Optilabs kindly sponsored us with a pair of prescription sunglasses each, which we have been wearing a lot over the past eight months. André was particularly happy to be sent some prescription sunglasses as his eyesight is much worse than mine and he was worried about how he would manage map reading whilst wearing his normal, non-prescription sunglasses.
Firstly I should quickly mention Optilabs customer service as it was pretty impressive. We didn’t have much time to get the glasses sorted out before we left for the trip, so Optilabs sent us out a box of different frames to try on so we could chose the ones we liked best without having to visit the shop. This was really helpful as a lot of frames are just too big for my face! The frames I ended up choosing were ‘Serengeti’ and André picked ‘Flow’. The Serengeti frames have now been replaced by the Luna, which are apparently similar but even lighter and more comfortable!
There are a couple of differences between my glasses and André’s which I should mention. The arms on André’s glasses have adjustable rubber ends, which help stop slipping and also make them a little more comfortable. The ends can be bent to adjust the glasses arms to better fit your head. They also have adjustable nose pads, which too are rubber coated to stop slipping. My glasses do not have these features. However, there is one other small detail on André’s glasses that I really like and wish mine had – a small hole in the top corner between the lens and the frame on both sides. This is for breathability and to ensure the lenses don’t become fogged up when you are using them – which is a great feature and very useful, especially in winter when you have a scarf on.
Both of us find the glasses very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. This is a definite plus point for me as I have had sunglasses in the past which have been too heavy and hurt the bridge of my nose and have also hurt the tops of my ears. They don’t slip as you wear them and they don’t fall off easily. We also like these glasses, as although they are designed for cycling we feel comfortable wearing them while we are off the bikes and in the city. No one wants to be that guy/girl that looks ready for track racing when they are just going to the shop to buy milk.
We were lucky enough to be given the Premium Ultra 2000 lenses. These lenses are polarized for contrast and definition and also have a variable tint for changes in light conditions. You can really notice this when riding, as your visibility remains great even when you head into a tunnel or evening approaches, or you jump off the bike to go inside. We have ridden with them in spring, summer, autumn and winter and can say that they performed well all year round. We can also vouch for them withstanding some pretty extreme weather conditions as we have worn them throughout winter in Georgia, across the desert of Oman and whilst trekking in the Himalayas. For us we really like the fact we don’t have to change lenses, as it is just one less thing to lose or break! Also often you don’t want to stop when you are in the flow to fiddle about and change lenses.
The polarized lenses really reduce glare in a very noticeable way. Reflections from road surfaces or water (think cycling next to the sea or a lake) are cut down drastically, which helps reduce the strain on our eyes. Polarized lenses can be an issue when using electronic devices with your glasses, as the screen of your device may seem completely black with your glasses on, we were warned of this by Optilabs when they noticed we had a Garmin on our gear list. Luckily we had no issues using the garmin with our glasses, however camera LCDs on both of our cameras are not clearly visible with our glasses on. Obviously this is an issue that comes with using any polarized sunglasses.
In my opinion the glasses’ number one plus point is their durability. They have been dropped a few times and have travelled from England to Nepal over some pretty bumpy terrain at times and they remain in excellent condition. We are both pleasantly surprised by how well the sunglasses have stood up to conditions on the road and can honestly say there isn’t a scratch on them. Compare this to our normal glasses which have been scratched to bits they have performed amazingly well.
I would happily recommend Optilabs glasses to anyone, but especially cycle tourers. They have an excellent product and great customer service – which is a winning combination in our opinion. If you are in the London area check them out.