As a British person, certain problems obsess me. One is the weather: there are few truer steretotypes than the idea that the Briton is continually preoccupied with meterology. Explanations to the effect that our weather is robustly changeable have been tendered. Personally I think the complete lack of decent heating makes me reluctant to be caught in the rain, but the fact stands: I’ve spent a dog’s age trying to find a umbrella that meets with my requirements.
- I can carry it about, while not in use, without my hands. There is no point in having a brolly which incapacitates me, especially one which I will almost inevitably leave on a bus or on the tube when I need it most.
- It doesn’t immediately slow me down by acting as a bloody sail and turning itself inside-out constantly. I’ve missed trains before through trying to struggle to the station without becoming a solid collection of waterlogged clothes, as my arsehole of an umbrella celebrated every intersection by trying to escape my clutches and dance off down the street. A lot of brollies bill themselves as windproof, but few actually are.
- City-dweller special: in the name of all that’s holy, I need to be able to both see where I’m going and not jab people in the eyeballs with a selection of metal spikes.
- I’ve owned a clear plastic dome umbrella before so my further requirement is that any prospective umbrella does not tear, bend, puncture itself, or render itself unusuable as quickly as possible.
This does seem like quite a reach. I’ve looked at all kinds of peculiar geometry, pocket umbrellas, the Nubrella in which one just encases one’s head and shoulders in a bloody bubble for the hands-free carrying experience… I’ve had a Fulton Dome knock-off that punctured itself, a light-up handle one like out of Bladerunner which almost instantly went out of alignment, a clear orange one which melted by a radiator, a pocket one which got kicked the length of Kings Cross Station and abandoned after its persistent shenanigans made me miss the train home after work… umbrellas and their bitchy attitudes, losability, and failure to umbrell have been the bane of my pedestrian existence, in short.
Enter Rainshader, a British umbrella company who specialise in umbrellas for festivals and sporting events.
They’re dome-shaped, allowing others nearby to exist in harmony with their eyeballs still in their sockets, reducing the lip under which the wind can intrude, and channelling rain and wind abruptly downward.
They’re clear at the front, meaning I can see where the goddamn hell I’m going, and to the side just by rotating the umbrella a little in my hand, even when I’ve pulled the thing down low over my head. As an added bonus, as I discovered while trying to wrestle with my phone at the Kyoto Garden at Holland Park, you can also balance them on your head and stay dry, which is more than can be said for the conventional umbrella.
They’re vented, meaning that wind that does get under the canopy gets out again without causing strife, and have a handle fitted to your hand so that the likelihood of being divested of your brolly in a gust is dramatically reduced.
They come in a sheath that has an adjustable strap, allowing you to wear it across your back like a flipping sword, and meaning you can combine hands-free with active badassery.
On the downsides, my stupendously massive rucksack sticks out the back of the tidy circumference of the brolly and gets wet, and the scooped-out front means that wind occasionally blows rain directly into my legs. Delightful Boyfriend complains that he feels like Michael Keaton in the Batsuit when turning his head at road crossings, but overall Rainshader, at twenty-five quid, is at the perfect intersection between utility and affordability.
ALL HAIL THE BROLLY OVERLORDS.