Hands-on Gear Review

totes Auto Open Wooden Review

totes Auto Open Wooden
Top Pick Award
Price:  $20 List | $20.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Strong, excellent rain coverage, fun, stylish
Cons:  Large, unwieldy in high winds
Bottom line:  This is a fun umbrella, well made, and which provides excellent rain protection.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Canopy Diameter (inches):  42 in (not 48"!)
Depth of Canopy (inches):  11 in
Weight, measured, including sleeve (ounces):  19.68 oz
Manufacturer:   Totes

Our Verdict

The totes wins our Top Pick for Classic Design. It is not as versatile due to its large size, but it gains significant ground for its generous canopy and excellent rain protection, its durability, and its smooth and simple design that makes it easy and pleasant to use. We enjoyed the style, which reminded us of our charming grandfather. This review showed us that this classic design remains a timeless and functional umbrella style.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Rain Umbrellas of 2017


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Lyra Pierotti

Last Updated:
Sunday
May 28, 2017

Share:
Totes makes a number of fun and well-designed products that have pleased our reviewers in past (and present) reviews.

Performance Comparison


The totes umbrella impressed us on many fronts. It scored fourth in our review, with a score of 71 out of 100, barely falling behind the Lewis N Clark compact model.

It provided impressive protection from rain, and was a reliable go-to in our lineup.

The Auto Open Wooden umbrella kept us dry on our walks through town.
The Auto Open Wooden umbrella kept us dry on our walks through town.

Rain Protection


In our official OGL Rain Test, the totes earned the only perfect 10 in this review. It's deep and wide canopy protected us very well, with only a few rogue raindrops striking us at mid-thigh and mid-forearm: excellent performance relative to others in this review. And honestly, for single-person umbrellas, we couldn't expect much more coverage unless we wanted our umbrella to be a giant bubble, and that would make daily life terribly awkward.


Totes also equips their products with a NeverWet invisible coating that, they claim, repels water and keeps it 4x drier. We did find that this model was easy to shake off when we got in the car or went inside; however, most umbrellas are made of very slick canopy materials, so any advantage was minimally perceptible. Of more importance, we found that the lack of folds on straight-shaft models made them easier to shake dry and reduced folds and pockets which could hold water and drip on our car seat when we thoughtlessly tossed it in the car.

The Auto Open Wooden was easy and smooth to open and close.
The Auto Open Wooden was easy and smooth to open and close.

Rain protection was significantly improved with a fixed shaft design, so our runners up included the Swing Trek LiteFlex and Helinox Trekking, as well as the Glamore Creative Cars Reverse. But if fixed shaft won't cut it for you, check out the Lewis N Clark or the Sea to Summit Cordura Trekking.

Ease of Transport


The totes is the largest in this review, which knocked it down significantly in this category. However, what it lacks in ease of transport due to its large size, it makes up for with that handy handle. You can hook it over your arm to free your hands up to pay for your cup of coffee or browse through your favorite bookstore. It was also easy to hang on the back of a chair or banister for a quick hands-free moment. Warning: if toting around an umbrella is not in your normal scope of practice, it may be easy to hang it somewhere and walk off without it. If carrying an umbrella is part of your regular habit, however, you will be stoked toting this one around.


Some users found this product to be handy as a pseudo-cane, but with rumors of the shaft snapping, we didn't feel comfortable putting much weight on it. The metal tip, however, will hold up to periodic tapping on the ground as you walk with it or set it in a stand.

The hook handle made it easy to hang this model out of the way while we poured ourself a cup of coffee on these long  rainy days in the Pacific Northwet. (No  that was not a typo.)
The hook handle made it easy to hang this model out of the way while we poured ourself a cup of coffee on these long, rainy days in the Pacific Northwet. (No, that was not a typo.)

For a compact, collapsible product that was very closely rated in this review, check out the Lewis N Clark. The Lewis N Clark is so compact it is easy to throw in your bag for the day. But if you often carry your umbrella by hand, check out the handy shoulder slings included in the Swing Trek LiteFlex and the GustBuster Metro.

