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I hate umbrellas

Man with broken umbrella

Umbrellas are synonymous with Britishness, but they can be unwieldy for users and annoying for people around you. Is there a better way to keep the rain off?

I hate umbrellas. I hate the effect they have on the people who use them. On a rainy day, my walk to work turns into an obstacle course as I dodge brolleys that fly at me from all directions. No matter how tall the person is, their umbrella always seems to be about level with my eyes.

Other people’s umbrellas are annoying enough, but they also get on my nerves by being so impractical. In the UK, rain is often accompanied by wind. Most umbrellas don’t like windy conditions and insist on turning themselves inside out. Why does anyone bother with them?

To keep my clothes dry on a rainy day, I wear a waterproof jacket. With my hood up, the jacket keeps out the elements without poking anyone else in the eye. A jacket made of a lightweight fabric is surely much more practical to keep in your bag for unexpected showers.

A high-tech ray of sunshine?

For umbrella-phobes like me, there could be light at the end of the high-tech tunnel. A pair of Korean designers have come up with an ‘umbrella’ that uses air power to repel rain. There doesn’t appear to be any clear proof that their concept actually works, but I’m very glad that someone out there is thinking of a solution.

Naturally, tech-savvy types have some concerns about the ‘air umbrella’. What if the battery runs out in the middle of a downpour? Does the repelled rain just get sprayed over everyone else? Would it work on a windy day?

If only people had asked similar questions about normal umbrellas before they were accepted by the mainstream. We might have ended up with something a bit more practical.


I would like to see the end of umbrellas without metal tips that could damage eyes. Some manufacturers have found good solutions years ago, but the old design is still with us.

I never personally use umbrellas – Though I have one that I use if escorting a woman. I have always found good water proof coats and a hat very effective – But I do walk my dogs regularly and often and it is impossible to hold an umbrella and walk three large 50Kg dogs at the same time.

I’m glad someone else shares my dislike of umbrellas – I just can’t see why so many people use them. Like Richard, I have a good coat and hat, and find that’s far better than using a brolly.

There’s a great children’s novel in which one of the main characters says (I paraphrase heavily) “There’s normally a social taboo about carrying spiky metal at eye height. I don’t think a few drops of water falling from the sky is any reason to abandon this.” I agree!

It also represents one extra thing to carry/drop/leave on the bus, not to mention that it’s irritating if you’re walking with friends. The only thing I dislike more than having my own umbrella is walking next to a friend who is trying to shelter me with theirs – I just get water pouring onto on one of my shoulders and the occasional clonk on the head. I’ll stick to my hat, thanks.

Just re-read the above and I sound incredibly grumpy – my excuse is that it’s Monday =)

I love umbrellas. I have a ‘go-go gadget’ spring-mounted one with a waterproof carrier that I keep in my bag at all times, in case I get caught out in a surprise downpour on the way in or out of work. When you have spiked hair, a hat isn’t the practical choice (says Mr Vain). Agree with Wavechange about the metal tips, though – in my defence, mine has rubberised endings.

The umbrellas that really get me are the golf ones. They’re like 4x4s in town, excessive and self-indulgent.

This article prompted me to look for my Pak-a-Mak [circa 1966]. These overall, shapeless, transparent grey plastic, one-size-fits-all raincoats folded up quite small and fitted inside a wallet that would also serve as a head cover. They were effective if ungainly [they had slits in the side to allow access into your pockets but they never quite lined up in the right places so the motion of getting some change out of your trousers could provoke some odd glances]. Their major drawback was their vulnerability to contact with any sharp objects which would rip the material. They also tended to blow off in high winds and shed millions of water droplets when taking them off. It’s not a style that I can see making a come-back somehow even if they jazzed them up with pretty colours and fancy details.

I expect that your Pakamac is not in very good condition now. Loss of plasticiser will have made the plastic brittle.

There are some modern equivalents that look much more presentable, are fairly compact. They are advertised as waterproof.

I need my hands for walking as I use axillary crutches, so umbrellas are not an option. A wide-brimmed hat works pretty well though, as does a decent gore-tex jacket. The only real down side is that ny extended hoofing it on crutches and the bunching material under the arms becomes a source of severe friction and I get rubbed raw.

Heat build up as the shoulders work hard is also a problem – it can get like a sauna in there (you really wanted to know that I know),