We've been through a lot of cheap umbrellas. And, a few expensive ones that did not last much longer. Go Lite makes a very unusual umbrella: supports are all solid rods, much like fiberglass or carbon fiber tent poles. The rods flex and bend, meaning you can basically crush this umbrella and it bounces right back. The design slowly is improved over the years, addressing weak spots (they recently added a rubber tip, as the old one would wear out if used as a walking stick). Bottom line: this is an umbrella that costs 4x more, but will last 8x longer, compared to conventional ones.
I've had this umbrella for a year now, and I can say with confidence that it is the best umbrella I've ever owned. I bought it specifically for ultralight backpacking, as it weighs only 8 oz and provides a lot better ventilation than a raincoat. And although it has served me well in that endeavor (it kept me dry on a 3-day hike through Dolly Sods Wilderness), I found early on that it would work just fine as an everyday umbrella that I can tote to work. Almost every umbrella I have ever owned has ripped or failed to fold correctly after just a few uses. My GoLite Dome, though, works as well now--a year later--as it did the first time I used it. It's a no-frills, manual umbrella without any bells or whistles (no button to press, for example) and it's not as large as some other umbrellas out there, but I find it more than adequate except during those times when it's raining horizontally.
GoLite filed for Bankruptcy in 2014. If you want one of these excellent umbrellas, search on Amazon under Liteflex Silver Trekking Umbrella Silver. It's the same thing, but without the GoLite brand on it. It's also cheaper!
I purchased this umbrella a couple of years ago and use it virtually every time I leave my house to walk. Although it is lightweight because of use of resin/fiber structural elements instead of metal, it is very sturdy. I have used it in gusty winds and several times it has reversed without permanent damage. The coated surface has retained good integrity in spite of being furled hundreds of times. I walk ten miles or more a week throughout the year in all weather from sunny days to snow. I even use it as a windbreak when the weather is cold. One of the spokes broke off within a half inch of the finial due to a severe impact but I easily repaired it with super glue!
People would make fun of my trekking umbrella...until it started to rain...and then everyone wanted one! Many of my friends have bought this after we have gone backpacking. In western north carolina it rains for a little while every afternoon and everyone else would have to take of their packs, put on all their raingear, get hot and sweaty, and then stop and put it all away. With this umbrella I just grab it from the side of my pack, pop it up and keep going. I usually put the handle under my sternum strap and it holds itself there with no hands and covers me and my pack...plus, I stay cool and sweat-free without raingear. At night I usually sleep under a tarp and use this to cover my head in case it rains sideways. And no cold, wet raingear to deal with later. Your friends will be envious!
I purchased this thru Amazon to fit into an umbrella holder on my on wheelchair mainly for the advertised sun blocking and reduced heat underneath in a word it "Works"! It is also easy to use, no hard to press button just push up or pull down!
I use this umbrella for backpacking and for watching the kids play soccer. The umbrella is light enough to carry backpacking and provides a nice dry space when there is no place else to escape from the rain. I don't always carry it but if I expect a lot of rain it is really useful. It also works well for HOT days and rainy days when watching sports.
I was looking for an umbrella that would not only protect me from the rain, but protect me from the sun too & this one fits the bill completely. On top of that though, I can't believe how light it is! This thing is awesome and I've gotten lots of great comments about it. For what i want it for, it's perfect, but I wouldn't use it in terrible gail force winds. With it being this light, I can't imagine that would go well, but not too many umbrellas do work well for that unless they're super heavy duty.
I have gotten compliments on this umbrella! It's a parasol (in Spanish, paragua, 'for the water', parasol, 'for the sun.') I regret that I got it caught in my bike spokes, but I bought a little circle of black ripstop nylon and fixed it handily. It's a fashionable parasol, hence the compliments, super well-made, and I am putting it to much use!
Update 2/23/2011: someone stole mine out of my cart at the grocery store!!!!! Now I'm back to get another. Sigh. Maybe that was the ultimate compliment?