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With editors spread wider than a Kardashian’s hips, we took our test of the new models from Costa Sunglasses (www.costadelmar.com, 800-447-3700) transcontinental.
Metropolitan Mariners: Costa Saltbreak (Starting at $169)
Knowing the Atlantic Ocean off the Megalopolis offers up a wide-range of sea and light conditions, we chose Costa’s Saltbreak, with Tortoise frame and glass 580G Copper lenses ($229).
The 580G lenses are optically-ground, 100-percent polarized and protect against both UVA and UVB rays. They proved crystal clear, and didn’t distort color: green buoys looked green, not blue. They proved scratch-resistant to the mild abuse of being stowed in a cup holder (we’d use a case if these weren’t samples) and to repeated cleaning of salt spray using spit and a shirttail—also ill advised for eyewear aficionados. Hey, this was a test.
Costa’s copper lens proved versatile. During grey mornings on murky inshore waters, we retained good definition and they didn’t feel too dark. During bright conditions on clear offshore waters, they didn’t cause us to squint. Our test took place in the fall, and copper would probably not be our choice for mid-summer over white sand shallows. But Saltbreak comes in a range of lens colors to suit most boating missions. They are also available for prescription.
The frames have integral stainless-steel hinges, that combined with the Tortoise scheme, delivered a clean, stylish look that works whether docking the boat or clubbing in Gotham. Wire-cored temples are rugged, yet also feature a grippy, flexy “co-injected” material that runs the underside to back behind the ear. Placed atop our head, they didn’t go splash when we leaned over the rail to retrieve a lost hat.
We Be Jammin: Costa Cat Cay (Starting at $129)
Sub-tropical and with the Bahamas as a suburb, and the Gulf Stream even closer, much of South Florida’s boating conditions consist of clear, blue water and bright, strong sunlight. We took Costa’s Cat Cay to South Beach—and beyond.
Cat Cay is a value offering from Costa. Nevertheless, they performed well, allowing us to spot baitfish and shallow water obstructions below the surface, which proves as much as anything, Costa’s claim of 100-percent polarization. They also protect against UVA and UVB rays, which are harmful.
Styling with Green Mirror lenses, we enjoyed squint-free visibility on the flats. We chose shiny black frames for their sleek looks, but appreciated the vents on the edges of lenses that prevent lens fogging as we moved from the air-conditioned comfort of the salon to the humid heat of the cockpit.
Like Saltbreak, the Cat Cay glasses stayed planted on our head as we inspected an engine compartment. But the convenient holes in the temples, back by where they wrap the ear, allowed easy attachment of a retaining strap—made en-route to the grounds from 100-pound leader and some crimps. We’ve been known in the past to take a drill to our shades to make this modification; apparently Costa has been watching what’s going on aboard fishing boats.
Co-injected material at the ears didn’t raise a bump, and temples didn’t squeeze the big head of our “brainy” Miami Beach tester. The hinges are, again, integral, a cool look in a hot spot.
Pacific Paddy Hunters: Costa Tuna Alley (Starting at $199)
Despite California’s reputation for sunshine, low clouds often blanket the offshore waters in spring and summer, turning the vast ocean surface slate-grey. There’s also lots of glare, but virtually no contrast, and that becomes a problem if you’re trying to locate floating kelp paddies – rafts of weeds that attract schools of bait and Pacific game fish like California yellowtail, dorado, tuna and even marlin.
That’s where Costa’s new Tuna Alley polarized sunglasses with the 580G lenses ($249) can save the day. Not only do these cut the glare, but the amber-tinted lenses enhance and sharpen contrast, allowing you to better distinguish the rust-brown patches of floating kelp at a distance on an otherwise monotonous ocean surface. And that’s important, because just one productive kelp paddy can make your whole day while fishing offshore.
Once you draw close to a paddy, the polarized lenses also allow your eyes to pierce the glare to see below the floating fronds to determine if any schools of fish are lurking in the shadows.
My Costa Tuna Alley sunglasses are lightweight and super comfortable, as well as stylish. Costa adds a rubberized element for the nose-piece and the bottoms of the frames that rest on your cheeks to keep the Tuna Alley sunglasses from slipping. The wrap-around design helps block peripheral glare, and special vents on each side of the frames prevent fogging. The blackout nylon frames and temples are flexible and super tough. The coated lenses also help reflect harmful UVA and UVB rays to help preserve my vision for many paddy-hunting offshore trips in the future.
Each of the new styles is part of Costa’s core performance sunglass category, with signature features such as a nearly indestructible co-molded injected nylon frame construction, sturdy integral hinges and a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects. For more information, contact 1-800-447-3700 or www.costadelmar.com.