How do you See the Water?

"With my sunglasses on, I'm Jack Nicholson. Without them, I'm fat and 60."
-Jack Nicholson

There's a certain duality associated with sunglasses. As Nicholson points out, they do a fair job of making us look a certain way. In Jack's case, that look is cool if not outwardly vain while watching an indoor LA Lakers basketball game. But sunglasses also serve a much more functional purpose, a purpose those of us who spend time on the water are very familiar with. That purpose is, of course, to protect our eyes from intense glare and UV radiation. Heck, even the Mayo Clinic recommends sunglasses based purely on their functional purpose.

And so, I've taken it upon myself to try out some more sunglasses marketed at outdoor adventure types and boaters. [You can check my previous review of sailing sunglasses here]

First up, a pair of offerings from Tifosi Optics. The Mast SL model is a full frame for medium to
Mast SL from Tifosi
large sized faces. The frame itself is made of nylon with a very nice degree of flex/bend that still manages to feel durable.  The nose piece is adjustable and the polarized smoke colored lens is vented to prevent fogging. This particular model fits my face the best of any frame shown in this post and I liked the somewhat broad bows that block glare from the sides of your face. These just feel like comfortable, quality sunglasses that are up to active sailing. At $40-$50, they also undercut most of the well-known brands like Revo and Maui Jim.

The Tifosi Core sunglasses remind me of old-school Oakley Frogskins, as they are more of a "wrap-around" style frame. As with the Mast, the
Core from Tifosi
Core also features a nylon frame but the nose piece isn't adjustable.  I personally prefer a non-adjustable nose piece as long as the fit is good. The less I have to adjust to get a good level fit, the better. The tortoise pattern of the Core model I have features a brown lens, which I really like on the water.  Sometimes it seems like blue or gray lenses tend to make things to dark and cloudy, but the brown lets more color though. If you're ok with the plain and 1990's look of the styling, the Core model from Tifosi offers good optics for about $40.

Keel from Guideline Eyegear
Next up is a sporty duo of sunglasses from Guideline Eyegear. First, the Keel model. This is a new model for the 2013 Guideline lineup. It's a large polymer frame that blocks a lot of light in a comfortable, simple design. The matte finish looks better in person than in the photo. Available from a few online sources for about $50, the polarized lenses of the Guideline Keel provides clear, sharp optics in a frame well-suited to the glare of life on the water.

Mantis-Bifocal from Guideline Eyegear
The Guideline Mantis-Bifocal is an interesting option for far-sighted folks or anyone who needs extra magnification for up close work, like tying fishing line or reading fine print. I've never seen a non-prescription pair of sunglasses that offers a bifocal option, so I was eager to try these out. The bifocal lens insert is available in +1.50, +2.00 and +2.50 magnifications that occupy about the lower inner quarter of the full lens. Don't worry, no one will likely be able to detect that these are bifocals. The lens itself is offered in gray or brown. The frame is a semi-rimless design (open on the bottom of the lens) made from an aluminum and magnesium alloy brushed in a gunmetal color. The frame also features spring hinges and adjustable nose pads.While the Guideline Mantis-Bifocal is a bit pricey at around $75, it comes feature packed and is potentially suitable for a wide range of consumers because of the bifocals. I'd add some Croakies or other retaining strap to this frame since the frame bows are relatively straight and could potentially slide off if you're looking down into the water at your anchor rode or a fishing lure.

Lastly, I've got the perfect sunglasses for the sailor who can't get enough of the look, feel and smell of teak. The Deckster sunglasses from Nautique Optix offer a very unique slant on a classic style. At first glance, wood sunglasses may seem like a novelty item, but if you're at all familiar with the benefits of certain woods in marine applications such as boat decks and handrails, you'll appreciate the comfort, look
Deckster from Nautique Optix
and feel of Decksters. The Decksters are available in your choice of wood, including cherry, mahogany, maple, oak, zebra wood, bubinga, wedge, and purple heart. I tried the mahogany and really like the feel on my skin and the unique artistic look.

I'm not sure exactly why, but I could definitely feel something different about wearing the Decksters. I think it's because the wood feels stiffer than the plastics of most sunglasses. This isn't necessarily a bad feel, just noticeably different. The wood grain immediately identifies these as authentic wooden sunglasses as opposed to plastic look-a-likes and draws plenty of attention from passerby's. The Carl Zeiss Vision polarized lenses offer really clear optics and seemed a bit sharper than any other lens in this post.  Of course some of that could be that I expect a $190 (including custom case, lanyard, and cleaning cloth) pair of sunglasses to perform. In fact, $190 is the entry price because a few of the wood options like zebra wood and bubinga go for $235.  However, if you're looking for a totally unique look with excellent optics that screams "salty sailor", this is one of your best, if not only, options. Nautique Optix also offers several styles in addition to Decksters, and no two pair are identical!


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