Best UV Umbrellas

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

29 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
375 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best UV umbrellas

Last Updated August 2019

Back in the day, women carried parasols to protect their complexions from sunburn. UV umbrellas, also known as sun umbrellas, are the modern-day equivalent of parasols. Thanks to their UV-ray blocking materials, they offer even greater sun protection for everyone. These umbrellas function like a regular rain umbrella, which also can protect you against UV rays. However, a regular umbrella only blocks around 77% to 90% of UV rays. Compare that to a UV umbrella, which uses UPF-rated fabric and a black liner to block up to 99% of UV rays.

For many people, protective measures like sunscreen aren’t enough, especially when visiting tropical or other sunny locales. A UV umbrella can greatly reduce anxiety and the chances of sunburn or skin damage. Plus, many UV umbrellas work just fine in the rain, too, so you’re covered whether it’s sunlight or water pouring down on you.

If you want to learn more about sun umbrellas, read our shopping guide below for an in-depth look at these products, including the features you’ll need to consider before purchasing, as well as some of our favorites.

People used umbrellas to protect against the sun in Egypt and Assyria three millennia ago. In ancient times, the umbrellas were a sign of wealth and power, and only rulers could use them.

Key considerations

Why use a UV umbrella?

Ultraviolet rays from the sun reach the earth all year long, even when it’s cloudy or cold. UVA rays can penetrate windows, too, so you’re exposed even when you’re in your car or home. Repeated exposure to UVA and UVB rays can increase your risk of skin cancer, as well as cause signs of premature aging like wrinkles and dark pots. Dermatologists recommend that everyone take precautionary measures year-round, including applying sunscreen, wearing hats and long-sleeved clothing, and staying in the shade. A UV umbrella provides shade when you’re on the go or in places where other shade isn’t available. Here’s a partial list of scenarios in which a UV umbrella can come in handy:

  • Golf

  • Beach

  • Walking

  • Sports venues

  • Sightseeing

  • Medical issues (sun-related)

Canopy

UV umbrellas typically have an oversize canopy, like that on golf umbrellas, which provides total shade for users. A 36- to 45-inch diameter provides ample shade for one user, and a 62-inch or wider diameter provides enough cover for two users. You’ll find UV umbrella canopies made of a number of different materials.

  • Polyester: This is a common material used in less-expensive UV umbrella canopies. It’s durable, lightweight, and water and dust resistant.

  • Nylon: This is another popular fabric used for UV umbrellas. It’s lightweight and inexpensive, as well as softer and stronger than polyester. It can withstand sun exposure better, but it isn’t water resistant unless it has a waterproof coating like polyurethane (PU).

  • Pongee: This is a silk-like fabric that’s denser than nylon or polyester due to its higher thread count. It’s also lightweight, highly waterproof, and fade resistant. Due to pongee’s higher quality, umbrellas made of this fabric can be pricier than others.

  • Lace: An overlay of lace adds a fashionable accent to an otherwise utilitarian-looking UV umbrella and gives it more of the appearance of a parasol with a UV liner underneath.

UPF

Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) is to fabric is what sun protection factor (SPF) is to sunscreen: it’s a rating that measures how well a material blocks the sun’s rays. The weave of the fabric, liners, and coatings all contribute to an umbrella’s UPF rating. Here are some typical ratings you’ll see for sun umbrellas:

  • UPF 40 to 50+: Blocks 97.5% to 98% of UV rays

  • UPF 60+: Blocks 99% of UV rays
     

In addition to a UPF coating on the top layer of the umbrella, a liner on the inside absorbs the remaining UV rays and those that bounce off the ground. Liners are typically black, blue, or silver. Silver liners are reflective and may help keep heat from getting trapped underneath the umbrella.

Rod and ribs

Like a regular umbrella, a UV umbrella has a rod (or shaft) and ribs to reinforce its structure. Rods tend to be constructed from lightweight aluminum alloy or stainless steel. Ribs can also be stainless steel or more flexible and lightweight fiberglass.

DID YOU KNOW?

Double-canopy UV umbrellas have a two-tiered structure that provides windproofing by allowing gusts of air to pass through.

UV umbrella features

Windproof: An umbrella that can stand up to the wind won’t turn inside out in gusts up to 50 to 65 miles per hour. These umbrellas may have a double canopy, which also enhances the sun protection and allows for better ventilation, or a generous number of reinforced fiberglass ribs.

Water repellent: Some UV umbrellas can also protect you from wet weather, making your purchase more versatile. Be aware that not all UV umbrellas are waterproof, however.

