Travel Umbrella Purchase Tips

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If you’re heading to a rainy vacation destination, having the right umbrella can mean the difference between cursing a day of bad weather and enjoying your outing. Umbrellas come in a wide array of styles, from small and lightweight mini-umbrellas to heavy-duty models designed to function even in high winds. When purchasing an umbrella, keep the following things in mind:

Size—The optimal umbrella is large enough to protect your upper body from rain but not so large that it becomes a nuisance to carry. Make sure the umbrella you choose is convenient enough that you will actually take it with you, but large enough that you won’t get soaked if a storm hits.

Materials—Not all umbrellas are created equally. Nowadays, models are just rebranded versions of the same inexpensive products built in China. Look for fiberglass or tempered steel as an indicator of strength, and test out the fabric. A taut canopy will usually be more waterproof than one that sags.

Wind resistance—In some places, gentle rain is common, putting little strain on an umbrella. In others, however, rain tends to come along with howling winds capable of flipping a cheaply made umbrella inside out and rendering it worthless. Umbrellas are often rated for a certain wind speed, so you should check to see what type of winds are common at your destination and make sure the umbrella you purchase can handle the weather.

Weight—Umbrellas can weigh anywhere between a few ounces to well over a pound. The heavier the umbrella is, the more durable it’s likely to be. However, one that’s too heavy can be a nuisance on longer trips.

Usability—Even a great umbrella can be worthless if it’s difficult to use. Many umbrellas come with push-button opening mechanisms of varying efficiency. The storage sleeves of some mini-umbrellas prove difficult to operate in practice. In addition, the shape of a handle can have a big effect on how comfortable an umbrella is to carry. Be sure to try out your umbrella before purchasing it to make sure it will work for you.

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