Umbrellas were used throughout ancient civilisations, including ancient Egypt, China, and Greece. They’re a truly classic device designed to make our lives easier and cover us from adverse weather.
Over time, we have become used to this everyday accessory, but there is plenty to learn about the humble umbrella!
There are many different types of umbrellas out there; it can make choosing the right umbrella a problematic task. Whether you’re searching for a large golf umbrella that will fit into a golf bag, or you want to compare folding umbrellas, it’s always a good idea to do your research first.
Below, we have given an in-depth overview of every type of umbrella available and some pointers on which type you should buy.
You’re just a 5-minute read away from becoming an umbrella expert yourself…
What Type of Umbrella Is Best?
There are many different models of umbrella available as you’ll come to see and there is no exact right answer to the question: which umbrella design is best. When thinking about practicality, however, in terms of everyday use, it’s good to look at the different types of umbrellas and their benefits.
First and foremost, the classic umbrella, otherwise known as the folding umbrella is usually a solid choice. This umbrella is made to be compact and is lightweight enough to carry in a bag or jacket pockets. Some of them have curved handles, while others have automatic opening mechanisms.
The ones with automatic mechanisms are also known commonly as automatic umbrellas. You’ll usually pay a little more for this umbrella design, but it can be worth it if you’re tired of umbrellas breaking easily and manually opening them.
Another great umbrella choice in the U.K is the bubble design, especially as we get a lot of rain. While this umbrella type doesn’t fall into the pocket umbrellas category, it is going to keep you dry. These umbrellas are reinforced to be wind-resistant, and their domed shape helps water to run off the umbrella and onto the ground. News reporters commonly use them, and they are made of highly waterproof transparent material.
No matter which umbrella design you choose, it is always sensible to review how each can be used and whether you will benefit from full practicality. In a country such as the U.K where it rains for nearly half the year, the material of the umbrella is essential as it must be waterproof enough for the wet weather we experience. On the other hand, if you are seeking a sun umbrella, your best options are the paper parasol or the classic patio umbrella.
You can learn more about the different umbrella types in our guide below where we in look at golf umbrellas, pocket umbrellas, folding umbrellas and many other designs.
Classic umbrellas, otherwise known as foldable umbrellas, are the most modern umbrella available. They are composed of various materials inclusive of wood, metal, and polyester and come in varying sizes too. Made to be compact in some cases, these umbrellas are the most common type and can be used in just about any situation.
Often they have mechanisms in the form of a push-button which you press in order to put the umbrella up.
Otherwise, it is possible to manually open and close the umbrella though usually two hands are required for this. The classic umbrella is water-resistant, making this model ideal for the most common type of weather in England: rain. These types of umbrellas come in various designs offering a stylish fashion accessory as well as providing practicality too. Why not browse our exclusive range of hand-crafted classic umbrellas to find the perfect umbrella for your everyday needs?
Another type of common umbrella is the travel-sized model which, as you’ve probably guessed, is the most compact of all umbrellas.
A travel-sized umbrella should be small enough to fit into a bag or a briefcase, and in some cases, it can even fit into a coat pocket too. Umbrella manufacturers make many travel-sized umbrellas as they are one of the most popular models and are ideal when using one hand.
Also known commonly as the pocket umbrella, these little umbrellas still use many of the same materials in their construction as the classic umbrella.
They are ideal for just about anyone who is on the move and are made to be water-resistant too. While they aren’t as sturdy against high wind movement, they still suffice if you want a light and portable umbrella to protect you against rain.
A larger than an average umbrella, the doorman umbrella is very similar to a golf umbrella. These models are used by doormen and hotel attendants across the globe, and therefore they must be designed to look elegant. A curved handle is the signature mark of these types of umbrellas, and they’re well constructed to give a feeling of robustness at the same time.
Both style and substance are considered across these umbrellas. A door attendant can comfortably hold these types of umbrellas at an angle to keep themselves and guests dry as they are escorted to their destination.
The umbrellas are made of high-quality metal and polyester but usually come at a higher price-point due to this. Like that of any other umbrella, this design is foldable, but it definitely is not portable. It is not designed for everyday use by those who do not hold a doorman occupation.
Like that of the doorman’s umbrella, golf umbrella designs are much larger than average with a typical width of around 70 inches.
They can fit snuggly into a golfer’s bag for use on the pitch should a sudden spell of rain occur. You can find branded golf umbrellas and non-branded versions, it is only within recent years that branded models have made an appearance. We always recommend choosing an after-market canopy from a company that specialises in these specific models.
Not every golf umbrella manufacturer will be capable of producing a high-quality umbrella to this type of size and standard. Branded golf umbrellas usually compromise on quality as they use lesser-quality materials in their construction, making them less likely to last over time.
Bubble umbrellas are a statement umbrella in themselves, made of transparent material and taking the form of a ‘bubble shape’ it’s easy to see where the name is coined. Used across the globe, these umbrella models are regarded as highly fashionable, and they’re one of the most robust umbrella designs out there.
There are many different models of umbrellas, but the bubble design will stand the test of time, even when used every day. Suitable for heavy storms, these umbrellas are made to withstand the heaviest rainfall.
