Why Your Umbrella Sucks and What To Do About It
June 22, 2018
How many times have you had to dig through the very depths of your wardrobe and struggle to find the last surviving umbrella you bought for about a fiver because it started to downpour while you were out and just purchased the first umbrella you could find. We dare not get too attached, for we all know full well that this umbrella won’t last as it too shall break away and be hastily discarded along with the other neglected broken umbrellas you will see in street corner bins.
The concept of the umbrella has been around for over 3,000 years and the basic idea of the design hasn't changed much at all. It’s just a tube with some fabric propped up on the top. But why are they still so terribly manufactured? So why do they break and how do you know you have picked on of high quality?
Why Do Umbrellas Break?
Check out the diagram above and you can see that there are so many parts. There are about 150 of little parts in every umbrella and each and every one them needs to survive not only the wrath of nature but the abuse you put it through when it’s not in use. A really good umbrella minimizes the number of parts that make sure that those receiving the most stress such as stretchers, ribs and springs can withstand the pressures exerted upon them.
A Lot of the time, we break umbrellas along the ribs. There are the really thin pieces of metal that are attached to the fabric and extended when a user unfurls the umbrella. In order to fold down to a manageable size, each rib has three or possibly even four ligaments or smaller sections that are joined together by tiny pins. These pins are pretty much worthless and weak but yet are the thing that's holding your whole umbrella up.
If a gust of wind catches your brolly in the wrong way it will more than likely become inverted, stressing joints and occasionally snapping.
What To Look For In An Umbrella
The perfect umbrella is basically small enough to be carried around easily when not in use, large enough to protect you when it’s in use, waterproof, affordable and durable… I mean we are in 2018. We can find this...right.
Waterproof - It may seem obvious, but hey, you have to start with the basics.
Grippy Handle - Obviously, we use umbrellas mainly when its raining and when it rains things get wet, when things get wet they get slippery. Therefore, we want an umbrella with a handle with good grip.
Solid Rivets - Rivets are used to connect the ribs, stretchers and ligaments. Hollow rivets are very cheap. Solid rivets are the ones that last. If you can see through the pin holding a joint together… don’t buy it!
Frame - A good quality frame is what keeps an umbrella from collapsing in the wind. Aluminium frames are light and cheap to manufacture, but they are no match for the high winds we can sometimes experience. Look for a frame ideally made of steel, nickel, brass, or fibreglass if you want your umbrella to actually last.
Double Canopy - Winds shift and gust during storms. Oftentimes, they surprise us and try to invert the ribs of an umbrella. To avoid this, you’re going to want a double canopy.
Affordable - If you want to own a quality product, but not something that’s too expensive to replace every couple of years when you leave it in a bar, or a cab or even worse, at an ex’s place.