Living on the Road

Knirps X1 Umbrella


Ultracompact rain shield

I live in London, which is pretty rainy, and so the Knirps X1 ($40) I’ve had for many years has seen plenty of use. It’s both highly durable and extremely compact: it folds down to the size of a two D-cell Maglite (about 6 ½ inches). Folded, it’s much smaller than the GoLite umbrella previously reviewed on Cool Tools, which is 25.5 inches long and doesn’t collapse. The Knirps is just a few grams heavier, and its coverage radius (37 inches) is 16 inches wider than the GoLite’s.

It’s an excellent compact umbrella, but the trade-off for its extreme portability is a too-small handle. The minimal size of the X1 leaves little room for a proper handle, and therefore the design incorporates a shallow cup into which the canopy tips slot when the umbrella is folded. The cup is about an inch and a half in diameter — too small and shallow to offer much purchase in windy weather.

This makes using the wrist-loop (which, to its credit, is strong and firmly attached to the cup) a must. I hold the cup low in my hand and grip the tube above it like a golf club — thumb pressed on the tube, with the first two fingers wrapped around it. This isn’t so comfortable for prolonged use, but it’s enough to hold the umbrella steady in gusty weather, although not steady enough to stop it being blown about a bit.

-- Rex Kipper 11/12/18

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2009 — editors)