While it may be summer, for many of us that's no guarantee of dry weather, and as we start to return to offices and schools, it's likely we'll be reaching for an umbrella – or waterproof jacket – more regularly. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as they are not only practical in keeping you dry and creating romantic opportunities if you’re single and chivalrous, but they can also make for a great accessory.
Even in the summer, no matter the forecast, the lingering doubt of a downpour – even a ‘tropical one’ after a fortnight of permanent blue sky – is enough to make us check there’s an umbrella in our car, day bag, or right by the front door.
So whether you pick a practical, compact umbrella, or a large umbrella to protect the entire family, we've got you covered.
It’s the perfect time to embrace the maxim, ‘out with the old and in with the new’ and we’ve got some great inspiration in our roundup of the very best umbrellas.
Things to consider when buying an umbrella
When it comes to buying an umbrella, you will quickly learn there is a huge amount of choice out there. So, instead of dashing into the first shop you see in a downpour, then parting with a fortune for something overpriced and undersized, you'll want to be prepared with the vital knowledge we're about to impart.
Size matters. If you love a long walk or play golf, a giant golfing umbrella is a must, and some have some great windproof technology built-in. But if you work in the city and carry a heavy bag around, you’ll want to plump for something compact and lightweight.
Colour is another big consideration, with a black brolly the most ‘sensible’ choice, but some of the most fashionable options come in bright colours and patterns, sometimes with elaborate handles. Umbrellas can be a great talking point and it’s easy to have a bit of fun.
Then, of course, there’s budget to think about. Whether you don't have much money to spend on a Samsonite Rain Pro, or a large wedge of cash waiting for the splendidly-named Lord Chestnut Wood-Handle, there will be something for you here. We’ve even got a couple of options from Fulton, which are decently priced yet come with the Royal households’ seal of approval. Generally speaking, if you stoop below the £15 / $20 mark, you’ll end up with an inside-out brolly quicker than you can say inclement weather - unless it’s in a sale, of course.
Best umbrella brands
Paul Smith makes beautiful brollies. Whether you choose a rainbow number or more sensible brolly with a smart, signature stripy trim, they are guaranteed to brighten your day. Unsurprisingly, this brand isn’t the cheapest, but it is designer and super covetable.
Senz makes one of the quirkiest and most eye-catching umbrellas on the market. But the slightly outlandish shape is based on aerodynamics and promises to keep you dry(ish) in a gale.
If Fulton brollies are good enough for the Queen, they’re good enough for us! The brand has a royal warrant and some of its birdcage and stormshield shapes are really well known and a real game-changer when you give them a go. The best bit is, it’s not too pricey.
London Undercover makes umbrellas in a rainbow of colours, that are certain to brighten up the greyest of days. While they might be fun, the brollies are incredible quality with wooden handles and traditional construction.
The best umbrellas you can buy today
Fulton hold a Royal Warrant due to the Queen and others using the company’s Birdcage brolly. This option, the wonderfully-named Stornshield, is a large vented golf umbrella, which should hold up to the strongest gales without letting you down. The umbrella has a ‘easy guide’ manually opening and closing system (so no button-deployment here, which is probably wise given how large it is).
The shaft is made from non-conductive fibreglass, so you needn’t sorry about being struck by lightning while in exposed areas during a storm, or on the golf course when the weather turns grim. At 104 cm wide, the canopy strikes a good balance between a full-size golf umbrella and one which can still be used in a crowd without getting in everyone’s way.
The funky styling of the Blunt XS Metro is mainly down to the rounded safely tips, so we didn’t feel like an accident waiting to happen using it on a busy commute We used it on windy days and it didn’t even wobble – it’s aerodynamic handling is to be commended and it feels reassuringly well-made in the hand too.
The high tension canopy is perhaps the perfect size – keeps you completely dry but isn’t cumbersome. Opens and closes instantly by pressing a single button. Better still…Blunt has teamed up with Tile, so that you can track your umbrella when lost via the Tile app (there’s a tile embedded in a specially designed pocket) – nifty.
Senz has made a name for itself for producing umbrellas which look strange, but protect their owners from winds of up to 60 mph without becoming damaged or inverted. The key here is aerodynamics, and how - when held the right around round, of course - the Senz lets the wind slip over and around it, instead of being caught up by a gale and turned inside out.
The design also includes ‘eye-savers’ on the ends of its spokes, there to prevent you poking the eyes out of your fellow commuters on a busy train platform. Finally, the fabric has an SPF 50+ rating to protect you from the sun as well as the rain.
What better way to brighten up the greyest of days, than a brilliantly vibrant umbrella? London Undercover has some of the brightest, in orange and sunshine yellow, which would look brilliant with denim and become quite a style statement.
The brand’s best-selling style is handcrafted from robust twill and has a contoured maple wood handle. Measuring 69cm, it’s not a compact option for your backpack, but great for a long stroll on a rainy day. The accessory is great quality and a handy talking point, and it’s available in a rainbow of colours, with different types of wooden handles, so there’s something for everyone.
