Fulton Birdcage Review
Cons: Strong plastic smell, bigger, less burly for rough weather
Our Analysis and Test Results
If the Birdcage is good enough for Royalty, it's probably pretty good.
The Birdcage is a bubble style umbrella made of clear PVC so you can see through it with the canopy entirely encompassing you and your fancy 'do.
In our Rain Test, raindrops hit our clothing at the forearm and thigh. Overall, this performance was not notably better than a collapsible umbrella. The 33-inch diameter canopy with 16-inch depth allows you to nestle inside the Birdcage and blocks wind and rain completely for your upper body. This also keeps the wind from messing up that hairdo.
Importantly, the clear fabric ensures you still get some great glamour shots, despite the foul weather. Perhaps we've figured out why this is a popular umbrella for some celebrities…
Ease of Transport
If you're using the Birdcage, you're committed to obviously carrying an umbrella. This is a fixed length shaft umbrella, over a yard long (or, if you're British Royalty, that's nearly a meter long), with a crook handle. There's no hiding this umbrella in your briefcase, book bag, or purse.
The Birdcage also weighs over a pound, at 18 ounces. Again, you had better want an umbrella if you're going to tote this thing around.
The Birdcage is not necessarily up for burly weather. This is an urban use umbrella designed to keep you and your hair dry between the car and the building—and still allow glamorous photos for the paparazzi. Great for celebrities.
This model has 8 fiberglass stretchers & ribs, which is one of our favorite materials for durability, so it did gain some points for this. However, in our Wind Test, this umbrella proved weaker than ShedRain Bubble. The Birdcage gets pushed around more when facing into and out of the wind, and it buckles when facing the wind at 25 mph.
Overall, the Birdcage felt less sturdy, with the ribs and stretchers failing to brace canopy against moderate winds. This umbrella will certainly hold up for those dashes from car to the office in an urban setting, however, so we considered the Birdcage's performance average for umbrella durability.
If you're looking for a distinctly durable umbrella, and you like the fixed length shaft, check out our award winners, the Helinox and the SwingTrek. These hold up to a lot of abuse, and while they may be more hiking focused, their quality manufacturing still ensures a nice look.
Ease of Use
The Birdcage is a larger umbrella, which may inhibit its performance in this category depending on what you're looking for. Given that it is a fixed length shaft umbrella with a crook handle, however, we think this comes with notable features that make it easier to use.
First is the handle itself. This crook shape makes it easy to loop over your arm or the back of a chair. Just be sure you don't forget it when you leave! This large handle also makes it easy to hold and maneuver.
The umbrella opens and closes manually, which we actually really like. It is smooth, reliable, simple—and means there's less to break or malfunction!
The clear PVC canopy is a favorite, as well. This allows you to see out from inside the protective bubble. The colored trim is narrow enough on the Fulton model to allow easy visibility, too. Other models, such as the ShedRain Bubble in this review, make this fabric trim too wide so that it actually impedes your vision exactly where you would be looking through the umbrella.
The Fulton gets significant style points, even over similar models. This is because the quality manufacturing is visibility in the details. For example, the closure strap and button is made of black material, making it an accent to the umbrella.
Additionally, the PVC is a bit shinier than other bubbles, and the thinner trim and use of glossy colored fabric is better matched—the ShedRain, for example, uses standard matte umbrella fabric for the colored trim.
This is a great choice for rainy, gloomy climates—the clear canopy helps keep your world brighter on those gray days. It is an urban-use umbrella, and will not resist much wind. It is excellent, therefore, for the urban user who wants to be sure they arrive at their destination looking nice, rather than wet with wind-swept hair.
At $59, this is not a bargain umbrella. However, if the nicer details add up for you, and you want a bubble umbrella that looks noticeably nicer, this is a good choice.
The Fulton Birdcage is best suited to Royalty being escorted from car to building who still need to be visible for photos. Okay, maybe that's a joke. However, this high profile umbrella has earned its visibility for a reason! This is a nice looking bubble umbrella that solidly seals your upper body from the elements while allowing excellent visibility. It really is like being inside a bubble.
— Lyra Pierotti