Monday, July 18, 2011

Product Review: Ryders Hex Photochromic

Welcome to my running environment.  I live in Southern California, and do most of my trail running in the Santa Monica mountains.  While we don't have altitude, we do have a broad spectrum of terrain: gut-busting climbs, technical downhills, rivers, open fields of wildflowers, canopied singletrack, and ridgeline.  More importantly, a single day's trailrun can include all of these, plus the unpradictability of a fog-like marine layer. 
Since I started trail running last year, I have been 'eyewear challenged' because of the ever-changing light conditions.   I tend to look at what others are doing and wearing, and I see that many just take glasses on and off.  I thought there must be a better way. 

Ryders offers a better way.  While interchangable lenses are one way to address varying needs, it is not a practicle solution for environments like mine where light conditions are changing rapidly.  Enter the Photochromic Lens.   Photochromic means "capable of darkening or changing color when exposed to light".  I took the Ryders Hex glasses with the photochromic lens for a test drive on Sunday, when the fog/cloud layer was heavy (see photo).  I knew it would either burn off or I would climb above it, and that light conditions on that day would range from low to very bright.  

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My usual complaint (and the problem I was trying to solve) is that I have my glasses on when the trail is exposed and the sun is present, then duck in and out of densly treed sections and lose the much-needed visibility (sure-footedness is not my strong suit).   So I would either wear glasses and stumble through the low-light areas or tuck them away completely and squint through the sunny ones.  Both options are dangerous in their own ways. 

The Hex took great care of me.  I put them on at the trailhead in the morning, when the light was low, and the lenses remained light enough that the nuances of the trail were readily visible.  As expected, the fog burned off for a period of brightness, and then blew back in late in the run. 

The Hex has 'blade' styling and a super-light frame.  (I looked way faster than I actually am.)  Due to my previously-mentioned clutziness, I tugged on these a bit to see how fragile this waif would be, and got solid feedback.  Like all other Ryders eyewear, the Hex lens is a polycarbonate material that is virtually indestructable, and the frame is a highly durable and flexible Swiss-made thermoplastic.  In other words, Lori-proof.

If grip tends to be an issue for you, the Hex is a great option.  The nose pads and temple tips are Hydrophilic, which means stable in water, so they hang onto your sweaty or fog-wetted face, both of which I had on Sunday.  The design has excellent ventilation, so even though it was foggy on the trail, it wasn't foggy inside my glasses. 

The net-net:  I wore the Hex the entire run and forgot they were even on (which to me is the greatest compliment you can give eyewear).   They stayed put, and just rolled with whatever the day served up.   I wish everything in my life would do that.   

The Ryders Photocromic Hex retails for an amazing $69.99 - that's a whole lot of technology for your buck.   

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