Umbrellas are not all created equal. The right umbrella can quite literally make you feel like singing in the rain, whereas a brolly that’s not up to the task of protecting you from the weather can put a real dampener on your day and leave you drenched.
There’s no need to join those ranks of disappointed umbrella owners, who have stashed their brollies in a litter bin on a particularly rainy day. From compact, handbag-sized options designed to save the day in an unexpected downpour to golf brollies that, if wielded erratically, could take out several eyes in one fell swoop, there really is something out there to suit everyone.
The secret to finding your perfect umbrella is, unsurprisingly, to think about your lifestyle. If you’re a commuter, you’ll need something you can stash in your bag and forget about until the heavens open. If you drive everywhere, you might want to think about investing in a decent-sized umbrella that you can keep in the boot of your car for those caught-short-between-showers moments.
And if you’re a fan of the great outdoors, you’ll want something windproof that’ll make you feel like bad weather is no reason not to get outside and get moving come hail, rain or shine.
From there, it’s a question of whether you want a lightweight umbrella that’ll do the job without weighing you down, or something more robust that you’ll certainly know you’re carrying. While a sturdier umbrella can be a bit of a hassle to lug around, there’s something quite soothing about carrying a sizeable brolly with you. It’s a bit like carrying a walking cane, aristocrat style, except you’ll feel well prepared for precipitation rather than just a bit, well, silly.
Finally, factor in the price-per-use of your umbrella before you buy. There are some expensive options here, but annual rainfall averages for the entire UK are 133 days of rain or snow, totalling 885 millimetres (33.7 inches). Assuming you’ll get at least 100 days of use from your brolly per year, we think a pricier model built to last is a better investment than a cheaper model that might join the ranks of those broken brollies. With all this in mind, here are our favourites.
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London Undercover orange city gent lifesaver umbrella: £115, London Undercover
We know what you’re thinking. Is any umbrella really worth spending more than a hundred quid on? Yes; this one. It oozes style and is an absolute joy to use – we were genuinely glad when it rained because we got to play with this gorgeously crafted brolly. The quality and finish is second to none. Granted, you wouldn’t want to leave it on the bus but if you’re kitting out groomsmen for a wedding, this is perfect. They’ll even personalise it for you, too.
Umbrella Heaven red heart umbrella: £24.95, Umbrella Heaven
What’s not to love about a heart-shaped umbrella? It’s not just a gimmick – the flexible fibreglass ribs and quirky shape make this really robust in strong winds, while the aluminium shaft makes it much lighter to carry than other umbrellas of a similar same size. And yes, it brings a smile to everyone’s face on a rainy day.
Beau Nuage le mini valparaiso: £29, Beau Nuage
This compact, lightweight umbrella is specially designed to pop neatly away in its own storage bag which absorbs water, so your handbag won’t get wet and your brolly will be dry by the time you use it again. Genius!
Davek solo umbrella: £99, Davek
Perfect for a classy commuter, this is the brolly we picture James Bond using. It’s got an automatic open button (we had expected a cleverly designed weapon to pop out at the same time) but what we really love is the fact that you don’t have to wrestle it away when you reach your destination – press the same button and it closes automatically. Nice. This one’s a little on the heavy side but of all the handbag-sized umbrellas we tried, this fared the best in high winds and pelting Irish rain.
Fulton Umbrellas birdcage-2 colour burst stripe: £23, Fulton Umbrellas
This classic umbrella is a favourite with the royal family, we’re told. But even if you don’t need a transparent cover so the paparazzi can capture your every move, it offers brilliant visibility. We loved it for dog walks on dreary evenings, as it’s light enough to hold at the same time as a dog lead and you can easily see where you’re going. Fibreglass ribs mean this one handles high winds well, too.
Vice Versa reverse umbrella: £13.98, Stromberg Brand
This inverted umbrella opens inside out, so the wet part stays confined inside. It’s a fun design as it actually looks like an upside down umbrella, and we think it’s a good one for keeping in the car because it’s easier to open in confined spaces than a standard one – perfect for the dash indoors in a downpour.
Samsonite up way umbrella: £30, Samsonite
What a nifty idea. This reverse-opening umbrella retains rain so it won’t leave you with a soggy floor or car seat. And if it gets blown inside out, it has a magic button you can press to flip it back the right way round.
Suck hi-reflective umbrella: £25, Suck
This is clever. In daylight it looks like any other grey umbrella but by night the super reflective hi-vis material works its magic, keeping you seen as well as dry. It’s a handbag-friendly size, as well as being windproof. A brilliant buy if you’re often out and about after dark.
Totes pink ikat print auto walker umbrella with wood handle: £25, Totes
We’re not convinced that umbrellas need to be divided into his and hers but this one, from Totes’ women’s walking umbrellas range, does have a certain elegant sophistication to it. The pink ikat print adds an on-trend look and makes it feel more like a chic accessory than a brolly. We love the wooden handle and how responsive the automatic function is.
The verdict: Umbrellas
If money is no object or you’re investing in an umbrella for a special occasion, the orange city gent lifesaver umbrella from London Undercover truly makes us look forward to it raining, and the red heart umbrella from Umbrella Heaven deserves a special mention because it’s quirky, lightweight and unbeatable value for money.