I have rarely used/carried sunglasses while hiking. When I do, I am usually concerned with trying to make sure I keep up with them: how do I keep them on me for when I need access to them, what to do with them when I don’t need them; and of course, not breaking them (which has always kept me from buying an expensive pair). And let me be real… there is always the weight thing too! Fact is, the only time I really even think about wearing sunglasses is when I am driving. Saying that, there have been a few hikes that I didn’t have any sunglasses, but found myself wishing I did (particularly when hiking in snow, or on hikes in which I wasn’t in a green tunnel the whole time).
Now, I do have a pair of cheapie sunglasses here at home which are reserved for backpacking trips, and they are fine. As well, I have also tried a pair of the Julbo Dolgan Glacier Glasses, which I sent back because they just didn’t work for me. Other than these few times though, I don’t have a lot of experience with sunglasses. But now, thanks to Adam from Blackleaf.com, I have a new pair of glasses to try out, the Oakley Valve’s.
I am quite excited to try these glasses out. As far as I know, Oakley’s have long since been a trustworthy name when it comes to sunglasses, so I am excited to see if I can tell a difference in these “top-of-the line” sunglasses, vs the cheapie’s that I have on occasion used.
There are a few different frame & lens options for this particular model, but the pair that I have are the polished black frame with the black Iridium lenses (as seen in the leading photo). Aesthetically, I like this color scheme as it is simple and not too flashy.
The Valve sunglasses are a mixture of the “sport” & “lifestyle” designs, and according to Oakley, is suitable for active lifestyles that demand performance. The frame is made of a “stress-resistant O-matter material,” which allow the frames to be durable, yet lightweight. The “three-point fit” features Unobtainium (a grippy material which becomes even more grippy with perspiration) on the earsocks and the nosebomb, which help maintain a comfortable and “precisely aligned” fit. The Plutonite lens material filters out 100% of UV light, and the Iridium coating reduces glare. As well, the lenses are “impact resistant” and offer optical precision and performance, which meet ANSI standards.
They sure do sound like a good pair of sunglasses… and potentially suitable for hiking…
Anyway, despite all the talk about what features the glasses have, what it comes down to (at least in my opinion) is fit, and function. I have been wearing these glasses for the last couple of days now around town, and to be quite honest, I am still up-in-the-air about them for me.
As for fit, I feel like the Valve’s fit me pretty well, however, I am not so sure yet if it is “perfect.” The arms are not uncomfortable, and I do not find that they extend past the back of my ear to far. The front of the glasses do a nice job of wrapping around my face, and the full frame on the glasses do a good job of blocking light from entering around the glasses. (Although, to be fair, I can still see some light when focusing on things close to me; when focusing in the distance though, I do not notice it. Saying this though, when focusing on something up-close, I do notice the bottom, outer edges of the frame a good bit, which is kind of annoying. For this reason, I am still up-in-the-air about the glasses…)
As for function, well, I am still deciding on this as well. I will say that the glasses do not fit my head tightly (which is a good thing as glasses that do fit tightly tend to give me headaches after wearing them for an extended period of time), however, when they are on, they do not slip at all. As well, I have noticed that when my face perspires a bit, I do notice the glasses seem to stick to the bridge of my nose a little more.
The first time I slipped the glasses on I was a bit shocked. Honestly, I did not know what to expect with these “quality” lenses. These particular lenses feature an Iridium coating, which is supposed to reduce glare, and improve contrast… and I think it does a great job at this. Looking through the lenses, everything seemed to slightly darken, and even brighten up somewhat, all at the same time. This is a hard thing to say, but what I mean is that things didn’t just get dark… if that makes better sense?
One thing that I notice with some of my other cheaper sunglasses is glare. Not from my surroundings, but from the sun hitting my glasses. This is pretty annoying, so I was looking forward to the Valve’s cutting some of that glare. In the past few days, I have found that I still get glare, but it does seem to be a bit less than with my other, cheaper, glasses. I find that if I am facing the sun, and turn my head slightly, I still do get a little glare.
And of course, there is weight. The glasses come in at 1.029 oz, and the included bag (which they recommend to use to clean the lenses with as opposed to other cloth’s) comes in at 0.321 oz. So, 1.35 oz is not too bad, however, the bag will not protect them as much as hard case would, so I will have to figure out how to protect them when not in use…
So, overall, I think I am pretty happy with the glasses, and look forward to trying them out more around town, and even on a backpacking trip (when I can squeeze another one in). Until then, I would again like to thank Adam from Blackleaf.com for sending these glasses out and giving me the opportunity to give a “quality” pair of glasses a try!
Disclaimer: Blackleaf.com provided me with the Oakley Valve sunglasses free of charge, in exchange for a review. However, the statements in this post are of my own opinion, which I have formed after handling the glasses.