Trib Tested: Davek Mini and Traveler umbrellas

| Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 11:54 a.m.

The claim: Davek are super-strong, built to last and come in a beautiful range of colors. The new Davek Mini and the beloved Davek Traveler are super-compact, making for the perfect just-in-case umbrella that Mom can easily slip into her purse or even pants pocket. The 9-inch Traveler umbrella has a unique frame system and overall strength to give the umbrella an unconditional lifetime guarantee. The tiny 7-inch Mini umbrella features a solid-steel shaft and rustproof frame system, providing the best coverage possible.

Cost: $49 for the 7-inch Mini, $79 for the 9-inch Traveler


As someone who never leaves home without an umbrella in the bottom of her purse, I've become something of an expert on the subject. Most of the time, choosing one is like choosing a seat in the house of the three bears. Some are too small, some are too big and, only occasionally, do you find one that's just right. On first acquaintance, the Davek Mini had a lot going for it:

• Its compact dimensions make it a portable addition to the array of items I cart around on a daily basis.

• Its bright robin's-egg-blue color makes it a cheery, but not garish, accessory to brighten a grey day.

• The matching pouch provides the much-welcome cover necessary for stowing a wet umbrella without dampening the contents of my purse.

Unfortunately, those benefits were canceled out by considerable drawbacks. While a plus for storage, compactness meant this definitely was an umbrella for one. When two of us tried sharing it, there wasn't enough coverage for a pair of average-size adults.

Even worse, the mechanism for opening and collapsing the umbrella and extending its shaft was unreliable. Sometimes, the pole telescoped or retracted smoothly, sometimes, it balked. That's not a good thing when you're exiting your car into a downpour. The canopy ribs also tended to close without warning. Granted, when an unexpected cloudburst erupts, any umbrella is better than none. But there are better alternatives on the market.

-- Alice T. Carter

The Davek Mini scores points for being compact enough to fit into a glove box, purse or pocket. While most umbrellas can keep the rain off, few seem to have the durability to last more than a year or so without the fabric tearing away from the exoskeleton. In an ideal world, we could perform the ultimate stress test on the Davek Mini by using it every day of the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Instead, yours truly deployed the umbrella during a recent spring monsoon. I definitely was the president of the Republic of Dry. But the opening mechanism sticks a bit, and it takes some elbow grease to extend. In a downpour, every second counts. I'm not sure this is the way to spend $49.

-- William Loeffler

My assignment was to try out the slightly larger Davek Traveler umbrella. This beauty folds into a lightweight, 9-inch cylinder and still fits snugly in my overcrowded handbag. The best feature is its auto-open/auto-close button system -- an absolute wonder for those in-and-out-of-the-car maneuvers that usually leave me wetter than having had no umbrella at all.

The tight 190-thread-count microweave fabric keeps you dry, and its 40-inch coverage arc allows a friend -- a good friend -- to squeeze under. And, while it serves no purpose in function, the bright fuchsia pink -- my signature color! -- offered great cheer on a gray and rainy Pittsburgh day.

-- Sally Quinn

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