While there are plenty of perfectly serviceable umbrellas out there, we wanted to find the best version possible — one that will keep you dry, won’t flip, is easy to tote around, and (this isn’t asking too much) even looks nice. So ten members of the Strategist team — armed with top-reviewed contenders, from compact and motorized to steel-framed and maple-handled — waded into some of the gustiest corridors of the city. We checked for dryness, of course, but also for how their metal held up in the wind, how easy they were to open and close, and, last but not least, how we felt about being seen with them. These are 37 of the best umbrellas we tested.
Candidates: We combed through the Strategist’s previous coverage of umbrellas (the best-reviewed versions on Amazon, Seattleites’ favorite umbrellas), talked with shop owners of specialty stores Rain or Shine in New York and Bella Umbrella in New Orleans, and consulted various review sites to find the top-rated sticks and compacts in the umbrella-sphere.
Criteria: The most important thing an umbrella has to do is keep you dry, but not just that — we’ve lost many an umbrella to a gale-force wind, or simply left one at home because it was too bulky for the work bag. In addition to judging dryness, we also took into account an umbrella’s wind performance and comfort (encompassing its weight and portability as well). And while we appreciate a nice-looking umbrella, we do think for most people, looks are less important, so we rated each umbrella’s aesthetic on a less heavily weighted scale of one to three.
Dryness (1 to 5): How wet did it get us? How soaked did our shirts (and pants) get?
Wind Resistance (1 to 5): Did the umbrella flip inside out? Did it strain under the pressure? Was it vented to let air blow through?
Comfort (1 to 5): How onerous does the umbrella feel? Is it comfortable to hold or does it make our hand cramp? How smoothly does it open and close? How easy would it be tote around?
Looks (1 to 3): Does the handle look elegant or cheap? Is the hardware sophisticated? Would you be embarrassed to be seen with it?
Methodology: Each of our ten writers and editors walked five city blocks under the umbrella (or about five minutes) in light-colored clothing — shirt and pants — to judge the umbrella’s ability to keep us dry. The lighter clothing allowed us to perform a ballpark visual test. We headed to notoriously windy corners (in the Financial District, at Court and Montague Streets in Brooklyn) to gauge the umbrellas’ sturdiness under gusty situations, and when wind did not cooperate, we ran down the sidewalk holding the umbrellas at an angle to simulate wind. In the event of a tie, the cheaper umbrella “won” (you’ll notice that many of the umbrellas received the same score, in which case we ranked them in descending order of price). Finally, after every umbrella was reviewed, a second tester tried each of the top five scoring umbrellas and rendered her judgment — the cumulative scores for those top five determined the final ranking.
1. Davek Elite Umbrella
Dryness: 5 | Wind Resistance: 5 | Comfort: 5 | Looks: 3
I’ve never been in love with an umbrella before — why get attached when they’re so easy to lose? — but could really dive into luxury umbrellas after being wooed by this stupidly expensive $150 Davek Elite Umbrella. The umbrella truly does belong in a class of its own. It’s a certain shade of muted blue, and it opens like a dream with the flick of a switch (just slide it shut when you’re done). It’s also lightweight enough to hold in one hand, a full bag of laundry slung over the other shoulder — and miraculously wide enough to keep your entire body and that bag of laundry dry to the touch. — Lori Keong, writer
Dryness: 5 | Wind Resistance: 4.8 | Comfort: 4.8 | Looks: 3
Full transparency, I don’t like cane-style curved handles at all because they just feel less secure in my hand. That said, the Davek Stick umbrella looks and feels like a Bentley or some other fancy but tasteful British thing. Even its nylon sheath has been designed with precision and grace — it has a little hole at the top to let the tip of the umbrella through and a slit at the bottom to reveal the opener button. This umbrella is all about details, and it makes you walk a little taller when under its spread. I stayed ridiculously dry while circling a few blocks and even felt warmer than I did under other large umbrellas. Of all the ones I tested the Davek Stick had the most satisfying ca-chunk when I hit the button, followed by a big whoosh of the fabric. It held up well in the wind and the leather handle was a delight to hold. — Liza Corsillo, writer