Golf umbrellas are brilliant for keeping you dry in a heavy downpour and holding chivalrously over a friend, but you can’t carry them around just-in-case. The Fulton tiny 1 may not be the most macho, but as it’s light and compact, making it a great option to keep stashed in a bag in case of a shower.
Sure, it won’t keep you dry in a heavy downpour as the canopy is only 87cm in diameter, but it’s better than nothing! It's perfect for keeping in case of an emergency and comes in black as well as a number of patterns, if you’re feeling more adventurous.
Once you’re in the umbrella – thanks to the funky full coverage dome design you feel like you’re in a bubble - you aren’t getting wet. The transparent cover means that despite this being the brolly offering the most coverage visibility is great. The build quality is impressive with fiberglass ribs for flexibility and strength in high winds.
The Queen uses one of these (Fulton are a Royal Warrant holder) and we can see why! Our only issue - it’s big at 94cm long when closed, 84cm when open which is great when it’s raining but it’s too cumbersome to carry everyday.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive take-everywhere-just-in-case type of umbrella this is the one for you – it even comes with a nice neat carry case. It’s much better made than those you can pick up anywhere for a couple of quid (or a few dollars) but it doesn’t have button opening or other fancy features. It doesn’t look cheap at all but it’s design is nothing special either. A good no-frills choice.
Sometimes it’s handy to keep an umbrella stashed in your bag for emergencies, in which case you’ll want sometime incredibly light and compact. This is where Fulton’s Minilite design comes in. Available in tonnes of patterns and colours, including this cute panda design, measures just 25cm folded up and is lightweight too.
With an easy to use mechanism and wind-resistant design, this brolly may not keep you dry on wintery walks in the wilderness, but it’s great for dashing between shops or to a bus stop.
Camouflage print has always been cool, and London Undercover’s umbrella will help give you an edge in a downpour. Not only is it super practical, but a style statement too. The telescopic brolly is handmade with a camo shell, supported by a robust 10-rib frame, making it brilliant for blustery walks. It’s also got an ergonomically shaped whangee wood handle, making it comfortable to use, as well as stylish. Plus, we think it's amazing value.
If you value incredible craftsmanship and are prepared to pay for the best materials, Francesco Maglia’s striped chestnut wood handle umbrella might be for you. The brolly has a large canvas canopy and sturdy, yet lightweight carved chestnut wood handle, both of which are made in Italy.
Another nice touch is its engraved silver logo plate and a mother of pearl button to keep the canvas closed. If you love a smart blazer, this brilliant brolly would fit in with a preppy look, but such style and craftsmanship does come at a price.
This huge umbrella is claimed to be used by numerous professional golfers, thanks to its large canopy, relatively short shaft, windproof double-canopy design, and range of striking colours to match your equally loud golf trousers. The Eono match a wide 62-inch canopy with a short 21-inch shaft, making it surprisingly portable, as it takes up very little spare when not in use.
It’s also remarkably light at 600g, but with such a large canopy you’ll need to hold on tight when the wind picks up. As well as being waterproof, the fabric is also sun-proof, offering SPF 50+ protection, so it’ll help keep you cool on the fairway, as well as dry. This umbrella is so tough, its makers offer a lifetime replacement guarantee, should yours ever be damaged by wind.
This Victorinox umbrella opens with the push of a button but you close it manually (unlike the Davek and Blunt models). Build quality is great – the strong frame held up very well in the wind despite being lightweight at just 0.4kg – a real plus if it’s going to live in your bag. We liked the look of the double canopy design which features the Victorinox logo and it’s very nice to hold with the moulded finger grips and rubberised feel of the handle. Said handle did show light general usage marks quite quickly though.
If you are a Paul Smith nut, you’ll want this umbrella boasting the designer’s signature stripes on its edges. Hailing from Nottingham, Sir Paul Smith must have experienced his fair share of rain and has created a cracking umbrella to make rainy days more fun. Made with an easy-grip curved wooden handle, this one has a classic black canopy edged with colourful stripes, making it distinctive, yet discrete for those who don’t want to shout about their designer labels. It’s not the cheapest, but it might just cheer you up on dreary days.
If you want to stand out from the sea of black umbrellas this tartan number from Barbour should be just the ticket. The umbrella has a telescopic design, so is nice and compact when folded up, and features a classy wooden handle with Barbour engraving on the side.
Blunt sells umbrellas in a range of sizes, with the Coupe being its second-smallest. The Coupe has a diameter of 105cm, so is ideal for leaving in the car, ready to grab in an emergency. At 430g, the Coupe is Blunt's lightest full-length umbrella.
It also features an easy-grip handle, measures 73.5cm long when closed, has been tested in winds of up to 70 mph, and is available in six different colours.
Proof that you don't need to spend a fortune on and umbrella, we present the Totes Supermini. The clue is in the name, as this telescopic umbrella folds up into a coat pocket- or handbag-friendly size, while still being large enough to keep you dry.
Offered in black, the Totes Supermini is 100% polyester and have a simple metal shaft with plastic handle and matching black slip case. Simple but effective.