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.
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.
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.
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.
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.