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    Apr 10, 2020

    The Best Umbrellas To Help You Weather All The Storms

    Don't get caught in the rain unprepared.

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    Getting caught in the rain might be the perfect makings of a meet-cute, but IRL, it’s the least cute thing that could happen to you. Downpour defense is real. And for those of us who don’t live by the rules of our favorite rom-com, the easiest (and typically best) solution is the ol’ canopy on the stick — better known as an umbrella.

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    To find the best ones, we tested 20 top-rated umbrellas across three price points and waited for nimbostratus clouds to form so we could evaluate each umbrella on rain protection, portability, wind resistance, style, comfort, and ease of opening and closing. Was it a long, drawn-out process? Yes. Was it worth the water-logged socks? Absolutely.

    Whether you’re in the market for a stick umbrella or something more compact, we discovered that the best umbrellas come with trade-offs. If you’re searching for something packable that you can stash in your bag, you’re gonna have to sacrifice some coverage. And if you never want to deal with a rogue umbrella clapping back in your face amid blustery winds, it’s worth considering going for the splurge.

    Before you read on, we should note that we did not focus on golf brollies, which include umbrellas that have a straight 60-inch canopy diameter or more. Why? Well, we’ve been poked in the eye by oblivious golf umbrella toters on the street too many times; and beyond being cumbersome, golf umbrellas are too heavy and large for practical everyday use. Simply put? Golf umbrellas are for golf, period.

    We still think you’ll dig our picks below. At the very least, a great umbrella is small enough to carry comfortably when not in use, but large enough to keep you dry when the rain hits. After almost a full year of putting umbrellas through light drizzles and rainstorms, here’s how our quest to find the best umbrella unfolded.

    Repel Windproof Umbrella

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    Within the under-$25 price range, you can score an umbrella that’ll keep you relatively dry, hold up against strong winds, and be deployed on the go with minimal frustration. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll surely be a better choice than the rubbish on a stick you bought on a whim and a prayer.

    Meet our budget winner: the Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella. At 11.5 inches fully folded, it fits snugly in just about any bag. It’s also a cinch to open and close, thanks to an auto open and (partially) close feature (“partially” because you still need to manually push the shaft down to fully secure the umbrella closed). Add up 37 inches of coverage — standard for one person — with minimal inversion mishaps in our testing, and you’re looking at a dependable rain cover that performs just as well as alternatives three times its price.

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    This is the umbrella to toss in your bag in the morning (or to just keep there all the time if you live in, y’know, the Pacific Northwest), leave at your office, or store in your car for convenient coverage in spontaneous storms.

    Now it’s totally fair if “budget umbrella” triggers visions of spiny metal carcasses. Since umbrellas rely on small mechanical parts that are prone to wear and tear, breakage is almost inevitable. While other brands in this price range offer (extremely) limited one-year warranties at best, Repel boasts a lifetime guarantee, no questions asked. Also no returns required. Basically? Find someone who stands by you like Repel stands by its umbrellas.

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    A good umbrella requires parts that can withstand the rigors of nature, and Repel’s nine-rib construction (the thin pieces that run along the underside of the canopy) is able to do just that. Mind you, that’s one more rib than the typical eight ribs you’ll find on most umbrellas. We tested the Repel on the rooftop of BuzzFeed’s New York offices on numerous windy days — waiting, praying for it to take its malevolent inverted form — but it hung open like a champ. When it did eventually invert in a later testing session, the ribs snapped back into place with ease. At this price point, we’ll take it.

    Aside from durability, Repel outperforms other budget umbrellas in just about every way. Whereas other models sport handles that are either too small, thin, or flat to carry comfortably for the long haul, Repel features a grippy 2.5-inch handle that’s comfy for folks with large and small hands alike to hold without cramping.

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    To put Repel’s 37-inch coverage into perspective, that’s about the shortest diameter one person should use to keep the upper half of their body dry in a downpour. If you’re looking for more coverage and portability isn’t at the top of your wish list, you’ll want to check out the Totes Blue Line Auto Wooden Stick Umbrella. For about the same price as Repel, this classic umbrella offers a jaunty cane-style handle and a construction that feels seriously sturdy in the face of oppressive winds. With a 42-inch canopy, it provides even more coverage than our winner.

