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TECH

Six Better-Than-Average Umbrellas

by Tim Yu
on 21 November 2007
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Following the Swims post, you might guess we have a rain theme going on today. What can we say? It's been raining a lot here lately.

During the drearier months an adequate umbrella is essential, especially for urbanites who face longer treks than from the parking lot to the office. Fortunately, umbrellas have been getting much needed overhauls lately with designers making them, lighter, stronger and adding different useful features. We think it's worth the investment to purchase a quality umbrella that's not tiny and won't blow inside out.

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The Davek umbrella might not look like much but it comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee, which says something about the quality. I've been using and abusing mine for months now and it's still as good as new. It features a three-action button system allowing you to open and close the umbrella with the push of a button. My favorite part however is when a gust of wind inverts the umbrella the ribs correct themselves to a closed position with another push of the button. The flexible carbon frame prevents breakage or tearing and a steel shaft provides stability. Available in two different sizes, the Solo—sized for one person— is $95 and the Duet—sized for two people— is $149 at Davek. Not bad considering you'll never need to buy another umbrella again.

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You may have seen videos of the Senz umbrella on fellow blogs proving it can withstand gale force winds, but we wanted to try out the winner of the Red Dot Design Award ourselves. Senz claims that the umbrella can withstand 70mph (100km/h) winds. Although we didn't get into a wind tunnel, the asymmetrical, aerodynamic design does a good job of deflecting the wind instead of struggling with it. It's especially useful in cities where wind tunnels down streets and sends umbrellas flying when turning the corner. Resembling an airplane wing, the Senz shape also lends itself to better visibility and the extended back end clears the back of your heels, which often get soaked with conventional umbrellas. Available from Senz for €50.

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The Swims Automatic Classic is a retro-inspired umbrella with all the latest features. Push button, auto-up/auto-down action makes it easy to operate with one arm, great for when running errands when you might be walking in and out of buildings repeatedly while carrying stuff. The movement is smooth and satisfying, opening to a generous amount of canopy. A hard rubber handle provides a soft but sturdy grip while a softer rubber tip makes it conducive to use as a walking stick. Available from Oki-ni for £39.

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Another one that's made the rounds, but we think is pretty smart is Hiranao Tsuboi's Stand Umbrella. The unique characteristic here is a tripod-like tip that allows the umbrella to stand on its own. This might seem like a straightforward thing to engineer, but a series of test were performed to determine optimal center of gravity and spread of the three legs so it would not only stand but also be stable. Buy it in white or black for ¥4,200 at 100%.

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We featured the Ambient Umbrella when it was still a prototype, but there's been quite a hubbub when it recently became available for purchase. Using AccuWeather's info, the wireless receiver in the handle alerts users to any incoming precipitation. You won't leave home without your umbrella again, how can you when the handle is blinking? Purchase it for $100 from Think Geek or call Ambient Devices at +1 866 311 1999.

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Made of nylon the Fold and Go Umbrella by Gijs Bakker is big enough to comfortably shelter you from the rain but folds up into the sleeve that's attached to the top, which means no more losing sleeves! The orange under side will provide a nice glow even in the gloomiest conditions keeping you happy and dry. No word on price, but visit Eno to find retailers in France.

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