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

Kolumbo Travel Umbrella Review

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Price:  $40 List | $22.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Compact, good for all-around use
Cons:  Inverts easily, not very durable
Manufacturer:   Kolumbo
By Ross Robinson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2015
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68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Rain Protection - 30% 7
  • Ease of Transport - 30% 7
  • Durability - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Style - 5% 6

The Skinny

After reading claims that the Kolumbo Travel Umbrella is an "Ultraslim Windmaster" that offers "Maximum Protection," we were eager to test this umbrella out. It is indeed a slim creature, only eleven inches long in its compact form, and it doesn't weigh much, either. Its canopy is also quite large, considering its small package, offering substantial protection against vertical rain. However, it didn't prove to be a master of the wind in our tests, as it did invert on us. In its favor, it does boast a pretty sweet lifetime guarantee in the event that you are ever unsatisfied with the product, which we liked. Read on to see how it scored across the board.

Looking for a better all-around performer? Our Editors' Choice winner, the REI Travel Umbrella is a great choice.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kolumbo Travel, listed at $40, is an automatic compact umbrella. Tied for second in canopy diameter with a 39 inch span, this umbrella provides a decent amount of rain protection. Although is scored fairly well in every category, it didn't overwhelm us by its performance in any of our metrics. It's not a bad umbrella, but we feel like there are better options, and some are even less expensive.

Performance Comparison


Reviewer Katie Heimer stays dry under a light drizzle on a stroll through the woods of Minnesota.
Reviewer Katie Heimer stays dry under a light drizzle on a stroll through the woods of Minnesota.

Rain Protection


With a canopy reaching 39 inches across, the Kolumbo Travel ties with the REI Travel for second place in canopy size. However, it isn't as deep as the REI Travel, and therefore less protective in the face of horizontal rainfall. Although it claims to be resilient against flipping inside out, it definitely inverted on us, both in moderately strong winds and at the flick of a wrist in our tests. We did, however, like the auto close feature, which collapses the canopy at the push of a button, even when inverted. This made it faster to fix after being flipped inside-out than the EuroSchirm Light Trek.

The 39 inch canopy of this model provides legitimate rain protection.
The 39 inch canopy of this model provides legitimate rain protection.

Ease of Transport


The Kolumbo Travel weighs 13.1 ounces, making it the second-lightest model in this review. It packs down to just 11 inches in length, tying with the EuroSchirm for smallest packed size. These two factors combine to make this umbrella highly transportable.

We liked having this small  simple model in our backpack.
We liked having this small, simple model in our backpack.

Durability


The Kolumbo Travel has a shaft and frame that consists mostly of hardened steel, with one segment of each stretcher made of flexible fiberglass. While we preferred hardened steel and fiberglass over aluminum and plastic, the Kolumbo is still not as sturdy as non-compact models, like the totes Auto Open Wooden or the totes Clear Bubble. As with all compact models, the large number of moving parts in the frame creates several points of potential failure. However, after inverting this umbrella excessively throughout our testing, it showed no signs of wear and tear. Furthermore, we were impressed by Kolumbo's no questions asked lifetime guarantee. Although we didn't verify this by sending in a broken umbrella, it seems like they take customer satisfaction seriously.

Because this model has so many steel components, make sure that the spokes are completely dry before storing it.

The Kolumbo almost made it through our extreme wind test unscathed. It held up well through 35 mph, but two stretchers bent out of shape right and the canopy collapsed as the speedometer hit 40 mph. It remained functional, but its bent shape lessened its rain protection.

Off all the tests we performed  our extreme wind test was the most fun  hands down. Here  the Kolumbo shows what it's got.
Off all the tests we performed, our extreme wind test was the most fun, hands down. Here, the Kolumbo shows what it's got.

Ease of Use


Thanks to its auto open/close feature, the Kolumbo Travel is simple and convenient to operate, especially when getting in and out of vehicles or entering and exiting buildings. That said, it takes a significant amount of force to defeat the spring mechanism and compact the shaft, which was a small pain. However, the handle is ergonomically shaped to sit well in hand. The sleeve that comes with this model has a slit at the top to make sliding the packed umbrella inside a relatively easy task. It also dried in less than 20 minutes in our timed drying test.

Auto open  auto close  and auto correct  all at the touch of a button.
Auto open, auto close, and auto correct, all at the touch of a button.

Style


With its classic octagonal look, this umbrella doesn't stand out from the crowd by any means. Kolumbo also only offers four different colors for this product, which we found to be a small selection. That said, we really liked the shade of blue we tested.

Reviewer Mandy Toomey wards off an evening of rain on the streets of Minneapolis  and looks good doing it.
Reviewer Mandy Toomey wards off an evening of rain on the streets of Minneapolis, and looks good doing it.

Best Applications


Due to its ease of transport and decent rain protection, we think this model would be best appreciated by people who are frequently on the go and only experience light to moderate rainfall. However, if the winds pick up, this wouldn't be our product of choice.

This model is so portable  it's always easy to take along in both urban and wilderness environments.
This model is so portable, it's always easy to take along in both urban and wilderness environments.

Value


At $40, the Kolumbo Travel is more expensive than half of the products in this review, and its performance alone doesn't equate to outstanding value. However, if Kolumbo's promise of a lifetime guarantee is really true, we can easily justify the price tag.

Conclusion


While we liked the Kolumbo Travel, it didn't stand out in any category. It did offer a pretty solid performance across the spectrum of metrics, though, especially in milder conditions. If you want a model that you can easily carry with you in your backpack, purse, or briefcase that is backed with a lifetime guarantee, this is a good option for you.

When the rain stops  just compress this model and pull the velcro strap tight around the collapsed canopy.
When the rain stops, just compress this model and pull the velcro strap tight around the collapsed canopy.


Ross Robinson