There is an old proverb about sunglasses karma: the more money one spends on sunglasses, the more quickly they meet their demise. So, we love to find good quality polarized sunnies for under $100, since they can be taken out to play (hard!) with less anxiety. Optic Nerve fits this bill, as they sell their polarized sport glasses at a lower price point than most companies because they don’t spend as much money on advertising and they are ‘their own man’ (they don’t have a parent company). Their motto? ‘At Optic Nerve we live and work by the motto that nobody owns us.’ Three OPL pros tested glasses in Optic Nerve‘s 2014 line and all three pairs retail for only $65.00! It’s hard to beat that. These models will be available on Outdoor Prolink in January 2014.
The PK Thrilla:
Tested by Reilly O’Brien
The PK Thrilla’s, as the name implies, are show-stoppers. Rockstar style and functionality merge seamlessly in the lightweight frames and lens of these great shades. A week-long backpacking trip demanded a lot from my body and the PK Thrilla’s. Unlike my body, which struggled during the hard times, the shades rose to every challenge and performed exceptionally. The big lenses provided ample protection from the harsh high-altitude solar rays and winds that whipped through the mountain passes. I also appreciated the clear view of the polarized lenses – they were easy on my eyes and performed just as well as brands with a higher price point. I always rock Croakies, so I don’t know how well the shades stay up on the nose while hiking without them, but with my Croakies I had no trouble with them slipping down no matter how sweaty I became. Besides backpacking, I took these glasses traveling in South America and lakeside in New Hampshire. The styling of the shades kept me fashionable in the classiest parts of Cuzco and Lima, and the polarized lenses gave me a clear view of the fish in the beautiful New Hampshire lake. The PK Thrilla has become my new go-to, and gets top marks in both style and function.
Tested by Howie Kalter
My favorite thing about the Omnium was the weight. At only a mere 0.7 ounces these were the lightest glasses I’ve ever worn (sometimes I forgot I had them on my face) but the protection they offered was excellent. The lenses wrapped around my face and protected me from the sun throughout the day. I also liked the adjustable no-slip nose pad: no matter how much I moved or sweated while I was hiking glasses stayed put. They even performed well in an aggressive game of beach volleyball back home in Vermont. They glasses also never fogged up or slid off my face during even the hottest, most humid summer days. These are one of the best performing, multidimensional pair of sport sunglasses I’ve worn – they felt like an extension of my body. Plus, at this price point you can buy two pairs for what I paid for my Oakley’s.
Tested by M. Ayres
The Vargas, from Optic Nerve’s new women’s line, is everything that an outdoorsy girl could want in her shades: comfortable, sporty and stylish. On a five day backpacking trip, I appreciated that the glasses were light and stayed on my face, even while I was sweating. Although they don’t have any rubber or sticky pads on the glasses to keep them in place, they hugged my face and wrapped around my ears. They were also light enough that they didn’t bounce much during steep descents. We hiked from the early morning until late in the evening, so we experienced all kinds of sun, and consequently, all kinds of glare. The polarized lenses did a great job of editing it out, and protecting my eyes from the harsh sun (we were between 8,000 and 15,200 feet for the duration of the trip). I also loved the cat-eyed Hollywood flair of the frames. They certainly made the pictures a little bit more fun and fashionable than they would have been if I were rocking traditional sport glasses. Overall, these are the perfect blend of fashion and function, and I definitely recommend them for travel – especially if you plan on doing something active!