Buying A Quality Umbrella

Inspired by the early morning thunderstorm that flooded half of New York City’s ancient subway system (seriously, we think some of the F line dates back to the Romans), we felt it was a good time to re-examine our latest umbrella. Our verdict? “Not broken yet,” which is good enough for us. But if you’re in the market for a new one, Slate has a handy consumer reports-style comparison of ten umbrellas across the entire range of prices, from $3 to over $200. Yes, you can indeed buy an umbrella for over $200–but if you can afford that umbrella, surely you can afford to move to another country whenever it rains.

Slate’s top pick is (sadly) the $225 Lippincott Umbrella, but their runner ups are a couple of far-more-affordable ones in the $30 range, from Sharper Image and Hammacher Schlemmer. And in light of yesterday’s post about ethical shopping, we present the winner of last year’s Treehugger contest to design an eco-friendly, sustainable umbrella (which, as if to illustrate the challenge of ethical “shopping”, isn’t available for sale).

Protect yourself from April showers [Slate]

(Photo: d’n’c)

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  1. c26nyc says:

    For 200 dollars, that umbrella better wrap me in a super weatherproof bubble and fly me to my destination.

  2. Wormfather says:

    @c26nyc: It would, fly you to your destination that is, but unfortunatly your umbrella has been delayed due to thunderstorms

  3. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I bought my last umbrella at a Dollar Store, and it turned out to be tainted. :(

  4. RandomHookup says:

    And a note for all you city dwellers…golf umbrellas on the sidewalk, big no no.

  5. KIRZEN2007 says:

    My favorite umbrellas are a pair of them, both of which I adore for seperate reasons, and both of which were obtained free, one of which was given to me by a guest when I was working at the hotel (which was silly, since I could have taken a hotel umbrella home) and the second of which -is- a hotel umbrella that I bought off the hotel because it kicked the crap out of everything I could find retail. The most important features to me are two, both of which are very important…

    1 > Push button open : I want to be able to step outside, hold up my magical umbrella, push a button, and have it open fully and completely with a satisfying ‘foomp’ sound.

    2 > I want a -tight- umbrella. The hotel umbrella has little to no metal in it, its all pliant, well oiled wood supporting the canopy, this gives it a bow-string tightness that is pronounced enough that water makes a faint drumming sound when the rain falls… Suffice to say even a stiff coastal wind doesn’t move this sucker, in fact when I lean it into the wind, the wind bends the wood a little bit, but it ‘gives’ with the gusts. Its also featherlight and fits comfortably in my hand.

    3 > Coverage! Equally important is an umbrella that is wide enough to span the width of my shoulders. Being that I’m a 6’4″ slab of russian inspired meat, I have wider shoulders than quite a big of the populace (wide enough to brush the inner edges of doors if I’m wearing a thick winter coat). This means that most umbrellas drip on my shoulders, leaving my arms soaked unless I carefully follow the direction that the wind is driving the rain… I have yet, unfortunately, to find an umbrella the fills the niche between a regular sized one and one of the giant golf umbrellas that are much to wide for polite street-walking.

    Honestly? The first business that can get all three of these things right is more than entitled to $50-100 of my money, even if $200 seems crazilly excessive…

  6. ptkdude says:

    I stock up on the cheap ones when they’re buy one get one at Walgreens. On more than one occasion I’ve made someone’s day as they’re walking out of the building that I’m walking in to.

  7. No review of Rihanna’s umbrella-ella-ella line? I’m disappointed.

  8. homerjay says:

    Ya know, I’m fairly certain Ben did this exact same post about a year ago.

  9. Maulleigh says:

    I have a twenty-five dollar totes that serves me very well.

  10. formergr says:

    I like the ones that have the little vents in the top so they don’t get blown inside-out (picture a smaller umbrella on top of a bigger umbrella with a hole in the middle. The smaller one overlaps the hole, so no water gets in).

  11. Chicago7 says:

    The question is, do you really NEED an umbrella? Is it going to kill you if you get a little wet once in a while?

    Second, people with those huge golf umbrellas should be shot, if they are using them on crowded sidewalks. Seriously, what are you protecting? “No water can come within 5 feet of me or I’ll melt” or what??

  12. Chicago7 says:

    A light coat with a hood works fine.

  13. Ambience says:

    Personally, I just use my golf umbrella and leave it in my car trunk instead of my golf bag. Those umbrellas are generally fairly large, and have the layered vents so the wind doesn’t easily rip it out of your hands.

  14. autumnmist says:

    A light coat doesn’t work well when you’re female and have a long dress or skirt on.

  15. formergr says:

    Yup, and I’m nowhere near high maintenance, but a hood often lets some rain in at the edges which (for those of us who straighten our hair) will ruin it for the day.

  16. Ecks says:

    The $3 umbrella certainly seems like the best deal – $200+ is a bit much!

  17. zibby says:

    I use the 3-dollar disposable dealy. When it breaks after about 18 minutes of use I toss it in the river.

    Seriously, though, with a little care those things will last for years. Oh, and if you’re walking around in the city with a friggin’ golf umbrella, it’s no accident that I slapped the thing out of my way – if you’re that afraid of a little rain, I doubt you’ll do anything about it.

  18. methane says:

    This seems really timely. I’ve long though (influenced by personal experience) that the best gift you can give a kid going off to college is a good umbrella. Either that or a car, but an Umbrella is a cheaper way to keep the dry on the way to class.

  19. cruiserman1 says:

    The $3 ones are great and can actually last quite a while if you don’t use the “self destruct button”, you know the one that you press to automatically open it. I believe that they engineered that button to create a sort of designed obsolescence in the umbrella. BTW, what a strange word, Umbrella…

  20. @Chicago7: You’re kidding, right?

    What I really want is a real raincoat. Something long and hooded that water actually beads off of. I tend to lose umbrellas.

  21. RandomHookup says:

    If you ever need an umbrella, just ask at any reception desk. The receptionist usually has a nice collection of lost ones.

  22. mermaidshoes says:

    @cruiserman1: not only is umbrella is a great word, it’s also a great word in other languages. parapluie? regenschirm? guarda-chuva? awesome stuff. i’m totally going to spend the rest of the day google translating “umbrella” into every language. thankfully, we already know how to say it in rihannaspeak (eh eh eh)…

  23. rdm7234 says:

    Maybe it’s beacuse I haven’t tried anything too fancy or expensive, but my cheapest umbrella ($5) lasted far longer than any other I’ve had (the priciest being $20). A $200 brelly might last a wee bit longer than the $5, but 40x longer? I doubt that….

  24. KRS says:

    The late, lamented Uncle Sam’s had English brollys with frames made by Fox that I used for years, but I’ve lost too many expensive ones (including a Brigg) to get another.

    I now use one from Brooks Bros., which is $50 and is nearly indestructible. Nat Sherman tobacconist at least used to have a similar one.