How to Pick the Best Umbrella to Keep You Dry

Not all umbrellas are created equally as dependable. Here's how to buy one that will actually keep you dry.

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Staying dry in spring (or summer or fall) showers comes down to picking an umbrella that's built to stand up to the elements. Start by choosing one that's around 40 inches wide from tip to tip. "This width will cover you entirely and the overhang is far enough away that water won't be dripping off onto you," says Mark Duffin, managing director at Blunt Umbrellas in New York City. An easy way to size up a model that's big enough: stand underneath the umbrella and stick your arm out; if the end of it is about where your elbow bends, that should provide sufficient shelter.

When you open the umbrella, the fabric should be pulled taut—a firmly stretched canopy disperses wind more effectively (making it less susceptible to breakage). If you frequently battle wind, a vented umbrella is a good idea because it allows gusts to pass through it instead of charging at it, says Jen Carfagno, a meteorologist at The Weather Channel in Atlanta.

Another way to prevent umbrellas from flipping out on you is to check their build: Look for parasols that have one continuous shaft and ribs that don't have any breaks in the joints. This means the umbrella will probably be less compact—the folding joints help them shrink down to a smaller size—but more durable. "With every break in the shaft or ribs, the umbrella loses some of its strength and is more prone to breaking," says Duffin. Skip metal frames and go for a fiberglass body instead; it's more flexible and moves with the rain and wind, making it less likely to snap.

Finally, a rubber handle with grooves that mold to your hand will give you the best grip. We like the Stick Umbrella ($65;, which checks all boxes.

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