Are Cantilever Patio Umbrellas Truly Better? We Tested This Affordable Option to Find Out

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bluu cantilever umbrella review universal
Rachel Bowie

An outdoor umbrella has but a single job: to provide shade where there is none. It’s easy to gravitate toward the most obvious of umbrella situations—a market or center pole umbrella. They’re intuitive to use and you know exactly where to place it (in the center of the table through a hole that’s been created just for this purpose). But if shade is your goal—as it was mine—a cantilever umbrella is the better choice. That’s why we scoured the market to find one of the best and most affordable: The Bluu Banyan Pro Offset Umbrella, which costs just $269.

First, What Is a Cantilever Umbrella?

A cantilever umbrella—in particular one that is offset, like the version we tested from Bluu—features a pole or arch that is off to the side or can be toggled to hang freely over the center of your patio furniture or dining table setup. On the flip side, a market umbrella’s pole is smack dab in the middle of the umbrella canopy, which can create an obstruction, depending on your outdoor setup.

How Do You Know if a Cantilever Umbrella Is Right for Your Space?

This comes down to the amount of shade you’re looking to provide, but also your outdoor space and furniture. In the case of my set-up—a 15-foot by 15-foot city backyard in Brooklyn—I was looking to replace an outdoor market umbrella that gave ample shade to our dining table, but no additional coverage from the sun.

Other more design-focused issues I was troubleshooting: I wanted more room to live, relax and play (in particular with my five-year-old) outdoors. A cantilever style let us easily re-position furniture to make room for a kiddie pool or switch back to the dining table without a lot of fuss.

I also think this choice of umbrella comes down to aesthetic. A cantilever style is large and has the potential to take up a lot of space, given the added room needed for a base and pole. (You also need vertical clearance to tilt it.) We had an obvious corner that made sense for this setup, but it’s something you’ll want to consider—or measure—before shelling out for one.

bluu cantilever umbrella review
Rachel Bowie

My Experience Testing the Bluu Banyan Pro Offset Umbrella

Before you even open the box, you’ll want to head to the hardware store. A cantilever umbrella—like all umbrellas—requires a weighted base (Bluu recommends this one), often filled with sand, water or a mix of the two. I chose sand, as reviewers said it tends to provide more stability. All in, the three 50-pound bags I needed cost about $15.

Setting up the umbrella from there was pretty simple with filling the base being the most time-consuming part. I followed a YouTube instructional and cut the top off a 2-gallon milk jug, inverting it to create a makeshift funnel that I could stick into the hole in the base, then pour in the sand. It worked! That part took about an hour, then I followed the instructions to set up the pole and tighten the bolts that keep the umbrella in place. (For reference, there were a couple of moments that required an extra set of hands and a bit of strength—mainly, lifting the umbrella and positioning it in the exact right place.) Post-sand, the rest of the setup took about 15 minutes.

Once in place, I found this style from Bluu very easy to operate. The ergonomic handle makes it easy to lock the umbrella position in place and the crank to open and close the umbrella rotates seamlessly—no elbow grease required. (There’s also a sticker included in the box that indicates the direction to open and close the umbrella, which is basic, but helpful.)

Other features worth calling out: The Velcro strap that wraps around the pole once the umbrella is open and helps keep the umbrella in place on windier days. Also, the canopy is fade and UV-resistant (it blocks 99.95 percent of harmful UV rays). In general, I also just love the look of it. This umbrella comes in five different colors, but I love the neutral and clean aesthetic. (I opted for beige.)

The Bottom Line

The end result is 10 feet of coverage. Without a center pole to obstruct it, that’s a lot of shade for outdoor fun. To dress up the space, I also swapped our dining table for this gorgeous outdoor set from Safavieh. It is comfortable, perfect for small spaces and intuitive to put together. (I also added an assortment of outdoor pillows from Homegoods—like this Tahari set—the best place to mix and match.) Now, all that’s left to do is invite people over for dinner alfresco.

Why You Should Trust Us

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, home, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within those verticals (for example, the Happy Kid Awards). She is also co-host of the Royally Obsessed podcast, recently named one of the best royal podcasts by The New York Times, and author of the book Royal Trivia: Your Guide to the Modern British Royal Family. She’s covered all things lifestyle for 10+ years.

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Rachel Bowie Headshot

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...