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The 8 Best Umbrellas  Sep 2017

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Your Guide To Buying an Umbrella

By Yehudah Posnick

    The name “umbrella” is derived from the Latin umbella, after a type of rounded flower, or from the Latin umbra, meaning “shade”. Umbrellas were originally used for protection from the sun. In 17th century France, they started coating parasols with wax to make them waterproof, against rain. Nowadays, rain umbrellas are made from a number of materials and designs. Some emphasize portability, so that you can whip them out if you are caught in a sudden downpour. Other umbrellas are made to be particularly sturdy, for areas that regularly have severe rainstorms. It's good to have some advice on what's best for your needs. Here is a guide to some of the best types of umbrellas on the market.

    • Compact—These are umbrellas that have a telescopic shaft. They can collapse or fold in such a way that you can put it away in an attaché case or purse. They are convenient for carrying around, but tend to break easily, due to all the moving parts and rivets.

    • Full-Size—These have a shaft that is the full length of the umbrella. These are more durable, but they take up more space and occupy another hand when you carry them (although some are equipped with a shoulder strap, so you can sling it over your shoulder, like a rifle).

    • Patio Umbrellas: These are large, fixed umbrellas that provide shade on a patio or deck. They usually are a permanent attachment to the deck or picnic table.

    • Beach Umbrellas: These are large umbrellas, principally to protect beach-goers from the hot sun. They can be folded up and packed away in the trunk of a car.

    • Golf Umbrellas: These are to protect a golfer from sun and rain. They tend to be rather large: diameters of 62 or even 72 inches are not uncommon. This size will accommodate a golfer and the caddy as well (or any two people walking together).

    Based on all the consumers' reviews we've scanned, these are the top things they mentioned about their new stuff:

    • Lets wind pass through: The most durable models of umbrellas are made so that they keep water out, but let wind pass through. The EEZ-Y Compact Travel Umbrella has a double canopy, which keeps the canopy from flipping when the underside gets hit with a strong wind.

    • Open/Close button: The EEZ-Y Compact Travel Umbrella has a button that not only opens the umbrella, but even closes the umbrella as well. This is convenient when your other hand is occupied, and you can't free it up to close the umbrella.

    • Diameter of the canopy: The canopy of the umbrella is the part that stretches out and protects from the elements. The diameter of the canopy is a good indicator of the size of the umbrella. Some manufacturers list the size of the umbrella by giving the arc of the umbrella. In a bubble umbrella, which is almost a perfect semicircle, the arc will be very large, even though the diameter will not be so big.

    • Sturdiness of the shaft: It has been observed that an umbrella that folds or collapses down telescopically will typically have a weaker shaft than the fixed-length, full-size umbrella. The more places that the shaft is designed to bend, the more weaknesses there will be. It will be more likely that such an umbrella will bend and flex in a strong wind.

    • Materials of the shaft and ribs: The ribs are what flex the material of the canopy when you open the umbrella. Aluminum is light, but tends to get bent out of shape easily from strong winds. Steel and fiberglass are sturdier materials from which to make the ribs of the umbrella.

    • Safety of the spokes of the umbrella: In some models, the ribs of the umbrella are inserted into pockets along the edge of the canopy. This is safer than the ribs where the canopy is sewn onto the ribs. It is always preferable that the ends of the ribs should be covered, so as to avoid accidentally poking yourself or a passerby.

    EEZ-Y—are makers of umbrellas with a double canopy. They're umbrellas are made so that the wind passes through vents in the umbrella, while a second canopy keeps water out. They make both travel and golf umbrellas, as well as other travel accessories.

    McConnor—are makers of compact, single-button automatic umbrellas. Their umbrella is compact, so that when it closes, it will fit in your bag, purse, or glove compartment. It has a safety lock, so that it doesn't open by itself.

    Porcella Umbrella—derives its name from the Latin word for storm or tempest. Their umbrella is specially made to protect from harsh storm conditions. Their umbrella is specially made for golfers, but it is also good for everyday use.

    Kolumbo—was founded by Catherine Chung and Marcia Stellflug, and is located in Minnetonka, Minnesota. They make travel accessories that have been tested and perfected to work under adverse conditions. For example, their umbrellas have been tested 5000 times, at 55 mph winds. They also make a luggage lock with an indicator to tell you when the TSA (=Travel Security Administration) has inspected your bag.