I stopped buying expensive sunglasses whenI was nineteen after a pair of $100 sunglasses blew of my head while I was hanging out the window of a speeding pickup truck throwing an empty beer bottle at a road sign (a popular pastime for bored 19 year-olds living in small redneck mountain towns).I never wanted to buy another pair of expensive sunglasses because I was sure that I would just lose them hanging out of a pickup truck drunk, or doing something else equally stupid.
I’ve long since given up hobbies that involve large amounts of alcohol and proving my masculinity by lifting, throwing, or breaking inanimate objects and traded them for sober (well…almost) hobbies that involve large amounts of Gore-tex and fleece and involve proving my masculinity by walking, swimming, running, climbing, flying, and boating long distances while sober (usually). Despite this, the idea that if I bought expensive sunglasses I would lose them stuck with me. So, for the past ten years I wore nothing but $20 off-the-rack sunglasses.
Then, Switch Vision offered to send me me a pair of sunglasses to review on my blog. I chose their Boreal model. They’re totally my style: wraparound full-frame glasses that look sleek yet are large enough to block out most sunlight. I don’t know what the style is called, but I think of them as snowboarder and surfer sunglasses.
A pair of Boreal retails for $150. That’s similar to the prices of many other, better-known brands. The marketers at Switch know that they need to offer something more than just cool looking glasses to woo buyers away from those brands. So, Switch, as the name suggests, allows you to change the lenses in your glasses. The lenses are held firmly in place by a pair of strong magnets. They pop out with a firm push, but are unlikely to fall out unless you bail super hard (in which case the glasses will probably fly off your head anyways). Switch offers several different kinds of specialized lenses for different lighting situations, such as flat-light skiing, and also offer prescriptions. Switch glasses are usually sold in kits (around USD$150 give or take) that include a case, cleaning cloth, pouch, frames, and two sets of lenses. Not bad.
This is Switch’s best selling point. When you have inevitably scratched the hell out of your lenses, you don’t need to buy new glasses. You only need buy new lenses, which only costs around $50 for most kinds.
It is true that good sunglasses help your vision. I realized it one day I while snowboarding on an overcast day in British Columbia. My high-contrast Switch lenses helped me to see the terrain much better. Another time, I was on a banca boat in the Philippines looking for whale sharks. It’s hard to see down through the water on a choppy day. The captain told me that his scouts work polarized sunglasses to reduce glare on the water. I put in my polarized lenses and I was able to see much more clearly down into the ocean. Ah, technology. How you enhance my life.
The one thing that worries me about my Boreal’s is that they are a bit large for me (my head is slightly smaller than average). However, that if your head isn’t disproportionately large or small, then Switch’s sunglasses will probably fit you just fine. I also found that after spending several months in the tropics my magnets began to rust (salty air will do that). I’m not positive, but I think that should be covered by the warranty.
Either way, Switch has converted me. Now that I know the difference that a good pair of sunglasses with the right lenses can make in different conditions, I can’t go back to cheap sunglasses. In fact, I think that I’d like to expand my lens collection.
I’m turning into such a techie-gear dork.
You can check out these glasses on Amazon using he link to the left. I am an Amazon affiliate, so Amazon will pay me a small commission if you make a purchase there after coming from my website (though it will not change the price you pay).