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The cold world of alpine climbing.

The cold world of alpine climbing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sun glasses part One?






There was, once upon a time, an era in gear where you could have bit of kit that could do most everything well.   Or so it seemed.

Funny when you look into the minutia how things have changed.  Sunglass innovations over the last 50 years being no different than anything else we climb with today.

Let me start with another preamble.  What works for me may not work for you!  I leave on the wet side, in the foot hills of the Cascades...a short drive from Seattle.  When we do get bright sun light here it is surrounded by green.  A sea of green in fact.  So even bright sun light here is tempered by the lush green surrounds that are easy on the eyes.   That is good for me as I have very blue/gray eyes.  Blue eyes are no the best in bright light.  I typically don sun glasses earlier and leave them on longer than friends with a darker eye color.  

On snow or water I want a pretty dark lens.  On days when others might not notice the sun I'll still want some protection from the sun.

What I got in the past was a glacier glass that was either generally too dark, like the Varnet Cat Eyes in the picture above at 11K on Denali's West Butt.  More likely I would use  a lens that was some what lighter in shade that wasn't great mid day but could be used dawn to dusk.


Galiber Glacier glasses on the left with light colored lens used spring bc skiing.




The same Galiber Makalu glasses on the summit of Liberty Cap.





At least for me in the mountains, the Varnet, no matter how fashionable, the lens was nearly always just a bit too dark.  The Galiber lens generally too light in bright mid day sun.   Both were glass lens.  But the Galibier would fold flat, had a very durable metal frame that packed into a no frills aluminum case.  I used those glasses for years of climbing.  Finally selling them recently on Ebay for $300 to a mountaineering paraphernalia collector.  The same glasses that sold in the mid '70s for $38.00.  Galiber's "best" version, The Everest,  was photo sensitive and sold for $50 when a Chouinard piolet sold for $35.    Sold knowing full well, today I could do better  for eye protection.



I've used (and still do) various models of Oakley sunglasses since the companies inception.  The shooting sports were the first place I saw polycarbonate lens quickly take over the market for eye protection.  Oakleys have literally saved my eyes more than one while shooting.   There you take the "protection" seriously if you want to keep your eye sight.



But as good as the early Oakleys were for eye protection while shooting I never found them particularly suitable in the mountains.  They were bulky, fragile and just didn't offer the protection I needed on snow.   I haven't seen that change enough to convince me look at Oakley again for mountain glasses.  And at their current price points for what you are getting...I have left the brand behind for my own use cycling, triathalon or running glasses as well.   There are better glasses in my opinion for every use and much better values to be had.

But let's look back a bit before looking forward to what is easily available now.

Glass lenses?  You would be hard pressed to find a glass lenses these days.  Varnet and Maui Jim being two exceptions.  And both lens worth the effort and money imo.  I have glasses from both that are now 20 years or older and still in perfect condition.

yellow
green
brown
gray

Here's are some advantages to certain colors and the best sports for each color:
Sunglass Lens Tint Color
ColorUsesSports

Yellow or orange
Provide less overall brightness protection, but excel in moderate-to-low level light conditions. They provide excellent depth perception, which makes them perfect for skiing, snowboarding and other snow sports. They also enhance contrasts in tricky, flat-light conditions.cycling (yellow is excellent for seeing better in fog); indoor basketball; handball; hunting; racquetball; shooting; snow sports: skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling; tennis.

Amber, rose or red
Makes the world seem brighter. They provide excellent low-light visibility and enhance contrast (perfect for skiing and snowboarding in cloudy conditions). They also enhance the visibility of objects against blue and green backgrounds, which makes them ideal for driving or exploring in forested areas.cycling; fishing (amber lenses for when you can see the bottom of the lake or stream); hunting; shooting; snow sports: skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling; water sports.

Dark amber, copper or brown
Blocks high amounts of blue light to heighten contrast and visual acuity. Particularly useful to improve contrast on grass and against blue skies.baseball; cycling; fishing (especially in waters with grassy bottoms); golf; hunting; skiing; water sports.

Green
Heightens contrast (mildly) while preserving color balance.baseball; golf.

Gray
Color-neutral, which means they cut down on overall brightness without distorting colors. These darker shades are intended primarily to cut through the glare and reduce eyestrain in moderate-to-bright conditions.all outdoor sports in bright sunny conditions.

Ya, I find this kind of stuff  funto know when you are going to drop over $100 on glasses.  More yet for a comparison.

"Lens Color
Lenses can vary, based on function, style and purpose, and the color you choose can affect more than just your fashion. While fashion is a huge reason people choose styles of sunglasses, picking the right lens will make a tremendous difference in functionality. Additionally, polarized lenses will make as much of a difference as color in terms of reducing glare and optimizing vision. Depending on the sport and the sun conditions, the right lens color will change your vision dramatically.

Gray and Green – Gray and green colored lenses maintain true colors when looking around and are considered neutral lens options. They are best for bright sunshine.

Brown - Brown lenses cause minor color distortion, but they also increase contrast. Brown lenses are best for overcast days or flatter light when the sun is still shining.

Copper – Copper colored lenses are great for medium and high-light because they enhance contrast without creating significant color distortions. Many fishermen choose copper lenses because copper helps bring out the contrasts while keeping the colors real.

Orange (Vermillion) and Yellow – Orange and yellow lenses are perfect for pilots, fishermen, hunters, marksmen and boaters because they increase contrast and depth perception. They do increase color distortion, so they are not right if you need to see colors clearly. Orange and yellow lenses are best for low-light scenarios (dawn, dusk, or storm days), when you still want some protection from the sun, but your main objective is to add contrast to the surrounding scenery.

Rose: Great for low-light conditions, rose-colored lenses keep the colors relatively neutral, but they add a bit of contrast in flat light.

Blue and Purple – Blue and purple colored lenses do not function to enhance vision and are mainly used for fashion purposes. Enough said.

Clear: While they may seem to serve no purpose, since they don’t in fact block any sun, clear lenses are perfect for night sports. Many night skiers and evening cyclists, as well as night fishermen choose to wear clear lenses. They help keep your eyes from watering and they keep bugs and dust out of your eyes letting you focus on the task at hand."

I use sun glasses for several activities including, driving, on the bike, running, climbing, shooting and simple eye protection. (ice climbing or shooting)

So not every sun glass I use works all that well for every use I have.   What works for my blue eyes didn't work at all for my climbing partner of Japanese decent with brown eyes.   In part 2 of  "Sun glasses" I will discuss my observations on glasses new and old from Varnet, Bolle, Cebe, Native, Optic Nerve, Oakley, Maui Jim, Julbo and Bausch & Lomb.  No surprise that I have some favorites from that list.  You might also find my experience with what the various companies have offered for warranties interesting.

1 comment:

Foster said...

For work, search and rescue operations, and ice climbing, I've been using ESS ICE system (specifically the smaller ICE NARO). Full wrap around impact safety (mil spec rating), decent clarity, and inexpensive: an eyeshield system with case, 3 lenses (grey, clear, and yellow), and retainer for under $70.

Is anyone else using military style eyewear?