I've used this twice in the rain, and here's my review so far.
Ease of Use:
The Nubrella website (at the time of this review) doesn't clearly demonstrate HOW to wear it. In a TV interview, the inventor explains that the straps from the back go under your arms to lock the Nubrella into place.
It takes some getting used to. It didn't rain for almost a month after I received mine, so I wore it inside a lot to get a feel for the fit -- and to shoot and share pics. I immediately noticed two issues:
The fit - It rested on my head until I contacted Nubrella, and was informed about the strap placement (read above).
It collapsed - As soon as I began to walk, the handle in the front banged against my body, causing the Nubrella to collapse. I felt that there should be a locking mechanism.
But after adjusting the straps, then properly placing my arms in with the secondary straps (from the rear) underneath my arm pits, and the upper straps (with fabric/padding) on top of my shoulders, it finally fit properly.
So after a long wait, it finally rained!
Test One: Night/Light Rain/Times Square (NYC) heading West
I could not SEE well. Visibility at night lacked due to the raindrops sticking to the plastic. I got bumped into by one person, but that would have happened with my full-sized umbrella anyway, which is much less streamlined. I also had a backpack on which always gets soaked in the rain, but this time it remained dry!
Test One Conclusion -
Pros: My backpack stayed dry
Cons: I couldn't see well at night
Test Two: Afternoon/Heavier Rain
This time I took my time and made sure that I was wearing the Nubrella properly. I walked around with it indoors, and it did NOT collapse. Good. Now the real test.
I went to the grocery store. You have to take time to put it on right. Once on, it's great. This time I could see clearly, as it was daytime. At a pedestrian light, I stopped and used my iPhone, which stayed completely dry under the Nubrella. Headphone use is also better/safer.
There were a few circumstances where in order to avoid puddles, I needed to fit between some tight spots. With a normal umbrella, I'd tilt or collapse it. The Nubrella has to be removed, as it IS something you WEAR. So that was inconvenient, but not a deal breaker.
The Nubrella allowed me to carry groceries with both hands. When I arrived at a corner that's always windy, I only noticed the wind because I saw someone else's umbrella blowing around. That's the corner where with my normal umbrella, I collapse it and get soaked or fight with it, despite it being one of those 'wind resistant' umbrellas.
As a New Yorker, I was a little put off by the fact that I had to walk SLOWER than normal with the Nubrella. It could be due to an improper fit (by my error, not Nubrella's), but if I walked at my normal fast speed that day, the Nubrella would bounce around a lot. When I walked slow (or what is probably a normal pace in other parts of the world), it was fine.
One of the straps kept falling down like a bra strap. I had to constantly re-adjust it. Any one-size-fits-all contraptions will not fit everyone perfectly. However, Nubrella is very quick to respond and sent new straps to me. I have yet to test it with those new straps, as once again, it just hasn't rained much in NYC.
The humiliation factor is what some worry about. Well, I can't lie and say I didn't notice people staring, but since I'm an adult -- who cares?! One guy loved it. A kid looked in awe. What matters to me is that I am kept drier than I would be with a normal umbrella, and I am. The Nubrella is also more streamlined, so it wasn't in the way. In the midst of a very crowded NYC street, I think any umbrella's in the way, so at that point I may wear a hooded jacket or get bumped around as I did in test one. But I'd rather get bumped than accidentally poke someone with a normal umbrella.
The final part is that the Nubrella opens wide so that it can drip dry easily in an open space.
Visibility from the rear was an issue simply because I chose the black one. If you buy this for biking or any related transportation purpose, you may opt for the clear one.
Test Two Conclusion -
Pros: Once it fits, it works. It kept me drier and warmer than a regular umbrella would have. I could use my iPhone under it. The company (inventor) is VERY responsive.
Cons: You can't quickly collapse it when you come upon something that it won't fit past. I suggest the clear one, as the ones with fabric in the rear obstruct your view.
Further testing in different weather conditions will determine my future updates to this review, but so far, so good. I actually look forward to stormy weather now!
Test Three: Afternoon/Very heavy rain/Crowded weekday in NYC
This is likely my final review. It rained very hard this week, so I used my Nubrella, joyfully. In fact, I ran an errand that could have waited JUST to test it. This time I had the new adjusted straps from Nubrella. It worked perfectly. In fact, a co-worker saw mine, tried it, and ordered two!
I cannot imagine using any other umbrella in heavy rain. I have given this umbrella 5 well-deserved stars.
Minus one star (Feb. 23, 2013) because after having owned it for years now, I find myself not using it that often due to the strap fit. The key benefit of this umbrella is that it's hands-free, but I find myself always using one hand to adjust the straps despite having the new straps that they released. It's very challenging to adjust those straps to a perfect fit. While walking the straps slip constantly, and when wearing a jacket it just doesn't fit (me) at all without a strap re-adjustment. I really wish the company could remedy that by addressing the fit because I believe in this product and stand by my earlier positive reviews. However, I want to simply put it on and go. The lack of the ability to do that makes me more prone to just grab my regular umbrella during normal rain. But again, during torrential rain, I do prefer the Nubrella.