WHETHER in the middle of winter or the height of summer, it's never a bad idea to have one of the best compact umbrellas to hand with British weather the way it is.
And while you can scrape by with something cheap and flimsy you bought from the stand at the supermarket in the middle of a downpour, you're better off with something more robust that will last you for years to come, ideally something that won't turn inside-out at the slightest provocation!
To that end, we've gone out and tested some of the best known umbrella brands, at a range of price points, to help you make a great choice.
Firstly, if you’re on the lookout for an umbrella that’s small enough to stash away in the bottom of your handbag, stuff down the side of your backpack or even pop into a pocket, you’ll need to consider the folded size of your canopy.
However, size isn’t everything; durability, weight, opening mechanism, windproofing and overall design will all play a part in ensuring you don’t arrive at your destination looking like you swam there.
Generally speaking, if your folded umbrella is small and light, then the canopy will also be small and weak, and may even invert in stronger winds, so you need to weigh up whether you prioritise size or performance.
It’s a good idea to have one mini umbrella for a quick dash through sudden showers and a more sturdy option for longer spells in the rain, although there are some brollies on our list that offer a good balance of both.
If you are looking for a tiny umbrella, it’s worth spending a little more on decent materials and quality craftsmanship, with ribs that won’t rust or break even if they do invert, and a canopy that won’t leak or tear if it gets a bit battered by wind.
Another element to consider is whether you need an automatic open/close button. You often pay a little more for this functionality, but it means you can pop your compact umbrella up with just one hand, which is very useful for frequent travellers who may have a pull-along suitcase in tow, or if you’re often just weighed down with lots of other stuff.
13 The Roka Waterloo was our favourite compact umbrella Credit: Clemmie Millbank Roka Waterloo Recycled Nylon Umbrella (Cranberry), £24.95 from Amazon – buy here Pros: Recycled materials, good price, auto open and close, vented canopy Cons: Not the smallest compact Rating: 5/5
This folding umbrella from B Corp Roka fits an absolute ton of functionality into one reasonably small package.
Made from triple-coated recycled nylon, the vented canopy stands up against both heavy rain and strong winds, thanks largely to the fiberglass frame that manages to be both lightweight and sturdy.
The springy auto open and close mechanism is quick to release even in a sudden downpour and we loved the fact it can slot into the side of a rucksack; the grippy handle and the wide selection of rainbow colours are a lovely touch too.
Weight: Not specified Folded length: 30cm Canopy size: 92cm Doppler Zero Magic Automatic Pocket Umbrella Doppler Zero Magic Automatic Pocket Umbrella, £39.99 from Amazon – buy here Pros: Auto open and close, large canopy, very lightweight and slim Cons: Small Velcro fastening struggles when wet Rating: 5/5
This small but mighty folding umbrella from Austrian brand Doppler brings a spot of sunshine to overcast days.
We were absolutely amazed that such a tiny umbrella managed to have an auto open-close button; it's incredibly useful if you only have one hand spare in the middle of a downpour.
The aluminium shaft and carbon ribs also managed to be both impossibly light and super sturdy, and the canopy is big enough for two people to shelter under — magic, indeed!
Weight: 184g Folded length: 26cm Canopy size: 97cm READ MORE: Best umbrella Best windproof umbrella Best waterproof jackets for women Best waterproof gardening jackets Best waterproof dog coats with legs Best boys school coats Knirps Vision Duomatic Knirps Vision Duomatic Folding Sustainable Umbrella, £59.99 from Burton Blake – buy here Pros: Decent canopy, smooth auto open close, all sustainable materials, robust design, 5-year warranty Cons: Larger compact Rating: 5/5
If you’re looking for a truly outstanding compact umbrella, then look for the brand that invented it: Hans Haupt applied for a patent for a "shortenable umbrella" all the way back in 1930. He called his pocket umbrella ‘Knirps’ (or tiny tot) and founded a company of the same name to distribute the innovative product.
Knirps umbrellas have continued their legacy of innovation and the Vision Duomatic is the brand’s sustainable model, made using 100% biodegradable plastic for the handle, runner and top, and recycled PET for the canopy.
The automatic open-close button is a smooth piece of engineering and the opened shelter feels secure and sturdy.
Weight: 325g Folded length: 28cm Canopy size: 97cm Blunt Metro Umbrella Blunt Metro Umbrella, £69.95 from Amazon – buy here Pros: Auto open and close, easy repair, good performance, great for busy streets Cons: Expensive, a larger folded package Rating: 4/5
Weather looking a bit iffy? Tuck the Metro under your arm and you’re good to go.
