Best umbrella 2019: shelter from the showers with these raining champions

Which umbrella will keep you dry, look stylish and withstand the test of time?

Best umbrella

As autumn approaches, chances are you’ll be reaching for an umbrella 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. 

Whether you pick practical, classic black, or a vibrant colour to brighten up the greyest of days, they can add something to your outfit.

The thing is, 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.

But 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, come with us on a trip through the best umbrellas you can buy right now.

Whether you have £15 to spend on a Samsonite Rain Pro, or £250 on 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 household’ seal of approval.

Generally speaking, if you stoop below the £15 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.  

You should also ask what you want from your umbrella. There are no points for answering that with a sarcastic ‘to keep me dry’, but you should consider the length, width, size, style, features and design of your brolly. 

Should it fit in a handbag or backpack? Will you want to keep two people dry at once? Would you like a stylish wooden handle, or how about a quirk-looking Sainz, with its asymmetrical, aerodynamic design?

The best umbrellas you can buy today 

Best umbrella: Blunt XS Metro

1. Blunt XS Metro

If ever there was an umbrella for urban dwellers – this is it!

Reasons to buy
+Incredibly strong+No sharp points
Reasons to avoid
-On the bulky side of compact

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.

Best umbrella: Fulton Stormshield

2. Fulton Stormshield

Tough, dependable, and from a Royal Warrant holder

Reasons to buy
+Dependable name+Large, vented design+Non-conductive fibreglass shaft
Reasons to avoid
-Could be too large to use in a crowd

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.

Best umbrella: Senz Original

3. Senz Original

Quirky design can stand up to 60 mph winds

Reasons to buy
+‘Eye-saver’ spokes+Designed to withstand strong gales
Reasons to avoid
-Only designed to protect one person

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.

Best umbrella: Paul Smith wood handle striped umbrella

(Image credit: Mr Porter)

4. Paul Smith wood handle striped umbrella

A designer take on a classic

Reasons to buy
+Signature stripes+Discrete but distinctive+Wooden handle
Reasons to avoid
-You wouldn't want to lose it somewhere

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.

Best umbrella: London Undercover maple handle umbrella

(Image credit: Mr Porter)

5. London Undercover maple handle umbrella

A bright brolly to brighten up grey days

Reasons to buy
+High quality materials+Nice and big for coverage+Bright coloured canopy
Reasons to avoid
-Too much of a statement for some

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.

Best umbrella: Fulton tiny 1 folding umbrella

(Image credit: John Lewis)

6. Fulton tiny 1 folding umbrella

A dinky solution to keep in your bag

Reasons to buy
+Incredibly compact+Super lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Not great for heavy rain

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. 

Best umbrella: Fulton Birdcage

7. Fulton Birdcage

Best for blustery walks in the country

Reasons to buy
+Full coverage+Affordable quality
Reasons to avoid
-Too big to carry around in case it rains

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.

Best umbrella: Paul Smith Wooden Handle Striped Umbrella

8. Paul Smith Wooden Handle Striped Umbrella

Offers a splash of colour on a wet and miserable day

Reasons to buy
+Wooden handle+Iconic Paul Smith design inside
Reasons to avoid
-Outside could be funkier

If you want an umbrella to bring a splash of colour to those dull, rainy days, then look no further than this wood-handled option by Paul Smith.

The outside of the canopy is plain black like every other umbrella, but open it up and the classic Paul Smith rainbow pattern is revealed for all to see. It’s a fun design to be found inside something mundane like an umbrella, and is complimented by a stylish wooden handle.

At 104 cm, this is a fairly long umbrella when not in use, so might not be suitable to carry around everyday, but the fun design will bring a smile to your face each time you deploy it.

Best umbrella: Victorinox Automatic Umbrella

9. Victorinox Automatic Umbrella

Strong yet light for everyday use

Reasons to buy
+Well made+Push button opening
Reasons to avoid
-Handle shows usage marks

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.

Best umbrella: Samsonite Rain Pro

10. Samsonite Rain Pro

Reasons to buy
+Compact size+Inexpensive
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing special to look at

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 but at just £15 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.

Best umbrella: Eono Essentials 62 inch Golf Umbrella

11. Eono Essentials 62 inch Golf Umbrella

A truly massive golf umbrella - and used by the pros

Reasons to buy
+Huge canopy+Available in a wide range of colours+Button deployment
Reasons to avoid
-You’ll anger all of Oxford Street

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.

Best umbrella: Francesco Maglia

12. Francesco Maglia

Sounds like a member of the Italian Mafia, might make you look like aristocracy

Reasons to buy
+Stylish chestnut handle and shaft+Made in Italy+Smart button fastenings
Reasons to avoid
-Would wouldn't want to lose it

Lord Chestnut Wood-Handle might sound like an Edwardian property baron, or the next editor of Tatler, but this umbrella is just about worthy of such a grand name. Made in Italy by Francesco Maglia, the Lord Chestnut (was he in Cluedo?) features a beautifully stylish, solid wooden handle and shaft, with a canopy that is large enough to shelter two people.

Details include a gunmetal-tone designer plaque on the handle, a wooden tip, smart two-tone design, and a button fastening instead of the press studs used on most other umbrellas.

Yes, £250 is a truly vast amount of money to spend on something you will probably leave behind at the gentleman’s club (are they still a thing?), but we bet merely carrying it will bring a smile to every rainy day.

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