A side-by-side view of the products in this review  complete with a standard yard stick for reference. Compact umbrellas are on the left. From top left  reading like a book: Lewis N Clark  EEZ-Y  Sea to Summit  Blunt  Senz  and Gustbuster; fixed shaft on the right: Helinox  Swing Trek  Glamore  totes
A side-by-side view of the products in this review, complete with a standard yard stick for reference. Compact umbrellas are on the left. From top left, reading like a book: Lewis N Clark, EEZ-Y, Sea to Summit, Blunt, Senz, and Gustbuster; fixed shaft on the right: Helinox, Swing Trek, Glamore, totes

Durability


In our OGL Wind Test and daily use, the totes proved to be impressively durable. The fiberglass frame made it very strong in our tests, with ribs similar to our very strong Swing Trek LiteFlex Trekking and Helinox Trekking.


However, there are reports online of users breaking the wooden shaft. In our testing, we did discover that the handle will scuff relatively easily, and it revealed a much lighter color underneath. So, while this product has a nice wooden veneer, it is not a solid hardwood handle.

The Auto Open Wooden umbrella scuffed easily  revealing that the handle is indeed NOT a fine hardwood. But it sure is affordable!
The Auto Open Wooden umbrella scuffed easily, revealing that the handle is indeed NOT a fine hardwood. But it sure is affordable!

Totes includes a lifetime warranty with their products. There are extensive instructions online: while you don't have to mail the whole thing back, you do have to pay to ship the replacement. While we aren't detectives (even though carrying this umbrella around makes us feel like an undercover agent) we are suspicious that this shaft might indeed be known to snap… If it does, it seems easy to replace. The totes had an impressive resistance to inverting in the wind, and in our OGL Wind Test, we had to slow down out of fear it was just going to rip our tester out the window before it inverted. Mary Poppins would totally dig this umbrella.

The Auto Open Wooden umbrella was strong and durable in winds--and made us feel a bit like Mary Poppins.
The Auto Open Wooden umbrella was strong and durable in winds--and made us feel a bit like Mary Poppins.

The deploy button is powerful and responsive, much more than others in this review: it is fast, tight and smooth. It reliably deploys with the same power every time; most of the other automatic umbrellas would hiccup or hesitate, at some point in our testing, when we hit the button.

Ease of Use


When the winds kick up, we found this contender to be insanely strong. In our OGL Wind Test, we had to slow the vehicle down before the umbrella inverted, as our grip strength and body weight was becoming insufficient for the forces the canopy could handle. In fact, it nearly Mary Poppins'ed (that's the verb for flying with an umbrella) our testers out the car window at 30mph. Don't worry, we were wearing a seat belt.


Despite its large size, it was still easy to go hands-free, allowing us to manage this umbrella and still order a cup of coffee. It was surprisingly easy to hang or hook almost anywhere-- just be mindful that you don't leave it behind. The larger canopy diameter can make it hard to fit through narrow spaces when you have it deployed in the rain.

The Auto Open Wooden umbrella.
The Auto Open Wooden umbrella.

We really liked the automatic deploy feature. The button makes very satisfying "thunk" on opening. It collapses easily as it has no lock to release on the runner. Overall, the feel is similar to the Swing Trek LiteFlex Trekking and Helinox Trekking, except the totes has this auto deploy button.

Style


The totes umbrella has a classic and stylish design that garnered many compliments at the coffee shops and stores downtown. It deploys with grace and style, making us feel like we were straight out of the movie Kingsmen. If the totes' distinct style makes you feel too much like a grandpa, check out the more modern look of the Blunt XS Metro. Or better yet, hide your umbrella altogether until you actually need it, by getting a compact model like the Lewis N Clark Umbrella.


Best Applications


This is an excellent choice for the urban user who frequently walks through rainy weather. It is great for those who really appreciated broad coverage from the rain and don't mind a bulkier, bigger accessory to tote around when the rain stops.

Value


The major concern was how easy it would be to forget and leave behind since we couldn't stash it inside a backpack or hand bag when sitting down for lunch or taking a break indoors. However, while the totes looks like a more expensive umbrella, it is affordable enough you won't be heartbroken if you leave it at the bar or coffee shop.

Conclusion


The Auto Open Wooden umbrella makes a statement  wherever you go.
The Auto Open Wooden umbrella makes a statement, wherever you go.

The totes was a pleasant surprise for our reviewers. It looked like an outlier in this review, and we weren't sure how it would compare to the rugged designs of trekking umbrellas and the convenience of compact ones. Putting it through our rigorous tests, however, we became quite smitten with this product: it was strong, durable, handled very nicely, and looked classy.
Lyra Pierotti

You Might Also Like

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 28, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...