What We Like
Keeps you cool and comfortable
Double canopy and mesh panels allow airflow
Smooth mechanical operation
What We Don't Like
Small coverage in the compact version
Branding is heavy-handed
It’s not difficult to make a case for a UV canopy like the UV-Blocker UV Protection Compact Umbrella—particularly in the hot summer months. You might be someone who can’t get enough fun in the sun, but you also probably know how important it is to protect yourself from the damaging effects of the harmful rays. Fortunately, limiting UV exposure with things like high-SPF sunscreen and take-anywhere “sunbrellas” let us emerge from our dark, air-conditioned lairs more safely, even when the sun is at its peak. For our test-run, we put this compact umbrella to the ultimate test: four days in late June spent below the Mason-Dixon Line. Spoiler: We survived.
Design: Function determines form
When it’s closed (and particularly when it’s in its sleeve), this travel-ready UV-Blocker umbrella looks a lot like a foil-wrapped baked potato. Emergency-blanket-silver and navy is the only colorway UV-Blocker offers, regardless of which size you buy. While that might not be your first choice in terms of visual appeal (particularly when you consider the massive UV-Blocker logo across the canopy), it does serve a purpose. The silver exterior is designed to reflect sunlight and reduce heat absorption, and the navy blue interior is supposed to absorb the sun’s reflection from below.
Using it definitely made walking around in the unforgiving mid-day heat of the South more tolerable.
UV-Blocker claims that temperatures can be up to 15 degrees cooler underneath its umbrellas. While we didn’t find a way to actually measure that difference, using it definitely made walking around in the unforgiving mid-day heat of the South more tolerable.
If you’re going to be tempted to share with your friends, the compact umbrella size might not be right for you. With a diameter of only 39 inches, it really isn’t enough shade for you and a buddy. With two of us underneath, two out of four shoulders went unshielded. If your friends, like ours, are shade-stealers, UV-Blocker’s UV Protection Golf Umbrella might be a better bet, with its 53-inch diameter. However, keep in mind that it won’t pack down nearly as well for use during getaways.
With a diameter of only 39 inches, it really isn’t enough shade for you and a buddy.
To help with the temperature regulation, the top of the umbrella has a wide “double canopy vented mesh system.” It’s constructed like the ventilation on the back of a raincoat—overlapping layers keep the air flowing, but the water out. We ended up using the umbrella during a small shower and didn’t get wet, but this really shouldn’t be your go-to umbrella for a squall. The construction seems sturdy enough, but too much wind will blow the rain back underneath the double canopy. It definitely worked in a pinch, though.
Ease of Use: Smooth operator
Of the umbrellas we tested, the UV-Blocker model was by far the easiest and smoothest to operate. The umbrella mechanically extends and opens fully with a push button on the handle, and it closes mechanically as well. Wrestling some umbrellas back into the closed position can feel like wrestling an alligator, so we were impressed with how effortless the operation was.
Of the umbrellas we tested, the UV-Blocker model was by far the easiest and smoothest to operate.
Size/Portability: Take it anywhere
The line includes larger models like a beach umbrella and the aforementioned golf umbrella, but, according to UV-Blocker, this compact version is really only intended for “occasional use.” However, when it comes to UV defense that you’re actually going to carry everywhere, portability is king—and this one is designed with that in mind. It’s fairly light at 13 ounces, and at 11 inches folded, it should fit into most average commuter bags or purses.
The thick-woven fabric and the double canopy give it a bigger waist than most other compact umbrellas–roughly 8.25-inches around (so a very large burrito). You can keep some of that unruly circumference down by storing it in its sleeve when not in use, though.
We’ve always found included umbrella sleeves to be one of the more perplexing mysteries of retail. Historically, we just ditch them. The Compact’s sleeve, though, might be a keeper. It’s sewn with as much care—possibly more—than the umbrella itself, from the same coated silver nylon. The snap closure opens wide so you can nestle the umbrella into the sleeve with minimal effort. Other unexpected sleeve details include a hefty metal snap and .25-inch contrast, as well as that big printed UV-Blocker logo again and a large woven label.
Protection: Science approves
All of UV-Blocker’s umbrellas are rated as UPF 55+ protection. UPF is a rating given to fabric that indicates how well it blocks ultraviolet radiation; a rating of 55+ means that 1/55th of the UVA and UVB radiation that reaches the specially treated Solarteck fabric makes it through to the other side. The Melanoma International Foundation has awarded UV-Blocker with its seal of approval, based on its lab-tested ability to protect skin and eyes from sun damage. In summary, it works.
The Melanoma International Foundation has awarded UV-Blocker with its seal of approval.
Price: Slightly expensive
At about $45, the cost of the Compact Umbrella falls in the upper range of smaller UV umbrellas. Since it doubles as a decent rain umbrella (in a pinch) and is well-constructed, that seems fairly reasonable to us. If that sounds like a high barrier of entry, though, there are many decent UV umbrellas that cost $20 and under.
UV-Blocker UV Protection Compact Umbrella vs. SunTek 68-Inch UV Protection Canopy Umbrella
The SunTek 68-Inch UV Protection Canopy Umbrella is much bigger in diameter and also cheaper (you can find it for around $30) than the UV-Blocker UV Protection Compact Umbrella. If you’re looking to share with a friend, bigger definitely might be better, but you’ll sacrifice in portability. SunTek’s model weighs 1.8 pounds (compared to UV-Blocker’s 13 ounces) and has a 42-inch shaft (compared to UV-Blocker’s 21-inch shaft). It’s also designed to hold up to heavy winds, rain, and even sleet and snow. We recommend going with whatever option you think you’ll use more. We felt the convenient size of the UV-Blocker umbrella made it easy to use, which meant that no matter where we went, we didn’t sacrifice on protection.
Want to take a look at some other options? Check out our roundup of the best UV umbrellas.
Buy it and use it.
The astronaut silver might make you a little self-conscious at first, but the UV-Blocker UV Protection Compact Umbrella is a well-made, portable umbrella that keeps you safe from UVA, UVB, and the occasional surprise rain shower. The protection is well worth the price tag.
- Product Name UV Protection Compact Umbrella
- Product Brand UV-Blocker
- UPC 741360281141
- Price $44.95
- Weight 13 oz.
- Diameter 39 in.
- Length (folded) 11 in.
- Shaft Length 21 in.
- Handle Size 2.5 in.
- Material Solarteck™ fabric
- Warranty 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee