Amazon Basics Automatic Travel Review
Cons: A touch heavier than other compact models, plain style
Our Analysis and Test Results
Made of polyester and steel, the Amazon Basics umbrella is a true competitor on the market. This model is simple, compact, and easy to use. With the press of a button, the canopy automatically deploys. Press again, and the canopy collapses. The durable steel design flexes if the canopy is ever flipped inside-out, and the wind vent helps mitigate the chances of this happening.
Taking into consideration elements beyond mere rain (such as wind and sun), overall weather protection is a relatively strong suit for this competitor. Ranking above-average for its combination of canopy depth, circumference, and wind vent feature, it fares well in inclement weather. When compared to longer, more traditional options — particularly those with deeper and broader canopies — the Automatic Travel isn't as thoroughly protective, but this is to be expected.
During our tests, we purposefully inverted the canopy. Compared to models without wind vents, it isn't as easy for this canopy to flip inside-out, which is a good thing. And when it is inside-out, we found the steel structure to be flexible and sturdy enough not to break or become deformed. We did find that the black canopy is a tad see-through, especially in the bright sun, which means it is not as protective against those solar rays as a more opaque option. Something else to keep in mind about automatic umbrellas is the button on the handle. If you were to accidentally press it during a rainstorm, with the canopy already open, the ensuing collapse would yield an unpleasant downpour.
Ease of Transport
Weight is what typically influences this metric the most. The compact category is inherently lightweight, and this umbrella is no exception. Weighing in at 14.1 ounces, the Automatic Travel comes with a sleeve and has a wrist strap. Packing and carrying it around is convenient, sleek, and rather unassuming. When related to the other quick-travel models, it is heavier by a few ounces. Still, having a packed length of only 11.5 inches makes it an easy grab-and-go choice.
We found that fitting this umbrella into a backpack, tote bag, or purse is effortless. Carrying it by the wrist strap or merely holding it in the hands is not burdensome either. After using it, leaving it to dry by the door or on the floor of the car never became a tripping hazard, nor did it feel like it ever got in the way.
We noticed that many of the models we tested have a slight give when the canopies are open, where the handle rotates independently of the rest of the structure. This is a worry in regards to stability during high wind events. Despite this being a concern for the Automatic Travel, the steel shaft and telescoping mechanism provide durability that is just above-average, especially for such an affordable option. Nonetheless, this contender is not as durable as those built with fiberglass construction which imparts more natural resistance to corrosion.
Since the polyester on this umbrella is a darker color, dirt and wear won't show up as easily as some of the brighter models. We didn't notice any wear whatsoever during the time of our testing. The automatic open and close feature has more mechanical parts than a more classic non-moving shaft, which could cause it to jam up eventually. During our testing period, however, this compact traveler opened and closed fluidly and without issue, even if operating manually. This instilled more confidence in our ability to operate it if, for some reason, the button and its automatic function were to stop working.
Ease of Use
The main attraction of an automatic model versus one that requires manual operation is quick deployment at the press of a button. Even better is when the button can also collapse the canopy back down. If only they also telescoped and stuffed themselves back into their sleeves — now that would be magic. This automatic traveler packs a punch when deployed, which provides quick and sturdy protection.
The soft, comfortable grip on the Automatic Travel is a nice touch, but it isn't as long as some of the other handles in our lineup. Sometimes this left our hands a bit tired because the relative weight of the umbrella wasn't as easily managed with only a 2.5-inch grip. It's a trade-off, however, because adding more length to the handle only adds weight.
Something else to consider for the long-term: we noticed that it took a lot longer for this umbrella to dry off than others. The chances of other things getting wet because of this are much higher and more annoying overall. With above-average scoring for this metric, the main drawback for the Automatic Travel is how difficult it is to manually close the entire umbrella for redeployment or storage. We often found ourselves having to use two hands and a hip to close it all up.
As is the case for most wardrobe and accessory items, black or generally darker tones are more easily versatile. We appreciate the practical design, but others might prefer something more bold and fun. The wind vent helps break up the monotony of the canopy, though, and the steel is also painted black, which offers a sleeker look. Very tidy, this competitor isn't loud or excessive. At the time of publishing, the manufacturer makes a small handful of block color options.
Highly competitive and highly rated online, this Amazon Basics umbrella is a quality and practical choice. Adding to its value, of course, is the incredible price. If you're looking for a reliable option that won't break the bank, this is it.
As the travel-companion market expands, the Amazon Basics Automatic Travel umbrella is a product worth owning. The compact versatility and ease of use are where this model stands strong, even if it's not the lightest on the market. With standard and minimalist style, it holds up to the best while leaving some change in your pocket.
— Sara Aranda
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