Umbrellas Suck. Use a Rain Cover.

Shawn Forno

Complaining about a broken umbrella is like whining that your free bank pen is out of ink. Everyone just shrugs and looks at you like a psycho.

Umbrellas just plain suck, and everyone knows it. Heck, you don’t need me—Tortuga’s resident grump—to tell you that.

So, if it’s common knowledge that umbrellas are terrible, how is it that the Wall Street Journal reported annual umbrella sales near $350 million in 2010? Who’s buying all that landfill fodder?

It turns out that we’re all guilty, but there’s one place where you can kiss umbrellas goodbye.

Long Live the Rain Cover

Travel umbrellas have been a thing for years, but they suffer from all the same flaws as their big brothers, and what’s worse, the best reviewed travel umbrellas retail for over $50—$100. It’s crazy to waste that much money on a piece of gear you’ll barely use and yet still can’t rely on. Plus, even the smallest umbrella is a major waste of space in a carry on bag.

That’s why we made rain covers. A super good ones.

travel umbrella rain cover

The Tortuga Rain Cover is made of 210D ripstop nylon PU (sounds badass, right?), and is made to fit your backpack. Precisely. That’s the biggest problem with umbrellas—they’re one size fits all. If you’re a big guy, you’re gonna get soaked holding your dinky travel umbrella. If you’re on the small side you’ll have to wrangle a behemoth in monsoon conditions. And your legs will still get wet.

A good rain cover is “one size fits one,” so your bag stays snug and dry.

Everyone should already have a go to rain jacket in your pack (here’s my favorite), so why would you double up with an inferior way to keep your stuff dry? Travel umbrellas just don’t make any sense, but I really hate umbrellas, so I’m going to hammer this point home a little longer. Brace yourself.

Travel Umbrellas Suck. Rain Covers Rule.

Because “Reasons.”

The thing about an umbrella, is that even when it’s working perfectly, it’s still the worst thing ever. Here are 7 reasons your $50 travel umbrella is a total waste of money, and why a rain cover is awesome:

  1. Umbrellas aren’t hands free. Rain Covers are.
  2. Umbrellas obscure your vision. Rain Covers =weather ninja.
  3. Umbrellas suck in crowds and narrow places. Rain Covers actually streamline your bag even more. Plus, extra security in crowded places.
  4. Umbrellas poke people in the face. Especially tall people. Rain Covers let you place your bag on the ground and use it like a pillow. That’s the opposite of face poking.
  5. Umbrellas only keep some of you dry. Kind of. Rain Covers + Rain Coat makes you impervious to even nasty storms.
  6. Umbrellas get all your stuff wet when you pack them away. Rain Covers don’t.
  7. Umbrellas take up space in your bag. Rain Covers live outside your bag, roll into their own little pouch, and make your bag less vulnerable to theft, damage, and notice.

Rain Cover 7. Travel Umbrella 0.

And the list of umbrella fails goes on: You can’t bike with it, hike with it, or blend in at all. The Tortuga Rain Cover practically makes your bag disappear, and keeps it clean and dry on the muddiest trail or wettest bike ride. Plus, umbrellas are literal lightning rods. So make sure you don’t take one outside in a stor…oh that’s inconvenient.

Umbrellas: Terrible for 3,000 Years

The design of the modern umbrella hasn’t really changed at all in since it’s use in ancient China and the Middle East. Think about that for a second.

travel umbrella

That means that if you traveled back to ancient China, no one would bat an eye at one of the most expensive umbrellas on the modern market. Like this umbrella, on sale for just $1,200Confucius would have a heart attack if he saw a Ziploc bag, but he’d just shrug at your umbrella.

So what makes an umbrella so terrible, and why can’t we fix it after all these millennia? I mean, we live in the future, right? Self-driving cars are a thing, people hike with solar panels on their backpacks, and at any given time there are humans in space. Surely we can design a travel umbrella that actually works.

Actually, we can’t.

Umbrellas: Less Than the Sum of Their Parts

Even simple umbrellas have, on average, around 150 individual parts. Many of them are delicate, and all are prone to failure in harsh conditions…like storms.

Why are we still traveling with these worthless garbage sticks in our backpacks, especially our carry on bags? It’s time we skip the middle man and chuck our umbrellas straight in the landfill where they’re headed anyway. Wear a rain coat, cover your bag with a rain cover, and take a stand against one of the worst pieces of gear ever invented. Umbrellas have been around for three millennia. It’s time we take em down.


travel umbrella

Umbrellas suck. The only cool umbrella is that one from The Kingsman. And I guess, the one from Mary Poppins, but that was 90% Julie Andrews’ charisma…

Don’t waste precious carry on packing space on a piece of gear that doesn’t do the one thing it was made for. You might as well bring a broken hair dryer. Just get a rain cover.

Image: Tyler Clemens (Stocksnap)