Available in a cheery range of bright colours, this contemporary looking compact brolly boasts rounded ends (no pointy spokes), plus 360° spinning technology, so it can handle knocks and bumps when navigating narrow spaces.
We loved the fact that this umbrella comes with a cover to stop your bag getting wet and is sturdy enough to withstand stormy skies.
Blunt umbrellas are also designed in modular parts, so if the worst happens and your umbrella is damaged you can repair it, rather than purchasing a whole new model.
That saves you from having to fork out for a new umbrella and stops another broken umbrella adding to landfill.
Weight: 385g Folded length: 37.5cm Canopy size: 100cm Davek Mini Mini Umbrella, £66 from Davek – buy here Pros: Generous canopy, very small and lightweight, surprisingly sturdy, lifetime guarantee Cons: Expensive Rating: 5/5
Don’t let its tiny size fool you; the Davek Mini is made of seriously strong stuff.
Packed with high-grade steel, fibreglass and aircraft-grade aluminium, we found that this little brolly was exceptionally reliable, even in stormy conditions.
Its 18cm size means it is the perfect just-in-case umbrella to have squirreled away at the bottom of your bag, or even stuffed into a coat pocket.
The higher price tag may initially be off-putting, but when you consider that Davek umbrellas come with a lifetime guarantee and loss protection, you may well end up saving on umbrella spend in the long run.
Weight: 232g Folded length: 18cm Canopy size: 97cm Fulton Eco Planet UV Fulton Eco Planet UV Umbrella, £25 £16.46 from Amazon – buy here Pros: Eco friendly, good-canopy, UPF50+ Cons: Too big for pockets, manual open Rating: 4/5
This eco-friendly brolly from the royal family’s favourite umbrella brand is a high-quality compact.
It comes with a surprisingly generous canopy in a pretty pastel marching elephant design, wind-resistant frame and bamboo handle.
We love that this umbrella also offers UPF50+ protection, which makes it a lovely parasol for sunnier days too.
Weight: 245g Folded length: 23cm Canopy size: 91cm Siirtolapuutarha Mini Manual Umbrella Siirtolapuutarha Mini Manual Umbrella, £50 from marimekko – buy here Pros: Gorgeous design, tiny compact Cons: Not as robust as some, a little pricey Rating: 4/5
Prepare for compliments on every corner when you step out with the impossibly-pretty Siirtolapuutarha (meaning ‘city garden’ in Finnish) compact umbrella from marimekko.
Featuring a stunning line drawing print overflowing with flowers as well as a matching case, this brolly folds down into a super-small bundle.
Once opened the canopy does a decent job of keeping bad weather away from your (no doubt effortlessly elegant) outfit, and is the ideal city companion for wet weather.
Weight: 215g Folded length: 18cm Canopy size: 94cm Fulton Aerolight Fulton Aerolight, £24 from Selfridges – buy here Pros: Extremely lightweight and small Cons: Can’t withstand strong winds, smaller canopy Rating: 4/5
Weighing roughly the same as half an apple (yes, really), this ridiculously lightweight compact umbrella needs to be held to be believed.
Perfect for keeping in your bag for a downpour emergency, you won’t even notice you’re carrying it around with you.
The high-density polyester fabric will keep you dry in sudden showers and even though the feather-light carbon ribs are a little shaky in a breeze, their flexible design will withstand inversion without damage.
Weight: 86g Folded length: 20cm Canopy size: 83cm London Undercover Auto Compact Auto Compact, £39 from London Undercover – buy here Pros: Bright colour, well made, smooth auto open and close Cons: Larger and heavier compact Rating: 4/5
This compact offering from super-stylish brolly brand London Undercover has a lot to love in such a neat package.
For starters, we adored the bold neon orange shade, which proved to be both impossible-to-lose and the envy of everyone who spotted it.
The auto-open close is really slick and the all-black steel frame looks really smart too. The 100% recycled canopy is a generous size and it feels built to last you through many rainy days.
Weight: 400g Folded length: 30.5cm Canopy size: 96cm Totes ECO-BRELLA Supermini ECO-BRELLA Compact Round Wild Leopard Print Umbrella, £22 from Totes – buy here Pros: Lots of designs available, small compact, affordable, made from recycled materials Cons: Tricky to get back into cover, not quite as robust as some alternatives Rating: 3/5
We loved the bright range of designs for this compact totes umbrella, and this colourful leopard print is easy to spot especially on grey days.