Compact: Travel-size UV umbrellas are lightweight, collapse down into about 11 inches long, and usually come with a storage sheath. The canopy size typically does not exceed 42 inches, and these umbrellas aren’t as sturdy as full-size UV umbrellas.

Handle: A soft rubber or plastic grip on the handle protects your hands from the heat and makes the umbrella easier to hold. A C-shaped handle hooks easily on the forearm, freeing up your hands. This design is popular with travelers.

Open/close: Some UV umbrellas have a mechanism on the handle that enables you to open and close the canopy with the press of a button.

Clamp: Some UV umbrellas have a clamp on the handle so you can attach the umbrella to square or tubular surfaces, such as outdoor chairs, bleachers, or strollers. Umbrellas with this design feature are not as comfortable to hold.

Colors/designs: UV umbrellas may not come in as wide a range of colors and designs as rain umbrellas, but you can find some variations other than the typical black or silver, like pink or polkas dots. Some also have flower, star, or other designs on the inner liner.

UV umbrella prices

UV umbrellas range in price from $19 to $55.

Inexpensive: For a basic sun umbrella that delivers UV protection, expect to pay $19 to $24. These may include C-shaped handles or clamps and be waterproof and windproof.

Mid-range: For a mid-priced UV umbrella, you can expect to pay between $25 and $35. These have a convenient automatic open/close feature and may also include a double canopy.

Expensive: For a premium UV umbrella, expect to pay $40 or more. These typically have oversize canopies made from high-quality UV-blocking materials that will not only keep your skin protected but also keep you cool.

EXPERT TIP

Select a UV umbrella rated as UPF 50+ or 60+ for optimal protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

For effective sun shade, select a UV umbrella with a canopy that is a minimum of three feet in diameter.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Choose a clamp. Select a UV umbrella with a universal clamp to attach to a stroller to keep your tot protected from UV light. It’s not recommended that babies under six months wear sunscreen, so you want to keep your child in the shade wherever you go.

  • Choose a C. If you walk and text, you can still protect yourself from the sun by selecting a UV umbrella with a C-shaped handle to keep your hands free.

  • Choose a compact. UV umbrellas aren’t easy to wield in crowded cities. If you’re a city dweller or visiting a foreign town, consider a compact UV umbrella that you can easily collapse and slip into your bag. These also have smaller canopies that won’t take up as much sidewalk space.

  • Choose UV protection at the beach. Replace your regular beach umbrella with one that offers UV protection. Though it may be pricier, it will offer more skin-saving UPF protection as you lounge by the sea.

  • Choose a swivel. For the fullest range of shade as the sun changes position during the day, select a UV umbrella with a canopy that swivels 360° and has adjustable hinges for more precise angling.

Other products we considered

For a retro-style UV umbrella, we love the VIVI SKY Pagoda Peak Parasol. This fashionable sun umbrella has a romantic pagoda design that’ll make you a hit on your social media posts. For all its aesthetic appeal, it also boasts UV and rain protection, wedding both function and form. Speaking of weddings, this updated parasol is a perfect addition to any wedding or fancy outdoor event. Its 35-inch canopy comes in pretty colors, including purple and pink, as well as black and a classic ivory. For an oversize UV-blocking umbrella, we recommend the SunTek Windcheater Umbrella. This extra-large (68 inches), double canopy will cover two people with UPF 50+ sun protection. It’s also wind and water resistant. The fiberglass shaft and ribs are lightweight and safe should lightning suddenly strike on the golf course. Four different liner colors match their storage sheaths.

Many of the best UV umbrellas have a reflective outer surfaces and a dark liner on the underside of the canopy to absorb UV rays reflected off the ground.

FAQ

Q. Can I still get sunburned using a UV umbrella?

A. Yes. Though the best UV umbrellas offer over 99% UV protection, there’s still a chance of UV rays penetrating the fabric. Also, you’re exposed to UV rays bouncing off the ground, snow, sand, or water. Other unwanted sun exposure is due to human error and movement. You may not always hold the umbrella at the perfect angle to block your body from the sun. While UV umbrellas provide solid protection to your upper body, your lower body is more at risk for exposure. For all these reasons, we recommend wearing sunscreen even when using a UV umbrella.

Q. Can my UV umbrella double as a rain umbrella?

A. Unfortunately, not all UV umbrellas can be used in the rain, only the ones that are marketed as “water repellent” or “waterproof.” Sun umbrellas marketed as “water resistant” may not hold up in a downpour. For rain protection, you want to select a UV umbrella that has a hydrophobic coating, like Teflon or polyurethane, that will cause the water to roll off without seeping into the fabric.

The team that worked on this review
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