The Best Travel Umbrellas

After storm-testing a dozen travel-size umbrellas, and breaking a few of the flimsier models in the process, we picked 4 that blew away the competition.


BEST LIGHTWEIGHT

Nimbus Travel by Eagle Creek

Thumbs Up: The most affordable and lightest of the bunch, the Nimbus is a true travel umbrella whose nylon canopy and aluminum-and-stainless steel frame flexes in brisk winds and holds up well in a steady drizzle. It’s so compact that it’s easy to forget you are carrying it; several testers simply tucked it into their coat pockets and set out.

Thumbs Down: Forget long walks in the pouring rain—this ultra-light umbrella offers the least amount of coverage and sometimes feels like it’s on the verge of crumpling. Miraculously, it never does. Use the umbrella transitionally, to “seek out the next comfy cafe to duck into and wait out the storm,” cautioned one tester.

Where to Buy It: www.amazon.com

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BEST DESIGN
Victorinox Swiss Army Automatic Umbrella

Thumbs Up: The full-size rubberized handle molds to your palm, making the Victorinox the most comfortable umbrella for long sightseeing days. The unique protective case helps to keep valuables drier than others—one tester even dared to store a wet umbrella in the ballistic-nylon sleeve next to an iPad (and yes, the iPad is still fully functional).

Thumbs Down: As one of the bulkiest we tested, the Victorinox and its titanium-and-fiberglass frame occupies the space between travel umbrella and at-home umbrella. It’s small enough to be tucked into large purses and over-the-shoulder bags, but unless you’re dressed in parachute pants (please tell me you're not) you’ll never fit it in your pockets.

Where to Buy It: www.swissarmy.com
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BEST INVESTMENT
The Davek Traveler   

Thumbs Up: The 190-thread count nylon "sheds rain better than most competitors” and dried noticeably faster (other umbrellas typically have a 150-thread count). About 4 times as expensive as some of the other umbrellas we tested, the Davek was also the most durable—and comes with an unprecedented lifetime guarantee that covers damage that other companies' warranties won't. Broken zinc-alloy handles, bent spokes, faulty steel shafts, and ripped fabric are all repaired or replaced, even if the damage results from normal wear-and-tear. And if you lose your umbrella, the company will send you another one for $39.50.

Thumbs Down: Closing the umbrella was sometimes difficult. “On a few occasions, moving quickly to get out of the rain, I had to assume a hara-kiri samurai position, jamming the umbrella into my gut to force it closed," one tester said.

Where to Buy It: www.davekny.com

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BEST OVERALL PERFORMANCE
WindPro Auto Umbrella by ShedRain

Thumbs Up: "A well-made umbrella with a reinforced canopy," the WindPro is sturdy enough to protect you against buffeting gusts, hard rain, and even the occasional hail storm. Though the umbrella did flip inside out on a particularly blustery day, it reversed itself quickly without any lasting damage to the fiberglass frame. The 43-inch canopy provides the largest coverage of any of the finalists, and that means that you and your valuables are protected when the weather turns sour.

Thumbs Down: At 2 inches longer than the Davek Traveler and Eagle Creek's Nimbus, the WindPro sacrifices a few points for consuming more packing space than it probably needs to. We think the trade-off is worth it for the price and the performance.

Where to Buy It: www.magellans.com

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