High Gear: Eldo fly-fishing sunglasses from Native Eyewear
Eldo polarized sunglasses, $129-$149
Size: Fits large to XL faces
Material: Rhyno-Tuff lightweight thermoplastic
Frame colors: Asphalt, Fraser green, granite, iron, wood
Weight: 0.3 ounces
Interchangeable lenses: Yes
Accessories: Hard case, soft case, low-light SportFlex lenses, polarized mirrored lenses (green, red, blue, gray)
For more info on the Eldo, see the Native Eyewear website at www.nativeeyewear.com.
Shadows are your sunglasses worst enemy.
Here in the mountains, where sunglasses are more than a fashion statement, a chic pair of frames means little without a high-tech pair of lenses to go with them. A friend of mine puts her sunglasses on her forehead when running through the wooded singletrack at French Creek or Horseshoe Gulch (even though they constantly slip and slide down her forehead), and yet another friend switches back and forth from dark mirrored lenses to low-light lenses almost every run in the spring, when clouds come and go and come and go throughout the day.
Swapping out lenses at Mother Nature’s every whim seems like overkill to me — I tend to just pick a pair of sunglasses or goggles and stick with them, unless things get really dark — but it never hurts to have options. Both of these friends like to see clearly, no matter what conditions Summit County throws at them, and I get that. It’s the difference between enjoying a run or letting one seemingly small distraction make it feel like hours, or the difference between charging through tight glades and getting hung up on bumps, rocks, branches and everything else hidden like camouflage. The woods can be a dangerous place and clear vision is a must, come sun or clouds or a mix of both. Call it the shadow effect.
Take another, less obvious example of the dreaded shadow effect: fly fishing. Thick trees and bushes surround most fishing holes in Summit County, and, even if you find a wide-open hole, the reflection from direct or even cloudy sunlight can get rough.
New for 2016, the Eldo from Colorado-based Native Eyewear might just be the best pair of shadow-killing sunglasses for less than $150, with one of the best combinations of stylish frames and tech-heavy lenses I’ve come across. I tested the frames in wood — perfect for the river — with Native’s trademark green polarized lenses, plus a pair of low-light rose lenses.
Let’s start at the top with the polarized lenses. In a nutshell, polarized lenses are better than standard dark lenses, or even mirrored lenses, because they cut through infrared and other light spectrums to give more definition. They cut through the noise — glare, sun flares, even dark shadows — to act more like eyeballs. They’re the best of both worlds: protection from the sun when you need it, protection from the shadows when you don’t.
I took the Eldo to the river for a bit of low-key fishing in early July. I didn’t go fly fishing — I’m not much of an angler — but I purposely chose a hole that’s mottled with sunlight shining through trees, bushes and a nearby meadow.
I switched back and forth between a cheap-o pair of knock-off Ray Bans and the Eldo frames, and the difference was immediate. When the sun shone directly through the trees with the knock-offs, I lost all definition on the water — it looked like a plate of glass. The Eldos almost completely cut through the glare, and, from certain angles, I could see shimmers from fish scales as they passed through shadowy pools.
A few days later, I took the Eldos to Keystone Bike Park on a low-light day and switched over to the rose lenses. (Yes, the frames are not only sexy, they also make it easy to swap out lenses.) The rose lenses are polarized, and, just like the green, bright-light lenses, they did their job perfectly. They cut through the shadows when needed and reduced glare when the trails switchbacked across ski runs. Hell, I could even pick out pockmarks in the berms that my friends kept getting caught on.
The only complaint about the Eldo: The frames are large. If you have a small or even medium-sized face, chances are they’ll cover your eyebrows. We all know what that means: sweat fogging. Shadows are a killer, but there’s no way around fog.
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