When packing for an excursion, an umbrella is the very last thing that I want to consider putting into my luggage. Who reading this really likes an umbrella? Nobody. To think about an umbrella means thinking about rain ruining the potential trip of a lifetime.
As fellow travelers of the globe, you already know that rain is always a possibility and you are not going to let anything ruin your good time, especially not a little thing like water dropping from the sky. I’m certainly not.
Do not let rain dampen your parade. Let it rain on travel, instead.
Umbrella or Rain Jacket?
A good raincoat can keep you dry and is probably the wise choice if you need something that triples as a water repellent, warm layer, and wind breaker. Let’s face it, you will not grab the closest umbrella when blazing a trail. You will go for the rain jacket and raise a simple hood to cover your head from the elements every time. But what about those excursions when flat hair is not an option.
What about those days when the wind steers the rain in sideways? What about a trip in the tropics when any additional layers to cover your skin is just not practical? During these times, consider a well-made umbrella.
The Umbrella Conundrum
Seeking something light, small, and packable, yet strong and durable, but also functional. If we have time for fashion, the umbrella should have that too, right? At the end of the day, it must also be work for the intended purpose of an umbrella, which is to keep a person and their clothing dry while in use.
Usability – There are two types of umbrellas (or parasols): collapseable and non-collapsable. Clearly, the usable model is the collapseable type. The largest type of umbrella is the golf style umbrella, which requires two hands to open and two hands to close. The press-a-button to open and press-a-botton to close option umbrella is arguably the most usable choice because it requires only one hand and minimal force and effort to expand and retract, although they ordinarily face longevity problems.
Size – Only seldom does size not matter. An effective umbrella is easy to carry when retracted and does not require additional trunk or floorboard space in which to be stowed away. In the event that you find yourself navigating through tight quarters in crowded city streets, on buses, through subways or airports, the umbrella should not be so large that it commands your fellow passerbys to leave a wide berth.
Weight – No matter the size, the additional awkward space required by the umbrella should not also require additional strength on your part. Our shoulders bear enough baggage by the things we carry. A heavy umbrella is not practical. This point should only be negotiable when considering the emergency car umbrella or a road trip in which you do not plan to stray to far away from your auto at any give time.
Packability – So, you have conducted all necessary research and have settled upon the holy grail of umbrellas. Where are your going to put it? It should pack well in the backpack or luggage that you most frequently carry.
Durability – In my experience, most umbrellas fail to withstand the true test of time. Over a period, they seem to deteriorate due to normal wear and tear. Even an unused umbrella will suffer over time. Excessive wind, withstanding hard rains, and general lack of care of the culprits that diminish most umbrellas. However, design and quality play a major role in determining the lifetime of an umbrella.
About a year and a half ago, I was lured in by a conversation piece. I was in dire need of an umbrella because it was rainy outside. Purchasing an umbrella because it is raining is similar to going to the grocery store just prior to breaking fast. It is not the most advisable way to make a purchase, especially when you desire that your purchase have any type of longevity.
So, as I said, it was raining. I found myself in a modern art gallery winding down my visit in the gift shop. I spotted the “perfect” purchase. What are the odds that, of all things to catch my eye on a rainy day, I spotted a $40 black umbrella with white raindrops decorating the exterior.
I need an umbrella. It was raining outside. It was cute. I approached the end cap and explored further. Upon careful examination, I noticed that the umbrella made a claim that the white drops would turn to color when wet. Impressed, I went all in. Since that time, I found it a lot cheaper here, but an impulse buy never saved me any money!
Fast forward to two weeks ago, the damn thing is broken. During the time that I used the stupid purchase, I received many compliments on my color changing device. However, it was impractical. It easily passed the size, weight, and packability tests. Requiring to hands to expand and retract, usable, it was not. In addition, it was likely the flimsiest rain repelling contraption I had ever so fit to purchase.
Having no umbrella for close to a complete rainy week, I was forced to embrace hood hair every day at work for a week before succumbing to purchasing a new umbrella. Durability – check. Usability – check. The remaining factors – unfortunately, not considered. I think it will make an excelled emergency care umbrella. The Sharpty now sits in my car and I am back to the drawing board for a travel-brella.
The Davek – High End Solution
I stumbled on The Davek a few days ago and think it just may be a dream come true. The problem presented it making the purchase. How to justify two umbrella buys in less than two weeks, I am not sure.
To be continued . . .