The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Fulton Birdcage Review

A well-designed bubble umbrella for urban use.
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Price:  $59 List | $59.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Simple, classy, nice details
Cons:  Strong plastic smell, bigger, less burly for rough weather
Manufacturer:   Fulton
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 2, 2019
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52
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Rain Protection - 30% 7
  • Ease of Transport - 30% 3
  • Durability - 20% 4
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Style - 5% 9

Our Verdict

The Fulton Birdcage is a bubble style umbrella fit for Royalty. No, seriously. This is the umbrella of choice for English Royalty. We're guessing it's because it protects your hair and clothing well from rain and wind and still allows people to see you and take photos as you dash from carriage to palace or whatever. There are lots of bubble style umbrellas out there, but it's the careful attention to details that sets this one apart. The materials are nicely matched, with thin contrasting trim that still allows a good field of view through the clear plastic. It is simple and well made with fully manual mechanisms, which means less to break. It's not the toughest umbrella out there, but for an urban model, it is good enough. Our testers preferred the Birdcage over the ShedRain Bubble, which doesn't execute the key aspects of the bubble-canopy as well.


Our Analysis and Test Results

If the Birdcage is good enough for Royalty, it's probably pretty good.

Performance Comparison


Peering out from inside the Birdcage.
Peering out from inside the Birdcage.

Rain Protection


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.

The Fulton offers excellent protection from the elements.
The Fulton offers excellent protection from the elements.

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's crook handle is easy to sling over an arm  doorknob  chair  or just about anything!
The Birdcage's crook handle is easy to sling over an arm, doorknob, chair, or just about anything!

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.

Durability


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.

The Birdcage is well made  using durable materials and a simple design.
The Birdcage is well made, using durable materials and a simple design.

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.

This umbrella is simple and easy to use. The open/close mechanism is entirely manual.
This umbrella is simple and easy to use. The open/close mechanism is entirely manual.

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.

Style


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.

The attention to detail in the Birdcage make it stylish and pleasant to use.
The attention to detail in the Birdcage make it stylish and pleasant to use.

Best Applications


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.

Value


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 Birdcage is a good bubble umbrella for urban use.
The Birdcage is a good bubble umbrella for urban use.

Conclusion


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