Friday, April 6th, 2012
Eyewear Review for the Serious Outdoorsman III
This review marks our third installment of style meeting function with eyewear geared for the Outdoors. For this round of Optics testing, we tried out 3 brands of sunglasses. Our testing consisted of performing the varied outdoor activities of ice fishing, clear cutting with chainsaws, training for our annual “warrior dash”, shooting trap, skiing, freshwater fishing, stand hanging, scouting, shed hunting, riding ATV’s, and all-around general purpose wear. Although all of these brands held up well to our abuse, we did have a favorite. Keep reading to find out which one and be sure to click on the photos of the glasses to visit the manufacturer’s website!
We discovered Zeal Optics late in 2011 and we think they are sure to become a major player in the Sunglasses industry. Let me state first and foremost that we liked each of the brands we tested in this review. All had qualities of updated styling and functioned well in our activities. The Zeal brand however, rose to the top as having all the qualities we look for in sunglasses. They are sharp looking, the clarity is amazing, they offer many styles to choose from, their website is extremely informative on the models they offer and the level of protection is above the standard ANSI rating. Everything about these glasses screamed “Perfect”! when we put them on our face. We really liked the array of styles that Zeal has to offer so they are receiving our highest rating for this review!
Z resin process: The entire line of Zeal sunglasses are made from castor beans instead of the normal crude oil plastic process. If you’re into “going green”, these bio-based sunglasses are for you!
Hyperion Lenses: Zeal has achieved the perfect blend between ballistics grade protection and crystal clarity in there lenses. Not only do these lenses go above the ANSI standards in protection, they also protect your eyes from 4 types of harmful light rays. The optical clarity was superior in the Zeal Brand for sure!
Fit: We’ve tried many brands of sunglasses over the years and we knew immediately that we would like the Zeal brand by just putting them on. The Fit is outstanding, even adjustable with the “My Fit Nosebridge” available on some models. The pads on the nosebridge rotate 180 degrees to the right and left, but also shift up and down for a custom fit. This feature creates what we would describe as a “perfect, non-slip” fit, even during strenuous activity. Each pair of Zeal optics that we tried (even without the My Fit nosepiece) fit our face snug but not too snug and rested on the correct facial structures (ie; bridge of the nose rather than the high-points of the cheek). The Zeal website (www.zealoptics.com) does a great job of characterizing each pair of sunglasses with a sizing description of ”Small”, “Medium” or “Large” so you know what size face they typically fit well. Zeal Optics is simply the best fitting sunglasses that we’ve tried to date and we’re glad we found them!
One-Lens Technology: The Zeal lenses also allow for the proper amount of shading with various intensity of light. That means that you can wear your Zeal sunglasses in most lighting situations without feeling like you need to take them off to see in lower light.
Price: The price of the Zeal optics are comparable to the top brands on the market. The models we tested range from $79 – $139. For the features and fit of these models, we feel the price is appropriate.
Models we tested:
Essential -pictured top left and far right-($99): Great name for these shades and one of our favorite styles! A throwback to the wayfarer style glasses, these updated shades look good in just about any situation. The strategically placed “Proflex” rubber on the inside of the frame create a great fit and keep these glasses from slipping during serious horseplay!
Equinox -pictured lower right-($139): Move over Oakley! These ultra-lightweight shades are perfect for the athlete and everyday situations. With the “My Fit Nosebridge”, these glasses sit perfectly on our face and offer the perfect blend of style, ventilation and performance.
Insomnia -pictured lower left-($139): These shades are more “Badass” and seem to give you an instant attitude adjustment when you slip them on! Once again, the Proflex rubber on the frame of the Insomnia is placed perfectly for fit and performance.
Zeta -pictured at top-($139): One more reason why we like Zeal Optics! They offered to send us a woman’s pair of glasses so we took them up on it and we’re glad we did. We actually had a hard time getting these back from our wives once we started the testing. Ultra lightweight, extremely comfortable and a contemporary style were the repetitive phrasing we received on this pair from the…..well….we’ll call them “The women of Heritage Hunters”!
“Tifosi” is Italian for “super-fan” or “enthusiast” and this brand of optics caters to sports minded people who have a passion for their activity of choice (hmmm….sounds like us!). Overall, this brand blends a sporty fashion look with high tech features. We took a hard look at the Logic and Core models in this review.
Frame: We felt that the Frame on these two models was the most impressive feature. Not only do these glasses have a high bending strength (without losing their shape) the hydrophilic rubber at strategic points on the frame did a great job of holding the glasses in place during strenuous activity. Because these glasses are developed specifically for outdoor related activities, they are structured to stay in place with movement and sweat. They did a great job of doing just that.
Lenses: Tifosi offers a wide variety of lenses. Not only do they offer a wide array of colors in the lenses, they offer lenses that change tint with changing lighting conditions. We found this especially true on the Logic model.
Models we tested:
Core Model -pictured on right-($69.95): These glasses have 3 things going for them. They are 1.Fairly indestructible, 2. Look very stylish and 3. Fit our faces very well with the strategically placed hydrophilic rubber on the frame. The ear pieces are adjustable for a customizable fit as well. Although we only tested one other model in the Tifosi line-up, It’s hard to go wrong with the Core model for looks and fit.
Logic Model -pictured on left- ($59.95): Initially these lenses come off as a “safety glass” look with a clear lens but after stepping outside, the amplification of sunlight causes the lenses to darken creating just the right amount of tint with no loss in clarity. The Logic models would be great for activities that require a lot of inside/outside work. Carpenter perhaps? The Logic model has the same type of non-slip fit as the Core model and worked extremely well in a variety of light conditions.
The Gargoyles brand of eyewear has been around for a while and has a reputation for being a “Function First” brand that views sunglasses more as GEAR than a FASHION statement. Somehow they’ve managed to combine technology (with their Toric Curve shatter-resistant lens) with some degree of styling because their glasses still look Badass! They have received many positive testimonials on their website from Military personnel so we do not doubt the effectiveness of their lenses! The review on these would boil down to how they fit our face.
Lens: Read about Gargoyles Toric Curve lens technology here –> http://www.gargoyleseyewear.com/technology.html
Style: All of the styles offered by Gargoyles (In 4 different collections) are definitely Badass and down right intimidating when you put them on. They ALL look cool! Need I say more?
We tested two models from the Instinct Collection: The Balance and Contact (both with 100% UV protection)
Balance -pictured at bottom-($95): With Shatter-resistant ballistic defense lenses, the Balance is a combination of safety and style. The fit was superb on these and the Locking snap pin stop hinge provides for an ultra-strong frame setup. The Balance are a high quality lens on a nylon frame and other than the Zeal models mentioned above, were our favorite pair out of the variety that we tested!
Contact – pictured on top- ($110): While these glasses provided more lens coverage (7 base, 210 degree lens), they didn’t fit our faces as well. The bottom of the frame rested on our cheeks rather than our nose making these geared a bit more for larger faces. However, the Contact glasses are made in the same vein as the Balance with shatter-resistant ballistic grade lenses and they do give you more eye / face coverage for a greater degree of protection.
It’s hard to go wrong with any of the models mentioned above. Sunglasses are a clearly a matter of preference in both fit and style. They are very much like choosing a compound bow. You don’t really know how much you will like them until you try them on! Since spring is here and the sun of summer is right around the corner, do your eyes a favor and visit the websites of the companies above. Be sure to tell them that Heritage Hunters sent ya!