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

How We Tested Umbrellas

By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor
Wednesday May 1, 2019

Where We Tested


Our team hails from the rainy Pacific Northwest, one of the nation's most reliably wet climates, and a great place to test bumbershoots. Our testers also love to travel and hike, and drink coffee! This all provides ample opportunity to put a variety of umbrellas to the test—from travel specific to trekking to general use or "stylish." Our testers used these products all across the Pacific Northwest in diverse environments: on rainy commutes into Seattle, hiking through urban parks, high in the mountains, and even on backcountry ski outings in the region's classic springtime slush storms (or "snain"), for good measure.

Most of the models in this review are for rain. Obviously. So why do we mention this? Well, there was one model that was also optimized for sun protection, and we realize that some people like to use umbrellas in this manner as well. We also took them out to the desert, east of the mountains, to see how they held up. Lighter colored models generally fared better for sun protection.

To round out our field testing, we toted these around daily, rain or shine, to see how handy or annoying it was to kick around with each model for an extended amount of time. This way we would also have one handy any time the sky cracked open on our commute or when dashing into our favorite coffee shop.

Testing Metrics


We standardized our test for Rain Protection by taking laps around a muddy farm property, clear and open to the dripping sky, with each umbrella. This allowed us to assess the realistic rain protection properties of each product in the same conditions. We donned our freshest Durable Water Resistant clothing and marked where raindrops struck, then compared those results to all products in the review.

Horizontal garden hose attacks proved too much for our contenders to handle. They fared much better in natural rain settings.
Horizontal garden hose attacks proved too much for our contenders to handle. They fared much better in natural rain settings.

We used these products around the notoriously windy mountain passes to get a feel for how well they handle in the wind. Then we conducted a formal Wind Test by holding each out the passenger window of a vehicle, and slowly speeding up until the canopy collapsed or otherwise became unmanageable. Then we repeated the test with the canopy angled to catch the wind, to find out at what wind speed each canopy inverted.

We transported all of these products in a variety of ways, from backpacks and briefcases to handbags, messenger bags, and duffel bags, to back seats, bare hands, and even back pockets. As for fashion, we asked our all-gendered team of testers to weigh in on the style of each product. After months of testing, we scored each product across the following metrics: Rain Protection, Ease of Use, Durability, Ease of Transport, and Style.

We also measured canopy diameter and depth. We used this measure instead of "arc length," which is often reported by manufacturers. We found that this arc length can be misleading since it says nothing of the angle of the arc. We also wanted something that would be standardized across all models in our review, and easy to replicate with a couple of tape measures for our readers at home, to better envision the shape and size of each canopy.

Additionally, we weighed each model. If you're going to be toting these things around a lot, it's nice to know just how much weight you'll be adding to your bags or carrying in your hand.

Reviewers Ross Robinson and Jacob Busiahn take the products for a spin. Each model was tested up to 40 mph  while some were pushed all the way to 55 mph!
Reviewers Ross Robinson and Jacob Busiahn take the products for a spin. Each model was tested up to 40 mph, while some were pushed all the way to 55 mph!