How to Pick Your Next Umbrella

Not all stick umbrellas are the same, so here’s how to choose the best one for you.

Watch an old black and white movie, and you’ll notice that the umbrellas the actors are carrying may look very much like the one that you have in your coat closet right now. That’s because the basic function of an umbrella—keeping people outside dry when it’s raining—has not changed over the years. And, since form follows function, the basic makeup of umbrellas hasn’t changed much either.

But that doesn’t mean that some manufacturers haven’t improved umbrellas over the years by incorporating modern materials, improved performance designs, and ergonomic touches that make modern umbrellas much, much better than the one that Gene Kelly twirled around in Singing’ in the Rain. Here are three recommendations for umbrellas, based on your needs.

Rainbow of Colors

These fold with the wet side in, so you stay dry. Sharpty

BUY NOW

Might as well go cheap here, right? Sure, if you like cold rainwater dripping onto your shoulder, or the umbrella turning inside out in a wind, or the entire umbrella collapsing in a downpour. When that happens, your umbrella has stopped being an umbrella, and is simply a piece of junk that you’re holding over your wet head. Not a good look. Even if it doesn’t break, a cheap umbrella will get water all over your foyer or car interior once you close it.

Good modern umbrellas are constructed to resist strong wind. They also fold outward into a cone shape so that only the dry underside is exposed, allowing you to keep the wet side closed up. Some have handles that can slide over your hand and up your arm, freeing up both hands for carrying bags or sending a text. Make sure the umbrella you get is wide enough (figure at least 40 inches) to cover both shoulders even in a wind-driven rain.

Self-Standing

Perfect for getting in and out of cars, this one collapses inwards to trap water droplets inside and prevent leakage. Repel Umbrella

BUY NOW

If you’re going to walk in the rain with a colleague, friend, or spouse who doesn’t have an umbrella, offering to share the dry space beneath it Is the right thing to do. But that courteous (or compulsory) offer may go awry if there’s not enough space beneath the umbrella for the two of you. At least one of you is going to get wet.If you often share an umbrella—say, on date night, or when shopping with a spouse—or if you spend a lot of time with business clients, a large umbrella is the smart choice because everyone stays dry and happy. Such umbrellas are often kept in vehicles, so get one that is sturdily made of strong material so it will stand up to being moved around a lot and shoved into tight spaces.

Perfect for Little Ones

Children can see the path ahead with a transparent option. totes

BUY NOW

Children often don’t look where they’re going because there are so many things to see around them. Add an umbrella and the situation can become easily amplified, because (A) the fact that they’re holding an umbrella can be a distraction in itself, and (B) they may not remember to hold the umbrella high enough so that they can see what’s in front of them. Additionally, small arms can have difficulty holding the umbrella high. That’s why a see-through bubble umbrella is the best choice for a child. He or she can hold the umbrella low, making it easier to carry, and can look through the canopy to see what’s ahead.