Warm sunshine feels good on the skin, but UV (ultraviolet) rays can have damaging effects. Long-term exposure to UV can cause wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, liver spots, and in severe cases, skin cancer. Even on cloudy days, skin can be exposed to UV light, and a UV umbrella serves as excellent protection against ultraviolet light.
The best UV umbrella protects you from up to 99 percent of UV—both UVA and UVB—exposure and is well constructed to last a long time. A UV umbrella is a great first line of defense against sun damage, which is especially handy if you run out of sunscreen.
Just below are the top picks for the best UV umbrellas. Keep reading to learn more about these protective umbrellas.
- BEST OVERALL: G4Free 62/68 Inch UV Protection Golf Umbrella
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Cuby UV Sun Umbrella Compact
- BEST INVERTED: Spar. Saa Double Layer Inverted Umbrella
- BEST TRAVEL: Sungrubbies UV Travel Sun Umbrella Lightweight UPF 50
- BEST WIND-RESISTANT: LifeTek Kingston Umbrella – Quality Cane Umbrella
What to Consider When Buying the Best UV Umbrella
An umbrella that’s intended for UV protection explicitly indicates the amount of UV protection it offers. The best UV umbrellas have maximum UV protection, quality construction, and are a convenient size.
UV umbrellas are useful if you’re on the move; if you’re staying in one place, a beach tent or patio umbrella are other options for sun protection. Your intended use for the umbrella should dictate which type you should purchase. Here are some features to consider when selecting the best UV umbrella.
Size and Canopy Strength
The size of the umbrella you select depends on your coverage needs.
- Umbrellas typically use an arc and diameter measurement. The arc measures the canopy distance from the tip of one rib to the tip of the opposite rib. The diameter is the straight-line distance from one end of the umbrella to the other.
- The size of the UV umbrella you need depends on how many people need coverage. Singles and travelers may want a smaller-size umbrella or parasol. Larger canopy umbrellas are suitable for those with family members, significant others, or those who want more coverage. A beach umbrella is too big to be practical for daily use, but it’s excellent for the beach.
Stronger canopies are made from more rugged materials and use high-quality stitching to hold the panels together and attach them securely to the ribs. The larger the canopy, the more susceptible it is to factors like wind. For windy areas, double-canopy umbrellas allow wind to escape without inverting the umbrella.
The ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating is a universal system measuring the sun-blocking effectiveness of a UV umbrella. It tells the user how much UVA and UVB radiation a fabric protects from—the higher the UPF rating, the better the sun protection.
Factors such as product construction, color, and chemical treatments enhance a UPF rating. UPF is different from SPF (sun protection factor), which is a measurement of how much UV radiation is required to burn skin.
Under the U.S. UPF rating system, there are three categories:
- Good protection has UPF values of 15 and 20. This blocks approximately 93.3 percent to 95.8 percent of UV rays.
- Very good protection has UPF values of 25, 30, and 35. This rating blocks approximately 96 percent to 97.4 percent of UV rays.
- Excellent protection has UPF values of 40, 45, 50, and 50+. This protection offers approximately 97.5 percent to 98 percent of UV blockage (though some manufacturers claim UPF blockage of 99 percent).
UV umbrellas are made from thicker material than a traditional rain umbrella, allowing for better protection from the sun. The fabric for umbrella canopies should be densely woven for better protection. Common types of UV umbrella canopy materials include:
- Polyester. A popular but less expensive option that feels smooth and protects well against UV with a protective coating. It has many fabric color options, but it can wrinkle, and it has poor water resistance without treatment.
- Pongee. This medium-weight woven material has a finely dimpled appearance, giving the fabric additional dimension rather than a smooth surface. It’s a stable, quality fabric offering good UV protection and water handling, but it’s more expensive than polyester.
- Canvas. This umbrella fabric usually blends cotton with synthetic fibers, making it a bit heavier. This material is a suitable option for beach umbrellas, and with treatment it can be waterproof.
UV umbrellas generally use one of two types of fabric. The first type uses a protective black coating that absorbs UV light or a silver coating that reflects UV light. The second type of fabric used in UV umbrellas is a UV-coated polyurea geotextile cloth that doesn’t have any additional coating inside the umbrella.
Opening Button vs. Manual Opening
Some umbrellas have a button on the handle to conveniently open (or open and close) the canopy. Automatic opening at the push of the button requires just one hand, making it fast to open and easier to operate for those for whom dexterity is a challenge.
The interior mechanism may make the umbrella a touch heavier and more expensive than a manual option. The drawback to automatic-opening umbrella buttons is that if the mechanism or button stops working, there may not be another way to open the umbrella.
Manual-opening umbrellas are generally more lightweight and less expensive than umbrellas with opening buttons. These require the user to open an umbrella using both hands: one to hold the handle and the other to slide open the canopy. Manual opening mechanisms aren’t prone to breaking too easily, so they may last longer. They usually have safety catches to hold the umbrella open.
