A rainy day can ruin your plans, your outfit, and your mood, but with a great umbrella in your hands, rain need not put a damper on the day. The Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella is our top pick because it's impressively rugged given its small size and affordable price tag.
They were the inspiration for a sensational hit song back in 2007. They have been featured in Japanese woodblock prints and Impressionist paintings. They even played a pivotal role in the classic movie "Mary Poppins." Yet, you probably don't think about umbrellas all that much until the moment you realize that you need one, which is often followed by the realization that you don't have one.
Humans have used umbrellas for more than 2,000 years at least, with evidence of umbrella use found in Ancient China, Ancient Greece, Mesoamerica, and beyond. In the 19th Century, Europeans carried umbrellas for both practical purposes and for style. Modern umbrellas have evolved to be lightweight, sturdy, and quite compact when folded down. With exceptions made for purely ceremonial objects, all umbrellas used in all eras of human history were designed with the same basic purpose in mind: To prevent foul weather or relentless sunshine from causing discomfort.
A good umbrella can keep you dry in a downpour and will keep its shape intact even in high winds. A great umbrella can keep you dry on a rainy, blustery day and then also pack down small enough to be stored in a backpack, handbag, or the glove compartment of your car.
That's why we've sought out a number of compact, lightweight umbrellas perfect for travel or for the commuter. Of course, there are those times in life where bigger is better, which is why our guide also features umbrellas large enough to shelter two or even three people beneath their mighty canopies.
You're sure to find an umbrella or two on our list that will help keep you dry during the next rainstorm. The only issue is whether or not you'll remember to keep one close by. My wife and I keep an umbrella in each car and several in the house, and we have compact folding umbrellas along every time we travel. This is partially for our own comfort, but largely because if there's one thing young kids hate, it's getting soaked in the rain. Lesson learned.
The best umbrella overall
Why you'll love it: The Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella sheds water and resists wind gusts better than many umbrellas that are larger and pricier, and it lasts longer, too.
The first thing you need to know about the Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella is that its canopy is supported by nine resin-coated fiberglass ribs. The construction of these ribs lets them flex enough to resist damage yet maintain canopy shape in heavy rains or gusts. The number of ribs is arguably even more important in keeping this umbrella in shape.
Most compact umbrellas have six ribs, while some have seven or eight. This is the only affordable compact umbrella I know of that uses nine, and that extra hardware means extra performance and durability.
As for the canopy itself, it's coated in Teflon, so raindrops, sleet, and snowflakes slide right off, adding no extra weight to your umbrella and never saturating the fabric. The canopy pops open with the press of a button and collapses with another press.
Packed down, the Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella measures less than a foot in length and it weighs less than one pound. That compact storage size does indeed make it good for travel, but its overall quality makes it an overall good umbrella for everyday use.
With more than 4,600 reviews posted on Amazon at the time of this writing, the Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella has a stellar 4.6-star average rating. An owner named Joseph called it the "best all-around compact umbrella" he could find, while a customer called Lee said it was "sturdily built with quality materials."
The gear testing experts from The Wirecutter called it "solidly built" and loved how well it "holds up in high winds."
Pros: Canopy resists wind, durable design, auto open and close functions
Cons: Some users find button hard to press
The best bubble umbrella
Why you'll love it: With the Hunter Mustache Bubble Umbrella, you can stay dry and see where you're going, even when the rain is blowing sideways.
The Hunter Mustache Bubble Umbrella comes from the same brand that has been making iconic Hunter Rain Boots for more than 170 years, so they know a thing or two about fashion and function. Thus it's no surprise that this umbrella is both stylish and capable.
The deep canopy and crooked handle call to mind vintage design, while the clear polyurethane used to construct the upper portion of said canopy allows for a clear view around even while rain is falling in buckets.
This is a classic manual-open umbrella with a solid shaft, so you won't be tucking it away in a glove box or purse, but that also means there are fewer components at risk of failure. And don't worry much about failure here. The Hunter Mustache Bubble Umbrella is worth its rather elevated price tag, thanks to its durability. You can count on owning this umbrella for years even if you live in quite a rainy corner of the world and use it heavily.
One satisfied customer said the Hunter Mustache "provided the best coverage of any umbrella [he had] ever used," while another said its "shape provides maximum protection and coverage" against rainfall.
A review from Independent's IndyBest appreciated its "largely transparent" canopy and the "good grip" provided by the "rubber hook handle."
Pros: Complete rain protection for head and upper torso, allows for easy view, classic styling
Cons: Not good for use with more than one person
The best low cost umbrella
Why you'll love it: The Totes Compact NeverWet Umbrella is lightweight and compact, but what really counts here is the low price.
Chances are good that your Totes Compact NeverWet Umbrella isn't going to last you a lifetime if you live in Seattle or London, but considering the fact that it costs only sixteen bucks, this is actually a well-made little umbrella.
It collapses down to measure just 11 inches long when not in use, so you can easily stash it in your car, in a drawer or cabinet, or in your bag. Deployed, the canopy measures three feet across, so it will keep your head and shoulders dry in all but the most pernicious, windy downpours.
When caught by a serious gust of wind, this umbrella's aluminum frame will probably flip inside out. If that happens enough times, the hardware will eventually fail. But given its low price, you can just replace it when that finally happens. One more thing to note is that the canopy is plenty wide for one person, but it's rather shallow, so it only provides excellent shelter for rain falling more or less straight down.
