ProView – Zeal Optics Incline Autosun
What makes the best gear the best? Is it function, durability, fit, or reliability?
I guide rock climbing, glacier trekking, and sea kayaking, and I haven’t found a pair of shades that transitions as easily from one environment, sport, or weather, as easily as the Zeal Incline Autosun.
Zeal Optics Incline
Product Name: Zeal Optics Inclince
Product Description: We find many things in the mountains: solitude, beauty, inspiration – and the thrill of gravity. Inspired by the pursuit of downhill adventure, and the beauty of the mountains, Incline is designed to be your partner for all-day descents. We believe you need to earn your turns, so we’ve taken our plant-based Z-Resin to a new level of lightness with our Z-Lite thin injection process to bring you a sunglass that’s so light, you’ll forget it’s there. Except for the fact that our polarized, plant-based ellume lenses help you see the greens and blues of the landscape below like never before thanks to our unique blend of color filters. Incline features our ProFlex rubber inlays on the temple tips and nose bridge to keep them in place on the steepest descents, while the classic design and keyhole bridge of this sunglass make it a timeless fit for any adventure, whether wild or refined.
Offer price: MSRP: $159.00
The Inclines are the most versatile pair of sunglasses I’ve owned, transitioning seamlessly from beach to backcountry, glaring sun to dense fog, playing a round of golf or shredding on a mountain bike. They do their job so well you forget you’re wearing them, and hold up to abuse. And Zeal uses materials that treat the earth with respect, even as they treat their customers the same.
- Plant based resin and lenses
- Stay on your head
- Auto lenses actually work
- Price could be prohibitive
Let me start by saying I rarely own a piece of gear that I wouldn’t gladly trade up for what I think is the next best thing, because I know what I like and can almost always find flaws in what I already own.
What can I say? I’m picky.
And when it comes to sunglasses, I have the most.
I might have this one jacket I like, one specific pair of climbing shoes or favorite bike helmet, but I’ve never been really happy with just one pair of shades because they never combined everything I didn’t know I wanted in a single pair — and I haven’t worn any of them since I got my Zeal Inclines. I guide 10 hours a day in them with no regrets for the obvious raccoon tan line I’m developing. And why? Because I don’t even remember I’m wearing them half the time, they’ve become part of my face as far as I’m concerned.
In terms of coverage, the Inclines might as well be performance shades, without the same bulk or funky looks. They wrap around my face so fully I barely notice the frame edges and forget they’re on my head. A major complaint I have with many shades are hinges and frames often stretching over time and no longer staying on my face while being active, but the Incline’s Camloc hinges once again excel where others don’t, still performing perfectly after hundreds of hours of use. Having to wear a lanyard can be a hassle sometimes, but I’ve found I never need it, and never worry about the Inclines falling off my face or even my hat.
Zeal describes the frames as “Average sized that most people can wear”, and I’ve found this to be accurate. I have a small face, and while I can see I have a little extra room around the bottom of the frames, it doesn’t take away from their performance.
I chose these shades because they were the most stylish for the coverage they offer. Many others tend to have that “dad” look, but the Inclines still keep it crisp with sharp lines and squarer lenses. Zeal has designed them so that you don’t have to sacrifice a clean look for performance.
On top of that, the Autosun technology adjusts quickly to changing light conditions so I’m never squinting or straining to see. I can and have worn them regardless of blazing sun or pouring rain, all without noticing much difference in brightness. And as I mentioned, the Camloc hinges are one of the few that I have ever found satisfactory to keep the shades locked in place for whatever I’m doing.
Too many sunglasses being made by outdoor brands are only adding to the amount of plastic waste in our environment, and Zeal has come up with an ideal solution: the frames are super lightweight thanks to the Z-resin, a material derived from sustainable castor beans, instead of petroleum products. And fortunately, they haven’t substituted environmentalism for quality, the frames hold up! All that to say: I love everything about wearing the Inclines, and the materials Zeal uses back up my confidence in their performance and sustainability.
The polarized lenses are also plant based without sacrificing quality, and for the number of hours I’ve worn them, have been the most resilient to scratches of any shades I’ve worn. Zeal pairs this with their Z-lite frame material and Proflex injection, which has ensured they can take a beating and bounce back just the same.
The Final Word
All pros, no cons.
If all that wasn’t enough to sell me on them, my experience with Zeal customer service has always been top notch, and they will do everything they can promptly to make your experience the best.
In summary, the Inclines are the most versatile pair of sunglasses I’ve owned, transitioning seamlessly from beach to backcountry, glaring sun to dense fog, playing a round of golf or shredding on a mountain bike. They do their job so well you forget you’re wearing them, and hold up to abuse. And Zeal uses materials that treat the earth with respect, even as they treat their customers the same.
About the Gear Tester
Andrew has loved outdoor recreation for years, leading trips on Alaskan glaciers, teaching outdoor education in Colorado, and guiding students in the European Alps for the last three seasons. He has lived mostly in Colorado for nearly five years since migrating from the beaches of Florida. He has no intention of leaving the beautiful Rockies anytime soon. When not guiding, you can find him climbing in either Colorado or Utah, camping with friends, snowboarding, mountain biking 14ers, or sitting quietly next to a campfire. You can find his adventures on Instagram at @andrew.hamm.144.