In the good old days, if you needed an umbrella, you would wind up with a long stick umbrella. And it would be black. But in recent years there have been several recent innovations and amazing feats of engineering applied to the age old rain umbrella.
Perhaps the most dramatic option for an umbrella is the method of opening. Manual umbrellas are opened and closed by sliding the ring up and down the shaft, at the whim of the user. There have been, for several years now, automatic umbrellas which would pop open at the push of a button, located on the handle. These spring-loaded umbrellas are really handy and can usually open faster than a traditional manual umbrella. Even more recently some ingenious engineers have discovered how to manufacture umbrellas which automatically open and close. These are the ultimate in convenience. A word of caution, being complex mechanical machines, automated umbrellas occasionally will break and become either stuck open or stuck closed. If you wish to take advantage of an automatic umbrella, I recommend getting a higher quality umbrella with a lifetime warranty.
The next amazing innovation for the modern umbrella is the double canopy. This design features overlapping slits in the canopy, the theory being that wind can flow through these slits rather than being captured by the canopy and forcing the umbrella to invert. (Inverting is usually the best sign that you need a new umbrella.) There are many different variations to the double canopy, but in essence they all work the same, and can mitigate damage to this valuable accessory. Most umbrellas with double canopies have been found to withstand winds up to 50 mph (80 kph.) Indeed, if your double canopy umbrella becomes inverted, it's time to seek immediate shelter and get indoors!
Another option to consider is whether to get a traditional stick umbrella or a folding umbrella. Folding umbrellas are also marketed as compact or ultra compact. The shaft of these umbrellas telescopes out when opened and can provide adequate coverage for individuals, while collapsing down to less than a foot in length for convenient carrying. Traditional stick umbrellas, though certainly bulkier, are also going to be more durable.
The material used for the canopy for an umbrella is worth mentioning. Most umbrellas are manufactured from nylon because of its durability as well as being freely available and cost effective. Pongee (pronounced "Ponj") is a type of silk cloth. It is rare to find umbrellas made exclusively from Pongee, but you are likely to find Poly-Pongee. This polyester and silk combination is more widely used, and due to the silk content is a little more costly. The advantage to poly-pongee is that it is a lighter weight fabric. You will also find some select umbrellas made from a polyester canopy. Each of these fabrics have been found to provide superior protection from both the sun and rain. Of note for custom imprinting, nylon tends to hold and reflect imprints better. If you are considering putting a professional logo on an umbrella, it would be best to do so using a nylon canopy.
Do you like to golf in the rain? Umbrella manufacturers often produce purpose built golf umbrellas which are characterized by a larger than average size canopy (typically with 62 or 68 inch arcs,) a longer that usual traditional stick shaft, and finally a straight handle. Golf umbrellas also come in a very large variety as far as colors and patterns. Golf umbrellas have become popular among not just golf clients as they also work well for families.
Another large umbrella to consider are the Doorman Umbrellas, which are purpose built for commercial use by hotels and apartments. Doorman umbrellas are similar to golf umbrellas with the two exceptions that they usually feature a traditional J shaped handle, and come in a limited number of color options. Doorman umbrellas are also well engineered for durability and make a perfect umbrella for families as well.
For the commuter or business worker there are several travel umbrellas. These are compact folding umbrellas which include a convenient carry case or other pouch. Some even incorporate loops and straps so that the umbrella can be carried on ones back like a backpack.
Under the moniker of fashion umbrellas there are several models of umbrellas which are meant to make a personal statement or even match for coordinated apparel. There are few fast rules for fashion umbrellas, and you will find a wide range as far as quality and durability is concerned. When selecting a fashion umbrella (as opposed to a "fad" umbrella) consider using a reputable umbrella company who will endorse their products with a warranty.
In recent years, your options have really expanded as far as purchasing an umbrella.
Before you put money down, it is important to consider your lifestyle and your individual use for an umbrella. Once you understand what features you require in an umbrella, it then becomes a simple exercise in finding the umbrella which best suits you. If you have some trouble finding that perfect umbrella, consulting with umbrella experts like those found at UmbrellasAndBeyond.com can save you time and money in your hunt for appropriate rain protection.