2. LifeTek New Yorker Umbrella
Dryness: 5 | Wind Resistance: 5 | Comfort: 4 | Looks: 2.5
The LifeTek New Yorker is exactly what an umbrella should be. Under the giant canopy, it’s easy to forget it’s even raining out. It’s like being in a bubble of dryness that encompasses your whole body, unlike bubble umbrellas that keep your head dry but dump water down your sides. The strong ribs are totally wind-resistant, and the rubberized handle makes for easy gripping even in strong gusts. The black rubber and silver details give it a sporty look that’s not necessarily attractive, but it’s an inoffensive, clean-looking umbrella. While it felt lighter than other stick umbrellas I’ve tried, it’s still a big umbrella to carry and can feel cumbersome if you’re walking around with it closed. — Karen Iorio Adelson, writer
Dryness: 5 | Wind Resistance: 5 | Comfort: 4.5 | Looks: 3
In my imagination, rich and famous people carry big umbrellas like the LifeTek stick umbrella (or have it carried over them). In the few blocks I walked under this umbrella, I was exempted from the rain entirely. For its size, the LifeTek is super light and comfortable to carry — even at a full sprint. It is, however, a real commitment and for someone who is forgetful with umbrellas, it could be a liability. The handle is long with lots of grippy little dimples, lots of leverage and a shiny silver cap. I’ve never been a fan of cane-style umbrellas so this more sleek handle was a pleasant upgrade. The New Yorker model comes in four subdued colors: navy blue, dark red, and forest green in addition to (and all of which I’d prefer over) the black I tried. — L.C.
3. ShedRain WindPro Auto Open & Close Umbrella
Dryness: 5 | Wind Resistance: 4 | Comfort: 5 | Looks: 4
For something with the heft of a bodega umbrella, I was very surprised at how well this little polka-dotted guy from ShedRain held up in a downpour. I never believed in the existence of the super-lightweight and windproof umbrella before finding this one. The rain was moderate to heavy the day I tried it, and the quick open-and-release umbrella kept us very dry, with the exception of a few minutes I spent dawdling on a windy corner, viciously waiting to see this thing get destroyed. It was really straining and quivering in the wind, but all of the spokes that are the first thing to get mangled in a windstorm seem to be hewn together with a metal framework that’s sewn into the umbrella shade, which gives it that extra bit of resistance and structure in the rain. — L.K.
Dryness: 4 | Wind Resistance: 4.5 | Comfort: 4.5 | Looks: 2.5
This little umbrella checks a lot of boxes for me. It’s lightweight, very compact but with a handle that’s big enough to actually hold, it has a button that opens the umbrella and partially closes it for you and it’s a little ordinary-looking but still cute. I could fit the ShedRain WindPro in most of the bags I carry to work and it wouldn’t add any perceptible weight. It did not keep me entirely dry but for its small size, it worked well enough. I don’t have any strong complaints about this guy but for what it’s worth closing the ShedRain still isn’t a completely smooth process. Though after my walking test I did give it another open/close try and found that if I concentrated on gripping it with two hands and firmly pulled down I could close it in one motion. — L.C.
4. Davek Duet Umbrella
Dryness: 4 | Wind Resistance: 5 | Comfort: 5 | Looks: 3
Impressively large for a compact umbrella, the Davek kept me mostly dry (although some wayward-traveling rain did seep in), leaving me a little unsure this could live up to its promise of keeping two people totally protected. In the wind, the steel ribs creaked a bit, but I never felt like the umbrella was at risk of turning inside out or breaking. Where the Duet truly excels is its sturdy feel, effortless open-close mechanism, and sleek style. The leather wrist strap was an especially nice touch. — K.I.A.
