Last year, I bought sunglasses with interchangeable lenses. But actually changing the lenses is a pain even under the best of circumstances. They’d drive me crazy if I had to change lenses out on the trail at dusk in the middle of a race. I managed to put the clear lenses in, and I left them in. I used one pair of old glasses for daytime riding, and the "interchangeable" pair for night riding.
That paved the way for Switch Vision to offer a pair of its sunglasses for my depraved dungeon of product testing.
All the items in the Switch sunglasses line have a magnetic system (Magnetic Interchange Lens System, in the parlance of Switch) that holds lenses in place. When I first read about it, it sounded like a great theory.
Switch delivered a pair of its Stoke glasses in a tortoiseshell finish to my door.
Forget reading the manual – what about this magnetic deal? Well, the lenses slid right out with a gentle tug. There are metal bits embedded into the top edges of the lenses – I’m not sure if those are the magnets, or if the other metal bits in the frames are the magnets. Either way, I was eager to see how they get back in. With my other glasses, this would cue twisting, pushing and profanity.
Not this time. I got the lens in the vicinity, and the magnets sucked the lenses into place. Impressive! I tried it a few more times with the same result.
I drove around wearing the Stoke glasses for a few days. Then I hit the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, one of the rockier beasts in the area.
Hitting the Trail
First, the optics are super-crisp. I have the Switch "Glare Kit" of lenses, which includes the Polarized True Color Gray and Rose Amber lenses, along with a plastic lens pod. The True Gray turn even the brightest light into something your eyes can live with. (I tried the Rose Amber a few days later on a cloudy day – they allowed a bit more light in while keeping the harshness out.)
The Stoke is not a lightweight pair of sunglasses. But they never dented the side of my nose. They didn’t slide down my pointy beak despite being lubricated by sweat. The rock-and-rolling of well-rubbled off-road trails was not a factor.
Even without magnetic lenses, Switch gives you some very sharp optics and a comfortable fit. Add the cool lenses, and you have a standout product.
I wanted to be sure I wasn’t just giddy over cool factor, so I showed them to a few buddies. The magnetic retention amazed them all. A few were extra-impressed by the availability of prescription lenses. After the oohs and aahs, they asked "Where can I get a pair?"
Here in Phoenix, the answer so far is that you can find Switch sunglasses at selected local eye clinics. I hope that expands in the future to bike shops and other sports suppliers. For now, it looks like you can also find Switch sunglasses online at REI. I saw the Stoke advertised at other websites from $169. The new Switch model, the Boreal (the company’s first full-frame model), will range from $119-$189.
One thing I didn’t notice in the lineup of Switch sunglasses is an all-clear lens for middle-of-the-night mountain biking. That’s an easy fix, though.
Someone at Switch thinks like an outdoor enthusiast: Dealing with small, finicky bits while your heart is pounding, while you’re getting dehydrated, while you’re started to cramp -- is absolutely no fun. So they made sunglasses that take at least one gadget-related worry of your mind.
A long-term flogging. The Switch Stoke sunglasses have impressed me. They’re a lot pricier than my usual glasses, but I see what Switch is offering for the extra scrilla.
I’ll update this post in a few months with new observations and thoughts – the kind that only come from lots of hard-core flogging and use. Stand by!
In the meantime, Switch sunglasses deserve some props.
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