Windproof Umbrellas

The modern umbrella is not all that different from historical umbrellas when it comes to the techniques incorporated in the product. Although materials have improved, most umbrellas perform poorly in strong winds. Windproof umbrellas are a solution to this problem and very popular with customers living in areas with windy conditions during storms.

The Scenario
Most of us have suffered something similar to the following scenario. You are heading to work one day in a storm. You are forced to get out in the weather at some point during the trip. You open the umbrella, step out and start walking. The wind starts battering the umbrella. Before you know it, the fabric has pulled off the support poles or the poles have bent back. You are now getting drenched in the rain and wind. By the time you get to work, it looks like you have been in an hour long conference with dolphins.

If you haven’t experienced a situation such as this, consider yourself lucky. The truth is a collapsing umbrella is a nightmare whether you are going to work, shopping or just taking the kids to school. Windproof umbrellas represent the latest approach to dealing with this problem.

As the name suggests, windproof umbrellas are designed with winds in mind. They incorporate design features not found on traditional umbrellas. The goal of the windproof design is to create an overall sturdier umbrella, but one that can also stand up to sudden gust pressures. Each model and brand is different, but the general approach is to find ways to decrease the pressures wind can put on the canopy of an umbrella. Combined with sturdy materials, the design allows this product to withstand much stronger winds than with a traditional umbrella.

It should be noted these umbrellas are not completely windproof. No umbrella is going to withstand a 100 mile per hour wind gust. This really isn’t a problem per se because no person is either. If a 100 mile wind gust comes along, the person holding the umbrella has more urgent problems such as flying debris and, possibly, where are they going to land! In general, once can expect windproof umbrellas to work in gusts up to 50 miles an hour, which is much higher than most people will ever experience.

Putting the terms “technology” and “umbrella” together may seem odd, but the pairing works when it comes to windproof umbrellas. In truth, the technology is mostly a result of engineering ideas versus anything overtly digital, but these unique engineering improvements in design do go a long way.

The first common bit of technology you will see with this product is a double canopy design. This simply means the upper half of the umbrella canopy is covered by a second canopy. Why? The “internal” canopy has pressure vents built into it. When the wind picks up, these vents keep pressure from building up on the exterior and interior surfaces of the umbrella because they allow the pressure to even out on both surfaces by allowing air to pass through. This takes pressure off the support structure of the product, reducing the prospects of a failure. The second, exterior canopy is necessary to keep rain from coming through the pressure vents.

The second common technology addition involves an elastic cord built into the canopy. This cord runs around the canopy about half way down from the center point above the main shaft. As a gust of wind hits the umbrella, the cord provides instant support. Unlike a pole, however, the cord has give in it so the umbrella is allowed to expand a bit to bleed off the energy in the wind hitting it. This keeps the canopy from ripping. When the gust passes, the canopy returns to its normal shape.

On top of these two technological additions, the basic mechanisms and support structures of the umbrella are also upgraded in the windproof product. The upgrades typically consist of moving to more durable and tough materials that will not crimp in higher winds while also not adding excessive weight to the umbrella. Tempered steel is often used for critical joints which are put under the most stress during high wind events.

Windproof umbrellas are appropriate for any retailer selling umbrellas in general. These umbrellas are available for one and two people, so the product options do not limit the target market. Obviously, the unique selling position for these products is their ability to function in higher wind conditions. Any customer who has experienced a failed umbrella, and most umbrella users have, will be very interested in this product. In this sense, the windproof umbrella is almost an up sell provided by Mother Nature. Fortunately, she doesn’t ask for a commission.