There are so many different umbrellas to choose from, thousands and thousands in fact. You could be forgiven for not knowing where to start! There are small compact umbrellas, larger umbrellas you carry in your hand, weak frames, strong frames, vented canopies, automatic umbrellas, manual umbrellas… the list goes on. We’ve written this article to make choosing a strong and reliable umbrella very easy indeed.

What does windproof mean?

A common misconception is that the word windproof in the umbrella world means that the umbrella canopy will stay firm and not turn inside out. This is not the case! It actually means the frame is designed in a flexible way to give a little in the wind. If conditions are particularly windy, the frame is designed to turn inside out. The crucial point is that the frame will not break, it is designed to turn inside out, however, then return to normal without breaking. You can think of the frame like a sail on a boat, effortlessly able to change its shape as the wind direction changes. Therefore we always recommend purchasing a windproof umbrella as the frame will invariably be better built and therefore last you longer.

A vented double canopy

The canopy of an umbrella is the fabric that sits on top of the frame. Materials such as polyester, cotton or plastic are the most common materials used. Polyester and plastic are perfect for rainy conditions, whereas cotton is more synonymous with umbrellas used to provide shade from the sun.

A great feature to look out for that relates to this part of the umbrella is a vented double canopy. Here, there are two layers of fabric with a gap or vent between them. They are connected at each rib of the frame, therefore giving between 6 and 8 vents on a standard umbrella. These vents are a brilliant feature as they allow wind to go through them and therefore regulate the pressure that can build up on gusty days. The vents are cleverly designed with just the right amount of overlap that lets the wind through, however, keeps the rain on the outside of the canopy. If the vents were not there, the wind pressure build up could cause the frame to become bent or even break.

Get a strong frame

The frame of a windproof umbrella is such an important component, it’s like the engine of a car, vital to its performance. Getting this decision right is so important. The frame will usually have either 6 ribs, 8 ribs, 12 ribs, 16 ribs or 24 ribs. The number of ribs is usually an even number to give symmetry to the frame.

We recommend choosing materials that are firstly strong and secondly that allow a little flexibility to ride out those strong gusts. The best frames are those made from fibreglass or strong steel, they offer strength and value for money. Other materials such as aluminium will not offer the strength required so are usually best avoided.

Should you buy a compact umbrella or a large umbrella

Another crucial decision to make is whether you require a small compact umbrella or a larger umbrella that you hold in your hand. The primary factor to consider is whether the umbrella is to be stored in your bag when not in use or whether you require an umbrella that you carry with you in your hand. If having a lightweight umbrella is important to you, go for a compact umbrella. These will usually be less than 30cm in length and so easy to store. The downside of these smaller compact umbrellas is that the canopy size will usually be smaller when the umbrella is in use and the frame weaker due to the number of folds required.

Therefore if you require a stronger frame and a canopy that is large enough to cover 1 or 2 people, give serious consideration to a large umbrella. The frame will be strong as it has fewer folds, the canopy will be larger as the closed size of the umbrella is so much bigger.

Go automatic and you won’t look back

Umbrellas can also be either automatic or manual. An automatic umbrella means the umbrella will open by itself when the opening button is pressed. This is brilliant as it only requires one hand to open. This is very useful if your hands are carrying other items or are needed to hold your mobile phone. Some smaller compact umbrellas will also close the frame automatically if the button is pressed for the second time. It causes the canopy to collapse together allowing you to then collapse the shaft manually.

A manual umbrella requires the runner to be manually pushed up the shaft which of course requires two hands, one to keep the handle steady and the other hand to advance the runner.

We always recommend getting an automatic umbrella, it is so much easier to use!

What budget did you have in mind?

When buying the ideal windproof umbrella, the range of prices available is staggering. You might be able to buy an umbrella for under £5, however, this is likely to be made of inferior materials and therefore unlikely to last you any length of time; it won’t stand the test of time. On the other hand, you can pay over a hundred pounds for some branded umbrellas. We recommend spending around £20 to £25 to secure a reliable umbrella made of high-quality materials that have the potential to last for years to come.

Visit COLLAR AND CUFFS LONDON including the windproof umbrella page to find a range of quality umbrellas that are highly engineered and built to last. You can filter easily on the canopy size, the umbrella size when closed and even the colour of the canopy. Buying a strong umbrella is now very easy indeed!