    The Totes auto-open button is smoother than the Repel’s, and it made our testers want to break out into classic Rihanna every time they felt the canopy pop perfectly into place. It’s worth nothing that this larger umbrella doesn’t have an auto-close feature, which could inhibit you from easily collapsing it before entering your car, home, or the subway in a rush.

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    Between our budget range’s top two performers, your choice depends on how important it is for your umbrella to be totable inside your bag when not in use. If you prefer the extra coverage and you’re okay with hooking a slightly heavier umbrella onto your arm when it’s not raining, you might actually prefer our runner-up, especially if you want something that looks more expensive than it is. But for the rest of us, there’s Repel. It’s sturdy and comfortable to hold. The lifetime warranty is the best you’ll find at this price point. Plus, it’s available in more colors (11!) than you can shake an umbrella stick at. While other similar-looking umbrellas might tempt you with the promise of saving a few bucks (looking at you, Tadge and Bodyguard), make no mistake: Repel is the best budget-friendly option money can buy.

    Get it from Amazon for $20.

    ShedRain WindPro Jumbo Compact Umbrella

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    If you’re willing to spend double the price of our budget pick for the next level of handheld rain protection, we say DO IT! But only if you’re investing in the ShedRain WindPro Vented Umbrella — by far the best midrange umbrella we tested while navigating the murky streets of New York City.

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    ShedRain has been engineering umbrellas since 1947, and its WindPro defied our expectations. Notably, this umbrella manages to achieve the seemingly impossible by being compact when closed and jumbo when open. Yes, it’ll fit in your backpack or tote bag. No, it won’t fit in your purse. But measuring in at just under the size of a golf umbrella when open — 47 inches of coverage with a 54-inch arc — a couple can fit under this umbrella and stay dry. Think of the romance!

    For an umbrella with such a massive canopy, the WindPro is lightweight, at just over 1 pound, only fractionally heavier than umbrellas with considerably smaller canopies. We should note that our pick has a smaller, more fashionable sibling, and though this one also performed well in our tests, the decision came down to the larger WindPro offering more coverage for your buck. Beyond its size, the WindPro features a vented canopy, meaning there’s a flap at the top of the umbrella to allow rough winds to escape.

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    The added ventilation goes a long way in helping the WindPro from flipping inside out. And if it ever does (it did for us after a couple of severe gusts), all it takes is a push of the open/close button for the canopy to collapse back to partially closed. You’ll just have to retract the shaft all the way back down to open it up again, which is common for most umbrellas. Testers did report that the open/close function could be a little fussy at first, requiring more effort to push the button, but it’s a reliable system overall, even in a downpour.

    While the WindPro may feel less sturdy than it actually is (our testers were ready to chuck this off the roof upon first inspection), it actually provided the best coverage during our testing, especially when the rain turned sideways. Even though the umbrella’s eight ribs are reinforced by a metal framework, its entire tension system is more flexible than rigid, which we conclude accounts for its exceptional wind resistance.

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    In terms of handling, the WindPro has a noticeable “give” or “bounce,” as one tester described it. That’s because the umbrella is designed with a spring tension system that keeps the canopy open. In fact, there is no other locking mechanism. The springiness of the shaft is a surprise at first, and it’s only in windy conditions when you begin to understand what it’s for. This gives the frame system a shock-absorbent quality that makes it even more resistant to failing in strong winds.

    At 15 inches folded, the WindPro isn’t the smallest collapsible umbrella around. But it’ll fit in its fair share of bags, and the sleeve sports a plastic swivel clip for fastening to a D-ring. When it comes to actually using the WindPro for extended rainy conditions, our testers loved the soft foam handle, which many noted provided a more secure grip than the plastic handles you find on most umbrellas.

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    When compared with other umbrellas in its price range, the ShedRain WindPro won hands down without any serious competition. Sure, folks with flashier tastes will be disappointed by the lack of color options (see: our $ pick instead), but perhaps classic black or gray is right up your alley. Add ShedRain’s lifetime warranty, and this umbrella has you covered in more ways than one.

    Get it from Amazon for $40.

    Davek Elite Umbrella

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    If you’re known to lose things, or if “luxury umbrella” does not compute, your best bet is to go with one of our lower-priced picks. But maybe you’re a fancy individual looking for a stupidly fancy umbrella. Maybe you’ve got a thing for genteel appearances. Or maybe you believe in the maxim “Buy once, buy well.”

