With longer and brighter trail days upon us, eye protection becomes critical. However, many of us would like to keep our fashion game strong as well. We’ve tested an assortment of styles and price points to provide you with plenty of options for looking good while providing maximal protection.
Goodr Beelzebub’s Bourbon Burpees
It’s almost impossible to start a running glasses review without including Goodr, a company that disrupted the premium sunglasses market by offering fashionable, quality models at convenience store prices. They’re also a company with no shortage of flair, as evidenced by the abundance of flamingos, alcohol-infused punnery and crazy product color schemes all over their website. Beelzebub’s Bourbon Burpees (see?) are a larger frame version of the OG (Original Goodrs) Whiskey Shots with Satan model, designed for larger heads or those who want more coverage. The lightweight frames have a Wayfarer style constructed from lightweight plastic with non-slip material at the temples and bridge of the nose. Considering the price point, there’s an amazing amount of lens technology packed into these glasses: the mirrored lenses are glare-reducing and fully polarized, provide 100% UVA and UVB protection, have a reflective color finish, and scratch resistant layers on both sides. Each Goodr model has a specific frame color and lens color, but the larger frame style (called BFGs, for Big F-ing Goodrs) is available in six color options on the Goodr website at www.goodr.com.
CAMP Trail Sunglasses
Portland-based CAMP Eyewear is a new brand offering another option for affordable polarized shades. As the name implies, the company’s aesthetic evokes relaxing in the outdoors; their glasses even come in a zip-down sleeping bag pouch. All CAMP frames are crafted with a plant-based bioplastic, a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based plastics, and all of the lens options are TAC polarized. These lenses have great visual clarity, 100% UV blocking and hard coating to resist scratching and impact. Spring hinges accommodate different facial sizes, and adjustable temple tips help customize the fit, but the smooth bridge got slippery when sweaty during our testing. One convenient feature is the inclusion of a glasses leash with each pair. The most distinctive design element of the “Trail” model is the genuine wood inlays on the arms, which gives it a distinctive and somewhat retro look that is equally suitable for beach environments as well as trail settings. CAMP glasses are available at www.shwoodshop.com.
100% is a San Diego-based company with roots in motocross sports, that debuted their first run-specific eyewear collection in collaboration with ultrarunners Pau Capell, Fernanda Maciel and Judith Wyder, all of whom assisted in the design and development of their lineup featuring models that are handcrafted to be lightweight, flexible and durable for endurance sports. The Kasia model adds the word “fashionable” to that list, combining classic aviator styling with 6-base curvature in a sleek frame that sits almost imperceptibly on your face, along with grippy rubber at the temples and bridge to hold their position with activity. Large lenses provide a generous amount of coverage without being obnoxious, and the option we tested uses PeakPolar technology. This is an optimization level of 55% that reduces bright sunlight glare and reflections like normal polarized lenses, but still allows enough visibility to read phone screens or watch displays easily. The other lens options use HiPER color enhancement to create greater contrast in colors and shading for technical terrain. All 100% lenses have scratch resistance, as well as hydrophobic and oleophobic treatments to prevent fingerprint smudging, and to help water and dirt roll off the lenses. The Kasia is available at www.100percent.com.
The only female-specific model in our review is also the top choice among our female testers for combining fashion and performance. Zeal earns bonus points for their extensive utilization of plant-based products and renewable resources. The Magnolia has a cat eye frame with smooth curvature and a very lightweight frame for the amount of coverage they provide. Despite their lightweight look and feel, these glasses are also impressively durable, surviving branch scrapes, accidental knocks to the ground and getting stuffed in and out of pockets without damage. The frames are constructed from Z-resin derived from the castor plant and have a nice balance of stiffness and flexibility. They stay very secure with all mobility, thanks to the fit of the frames as well as rubber inlays at the temples and bridge. Ellume bio-plastic lenses use a plant-based polymer rather than petroleum-based materials, resulting in higher visual purity, and they are polarized to eliminate harmful light while enhancing contrast to make colors more vivid and depth perception more pronounced. Each of the lens options has a different Visible Light Transmission (VLT) percentage ranging from 9% to 25%, and the Magnolia is available in a prescription version like many Zeal models at www.zealoptics.com.
