For a piece of gear that can make or break your outside time, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to my sunglasses.
Part of this is because I tend to lose and abuse them, so forking over a hundred bucks for something I’ve historically drowned in the bottom of a hot spring or has wound up lens-side down in the dirt has seemed … unwise.
When I got my hands on the Zeal Optics Idyllwilds ($119), though, my tune changed pretty quickly.First off, these things are light. Seriously featherweight and super grippy, I barely notice them -- more than I can say for the cheapos I’ve sweated in too many times to count.
This is thanks to the Z-Resin bio-plastic frame, derived from the castor bean, and Ellume bio-plastic lens, which is also plant based. Replacing petroleum-based materials in the construction means less CO2 is produced during manufacturing, which, along with rolling hills and alpine meadows, is the kind of green I can get down with.
I’ve been testing the Lavender & Lime option, which features a copper polarized lens that has proven surprisingly effective in bright sunlight and approaching dusk (and a frame color that matches my hair).Zeal claims that this tint blocks haze and enhances blues, reds and greens -- great for the hiking and trail running I’ve used them for most. They can also accommodate prescriptions for those who prefer not to pop in contact lenses before adventuring.
The ProFlex rubber injected into the mold has withstood unspeakable levels of sweat on really hot days, keeping my hands free from continually pushing sliding frames back up the bridge of my nose.
While the Idyllwilds have converted me to the investment side of the sunglass spectrum in terms of performance, they also just look killer. These are as at home Palm Springs poolside as they are in the middle of a limit-testing summer trail race.
If you’re looking for a one-pair splurge that travels, take a gander at these -- or Zeal’s five other Idyllwild options.
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