For a similarly priced compact umbrella that scored better in rain protection and durability, check out our Editors' Choice Award winner, the REI Travel Umbrella.
LifeTek Traveler Compact Review
Cons: Not very durable, lacks unique style
Our Analysis and Test Results
The LifeTek Traveler is an automatic compact umbrella that comes with a $35 price tag. It's relatively lightweight and packs down small, making it a good model to keep in your backpack or handbag. This umbrella is very easy to use, but with a 36 inch canopy diameter and 7.5 inch canopy depth, it didn't perform exceedingly well in rain protection. Additionally, we went through two of these models, as the first one broke the first time it was inverted.
The canopy of the LifeTek Traveler umbrella spans a diameter of 36 inches, which provides decent rain protection in vertical showers. However, as soon as the wind picks up, the LifeTek's ability to protect its user decreases, mostly because it is quite susceptible to inverting under the force of moderate wind. We initially thought that the LifeTek's frame of nine stretchers and ribs might hold up a bit better than its symmetrical, eight-piece competitors, but we didn't notice any significant difference in its wind resistance.
Unfortunately, the LifeTek was one of the weakest competitors in our review. We had to replace the first model after it broke the first time we inverted it with a flick of the wrist. Although the amount of force wasn't very great, the shaft bent near the handle, and some elastic bands responsible for deploying the canopy became exposed at the top of the frame. We contacted LifeTek, and in fairness, they immediately replaced the product for us, free of charge. We like that kind of customer service!
During our extreme wind test, this model failed just as the speedometer hit 40 mph. Four of the nine aluminum stretchers bent out of shape. It it still functional, although its rain protection has been integrally compromised. In terms of warranty, this product comes with a two-year replacement guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship
Ease of Use
The LifeTek gave its best performance in this category. Being automatically operated, a press of a button deploys the umbrella, and the same button collapses the canopy (this also works when the canopy is inverted). To compact the shaft, you need to push down on the external top of the umbrella until it meets the handle. This requires a bit of force, but not as much as the GustBuster Metro. The accompanying sleeve has a slit at the opening, allowing for easy insertion. Also, in our drying time test, this model went from soaking wet to totally dry in under 25 minutes. The soft plastic of the oval handle fit well in our hands, too.
Ease of Transport
Measuring up at just 11.5 inches, the LifeTek compacts into a size that will fit in backpacks, briefcases, and most handbags. It weighed 14.3 ounces on our scale, the same as the WindPro Compact Auto, which actually features a larger canopy diameter. Although it's a compact model, the LifeTek isn't quite as portable as some of its competitors.
The LifeTek is simply a black umbrella. Although we admit that black is an important color in the umbrella business, we preferred models with more color and pattern options to fit a variety of tastes.
The LifeTek Traveler performs best in light to moderate rains with little wind. Also, due to its smaller canopy diameter, it could prove useful while trekking on narrow trails.
At $35, this model costs the same as the REI Travel, our Editors' Choice winner. However, while these products are similar, the LifeTek doesn't perform nearly as well. Therefore, we can't say that it presents a great value.
The LifeTek Traveler is easy to use and quite portable, making it an option to keep at the ready in your bag during the rainier parts of the year. Yet, for the same price point, we found that this is not the best performing product. We prefer umbrellas that offer better rain protection, wind resistance, and greater durability.
— Ross Robinson