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Where I grew up in Florida it seemed to rain every day at 3 p.m. on the dot, so umbrellas were just a fact of life. We had a closet full of them, one for each member of the family and then some. There was also at least one umbrella in each car. Our family of five probably owned at least 10 umbrellas total at any given moment. Of course, we replaced them as fast as we used them as those cheap drugstore umbrellas could only handle so many Florida thunderstorms and us kids often lost track of ours.
When I grew up and left the state, I would scold myself every time I left an umbrella at a restaurant because it meant I had to shell out another $15 for a new one. And if I wasn't leaving my umbrella behind, it was flipping inside out in the middle of a busy street during a torrential downpour, desperate to get away from me.
As my body count grew, I kept telling myself I needed to invest in a top-of-the-line model. The problem was it never seemed to rain often enough for me to justify spending six or seven times what I would pay for my regular umbrella. I mean, how fancy could an umbrella be?
I continued to lose and break my umbrellas and would complain to anyone who would listen about how awful they were — and that would have continued forever had I not tested the Hedgehog umbrella ($99, Amazon). It's the brainchild of two mechanical engineers who previously designed cars, and I consider it the best umbrella I have ever used, full stop.
The Hedgehog's main selling point is that it's built to withstand winds of up to 70 miles per hour thanks to its WindFlex suspension and durable carbon fiber frame. (For reference, a category one hurricane has sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour.) While I've luckily never had to test that claim, I have walked through some gnarly gales without issue.
What I love most about my Hedgehog is just how sturdy and comforting it feels in my hand. The handle is thick and easy to grip, but most importantly, it feels very solid and dependable. When you push open your umbrella, the runner (the little piece of plastic that slides up and down the pole) locks into place with a very satisfying clicking sound so you know it's secure. Instead of worrying that my umbrella is going to flip inside out in the middle of a busy street, I can walk with the confidence of knowing I will be dry when I reach my destination.
Function is generally more important to me than form, but I will admit that I really love the array of eye-catching colors Hedgehog offers. I opted for Sunshine Yellow, which is exactly that. Even when it's damp and miserable outside, seeing that bright pop of color instantly lifts my mood. Another of Hedgehog's unique selling points is that its canopies are interchangeable, so I'm really looking forward to trying Scarlet Red at some point.
The only downside I can think of is that the Hedgehog umbrella doesn't open and close automatically with the push of a button. I've had umbrellas with that feature in the past, and it was a definite perk. That said, the Hedgehog's pros far outweigh this one con.
I don't have the time, money, or desire to be one of those people who buys the best umbrella for travel, wind, or rain. I want one umbrella that's compact and can do all of those jobs — and I've found it with the Hedgehog. In fact, I would be willing to go on the record as saying the Hedgehog is the best umbrella in the world and well worth the price tag.
Where to buy: $99, Amazon
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