Umbrellas have been around for thousands of years but, aside from the introduction of the collapsible umbrella in 1935, their design has remained largely unchanged - despite the well known design flaws that see them flip inside out in strong winds or threaten to take out an eye with their pointy rib tips. It was this threat to his eyeballs as he negotiated busy London streets in wet weather that set 1.9 m tall New Zealand designer Greig Brebner on a mission to design a better umbrella – a goal he believes he has achieved with the Blunt Umbrella.

The most obvious change implemented in the Blunt Umbrella is the new shape of the canopy that eliminates the sharp spikes at the outer edges. These sharp tips are replaced with “Blunt Tips” that, as well as being safer, also spread the force at the edge of the canopy to eliminate one of the most common failure points of traditional umbrellas, which involves the tearing of the canopy from the rib point.

According to the company, spreading the force along the outer edge of the canopy where the surface area is highest also creates superior tension while providing an aerodynamic and rigid profile which maximizes the performance of the umbrella in windy conditions. Further enhancing the stability of the Blunt design are secondary struts that support the fiberglass telescopic ribs to assist in anchoring the canopy to the frame.

Other innovations include double struts and a push pull runner that are designed to ease the opening and closing of the umbrella. Floating ribs that are detached from the umbrella shaft itself transmit the force received from the double struts outwards towards the canopy edge.

All of these improvements combine to provide what Blunt calls its Radial Tensioning System (RTS) that redirects, transfers and distributes the user’s effort when opening the umbrella throughout the entire canopy surface and creates a superior tension at the canopy edge, giving it unparalleled handling in extreme wind conditions.

The company says that umbrellas using Blunt Technology were tested by a Chinese manufacturer of quality, high-end umbrellas and immediately set a new performance benchmark. The Blunt Technology Umbrella performed and functioned in winds at Force 12 (117 km/h or 72.7mph) - the maximum setting of the wind tunnel - which far exceeds existing umbrella design performance.

The Blunt Umbrella is available in black, grey and blue, and in Standard, Golf and XL sizes. The Standard size is priced at NZ$98.90 (approx. US$71 at time of publication), while the Golf and XL sizes are both NZ$109.95 (approx. US$79) - so you will want to make extra sure you don't leave yours in a bus or taxi.

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