The folded brolly is a neat little package that’d slip easily into any handbag and it has a cute matching cover too, although we did find this a little bit tricky to put onto the umbrella once it had been used.
The canopy itself is made from recycled polyester and big enough for one, and the telescopic handle slides out nicely, however the tiny size does mean there is a slight compromise on strength and we found this one a little shaky in high winds.
Weight: Not specified Folded length: 15.5cm Canopy size: Not specified Radley Take Flight Responsible Handbag Umbrella Take Flight Responsible Handbag Umbrella, £30 at Radley – buy here Pros: Very compact, iconic design, recycled materials Cons: Less robust, small canopy, tricky to get back into cover Rating: 3/5
With an adorable design featuring the iconic Radley Scottie dog watching a flock of golden birds, this is the ultimate rain-ready accessory.
This compact brolly has a gold telescopic handle, which manually opens up into a small one-person canopy, and as this design is part of the brands ‘responsible’ range it has been crafted using recycled materials.
Although this didn’t feel like the strongest shelter in the bunch, we really liked that it folded up into such a small package and it is the perfect size to lie dormant at the bottom of your handbag ready for a quick dash in a surprise shower.
Weight: Not specified Folded length: 23cm Canopy size: Not specified Fulton Tiny Bees Fulton Tiny Bees Umbrella, £25 from John Lewis – buy here Pros: Tiny folded umbrella, cute design, lightweight Cons: Tricky to get back into cover, slightly awkward handle, smaller canopy Rating: 3/5
In terms of folded length this is the teeniest umbrella on our list and it folds into a rectangular, flat package that easily slips into larger pockets or bags.
We really loved the bee design on this mini brolly and the lightweight, aluminum frame, which provides some flexibility in windy weather.
We found the rectangular handle didn’t sit that comfortably in the hand and it was a bit tricky to get back into its matching cover after use, but this is a fab foldable shelter to have pocketed away for rainy spells.
Weight: 106g Folded length: 15cm Canopy size: 85cm Original Duckhead Peanut Butter Checkers Eco-Friendly Umbrella Peanut Butter Checkers Eco-Friendly Umbrella, £36 from Original Duckhead – buy here Pros: Cool design, recycled and sustainable materials, auto open Cons: Slightly larger compact Rating: 5/5
Channel your inner Mary Poppins with this bird-headed compact umbrella.
The sustainably-sourced, duck head birch wood handle (with matching beak) manages to be both aesthetically pleasing and comfy to hold.
We absolutely loved the incredible choice of canopy patterns (made with 100% recycled bottles) and both the auto-open mechanism and steel ribs feel really well made, standing up well to even strong winds.
Weight: 350g Folded length: 35cm Canopy size: Not specified What is the best compact umbrella?
To find the best compact umbrella you need to decide what your priorities are.
Are you looking for a folding brolly that’s so tiny and lightweight you barely notice it in your handbag or a compact umbrella that can withstand any weather?
Do you want a stylish brolly in lots of colourful designs or one that’ll last for 20 plus years? Or do you want a combination of all of these qualities?
We found that the Roka Waterloo Recycled Nylon Umbrella was a great all-round compact umbrella; it’s easy to use, colourful and small enough that it can go in a bag or briefcase.
Sizewise, the Fulton Aerolight and Doppler Zero Magic Automatic Umbrella are hard to beat, while the Davek Mini has a lifetime guarantee meaning, that you may never need to buy another compact brolly again.
How much are compact umbrellas?
Compact umbrellas can cost as little as £3 for a basic folding umbrella, although don’t expect these brollies to last beyond one or two uses.
On the other end of the spectrum are luxe designer umbrellas made with fancy ergonomic mechanisms and high-end fabrics, that can cost upwards of £300.
For a decent compact umbrella that will stand the test of time you should expect to pay around £15 – £75, depending on size, fabrics and style.
Where to buy compact umbrellas
You can find compact folding umbrellas on sale in many high street shops as well as online, in supermarkets and large department stores. Many designer labels such as Burberry and Moschino have also released folding umbrellas.
If you’re looking for a compact brolly you can rely on, search for specialist umbrella suppliers and brands to see high performance models that will last.
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Some retailers to look at include:
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