The SENZ umbrella was developed at Delft University of Technology. It opens by pulling (rather than pushing), and its asymmetrical shape is to withstand strong winds.

I’m most vulnerable to rain during my commute to work. Do I need an umbrella shaped like a triangle?

Rain is unpredictable because clouds tend to do what they want. The best weather app I’ve seen is forecast.io, and it’s pretty good but it’s not 100% accurate for the day ahead.

Every day, commuters like me are faced with the choice of bringing an umbrella or not. This choice is the problem, not the umbrella itself.

Buy a small umbrella…

An umbrella that doesn’t fit in a bag has to be held, and you might even forget it somewhere.

I currently use a small courier bag when I go to work. As small as it is (just wide enough to hold a 15″ Macbook Pro), I can also comfortably fit a small umbrella in the external pouch, since it’s around the same length as a laptop.

Having an umbrella with me every time I commute eliminates the problem of hoping it does or doesn’t rain. I’m ready either way.

…from the dollar store

Buying an umbrella at the dollar store doesn’t mean you’re supporting sweatshops. Consider that Dollarama, the leading Canadian dollar store franchise, gets almost half of its goods from North America. Dollarama just provides cheap, useful everyday things.

Umbrellas sacrifice durability to be light weight, and so they can get damaged in annoying ways. Like when the canopy’s edge separates from the rib (spoke) that stretches it. It’s an unsightly defect. There’s a possibility of poking someone’s eye out.

So what do you do with an imperfect dollar store umbrella? You throw it out. It’s disposable, like a condom. Most umbrellas sell for 10-20 dollars. A small Dollarama umbrella is two dollars. At that price, you can buy more than one because hey, you never know.

Good Design

Umbrellas have been protecting humans from the sky for thousands of years. In ancient China, people used paper parasols covered in wax and laquer. Just recently, a company invented an incredible spray coating that doesn’t just resist water, but repels it. With it, you can make an umbrella that doesn’t even get wet.

It’s hard to improve on the umbrella. The elegant circular design is easily enhanced for purpose. Smaller ones are collapsible with folding ribs and telescopic shafts, and larger ones have vents to prevent the user from being blown away like Marry Poppins.

A better umbrella would have to be easier to recycle or repair, or would be constructed from carbon fibre to make it both durable and light. But why even bother? Umbrellas are perfect because of their price and size. It’s a satisfied and dry market.