OutdoorGearLab Presents Awards to Best Umbrellas

The industry's top umbrellas reviewed side-by-side. Awards go to totes and REI.
The seven umbrellas tested in this review.
The seven umbrellas tested in this review.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - July 7, 2014 - PRLog -- In its newest publication, The Best Umbrella Review, OutdoorGearLab chose seven highly-rated umbrellas and compared them head-to-head for three months. The selection included brands like totes, Eagle Creek, REI, Fulton, and WindPro, and the products ranged from compact travel-style pieces to traditional, wooden-handled models. Tested by Gear Editor, Jared Dean, the review took place largely in the rainy New York spring time, but also included stints in wet campgrounds in Kentucky. Throughout this process, he was able to use each product in precipitation that varied from drizzle to complete downpour and to assess each one's performance in windy conditions.

He tried transporting each product in a backpack and measured the length and depth of all the canopies. His quantitative tests also included recording how long it took each piece to dry. Finally, he spent time considering the qualities that made certain products easier to use. He reported on handle shape and size, available sleeve offerings, and canopy deployment systems. Dean also polled his team of testers to gauge their overall opinions on the style of each product. They concurred that the more classic octagonal-shaped black and blue options had a more professional look, while the bubble canopies had more stylish, feminine appeal.

After completing all these tests, Dean composed an in-depth review on each umbrella. He noted how canopy diameter affected its performance in varying types of precipitation and how the hinged spokes on compact models decrease their durability and resistance to the wind. His conclusions led OutdoorGearLab to present the following awards: the totes Blue Line received the Editors' Choice award, the totes Clear Bubble earned the Best Buy award, and the REI Travel took home the Top Pick for Compact Model. The following paragraphs include more information about each award-winner.

totes Blue Line
Comprised of a wooden shaft and a nylon canopy, the totes Blue Line boasts a coverage area of 42.5 inches, the most of any other product in the review, which is a large part of why it earned the Editors' Choice award. A non-compact model, it was also one of the heaviest and longest, so it's not ideal for users who want a piece that can be transported in a purse or backpack. That said, this is an excellent choice for consumers who want to keep that “just-in-case” umbrella in the car or in the coat closet. Because of its wide coverage area, the Blue Line will even keep the legs dry without requiring users to shorten their stride. Moreover, since there are fewer hinges on the spokes, this product is considerably less prone to flipping inside-out, which was a challenge among all the compact models. The J-shaped wooden handle is fitting with a button for easy deployment but wasn't as comfortable to hold as some of the other handles. Finally, the Blue Line scored highly in OutdoorGearLab's style metric. This product has a classic, business-like look that is well-suited to professional environments. Interestingly, the Editors' Choice winner was also the least expensive product in the review, ringing up at just $20!

totes Clear Bubble
Again, totes took home another one of OutdoorGearLab's top honors: the Best Buy award. The totes Clear Bubble is a stylish, non-compact model that will only set consumers back about $26. This product features a deeper bubble- or birdcage- style canopy that protects well against both wind and rain. Although it does not have a notably wide coverage area, the fact that users can duck into the deep canopy earned it a few extra points. The Clear Bubble never flipped inside-out in the wide and its clear PVC canopy dries quickly. Additionally, its unique style was especially appealing to the female testers. Although it is more difficult to transport - like the Blue Line, it does not have a telescoping handle and weighs in at over one pound - it scored highly in many of OutdoorGearLab's tests and is an affordable choice.

REI Travel Umbrella
The Top Pick for Compact model went to the REI Travel. A light and packable piece, this product weighs in at 14 ounces and measures 12 inches when collapsed. Moreover, it had the largest canopy of any compact model in the review, making it ideal for those who need quality rain protection on the go. The REI Travel comes fitted with a soft, grippable handle and an easy-to-use auto open and close button. Like all its direct competitors, it does flip inside-out easily in the wind, but its polyester canopy did not show any signs of wear. Unlike many of the other products in this review, the REI Travel comes in several pattern options. It's a bit more expensive at $35, but comes with REI's year-long warranty.

About OutdoorGearLab:
Headquartered in Cheyenne Wyoming, OutdoorGearLab LLC strives to create world’s best outdoor gear reviews. The company’s website is a free resource for people who participate in activities such as hiking, climbing, backpacking, and camping, or who simply love the outdoors. OutdoorGearLab Gear Editors across the country test outdoor equipment side-by-side and publish the results in comparative reviews. Products receive scores across a range of weighted categories, competitors are ranked, and awards are given to top-performing products. See more at http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/.

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