“ Brand: Fulton / Type: Umbrellas „
RAINING ON MY PARADE
Having lived in the UK for most of my life, you would have thought that, by now, I would have learned to carry an umbrella on my daily commute to the City. The propensity of rain in this damp country - even when the day starts out sunny - used to catch me short on a painfully frequent basis, yet this was not for want of trying. I have had many an umbrella, but most have invariably ended up in lost property somewhere, never to be reclaimed. In fact, I got to the point where I had settled for the inconvenience of occasionally getting wet rather than forking for yet another brolly.
Luckily, my wife is made of hardier stuff and, fed up of seeing me arrive home sneezing, spluttering and looking like a grumpy, waterlogged bear, invested in the evocatively named Fulton Typhoon No.1 compact umbrella. Presenting it to me as I left for work one cloudy morning, she sternly commanded me not to misplace it, as it had cost her a pretty penny and, apparently, the Queen would be most displeased. Anyone who has met my wife will know that annoying Her Majesty is infinitely preferable to displeasing Her Indoors, so the threat could not be ignored. For those puzzled by the reference to royalty, Fulton have a Royal Warrant as Umbrella Manufacturer to the Queen, so my new brolly appeared to have some impressive pedigree.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
The first thing of note is that the Fulton feels quite solid and substantial in its folded state. At just over eleven inches long and about three inches wide, this brolly is not going to fit in many purses or handbags. In fact, compared to others I have seen and used, I would call it a semi-compact, rather than "fully compact". It has substantial girth and robust construction, but is surprisingly light for its size.
The black fabric, edged in a graphite grey is high performance polyester, which is stretched over and firmly secured to each of the stress points on a very strong, wind-resistant frame. The canopy is large, and at 96cm, will easily cover most people, but obviously cannot compete for size against a full-sized golf umbrella and is not ideal for sharing. The tips of the eight double ribs are finished in a small, smooth ball shape (like a small ball bearing) which not only look good, but aren't going to hurt anyone should they be inadvertently get poked (unless its in the eye obviously - that could be painful). The handle is ergonomic, with a couple of indents on one side for the fingers, and a smooth, rubberised finish which makes it easy to grip, even when wet. A generous strap protrudes from a slot in the base of the handle for extra security in windy conditions.
The shaft is very firm and strong, even when fully extended - it's hard to believe it is made of three telescoping parts. The opening mechanism is smooth, gliding firmly into place with a satisfying click. It releases equally easily by simply pressing in a small hard plastic tab. The shaft is long enough to carry at a satisfying height (for me at least) with plenty of clearance from my hat or barnet. All in all, this is a very impressively designed and thoughtfully constructed bit of kit. It is polished off with a wide Fulton-branded Velcro strap to keep it secure in its folded state, and a tight fitting polyester cover which helps bundle it into a more compact shape, rather like a corset would with a ladies wobbly bits.
No matter how nice a brolly looks, its about as useful as a chocolate teapot if it doesn't do the business in the damp, wet and windy conditions that pass for Autumn, Winter, Spring (and dare I say, perhaps a bit of Summer) in these parts. Unfortunately, I have had several opportunities to test its credentials over the past couple of months and am happy to report it has performed admirably. There is no leakage through the polyester canopy, and despite use on several blustery days, the ribbing lived up to its marketing and never threatened to turn inside out. In fact, such is the strength of construction, I would heartily recommend ensuring the handle strap is secured around your wrist otherwise it may sail away. The downside is that if you are a lightweight, you may end up doing a passable impression of Mary Poppins.
Given it is used mainly on my daily commute, it also has to deal with a fair bit of buffeting from other umbrellas, whose owners are attempting to negotiate the same bit of pavement and avoid the same puddles as you are. So far, it has held up very well in encounters with larger rivals in both head-on and side-swipe collisions. After use, a few shakes usually gets rid of most of the excess water, and I have found it dries very quickly when left open indoors. The umbrella comes with a set of folding instructions, which I have found are best followed if you are to have any hope of getting it back into its cover. However, for me, the cover is just one more thing I am likely to lose, so I rarely use it.
RAIN OR SHINE?
I am very impressed, but for £17.95 (with free delivery on Amazon.co.uk) I would expect quality and durability for the money. I have never paid over a tenner for a brolly before, mainly because I wasn't prepared to lose more than that if it went missing, but then again, I haven't previously been attached to a bit of weather-beating kit quite like I have with the Fulton. This is a very well designed and strongly constructed brolly that is built for durability and practicality and offers unquestionable value for money. Most importantly, it gives me great confidence to know that her Majesty is unlikely to get wet anytime soon.
© Hishyeness 2010