It’s winter, and many of our favorite trails have temporarily lost their leafy shade. Singletracks staff writers and contributors give the skinny on the newest shades available to keep your peepers protected and your vision clear in a variety of conditions.
What makes a great pair of sunglasses? Fit is one of the first features people look for when selecting sunglasses. A fit that matches your face shape and more importantly, is compatible with your helmet, is key when considering the perfect pair of glasses. Optical clarity is another important feature. Can you actually see the trail and changes in terrain when you ride as sweat builds up and light conditions change? Hopefully, otherwise there’s no point in wearing sunglasses. One feature that may go overlooked is style. Let’s be honest, there’s a certain amount of vanity involved in sunglasses selection. You need a style that is compatible with your heart; something that makes you excited to wear sunglasses and something that gives off the correct “vibe” for your adventures. Vibe check!
All of the eyewear we tested is designed with active performance in mind, though some look more performance-oriented than others. In the style column below, the lifestyle label denotes sunglasses with a more casual look.
|Bollé Chronoshield Volt+||$170-240||Performance|
|Tifosi Sledge Lite||$70||Performance|
Bollé Chronoshield Volt+ Polarized Sunglasses
Bollé recently resurrected one of its most iconic eyewear shapes of the past; the Chronoshield. The original Chronoshield sunglasses were created in 1986, capturing the hearts of neon lovers everywhere, with bright colors and an oversized lens inspired by Bollé’s Chrono ski goggles.
My first thought upon handling the Chronoshields extra large protective case was “holy hell, exactly how big are these”? Upon opening the case, I actually laughed out loud at the size. Truly, they look like ski goggles without a strap. It’s not a bad look per se, in fact it’s rather unique among the large glasses of today. However, enormous goggle-glasses aren’t the sort of thing that tend to fit petite faces like mine in a flattering way. After a few moments of contemplation, I slipped the glasses on; “confirmed, these are rather huge.”
You may have noticed the trend toward larger eyewear over the last few years. Countless brands are cranking out windshield-sized face protection and Bollé is no exception. However, unlike some companies, *cough* Pit Viper *cough*, Bollé has been and continues to be focused on producing high-quality eyewear with lenses that provide 100% UV protection and crystal clear optics on every ride. There are several types of lenses to choose from, the technology of which increases the price incrementally. This particular pair came with the top-of-the-line Volt+ Polarized Lens.
The Volt+ lenses are claimed to enable the wearer to see colors never perceived before while maintaining a natural white point. Bollé also says the lens offers increased depth perception, high-performance polarization, and 16% light transmission. As a bonus, the lens is coated with a proprietary anti-fog layer and lens vents, that quickly clear moisture. Frankly speaking, the lens is the star of the show; allowing you to see things in ways you’ve never seen before.
The Chronoshield frame is constructed using lightweight durable nylon, measuring 147mm across and 65mm vertically. The temples measure 118mm, the ends of which are finished with malleable Thermogrip rubber that can be bent to any head shape, keeping the glasses locked into position. Warning: not slippery when wet. In fact quite the opposite they stick better when wet. The self-adjusting nose piece features the same grippy rubber, and despite my best efforts, I could not sweat these off my nose.
The Chronoshield has the widest and deepest field of vision I have experienced outside a snow goggle, offering complete eye protection from wind, dust, rain, and rogue pebbles. As an homage to the original, a removable foam padded brow bar sits atop the frame amplifying the goggle feel. This feature is useful for sweat absorption and for shielding overhead sunlight when the helmet is removed. One downside is that it increases the height of the frame, interfering with some low-set helmets.
I can’t claim that you won’t look “extra” in these oversized, google-esque glasses, but I can say your face will be shielded and you won’t be disappointed with the lens quality. Yes, the size of the Chronoshield will prove to be overwhelming for some faces, however, the styling and features of these behemoths really up the ante in modern eyewear.
The price point of the Chronoshield sunglasses is hefty, retailing somewhere between $170 and a whopping $240, depending on lens selection. However, if you want sunglasses with perfect optical clarity that scream “look at my face!” then price be damned, get down with your bad self.
The 100% Eastcrafts are 100% new this year. The Eastcraft’s shaded lens is a single piece, cyclops-style shield that stretches across the face, but the glasses also include two clear lenses. These replace the single-piece lens and leave an open channel of wind above the nose bridge.
“If sunglasses need an instruction manual, they’re too complicated,” I grumbled when I first examined the Eastcrafts and the accompanying pamphlet. The glasses come with a tool shaped specially for a clamp that swings from above the nose bridge and secures the lens into place. In typical 100% fashion, the packaging around the glasses is obnoxiously big, similar to Beats headphones or a new Apple product, though even Apple has slimmed down the amount of crap that comes with a new iPhone.