Our Top Picks
Depending on preferences and needs, the best UV umbrella varies from person to person. With the above features in mind, including UPF rating, size, and canopy material, the following choices are some of the best UV umbrellas on the market.
G4Free’s large umbrella offers plenty of UV protection with a UPF rating of 50+. With a 62-inch arc and 52-inch diameter, there’s enough coverage for two or three people.
The canopy offers a large diameter of UV coverage with silver coating and zero light transmittance, protecting the user from 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays and deflecting heat, keeping the user a bit cooler underneath when the weather’s hot.
A rubber handle and 1.6-pound weight make carrying this UV umbrella comfortable in both sunshine or heavy rain. Eight reinforced fiberglass ribs keep the double canopy design sturdy, even on windy days that would turn an inferior umbrella inside out.
Keep it in the car for convenience, and use the automatic-open button to expand the canopy one-handed. For storage, this 40-inch-long UV umbrella slides into its matching cover, and it has a shoulder carrying strap for easy portability.
Cuby’s windproof UV Sun Umbrella offers great value for a small investment. A personal UV umbrella that expands to a 42-inch arc and 37-inch diameter is practically sized for everyday use, but this umbrella folds down compactly for storing in a backpack or oversize purse.
The canopy is made from a water-resistant pongee fabric with a black vinyl layer, and it blocks 99 percent of UV rays. The waterproof fabric stretches over eight fiberglass ribs, and an aviation aluminum alloy shaft makes this umbrella strong, rust-resistant, and a lightweight 12 ounces.
Grip the comfortable rubber handle and use the fully automatic button to open and close the umbrella’s canopy for ease of use. When not in use, the telescoping shaft collapses down from 22 inches to 11 inches long for convenient storage.
This well-designed UV umbrella by Siepasa allows users to easily open the umbrella before stepping from their car into the hot sun. The reversible umbrella design enables either UV protection or rain protection in a bold selection of colors and designs, giving users a practical and stylish umbrella.
Made with a double-layer polyester canopy, the umbrella’s fiberglass ribs are sandwiched between layers of fabric that also traps wetness inside when the weather turns rainy. With an anti-UV coating and an inner layer of fabric that shuts out light and isolates heat for cooler shade, this umbrella is rated UPF 50+.
Big enough for two, with a 48-inch arc and 42.5-inch diameter, this umbrella is the right size for sharing. It opens and closes by pressing a button and weighs 1.2 pounds. A C-shaped handle enables users to carry it comfortably on a wrist, leaving their hands free for other things.
A UV umbrella comes in handy when out for the day or taking a trip. This Sungrubbies personal UV umbrella provides a 43-inch arc and 39.5-inch diameter for sun coverage that weighs a mere 14 ounces. Though smaller than other UV umbrellas, this travel size doesn’t compromise sun protection and employs an auto-open and close button for convenience.
With a UPF of over 50, this UV umbrella blocks 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays, leaving you several degrees cooler. Made from vinyl layer technology and UV protection fabric, this personal umbrella makes skin protection a priority.
Other travel umbrellas may flip inside out when the wind picks up, but the double-canopy design of the Sungrubbies umbrella provides the wind a place to escape without impacting protection. Eight fiberglass ribs, a chrome-plated silver metal shaft, and an ergonomic rubber handle make this UV umbrella lightweight, reliable, and comfortable to carry.
Rather than have separate umbrellas for different conditions, users can employ LifeTek’s classic black cane umbrella, which is suitable for various weather types. Its 54-inch canopy arc and 47-inch coverage diameter make this UV umbrella roomy enough to share.
Made from micro-weave, high-thread-count fabric with a Teflon coating, this umbrella is UFP 60+ and blocks over 98 percent of UV rays. The canopy has quick-dry technology and a wind flex frame for a strong and flexible umbrella that handles blustery days.
A fiberglass shaft helps keep the weight of this UV umbrella down to 26 ounces. Lightweight and comfortable to carry thanks to the ergonomic, comfort-grip handle, this quality umbrella is easy to bring along. Use the automatic open button for fast deployment of this sophisticated, timelessly styled umbrella.
FAQs About UV Umbrellas
When selecting the best UV umbrella, you may have some questions. Learning as much as you can before purchasing an umbrella ensures you choose the right UV umbrella for your needs. Here are some common questions and answers about UV umbrellas to help you decide which umbrella is best for you.
Q. How effective are UV umbrellas?
UV umbrellas can be up to 99 percent effective against UV rays. Refer to a product’s UPF rating to learn the protectiveness of a particular UV umbrella.
Q. What is the best color for a sun umbrella?
A black layer (either inside or outside of the umbrella) absorbs more UV rays than other colors. Both the fabric and the construction of a UV umbrella contribute to the UPF and keep you safer from the sun’s rays.
Q. Can I use a UV umbrella as a rain umbrella?
Many UV umbrellas can be used in the rain; however, some UV umbrellas, like some parasols, are not waterproof.
Q. How long do umbrellas last?
As long as it’s cared for, a quality UV umbrella can protect you from the sun’s harmful rays for many years.