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For Comparison’s Sake: Sunglasses

We smash and bash some polarized shades so you don't have to.

September 9, 2011
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Sunglasses get sat on, dropped and destroyed by boaters on a regular basis. Which pairs have the survival skills necessary to endure crushing derrières and free-falls onto fiberglass? To find out, I gave each pair three sit-downs and three drops to the deck. Here’s what happened(pictured right, top to bottom).

Costa Del Mar Ballast
Our Take: Costa’s polycarbonate lenses, nylon arms and frameless design make for light and comfortable shades, weighing a mere 16 grams. They aren’t cheap, but the optics are crystal-clear.

Survival Skills: 9 out of 10. Shape-shifting parts fine after being squashed; lenses had a couple of microscopic scratches.

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Hard Knock: Light leaks in around the edges if the fit isn’t perfect for your face.
$150, costadelmar.com

Wiley X Slay
Our Take: Polycarbonate lenses black out the sun and exceed standards for high-velocity impact. Love the comfy ear tips, weight and cost; hate the $16.50 charge for a case.

Survival Skills: 8 out of 10. Frames bent during the sit-downs, but we bent them back into shape. Lenses had tiny scratches.

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Hard Knock: Lenses sit so close to your face that eyelashes sometimes hit them.
$75, wileyx.com

Ocean Racing Bermuda
Our Take: Thick wraparound frames and polycarbonate lenses kept out the glare and fit my head perfectly. Silicon nose and temple tips kept the glasses in place, and the price tag is a hands-down winner.

Survival Skills: 7 out of 10. Sitting on them had zero effect; drop-test put noticeable scratches on the lenses.

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Hard Knock: Case not super protective.
$60, oceanracing.com

Ono’s Ernest Hemingway Edition Irati
Our Take: Vented frames reduce fogging while wrapping around your head for a snug, light-blocking fit. Love the option for built-in magnifying readers; hate the steep list cost.

Survival Skills: 9 out of 10. Frames maintained integrity when sat upon; lenses had a couple of micro scratches.

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Hard Knock: Integrated ear tips are small.
$170, onos.com

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