G4Free Golf Umbrella Review
Cons: Heavy, not as easy to transport
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The G4Free Golf Umbrella is made with polyester 210T pongee fabric, fiberglass, a foam handle, and has two velcro closures when it's time to pack it up. In addition, it comes with a unique sleeve with a sling to carry this rather large model. Features include an auto-open button and wind vents in the canopy, but the main perk and highlight of this model is its ability to more comfortably fit two people underneath (as compared to the other standard options).
Ranking high in this metric, the more expansive canopy of the G4Free offers greater overall rain protection. The diameter measures 52 inches, which is quite generous. The depth measures approximately 12 inches, and the arc length ranges from 56 to 60.5 inches. The octagonal shape is undoubtedly spacious because of these design aspects. Due to its depth and width, we could hide much more of ourselves beneath the canopy. Even if we tilted the umbrella back to rest the shaft against a shoulder, we weren't compromising rain protection in the same way that can happen with smaller and shallower models.
This model prioritizes size and, therefore, coverage, which occupies a unique niche in the umbrella market. As there are to-be-expected drawbacks to its enormity, it serves well as an option for those wanting to share the canopy space with another. Granted, using an umbrella to shield oneself from the rain isn't perfect, no matter the size, shape, or clever design attributes. Two people can certainly squeeze beneath a standard model, but this one offers a more relaxed alternative. Too, as wind vents become more common, we appreciate this added feature to allow for more reliable use and steadiness in the wind.
Ease of Transport
Unfortunately, due to its sheer size and weight, this is the metric the G4Free suffers in the most. Weighing in at 24.6 ounces (1.54 pounds), this is the heaviest umbrella we've recently tested. And, since it is of fixed length, this model measures 39.75 inches from end to end, even when packed. When the canopy is open, the length is about 40 inches in total, not to mention the diameter being an impressive 52 inches. Bottom line, there's a lot of umbrella to move around.
The design does not include a crook handle and instead has a straight foam-based handle that is 7 inches in length. It's hard to say whether a crook would have been easier to hold or not, especially since the structure seems well balanced. Of course, after longer periods of time, holding the umbrella up gets tiring, but since the shaft is so long (30.75 inches in total), we can easily rest it against a shoulder, diminishing arm fatigue. The biggest drawback is its lack of convenience for stowing. When packed, we appreciate the added sling to the sleeve to aid in carrying it, but stashing it in the car isn't as easy and finding an adequate bag for it is just impossible. Not having a crook handle means you can't easily hook it onto your arm while you walk, and you can't hang it by its handle at the coffee shop, but, again, if you put it back in its sleeve, you can at least hang it by its sling.
The fiberglass shaft of the G4Free is relatively thick, which certainly instills confidence in us. The overall construction seems well done, and nothing ever rattled or felt like it would snap from casual, general use. During our wind test, the canopy inverted at 20 mph, which is actually better than most umbrellas. With the canopy pointed directly into the wind, it collapsed at around 40 mph, which is also rather impressive. The structure didn't suffer any damages, either.
We can foresee a hazard in that this umbrella is simply so large, and if left on the floor near a high-traffic area, one might accidentally step on it. On another note, there was a day where we noticed one of the ribs had come out of the end cap. The cap itself is sewn to the canopy, and if you stretch the canopy away from one of the ribs, then the cap can easily be pulled off, exposing the rib. So, when we noticed that one of the ribs was sticking out beyond the canopy, it was an easy fix to place the cap back on, but we wonder why these caps aren't glued or attached in a more permanent manner. If this were to keep happening, and so easily, then we think this could compromise the integrity of long-term durability, its functionality, and, of course, its desire to be used by anyone.
Ease of Use
We find this model to be fairly middle of the road when it comes to this metric. Since it's so large, convenience is diminished when compared to the quick and convenient compact models. But it does have an auto-open feature, which is quickly utilized with the press of a plastic button. Manually closing it up is also smooth and easy to do — much easier than many of the auto-close competitors since those designs require a lot more tension for their spring-loading mechanics (which can require a bit of muscle to collapse). So we appreciate the simple runner of the G4Free.
During our repeated open/close test, we noticed that our thumbs often caught the plastic edge surrounding the button due to it being quite large. When you have a smaller button, your entire thumb doesn't depress with it, preventing your thumb from scraping or catching on any edges. This is a rather subtle and nuanced critique, but it is nonetheless something we noticed happening. Overall, the more minimalistic yet large design has some pros and cons, yielding a product that isn't difficult to use but is also rather far from the top competitors in the group. In regards to sun protection, we also feel that the fabric could have been a little more opaque.
We've noticed that black painted shafts and stretchers are really popular these days, and we agree that the color is often associated with modern and chic fashion trends. Certainly more so than exposed metal or raw-looking materials. The canopy color we tested was a very unassuming forest green, which is a color that never really goes out of style. It's easy to coordinate with, if that's your thing, and more versatile across various settings, from the more professional to the casual.
The G4Free doesn't feel as stylish as many of the other, more compact designs in our testing group. We think it is on the more modest, antique-inspired end of the spectrum, and it is definitely noticeable due to its sheer size. At the time of this review, there were quite a few other colors and patterns that this model came in, some darker and some brighter.
Made in China, this model is of relative value. For the amount and quality of umbrella you're getting, the price seems both fair and affordable. There are higher quality models out there, but we appreciate the low-commitment cost and high rain protection.
In the end, the G4Free Golf Umbrella is most notable for its size, especially if you're looking for a standard quality umbrella that can cover two people. While not the fanciest or easiest to transport, it certainly kept us dry when needed and in the shade when it was sunny.
— Sara Aranda
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