Favoured by news reporters, the bubble umbrella boasts a design that is ideal as it doesn’t obstruct views or deter the eye. If you are seeking an umbrella that is going to protect you from all of the elements, this is the perfect design for you. Bubble umbrellas provide the reassurance that you can stay safe and dry at all times thanks to the heavy-duty waterproof material used that is designed specifically for rain.
As the name indicates, the fashion umbrella is more so for fashion purposes than anything else. About the size of a pocket umbrella, fashion umbrellas are made to be lightweight and are used most typically by celebrities attending runways.
They take on a folding umbrella design and are usually designed to be eye-catching and stylish. You’ll find a wide range of fashion umbrellas available, though not many last long. We offer a range of fantastic designer umbrellas that boast both style and durability however!
Fashion designers are responsible for making these types of umbrellas as eye-catching as possible. While they are usually made of the same materials as a classic umbrella, they can be a little flimsy. For this reason, it’s best to avoid the fashionable option if you are looking to keep dry and go for a standard umbrella instead.
Parasols are designed for use on the patio and provide sunbathers with adequate protection as they relax. They’re much too large as umbrellas to be carried around. For this reason, the beach umbrella or patio umbrella is designed to stay in one place as a canopy rather than be moved about.
These types of umbrellas are highly protective for blocking out the sun (also known as a beach umbrella) and they are made of heavy-duty materials making them suitable for rain too.
You should consider a parasol for your own garden or patio if it is considered a sun trap. While it is certainly tempting to sunbathe all day, UV rays can be harmful to the skin, and patio umbrellas can protect you.
Having a canopy set up will prevent you from getting too hot and causing damage to your skin over time and is highly recommended. Parasols can also be folded down when not in use, making them great for smaller spaces as well as larger areas.
Personal parasols or paper umbrellas are typically used to block out the sun and harmful UV rays that can cause the skin to burn.
Throughout history, these types of umbrellas have been typically used in China and other parts of Asia where rain is not so common, but rather the umbrella was used to keep the skin tan-free.
This umbrella type can be really useful in warmer climates, and they act in the same way as beach umbrellas and larger parasols.
In China, many personal parasols are designed to be very elegant and feature lace detailing in their umbrella design. You can find similar models available to buy, though these umbrellas can be more expensive when compared to classic umbrellas here in the U.K.
Much like beach umbrellas, the personal parasol is going to keep you protected from the sun rather than the rain, so keep this in mind before buying your own.
There are many different child umbrella designs out there, and as you’ve probably seen, they are far smaller than the standard umbrella design.
A child’s umbrella is usually brightly coloured and has fun images of animals and such to act as a real asset in the rain. Many are domed shaped, as this type of umbrella design helps water run off the umbrella onto the floor.
Child umbrellas are also usually designed to be safer than a standard umbrella, with many having automatic opening mechanisms. This is because children may find it difficult to open umbrellas at a young age and risk trapping their fingers or causing injury another way.
Have you reached the end of this guide and still have some questions about different types of umbrellas? We have you covered with the most frequently asked question answers below.
What are small umbrellas called?
Small umbrellas are typically referred to as folding umbrellas or travel umbrellas. They are also known as automatic umbrellas where a push-button is present; otherwise, this type of umbrella can be put up manually too. These umbrellas are the most common and can be found across the globe.
They will help to keep you dry in wet weather conditions and are portable enough to be carried. However, if you choose a larger folding umbrella model, you may need to carry it comfortably when not in use. Most of the time, the umbrella can be folded and fit into a bag when you’re not using the umbrella. If you’re browsing umbrellas and require a compact design, foldable umbrellas are your best option.
Why is an umbrella called a brolly?
A baffling abbreviation of the word umbrella, many people are curious as to why umbrellas are otherwise known as a brolly. While there is no exact answer to this question, there is a guess as to how this abbreviation has evolved. The etymology of umbrella – from Latin umbra, translates to ‘shadow’, while the diminutive ending -ella creates umbrella – known as a ‘little shadow’, which is the word Romans used for a parasol or umbrella.
At some point, the ‘r’ part of the original Latin stem was thought to be reintroduced. Today, you may hear somebody refer to umbrellas as ‘brollies’ which also is believed to have evolved as an abbreviation in the same way.
How does an umbrella work?
Umbrellas work by using a type of mechanism that utilises every element of the umbrella’s construction. Different types of umbrellas work in different ways, though all umbrellas are pushed up in the same manner. From the large gold umbrella to paper umbrellas, all use the same principle.
To understand how an umbrella opens and closes, you should first understand its construction. Folding umbrellas are all designed with a large piece of waterproof material that is stretched over a circular-shaped fan. The umbrellas fan is made of springy metal components that act as ribs for the umbrella. They attach to the top of the long shaft at the top of the folded umbrella and are being further supported by runners which slide up and down the umbrellas central shaft.
The runner is the part of the umbrella that opens and closes the accessory. An essential part of any umbrella design, when all the way down, the stretchers of the umbrella fold flat against the shaft. When the umbrella is opened, the runner moves up the shaft, and the stretchers of the umbrella are extended. The stretchers literally stretch the material over the ribs of the design to open the device.
Umbrellas are made of various components as you’ve come to find out. Because of this, when one part of the umbrella is damaged, it can cause the umbrella to stop functioning. While automatic umbrellas will cost more to buy upfront, the mechanisms on these umbrellas are usually of higher quality, meaning they’re less likely to break.