Best Patio Umbrella of 2021
The Bluu Cantilever Umbrella is hands-down our favorite patio umbrella. The stylish cantilever design is very appealing, but we like its practical attributes as well because it provides a wide area of uninterrupted shade when in use. Despite being a heavyweight design, the Bluu umbrella opens smoothly and easily. The 10-foot breadth of shade it offers provides a refreshing area to relax on a hot day.
Even though the cantilever-style umbrellas usually weigh more, moving them isn't really that much more difficult because the base dismantles into four parts instead of just one big piece. One downside to this model is that it got a bit wobbly in some moderate winds, but that's the only complaint we had with its performance. All told, this is a great choice for a patio shade, and we think it will hold up well if cared for properly.
Our top choice for a market-style umbrella is the Best Choice Products Solar LED Umbrella. It has an extra-large 10-foot shade and 40-degree side-to-side tilt, which is the most range of tilt out of all the umbrellas we tested, allowing you to keep the shade in the correct spot throughout the day as the sun moves. The umbrella ribs feature small LED lights running across them, creating a nice transition from daytime sun to evening patio ambiance lighting. It fits into our universal market base well, and the thicker pole means it doesn't wobble as much in moderate wind, despite not having a table to support it.
The LEDs add ambiance but not a ton of light, and we'd prefer them to be a bit brighter. Also, like all of the tilting market-style umbrellas, it tends to spin away from anything but the lightest wind unless you really crank down the knob on the base. The top vents seem a bit small to help much with wind resistance, but they might help prevent excess hot air from building up. Also, while we love the size of the umbrella, the top half of the pole isn't really proportional to the shade size, so when the shade is down, it covers the crank handle. Overall, though, we really like this umbrella for market-style shades. It works great with or without a table.
The Sunnyglade 9' Patio Umbrella is a solid, simple market-style shade meant to go into a post base and through a patio table. The tilt function, featured on several models of this umbrella style, is nice and tilts to a maximum of 35 degrees. The bell cap and blue and white fabric we chose give the Sunnyglade a fun beach vibe as well. Moreover, it's one of the least expensive options we tested — while still providing a ton of coverage.
We do think there are a few things that could be improved on this product, however. When retracted, the umbrella blocks the crank to raise it, which isn't ideal. The white parts of fabric block direct sunlight, but they do let through enough light that it's still nice to have sunglasses on underneath it, especially if we were reading. This can be remedied, though, by selecting a different color for the shade fabric. For an affordable patio umbrella, the Sunnyglade is a good, inexpensive option.
The Pure Garden Cantilever Hanging Shade is similar to the other offset cantilever umbrellas, but significantly more affordable. The setup is easy; the base pieces bolt to each other, and then the poles slide together. At 30 pounds, the Pure Garden umbrella is also a little lighter than the other two cantilever umbrellas, making it somewhat easier to move. With cross-base umbrellas, you can either weigh them down with specific umbrella bases or with sandbags if you're looking to go with the most affordable option.
Our one major gripe with the Pure Garden is that the collar doesn't slide smoothly up and down the pole. The weight of the umbrella arm ever so slightly warps it, so it is kind of jerky when sliding up and down. We noticed that this umbrella wobbles a bit more in the wind, as the top of the shade doesn't seat as nicely to the overhead arm as well as the other cantilevers. It is a nice patio shade, though, and we think it's an excellent option for those looking to add shade options on a budget.
The wikiwiki Offset Cantilever Umbrella just barely got beat out for one of the top spots. We really like how dark the shade is, as it doesn't reflect light from the ground in addition to blocking out the direct sun. We like the cantilever aesthetic quite a bit, and we think it looks good no matter where it is.
It only got beat out for the top spot because we don't find operating the umbrella to be as smooth as we expect for its price. It's a touch jerky when sliding it up or down to deploy the shade. The shade also wobbled a bit more than the highest-scoring umbrella in a breeze, which was not ideal, especially if you were at the edge of the shadow below. It's a fine option, however, and it performs well for most applications.
The Abba Patio Outdoor Umbrella is the smallest, simplest umbrella we tested. It doesn't have any adjustment beyond opening and closing the shade, but having fewer moving parts is traditionally a good thing from a durability standpoint. In fact, durability is where this shade shines. The ends of the umbrella are fastened to the ribs with grommets and screws rather than each rib fitting into a fabric pocket. This makes the fabric less likely to rip in a windstorm or for a rib to poke through if knocked over. We think that's a nifty design to make the umbrella a little more solid.
We do wish it was more adjustable, though. Because the shade is so small at seven and a half feet in diameter, more adjustability would help compensate for the smaller shade size. We could see this working well in a small space, like a townhouse backyard or an apartment balcony. It's efficiently sized and economically priced.
Of all the products we tested, we were least impressed by the UHINOOS Patio Umbrella, although we do like some of its qualities. It does tilt nicely, blocking early morning or late evening sun from blasting your patio seat. The fabric also gets pleasantly taut when fully raised, so it doesn't ruffle in the wind.
