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What Should I Consider When Buying an Umbrella?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Buying an umbrella may seem a simple process, but selecting the correct one will save time and trouble when the rainy season starts. There are a few things to consider when purchasing an umbrella that can help you make the best choice for your personal needs.

The first consideration is to assess how often the umbrella will be used. If you live in area with infrequent rain, then an inexpensive telescoping umbrella is probably the best choice. If you live in Seattle or other rainy climates, you will naturally want a very sturdy umbrella, and preferably one not easily blown away by high winds. For those who live in rainy climates, it is generally better to purchase larger and hardier umbrellas. It is harder to get away with smaller umbrellas when rain is particularly fierce or driving.

Most who want a sturdy umbrella favor long umbrellas, as opposed to the telescoping type. Usually the handle is made of wood or hard plastic, and the overhead portion tends to be larger than telescoping varieties. The domed umbrella reaches farther down and may successfully provide coverage to the middle of the chest. They are often available in see through plastics, which help navigating congested areas easier.

Many favor umbrellas of Italian make, which are often bright in color, and generally have a water-treated cotton canvas that is quite water resistant. As well, the cotton dries quickly. Some come with decorative handles since in rainy areas, the umbrella may well be considered a fashion accessory as well as a necessity.

Choice between a c-curve and a straight handle is highly individual. You may want to try out several of each type to discover which feels best to the hand. Many find the curved handle to be a bit more manageable in keeping the umbrella straight during heavy winds. Others feel the curved handle is harder to manage when the umbrella or the hands are wet from rain.

Larger umbrellas will be more expensive, and if you want to make a fashion statement by using a designer umbrella, you will pay even more. Generally, a good quality umbrella will cost about 40 US dollars (USD). Designer umbrellas can be significantly more expensive.

If you are selecting an umbrella for a child, there are a number of cute designs available, although function over fashion may be preferred. For very young children, don’t invest a lot of money. Chances are, abusive use of a small umbrella will result in breakage, or frequently, umbrellas are lost at school. Perhaps the best bet for young children is the Totes® umbrella, which is a compact, telescopic umbrella. They are sold with a cover and are easily fit into backpacks. They are also inexpensive, usually less than 10 USD.

If you walk in the rain through busy areas, you may also want to observe a bit of umbrella courtesy. Very large umbrellas on a small crowded street may mean taking up a bit more space than is needed for coverage, and crashing one’s umbrella into others should be avoided. For those who really need the coverage, dome umbrellas are slightly narrower in diameter, and will help one avoid unnecessary collisions with others hurrying through the rain. Also, to avoid dripping, be sure to purchase an umbrella cover, so that you can conscientiously preserve the floor when you come in from the rain.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By annedunigan1 — On Mar 02, 2013

Those are very helpful, if quite utilitarian, umbrella buying considerations. So, I'd like to add a personal preference. Lots of artsy people like me prefer umbrellas with some design and fashion. I would choose an umbrella like this versus a more sturdy and boring umbrella, even if I live in Seattle.

By anon280327 — On Jul 17, 2012

After reading your blog, I got to know more about the tactics of purchasing an umbrella. The tips are really very helpful for purchasing an umbrella. Thanks for sharing such a nice post with the beautiful tips.

By anon21226 — On Nov 12, 2008

I live in Seattle and work in Bellevue. I use an umbrella. I ride the bus so I don't want a long one, I want something I can put in my backpack (an outer pocket when it's wet) and take with me all the time. If you are walking for 20 minutes, sufficient rain often falls to warrant an umbrella.

By anon4145 — On Oct 04, 2007

I live in Seattle and I've never needed an umbrella. The reason? Despite its reputation, Seattle averages about 37 inches of rain per year, notably less than New York at more than 46 inches. The difference is that while it pours down rain in New York and other cities, it rarely does so in Seattle. Rather, precipitation here most often falls as mist or drizzle, making umbrellas usually pointless. Even when it's raining in Seattle, you're not likely to get that wet. Also, a slight storm coming in off the water can turn downtown into a virtual wind tunnel, turning umbrellas inside out and sending rain sideways. So next time you visit, leave your umbrella behind; it won't do you much good anyway.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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