    If that’s the case, let’s talk about our splurgeworthy winner: the Davek Elite.

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    Described by Davek as a “modern take on the classic cane umbrella,” the Elite is the kind of sophisticated parasol you’d expect James Bond to carry, sans the hidden claw spikes. What the Elite lacks in lethal spy weapons, it gains in being an umbrella that’s actually astonishingly delightful to use, from its smooth auto-open system (it notably doesn’t have an auto-close function, but you won’t miss it) to its 44 inches of coverage and high-density fiberglass construction that spans from the ribs all the way down to the shaft.

    At this price point, you’d be forgiven for expecting a lot, and we’re happy to report that “a lot” is what you’ll get. The canopy is made with an incredibly thin yet strong 210-thread-count microfiber (“the tightest weave for umbrellas”) and treated with a water-repellent coating, meaning it fends off droplets like no other. The dense fiber count also accounts for the Elite’s quicker-than-average drying time of only 10 minutes. The hand-stitched handle features genuine top-grain leather, finished off with rustproof zinc alloy accents. It’s also worth noting that the cane-style handle is comfortably slender, and ideal for your best Gene Kelly impression. (Editor’s note: Singing in the rain is NOT covered by Davek’s warranty.)

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    When you get to umbrellas over the $50 mark, you bump into brands peddling umbrellas with proud designs and lofty promises. Blunt is known for its rounded tips, which the company claims helps distribute tension for superior wind resistance. The cape-looking Senz umbrella is aerodynamically built to withstand gusts up to 70 mph without batting a rib. As eye-catching as these canopies are, they both failed at the one thing an umbrella should be able to do: keeping you dry. The price-to-coverage disparity for these high-design rain covers is just too wide for us to recommend widely.

    Davek, on the other hand, has both style and substance. In other words: It’s the umbrella you take home to meet the parents.

    Where the Davek Elite earns its keep is in its fiberglass frame. In our testing, the eight-rib system offered the right balance between rigidity and flexibility. Take a look at where the shaft and canopy meet, and you’ll see why. Whereas your typical umbrella has tension springs that connect each single rib to the shaft of the umbrella, the Davek’s system is made of all fiberglass that’s reinforced by stainless steel rivets. This eliminates moving parts known to fail or break. Plus, it works like a charm. When the umbrella inverted during intense wind gusts, it recovered with ease and grace.

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    The Elite isn’t the only Davek umbrella we tested, but it was certainly our favorite. The Davek Mini, the brand’s cheapest umbrella at $50, is a true pocket-size wonder, but its portability comes at the expense of coverage (34 inches). The Davek Solo fared better, deserving honorable mention as the top compact umbrella in the $$$ price range. At $115, it’s still certainly a crazy-expensive umbrella, but at the very least it offers 37 inches of coverage. For comparison, you can get the same amount of coverage without all the fancy fixins in the Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella, our budget pick.

    If you’re not willing to spend over a Benjamin on an umbrella but wondering what you can get that’ll give you comparable coverage to our winner, our $$$ runner-up is Certain Standard. The Seattle-based brand hits hard on style, offering its umbrellas in two sizes (we tested the large Wallingford umbrella) and a variety of colors to suit different tastes, each with a hand-stitched canopy, an accent panel, and a complementary shaft color. Just know that these umbrellas don’t come with a carrying sleeve, and the cork handle can get a little cumbersome during extended use. That said, they look helluva a lot cuter than any other umbrella we tested.

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    At the end of the (rainy) day, throwing down more money for an umbrella doesn’t necessarily mean better performance. For everyday use, all of our picks will perform juuuuust about the same at keeping you dry. But here’s the true value: Davek will keep you dry for seasons to come. With the durability of its materials, this umbrella will simply last longer. And if it doesn’t, you’re backed by Davek’s “Forever Guarantee,” which includes unconditional replacement and repairs, plus up to 50% off a new umbrella if you lose it. If you want something extra — perhaps hand-stitched with luxurious finishings, and/or a statement piece crafted with style and attention to detail as the main priority — the Davek Elite deserves your attention.

    Get it from Amazon for $149.

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