AmazonBasics Automatic Travel Review
Cons: A touch heavier than other compact models, plain style
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Made of polyester and steel, the AmazonBasics 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, like wind and even the sun, overall weather protection is a relative strongsuit 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 the longer, more traditional options, particularly those with deeper and broader canopies, the Amazon isn't as thoroughly protective, as one would expect.
During our tests, we purposefully inverted the canopy. When compared to those 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 find the steel structure to be flexible and sturdy enough to not 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 the sun as a more opaque option. Something 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, this model 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 it into backpacks, tote bags, and purses is effortless. Carrying it by the wrist strap or merely holding it in the hands is not burdensome. After using it, leaving it to dry by the door or on the floor of the car never became a tripping hazard for us, 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, meaning the handle rotates independently of the rest of the structure. This is a worry over stability during high wind events. Despite this being a concern for the Amazon, the steel shaft and telescoping mechanism provide durability that is just above-average, especially for such a cheap option. Nonetheless, it is not as durable as those built with fiberglass construction which implies more natural resistance to corrosion.
Since the polyester 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. In regards to the automatic open and close feature, having more mechanical parts than those with a more classic, non-moving shaft will almost certainly jam up eventually. For us, this compact traveler opened and closed fluidly without issue, thankfully, even if operating manually. This instilled more confidence in our ability to operate it if, for some reason, the button and therefore its automatic function, were to stop working.
Ease of Use
The main attraction of an automatic version versus one that requires manual operation is the quick deployment at the press of a button. Even better are the ones that also collapse the canopy with a press as well. 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, comfort grip was a nice touch, but it wasn't as long as some of the other handles. Sometimes this leaves our hands a bit tired because the relative weight of the umbrella isn'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. Still, there has to exist a perfect sweet spot. Also, something to consider for the long-term is how we noticed that it took a lot longer for the 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 was how difficult it is to close the entire umbrella for redeployment or for storage manually. 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 fun and bold. The wind vent helps break up the monotony of the canopy. The steel is also painted black, which offers a sleeker look.
Very tidy, this competitor isn't loud or superfluous. At the time of publishing, the manufacturer makes a small handful of block color options.
Highly competitive and highly rated online, this AmazonBasics 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 AmazonBasics 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