With the box in the recycling bin and the foam filler in the waste bin (grr) the Eastcrafts have become my new favorite pair of riding glasses. They are light, comfortable, and like any good pair of glasses, they feel like they’re barely there. The lens swap can be done with a fingernail, sans tool and pamphlet, in just a minute or so. It does seem a little odd that the included clear lenses aren’t a single piece too, but not a big deal.
The Eastcrafts sit on the aggressive end of eyewear, like most of the brand’s glasses and they are also pretty pricey, but fit and feel great. MSRP: $195 – $225 depending on color and lens.
100% Eastcraft glasses can be found at Performance Bike.
Nathan Sunrise polarized glasses
These glasses from Nathan are straight to the point with the model name Sunrise Polarized Running Glasses, though they can obviously be worn for anything. Many riders I know, especially greener riders, aren’t into the racey, cyborg look and gravitate toward something more casual like these Nathans.
These polarized glasses are made from polycarbonate and offer 100% UV protection and are said to reduce glare. The inside of the temple’s ends are rubberized and the frame has a “soft feel.” The frame is also prescription lens compatible.
The Nathan glasses seem wide but fit my narrow face rather well. They are light and feel every bit as durable as some of the more expensive glasses in this review. The rubberized temples keep them where they are supposed to stay, but I wouldn’t mind a bit of rubber on the nose piece. An area where wider, single-piece lenses have an advantage sometimes over these types of casual glasses is on their peripherals, where the frame might intersect with a rider’s field of vision. The Nathans have a bit of that, but they don’t create a major blind spot or anything.
Perhaps the best thing about these easy-going athletic glasses is the price tag. MSRP: $50.
Nathan Polarized Sunglasses can be found at Nathan Sports.
At first glance the Roka Evans sunglasses look like another pair of swanky lifestyle shades with geometric frames and matte metal arms. But with Roka’s “no-slip” fit these glasses are designed to stay put on different face sizes and through all your most active and sweaty pursuits. Having a smallish face with a low nose bridge, most of today’s sunglasses made for mountain biking slide off my face immediately or sit awkwardly on my cheeks.
The frames and lenses of the Evans are on the smaller side and fit my face proportionally. These shades actually do stay put during normal wear, however upon removal, 98% of the time one of the arms gets caught in my hair, tugging strands out of my ponytail or down-do.
The polarized lenses offer crisp and clear optics and have anti-scratch, anti-reflective, anti-fog coatings, hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings. The coverage is just right for everyday wear, particularly for smaller faces. Roka Evans sunglasses are priced at $205 to $225 for standard color options (matte black, tortoise, and clear).
Custom frame and lens combinations or prescription lenses are also available through the Roka website.
Tifosi does a great job offering quality, mountain bike specific sunglasses at a decent price and Kilos are no different. The Kilos have a Grilamid frame that keeps them lightweight and durable, along with a rubberized and adjustable nose-piece and temples for a personalized fit.
Tifosi says that these lenses are shatterproof and scratch-resistant and they have two vents each along the outer edges. The Kilos haven’t sustained any serious scratches during testing, yet. They also came with a case and a set of clear lenses for night riding.
The Kilos are made for medium to large faces, according to the brand, and that seems accurate. The point where the temples meet the lenses is fairly wide from eye to eye, but if you’ve got a medium-ish face, they should fit and feel fine. The Kilos feel like an approachable pair of sporty singletrack shade, and the price tag is approachable too. MSRP: $70
Tifosi Kilo sunglasses can be found at Amazon.
Tifosi Sledge Lite
Despite the model name and implied “Lite” adjective, the Sledge Lites have a presence about them. Compared to the full Sledges, the Lites subtract the bottom portion of the frame for a lighter look and Tifosi says that the Lites “take all the performance of Sledge and packs it into a streamlined, lighter design.” The Sledge Lite is still an athletic, goggle-like pair of shades.
The Sledge Lites have adjustable temples and nose piece, a Grilamid frame, keeping it light and durable, and swappable lenses. We’ve put a season of use on the glasses and they are still in great shape and remained scratch-free. The blue lenses seem to add a reddish tint when looking through them and reduce highlights on well-lit objects.
The fit spectrum on the Sledge Lites is even wider than the Kilos, and they are recommended for medium to extra large faces. On the top of the lens are four vents, and there is a vent on both sides of the glasses where the temples meet the lens and they bring in enough airflow to mitigate sweat build up around the eyes. MSRP: $70.