Dryness: 5 | Wind Resistance: 4 | Comfort: 2.5 | Looks: 2.5
My first impression of this umbrella is that it’s way too heavy. Like the smaller Davek it has a luxe leather-covered handle that fits my hand well and a leather wrist strap (which I found unnecessary and stiff). But the weight of the umbrella had already put a strain on my wrist in the five minutes it took to test it. I did stay very dry however with not a drop on my upper half and only my feet affected below the waist. I already carry so much to and from work on a daily basis that the weight of this umbrella is a deal-breaker, though it works inarguably well. — L.C.
5. ShedRain UnbelievaBrella Auto Open-Close Reverse Umbrella
Dryness: 5 | Wind Resistance: 4 | Comfort: 4.5 | Looks: 3
What sets the ShedRain apart from its competition is its reverse-closing style — the umbrella folds up inside out, keeping water off you when you’re carrying it closed. It’s a great feature for when you’re coming in from outside and don’t want to put down or hang up a soaking wet umbrella. The ShedRain also did a solid job of keeping me dry while I was using it, and the single button that opens and closes the umbrella was easy to use. — K.I.A.
Dryness: 4 | Wind Resistance: 4 | Comfort: 4 | Looks: 2
I found the looks of the ShedRain umbrella totally inoffensive. It’s a simple compact umbrella with a minimal handle and soft-ribbon wrist strap, which I actually prefer to a leather strap. It’s lightweight and would fit easily in most totes and backpacks. After taking it out for a test drive I had a few damp droplets on my pants but virtually nothing on my jacket. My main complaint is that the handle on the ShedRain felt loose and wobbled left to right in my hand as I walked and more so as I ran. Instead of folding up like a regular compact umbrella, this one folds in reverse to keep you dry when closing it. It still takes an effort to close, but at least I stayed dry in the process. — L.C.
6. Davek Savile Umbrella
Dryness: 5 | Wind: 4 | Comfort: 3.5 | Style: 3
Okay, time for the $350 umbrella, which Davek reminds you is its most exclusive. Obviously it’s a lot to spend, but this is a luxury item, and for those who have the means to buy it, the answer to the worth-it question is yes, I think you do get what you pay for. You can tell it’s extremely well-made. The shaft and handle are made from a single piece of chestnut; the ribs are steel. The canopy is really big, but not so absurdly large as a golf umbrella’s. I appreciated the extra coverage. All of this makes for an umbrella that’s elegant and sturdy, but also quite heavy for everyday use (but if you have a driver, that’s a moot point). One thing I ended up really appreciating about this one are the sounds it makes. When you open it up there’s a deep thunk of the wood and then a whoosh. The rain hitting the canopy created almost drumlike thumps. I loved it. — David Notis, writer
7. AmazonBasics Automatic Travel Umbrella with Wind Vent
Dryness: 4 | Wind Resistance: 4 | Comfort: 5 | Looks: 2
Just a few bucks more than your standard garbage drugstore umbrella, this AmazonBasics number will actually last (and if you do leave it in a Lyft, well, it’s not totally the end of the world). The wind vent (which you hardly notice) makes it much less likely that the umbrella will flip; opening and closing it is a breeze, and the soft-as-a–Sara Lee–pound-cake handle rivals the Daveks and Repels of the world. — Alexis Swerdloff, Strategist editor
8. Muji Markable Umbrella
Dryness: 4.5 | Wind: 4 | Comfort: 4.5 | Looks: 2
Full disclosure: This has been my go-to umbrella for two years now, so I’ve had a lot more experience with it than with the others I tested out. That said, it cost me $15, and it still works great. It has a plastic handle and tip which might seem inelegant compared to the wooden or metal parts on other stick umbrellas, but they’re also noticeably lighter in weight. I think everything about this one is “just right.” The canopy isn’t insanely large, but it gives way more coverage than any compact umbrella could, and it’s surprisingly sturdy. It’s never turned inside out in two years, and even though it’s a $15 umbrella, people often think it’s much fancier than it is. — D.N.