Only a few things really matter with a travel umbrella - and they REALLY matter. (No, it's not the cute design).

It's all about coverage, durability, size, weight, and, for those of us who ambulate loaded down, a reliable auto-open mechanism and easy close. The new Blunt XS Metro umbrella is kind of the humvee of travel umbrellas, with a tough radial-tensioning system that keeps the 33-inch-diameter canopy from collapsing or flipping inside-out when challenged. Reinforced patching at the tips keeps them from poking through at pressure points, the nice big auto-on button is handily flush against the shaft, and the 2-stage collapse system is smooth and friendly. And the XS Metro is cute to boot - with wavy curves along the edge instead of sharp points. It comes in seven colors, from gumdrop blue, yellow or pink, to bold red, and - if you must - black. At a thickish 14 inches long when collapsed, and weighing 13 ounces, this isn't the sveltest model around, but it wasn't built for drizzles, and may more than earn its keep when the going gets wet.

- Judi Dash

   Blunt XS Metro umbrella is $49 at www.bluntusa.com.