A Gripping History of Sunglasses, A Recent Product Breakthrough & A Future Concert Recommendation
Sunglasses that maintain a pleasing grip despite head swivels and sweat are hard to find. At the turn of the century the U.S. Air Force noticed their standard sunglasses were not being worn for performance reasons. One member of the 52nd Fighter Wing put it thusly in 1999: “ I don’t wear them because they give me a headache, they’re big and cumbersome. After wearing them for a day my head hurts.” It’s a vexation that runners, skiers, construction workers and the like readily encounter.
Tight temples on eye frames produce good adhesion but can trigger headaches or prove uncomfortable for long periods. Attaching lanyards and the like to lighter weight or looser frames bolsters adhesion but its cumbersome and less than ideal.
Enter the erstwhile editors at Rainy Day who offered me a pair of 180s Mortise sunglasses for an all around test. 180s credo is, “…see what’s out there, turn it on its head, un-cover its blind spots and pull a wholly new performance wear solution from the wreckage.” I don’t know how many crash and burn iterations they went through with the Mortise but they hit on three key changes that give their spec’s a sweet weight/tension/adhesion ratio.
Lets start with the “Grilamid TR-90 temples” that weigh less than an ounce. Despite the antiseptic name these are arms that cradle like a mother’s and can hold on through the best high torque moves. Next they coat the temple tips and nose pads with miniature sponges (for the technically minded the substance is Hydrophilic Megol) that ward off slippage when the going gets wet. In my head-down-in-a-hard-sweat test the frames gently maintained their position.
The best innovation though is no more hinges where the temples meet the main frame. Instead they have pivots that yield several benefits. The pivots provide a stable anchor point for the temples that give every indication of maintaining full action as wear and tear ensues. Moreover pivots pirouette where hinges can’t. In a nice evocation of their brand name the temples swing a full 180 degrees forward to cover the front of the frames. In effect, bumper guards to fend off frontal impacts when the glasses are not in use. The forward fold also allows them to fit in a 1.5” tube that has a microfiber bag cover. The bag doubles as a lens wipe.
Should I worry that I don’t have a dainty little hex wrench if that pivot ever works loose? 180 maintains the whole deal is guaranteed for life with free repair in the first year and $10 S&H thereafter. Their warranty registration and terms are short and sweet. Unlike my experience 2 years ago when I sent a pair of broken sunglasses back to a different manufacturer (This manufacturer’s name shall go unstated but if you think it is evoked by a certain Matrix agent you are correct.) Wheedling and additional cost ensued with said agent. 180’s warranty seems to imply that if the glasses break with righteous use, you have the pieces and are still alive they would be glad to set you up with another pair.
I have to reach back across the ages to find an instance where hold fast frames are a disadvantage. Many sunsets ago Rolling Stone Magazine chronicled an encounter between the late Hunter S Thompson and a law enforcement officer. The gonzo journalist’s state of mind (for neither the first nor last time) was called into question and the officer deemed a field sobriety test was in order. Dr. Thompson, always one to raise the stakes, quickly proposed a means to establish he was good to go. He offered to snap his head to the rear, thus launching his glasses skyward and then catch them behind his back , confirming clarity of thought and action. To everyone’s surprise he accomplished the maneuver and was allowed to proceed on his merry way. The event was captured in grainy photos to document there was indeed some fact in this wild-west tale. It’s doubtful if law enforcement still supports improv sobriety tests and in the name of progress 180’s sunglasses are launch resistant. It’s a good thing.
Thanks to Jonathan Mozenter for the attached sunglass shot of me at the recent John Butler Trio Copley Square Concert. This was in a modest post-run sweat with near 360 head bobs. The glasses rocked steady.
I took another shot on the Longfellow Bridge trying to show how the polycarb lenses filter high angle glare and still retain detail. The Mortise comes with three impact resistant lenses for low, medium and high light conditions. I found the lens interchanges were easy and stayed in place after insertion. Lenses also come in polarized and non-polarized versions.
You can check out the 180 gear at www.180s.com. If you missed John Butler the band will be back from down under October 2 at the Somerville Theatre, a truly great venue for concerts.