As a recent convert to contact lenses, I have now found myself in the typical-for-most situation of using sunglasses. As most of you probably already know, there are literally tens of thousands of sunglasses available — that is, until you actually start looking for something technically functional.
What do I mean by that? Well, here’s what I’m looking for in sunglasses (or, perhaps, more accurately referred to as ‘protective eyewear’):
– full-wrap coverage to shield my eyes from sun, wind, dust, rain, snow, etc.
– interchangeable lenses, and a wide range of lenses available
– scratch-resistant lenses
– light and comfortable yet hard-to-break frame
My first pair of sunglasses had most of these features, and as an added bonus, came with three pairs of lenses. Yet, I found myself not switching the lenses out due to the delicate and awkward nature of swapping them out. So at OR past summer, I set about looking for glasses that could hold up to my (ab)use, with lenses that could be easily adapted to the conditions.
Enter the Switch Vision H-Wall Extreme glasses.
Unlike other interchangeable lens glasses, the lenses in the Switch Visions are held in by two super-strong magnets. Switching lenses is as easy as pulling one out and snapping the replacement in. The whole process takes less than 5 seconds. In comparison, my other glasses require me to slightly bend the frame to remove and install the lenses, a process that is considerably more fiddly as I am being especially careful not to break anything.
Lenses out, showing the two magnets inside the frame, and the respective metal strips on the lens. Switching between lenses takes no time at all, and the connection is incredibly secure, the lenses unable to be shaken loose no matter how hard I try.
The H-Wall Extreme lenses offer maximum coverage, extending across my whole eye socket — the lenses provide coverage no matter how far I look down or to the side. The glasses came with two sets of shatterproof polycarbonate lenses, a Polarized True-Color Grey that provides 90% light blockage while retaining colour accuracy, and a Rose Amber that provides 72% light blockage while enhancing contrast, especially in low-light or shaded situations.
I have found the True-Color Grey lenses perform very well, retaining true colours and shadow perception while blocking out a significant amount of light and effectively preventing squinting. Similarly, the low-light lenses enhance contrast perception around dawn and dusk, though by design they cast a soft warm-rose tint over everything.
Both lenses are coated with Switch Vision’s proprietary TriGuard technology. The important bit about this is that the lenses are scratch resistant, water repellant and easy to clean. I have been using mine for over four months and have yet to put a scratch onto the surface (something that I managed to do on my other sunglasses within a couple of weeks). And this includes stuffing them into pockets, tossing them into backpacks, dropping them onto rocky ledges, wiping them with a ‘clean’ shirt, even taking a popped tool to the frame, etc. They really do hold up to everything!
The frame is soft and comfortable, with no-slip rubber nose and temples.
Included with the glasses is a carrying case, a soft microfiber pouch/cleaning cloth and a rigid pouch for carrying the spare lenses. The Switch Vision glasses are now available in Canada at MEC.
Pros: scratch- and shatter-proof, easily-interchangeable lenses, bright and low-light lenses included
Cons: nothing I can think of.
Overall: A great set of multi-purpose protective glasses. Wish I’d known about these earlier!
NOTE: Switch Vision provided The Alpine Start with a pair of H-Wall Extreme glasses for review, however this is no way influences our opinion or assessment of the product.