We found the durability to be lacking on the UHINOOS, though. The top cap easily cracked when we were setting it up on the ground before dropping it into the base. While this doesn't affect its functionality, we didn't have this issue with any of the other umbrellas, including those with solar panel caps. We also didn't love the white fabric, as it's still quite bright under the umbrella. We recommend considering a different color of fabric for darker shade. If you're looking for a patio umbrella, we think there are better options.
Why You Should Trust Us
For this review we turned to our expert home goods editor Ethan Newman. Ethan owns and operates three rental units and is always on the lookout for products that work and will last, both for himself and for his tenants. As each rental unit has a different backyard, he understands that every yard has unique needs, and each space might require a different type of shade to suit it best. He has a keen eye for evaluating products, especially when the devil is in the details.
We independently purchased all products in this review and came up with metrics to judge their quality as objectively as possible. We think there are four categories where an ideal patio umbrella should perform well: shade quality, ease of use, durability, and adjustability. We tested each model through both focused tests, like our "shake test," and deploying each model hundreds of times to assess durability, as well as dozens of hours of field use per umbrella. We measured the angle of tilt each model is capable of as well. We left these umbrellas out in the triple-digit heat to see how they weathered, as well as the accompanying monsoon rains, to see what works best when trying to enjoy our backyard spaces.
Analysis and Test Results
Although patio umbrellas seem fairly simple at first glance, small features and details can make a product great or leave much to be desired. We divided what we think a good patio shade should have into four categories. Read below for more details on how they all stacked up.
In some ways, this category is the most obvious. Patio umbrellas are all about shade. We rate these products not just on how much shade they provide but also the quality (i.e., darkness) of the shade created. Umbrellas with thicker, darker fabrics that blocked more light scored higher, as well as larger canopies.
Most of the products did really well in this category, but the cantilever style umbrellas, like the Pure Garden, wikiwiki, and Best Choice Products did especially well, as we were able to lower the shade be just above our head so that it not only blocked direct sunlight but some of the ambient light as well. We didn't love the umbrellas with white fabric, as they didn't block a ton of light, just the most direct sunlight. We recommend evaluating how much you care about the darkness of the shade when selecting the fabric color of your patio umbrella. Lighter colors, unless the fabric is very thick, tend to let more light pass through them.
Ease of Use
We think that products should be straightforward to assemble, move, deploy, and retract. Products that were easy to raise and lower scored high, as well as ones that were easier to put together out of the box. Umbrellas scored lower if they had poor instructions, didn't move well or smoothly, or didn't fit together well.
We found the Bluu umbrella to raise and lower really smoothly despite its weight. It's smoother than the other two cantilever umbrellas. Most of the market-style umbrellas are easy to assemble, far simpler than the cantilever-style models. The market-style umbrellas that stood out were ones that the raising crank wasn't hidden by the lowered shade fabric, like the Abba umbrella.
We wanted to test these products for durability, as they're designed to be left in the sun, shaken by the wind, and soaked by the rain. We tested this by raising and lowering each one fifty times in addition to our field testing. We also vigorously shook each one a hundred times to see what, if anything, rattled loose. We left them in the summer sun during a heatwave that bumped above 110°F, which only relented to make way for torrential rains — great for testing. They also each experienced wind up to 15 miles an hour, although we advise that you lower the canopies in anything beyond a light breeze.
Of all the patio umbrellas we tested, the Abba umbrella is the most durable, if partially because there are fewer parts to break on it. The fabric on the Abba is attached via grommets and screws rather than a rib fitting into a fabric pocket, which seems like a more durable attachment.
One thing we'd like to note is that a well-weighted base can make a real difference in the lifespan of your umbrella. None of these umbrellas come with weighted bases, so make sure you find the right base to fit your umbrella and that it's heavy enough to withstand your area's typical weather. We like bases that were either modular or able to easily fill with water, rather than sandbags or large concrete bases, which tend to be less attractive in an aesthetic sense.
Since patio umbrellas are typically stationary, either mounted through the middle of a table or positioned above the seating, you will ideally be able to adjust them with the angle of the sun. There are a number of designs we observed that attempt to approach this function, either a tilting arm or hinge within the pole, or simply being low enough overhead that it blocks out the sun during the hottest parts of the day. We measured the angle of adjustability with an electronic level phone app to compare the products objectively.
The most adjustable shades are the cantilever-style umbrellas, as they can rotate and tilt almost 90 degrees (although too vertical, and they become more of a wind sail), but they only do so in one direction. The Pure Garden, Wikiwiki, and Bluu are all adjustable on two planes, as they could tilt almost 90 degrees on a vertical plane and swing nearly 360 degrees around on a horizontal plane. As far as market-style umbrellas, the Best Choice Products tilted 40 degrees either way — five more degrees than the other tiltable umbrellas. The Abba was the only one that didn't have any adjustment, relying on its shorter stature to cover the area with shade.
Any time you're looking to enjoy your patio or backyard without roasting in the sun, the right patio umbrella can make all the difference. We hope you found our in-depth reviews and side-by-side comparisons, backed up by measurable metrics, helpful in finding the right shade for your outdoor spaces.
— Ethan Newman