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The UK spends £10m a year on umbrellas: little surprise, for a nation all too conscious of it's tendency for bad weather. But that number reflects a bad habit: we're as likely as not to buy a cheap umbrella, for expediency's sake, only to find it unable to last a season. Here, we're looking at umbrellas that may be a mark-up in price, but are better built, to keep you drier, and withstand blustery weather.
You'll be familiar with the two types of umbrellas. Full-length walking umbrellas have the advantage of looking elegant, doubling as a walking aid, and providing broad coverage.
Compact umbrellas are brilliant for convenience: small and easy to fold up and pop in your handbag or briefcase. If you do go for a compact number, we'd opt for automatic: these unfurl with pleasing ease at the push of button.
But you likely know this: what you don't necessarily know is where the best umbrellas to be found are. Don't let the rain stop you from your daily walk: these nifty umbrellas will keep you sheltered from the elements.
Here are the brollies that will do you proud.
£60 for an umbrella? You may well cry – and yes, at first consideration, that's a ludicrous sum for a brolly.
But the Blunt Metro compact (and we're being serious here) is an investment purchase: consider how many cheap umbrellas you've seen taken apart by a stiff gust, how often you see an umbrella skeleton sadly poking out of a skip. Cheap umbrellas don't last.
A Blunt umbrella, on the other hand, is a thing of enduring beauty. The aerodynamic canopy is designed to withstand winds of up to 55mph. If winds are stronger than the top will flip inside out without breaking.
A meter wide canopy offers plenty of coverage, while rounded tips and a unique, spinning canopy means if you bump into street lamps or a pedestrian your umbrella won't snap. This is an umbrella that will last for life: the only part of it that will potentially break is the canopy, which is replaceable.
It looks very smart, too. Our favourite choice.
In describing this brolly, we'll paraphrase Shakespeare: though she may be little, she is fierce.
This compact, automatic folding umbrella is impressive in high winds – the water-repellent canopy will withstand winds of 70 mph. That canopy is terrific, too: no drips through, even in heavy rains. And the automatic mechanism is effortless and reliable.
We loved the stylishness of the canopies available in the Totes range. A very chic option.
Fulton are the UK's biggest selling umbrella brand, for good reason. You'll either be charmed or dismayed by the notion that they are suppliers to the Queen (depending on your loyalties), but rest assured, if it can withstand the weather at blustery Balmoral, it can withstand just about everything.
The Huntsmen walking umbrella is a handsome looking number, with a comfortable wooden handle. But although it's a traditional looking model, its specs are aren't old fashioned: it features fibreglass ribs, polycarbonate joints, and double-strength construction, meaning it can handle squalls.
Birdcage umbrellas are terrific for giving an enclosed sense of protection from the elements – they're pleasantly redolent of a cone of silence, and ideal for protecting your personal space.
This Lulu Guiness birdcage umbrella is lightweight, and looks great. It won't withstand heavy winds like the above models, but if you're after a chic brolly to keep you dry in moderate rain, this will do the job.
This elegant, discrete, compact umbrella provides elegant protection from the elements. It does a great job of resisting wind, so it won't easily turn inside out in a squall.
It's lightweight, made from high spec materials like aluminium and fibreglass (light, but tough) and rust-proof.
The rubberised handle is good for a secure grip, but we have to admit we don't like the ball-shaped handle, finding a traditional curved one easier to hold onto for longer.
Liberty compact umbrellas are made by premier brolly experts, London Undercover, ensuring excellence across the board in terms of manufacturing, from the strong, three section frame, to the recycled PET canopy: this small machine can withstand a heavy downpour.
Additionally, its nifty button-opening mechanism allows you to open and close the umbrella with one hand. But its inclusion here – to be frank – is because the Liberty print decorated canopies are just so pretty.
Substance and style.
Wee ones – in our not-unlimited experience – are far more likely to take to using a brolly if it is cute. This is brilliant: the white dinosaurs decorating it turn colourful when they get wet.
This wipe-clean umbrella will allow your child to escape outside on drizzly days – perfect for seeking out puddles.
Above, we first mentioned Fulton in the context of their impressive walking option. Here, the equally accomplished compact version is featured. It's very light, very small, and very tough.
The frame is fibreglass reinforced aluminium, making it very strong. The handle is rubberised and won't slip from your hand. And the polyester pongee canopy is great and withstanding heavy rain.
It looks lovely, too.