Those few negatives aside, most customers who have used a Totes Compact NeverWet Umbrella love it. It has almost a hundred reviews on Target and enjoys almost unanimous five-star reviews. One buyer called it "easy to open and close" while another said it was "very compact" and marveled how "water literally just drains off" the canopy."
A writer from UmbrellaStar said this umbrella "will easily keep an individual dry" and praised the efficacy of its "NeverWet invisible coating."
Pros: Very low cost, compact and lightweight, hydrophobic canopy
Cons: Not as durable as other options
The best umbrella for travel
Why you'll love it: When you're far from home, you need to be able to trust the gear you have with you, and the Samsonite Windguard Auto Open Umbrella is compact, capable, and reliable.
The astute reader will note that this umbrella is not the smallest on our list, which might make one wonder why I'm recommending it for travel. Wouldn't the tiniest, most lightweight choice serve better? No, because when you're far afield you need to be able to count on the things you brought with you.
Yes, at 17 inches when collapsed, the Samsonite Windguard Auto Open Umbrella is larger than many choices. But its two-tiered, Teflon-coated canopy is made out of durable polyester supported by rugged steel ribs, so you can trust it to holds its shape even in heavy rains and high winds.
The canopy of this umbrella provides ample coverage for one person and adequate shielding for two, provided they are willing to stay pretty close together. As the name suggests, it pops open at just the press of its button. While the smallest folding umbrella is great for daily commutes, this slightly larger, much tougher choice is ideal for travel.
One Samsonite Windguard Auto Open Umbrella owner calls it "large yet light" with a "substantial, high quality feel." Another praises its "very good quality" and was impressed with its performance "in moderate winds."
A Good Housekeeping write up noted this umbrella's "very good water resistance" and "spacious canopy" that provided ample user coverage.
Pros: Durable frame and canopy, impressive wind resistance, ample coverage for single user
Cons: Heavier than comparable models
The best golf umbrella
Why you'll love it: As you rightly expect from a golf umbrella, the G4Free Automatic Double Canopy Golf Umbrella is big and rugged.
Here's the thing about a so-called golf umbrella: Most of the time, they're not actually used for golf. But that same large canopy that could indeed keep clubs, caddy, and golfer dry save for at those critical moments of teeing off or driving, can keep you and a couple of other people dry in a downpour.
The G4Free Automatic Double Canopy Golf Umbrella has a 68-inch wide canopy that is supported by hardened steel ribs. It was designed to last a lifetime according to G4Free, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Along with that great big size comes a good deal of weight, of course. This umbrella weighs in at almost five pounds, which is five times the weight of many smaller umbrellas. But when you need serious rain protection and an umbrella that won't bend or break in gale force winds, you're going to have to give somewhere, folks.
By the way, this umbrella is so resistant to wind partially just because it's a beast, but also thanks to a double canopy design that wind pass up through it but prevents air from coming down onto you.
With some 850 reviews posted on Amazon, the G4Free Automatic Double Canopy Golf Umbrella has a fine 4.4-star average rating. One satisfied buyer gets right to the point, saying "this umbrella is awesome," and adding that it can fit "up to three people" and "withstands high winds."
A write up from HonestGolfers called the G4Free Automatic Double Canopy Golf Umbrella a great value umbrella that is more than "large enough to shelter you comfortably" against downpours.
Pros: Wide coverage area, great low price, sturdy design
Cons: Quite heavy compared to other choices
The best heavy-duty umbrella
Why you'll love it: The BLUNT Metro Travel Umbrella can withstand heavy rains and wind gusting at up to 55 miles per hour.
If you've ever stuck your hand out the window of a car traveling at 55 MPH, you know that air moving that fast is pretty powerful stuff. But the BLUNT Metro Travel Umbrella is tough enough to resist flipping out of shape even when the wind blows that hard thanks to a unique radial tensioning system.
The canopy is held in place by ribs much like any other umbrella, but it is reinforced with additional hardware to ensure the umbrella will stay open and in dome shape even in the worst weather. The BLUNT Metro Travel Umbrella is a rather expensive one, but if you're tired of your umbrella flipping itself every time the wind blows and if you want an umbrella that will last for years, this is the one.
The 37-inch wide canopy provides plenty of coverage for one person, and at 14 inches when folded down and weighing less than a pound, this umbrella is ideal for commuters or travelers. Also, as it features no tips that could accidentally poke or scratch, it's a good choice for use in busy areas or around kids.
We tested it out, and we loved it. Even though it's expensive, it's worth the investment. As Connie Chen explains in her review, "It costs $60, which is reasonable when I think about the scores of cheap umbrellas that I've wasted money on that definitely add up to more than $60. With BLUNT, you won't be throwing your umbrella away within a few uses."
With nearly 300 reviews posted to date, the BLUNT Metro Travel Umbrella has a solid 4.2-star average rating on Amazon. One customer speaks for many when she calls it the "best umbrella [she has] ever owned," calling "lightweight and durable."
A Wall Street Journal reviewer called it an "impressive" umbrella that stayed "open against the wind" thanks to its "fully tensioned canopy."
Pros: Great wind resistance, durable construction, available in multiple colors.
Cons: Rather expensive