCo, Mar. 9, 2016, thoughtco.com/what-makes-a-good-umbrella-3990056. Means, Tiffany. (2016, March 9). What Makes a Good Umbrella? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-makes-a-good-umbrella-3990056 Means, Tiffany. "What Makes a Good Umbrella?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-makes-a-good-umbrella-3990056 (accessed November 24, 2017).