In a similar manner to the Magnolia, this unisex model from Zeal uses similar plant-based Z-resin construction for its frames, which are wide enough to provide moderate wrap-around coverage, with a gentle similar curvature for a sleek profile. The key difference is the use of Auto Sun lenses that are both polarized and photochromatic, which is an extremely rare combination to accomplish. You get all the protection of fully polarized lenses when running in exposed conditions, with the added performance advantage of photochromic lenses when you’re going into tree cover. The lenses have a range of light transmission from 15-28%, which doesn’t sound particularly large, but in our testing, the lenses are clear enough to wear inside and dark enough to offset high-ridgeline sun exposure. The rate of change in the photochromic lenses is a little bit slow, but otherwise these lenses are an excellent option for all-day outings when you know light conditions will be changing frequently. They also make excellent driving glasses. The Zeal Manitou is available at www.zealoptics.com.
ROKA is one of the premier names in performance eyewear for swimming, cycling and running, so it’s no shock that they’re hugely popular among triathletes. The Austin-based company has a number of styles that combine that city’s casual cool vibes with the performance needs of serious athletes, and they look just as natural in the mountains as they do at an Ironman. Case in point is the Kona, named after the mecca of endurance triathlon, which simultaneously has a classic retro style that you can wear directly from the trail to pub night. Lightweight, nylon lenses have a minimal feel on your head, but have a very high strength-to-weight ratio for durability. The cutout notch above the bridge of the nose provides increased air flow, and Geko pads on the nose and temples get more grippy when they are wet. Hidden-spring hinges allow a secure fit for a variety of head sizes along with a bit of shock absorption in the event of direct impact. Polarized nylon C3 lenses also have impact resistance along with anti-scratch, anti-fog, anti-reflective, hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings – basically, any protection you can ask for. Visual clarity is extremely sharp in the dark carbon lenses we tested, which are ideal for bright sun conditions. Two of the three lens options on this model are polarized, and the third has a gold mirrored tint for improved contrast. Kona glasses are available at www.roka.com.
Smith Optics Shift MAG
If you want to look like speed personified, you can’t do much better than the Shift MAG. The MAG is short for “magnet,” as every pair comes with two interchangeable lenses that are attached magnetically. They are easy to swap in and out with a simple click, but stay locked down once in place. The magnet system is built directly into the frame, so you can change lenses without getting fingerprints on them. The Shift MAG features a full windshield lens and every pair comes with two interchangeable lenses: one clear lens for running in low light, and the primary lens which has either photochromic technology (the version we tested) or Smith’s outstanding ChromaPop lens that enhances color and acuity. Unlike many other glasses in this review, any Shift MAG frame option can be combined with any lens option. The frames have a 5-base angle that is slightly less curved than most wrapping shades, and the frame itself is very slim, with a vented brow bar to promote airflow and minimize fogging. A multi-adjustable nose piece allows for added airflow by positioning the frame closer or further from the face, while also offering a customizable fit that stays in place. The Smith Optics Shift MAG is available at www.smithoptics.com.
|Weight (g)||Single lens height
x width (mm)
|Frame Options||Lens Options||Total Frame Width (mm)||Special Features||MSRP|
|Goodr Beelzebub’s Bourbon Burpees||25||47 x 56||1||1||146||Mirrored glare-reducing polarized lenses||$35|
|CAMP Trail||35||43 x 53||4||3||140||TAC polarized lenses||$79|
|100% Kasia||20||45 x 57||4||4 (lens determined by frame)||145||PeakPolar optimized polarization lenses||$150|
|Zeal Magnolia||23||47 x 58||5||4 (lens determined by frame)||155||Fully plant-based frames and polarized lenses||$149|
|Zeal Manitou||23||45 x 61||3||1||170||Auto Sun polarized + photochromic lenses||$229|
|ROKA Kona||24||43 x 55||3||3 (lens determined by frame)||145||Lightweight nylon frames and lenses with extensive protection||$210|
|Smith Optics Shift MAG||25||145 x 55 (windshield style)||4||4||155||Customized lens and frame combinations||$259|