Umbrellas aren't just for the rain. They're being used more and more in the traditional "parasol" style of days gone by as a shield from the sun's harsh rays, which can damage your skin. That's where UV umbrellas come in.
UV umbrellas are made of UPF-rated (ultraviolet protection factor) fabric and black liner that can block nearly all of the sun's harmful UV rays (up to 99%). If you want the freedom to walk outside without the dangerous effects of UV rays, then consider getting a UV umbrella.
We've compiled the following helpful buying guide to assist you in choosing the right one. We've also included reviews of some of our favorites, like our Best of the Best pick, the LifeTek Windproof Travel Umbrella.
Considerations when choosing UV umbrellas
Most UV umbrella canopies are made of either polyester, nylon, pongee, or lace. Polyester is a cheap and durable material. Nylon is also inexpensive, but softer and stronger than polyester. Pongee is a fabric similar to silk. It has a higher thread count than both nylon and polyester, which makes it a more expensive material. Finally, lace is used as an overlay for some UV umbrellas to give them a traditional "parasol" look.
Single person canopies measure 36 to 45 inches. Double person canopies measure at least 62 inches. Think about whether you plan to use your UV umbrella by yourself, or if you'll be sharing with others. Remember that a larger canopy can be less portable and more difficult to maneuver than a smaller one.
Color and design
UV umbrella design can be whatever you want it to be. While most are designed as a solid color, many are available with different patterns and designs. Some are even made to look like giant flowers. Feel free to express yourself however you want when choosing the design and color. You may want to choose one that is complementary to the clothing and other accessories, like a bag, that you may carry when using your UV umbrella.
UPF rating refers to the amount of UV rays blocked out by your umbrella. The higher the UPF rating, the better the umbrella will protect you. Most UV umbrellas will have a UPF rating of 40 to 60+.
Rod and rib construction
There are a number of different materials and styles of rod and rib construction on a UV umbrella. Most are made of either aluminium, stainless steel, or lightweight fiberglass. The rod and rib construction impacts both durability and weight.
Some people like a soft rubberized handle, while others prefer hard plastic. Pay attention to the handle material when shopping so that you get something that will be comfortable for your grip style.
Auto open and close
Some UV umbrellas have a button that allows you to open the canopy with just one touch. These are more convenient if you don't have both hands free; however, they are sometimes more difficult to close
Another feature available on some UV umbrellas is a clamp near the handle. These clamps make it possible for you to attach your UV umbrella to a fixed object like a chair, or a mobile one like a stroller.
Not all UV umbrellas are waterproof. Before you head out into the rain, make sure the UV umbrella that you've chosen is intended for use in rainy conditions. If it isn't, you could end up all wet.
Travel-sized UV umbrellas are convenient for throwing in your purse or glove compartment for later use. Remember, though, that travel sized UV umbrellas will likely have much smaller canopies, so you may have less protection than you would with a larger model.
Most UV umbrellas cost between $19 and $55.
Q. Can I get sunburned even when using a UV umbrella?
A. Yes. Even though you may be covered by your UV umbrella, the sun's rays can still reach your skin by secondary means. Reflections off of windows, water, or even the ground can still cause you to get burnt. Wear sunscreen every day and reapply as needed for the fullest protection from the sun, even on cloudy days.
Q. Doesn't my regular umbrella block UV rays?
A. Although regular umbrellas do block some of the sun's harmful UV rays, it's not at the same level as a UV umbrella. That's because UV umbrellas are made of a special material that blocks UV rays, as well as a black liner that filters out the rest.
UV umbrellas we recommend
Best of the best: LifeTek Windproof Travel Umbrella
Our take: Great compact model to take anywhere.
What we like: Sturdy build, with a convenient push-button design for opening.
What we dislike: Small canopy leads to limited coverage
Best bang for the buck: Bagail Double Layer Inverted Umbrella
Our take: Inverted design is great for keeping water contained.
What we like: Hands-free handle design adds to the convenience of this well-engineered umbrella.
What we dislike: Some reported metal tips falling off.
Our take: Swivel design provides maximum skin protection.
What we like: The convenient clamp is great for golf bags and strollers.
What we dislike: Not as windproof as some other models.
Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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