Product Review: Kaenon Hard Kore Sunglasses

I am a total junky when it comes to sunglasses, as is evident by the full rack of shades sitting on top of my dresser.  I especially love finding a good pair of sunglasses for trail running.  That is why I jumped at the opportunity to review the Kaenon Hard Kore glasses.  Let’s take a look.

DISCLAIMER: Kaenon provided this pair of sunglasses for the purposes of this review.  As such, I always strive to provide an unbiased review for the benefit of both my readers looking for honesty and the company looking to improve their products.

Overview

Kaenon, founded by a pair of sailors (and brothers), has its roots in water sports.  They started the company in 2001 to build a product that addressed some of the main limitations and issues with eyewear at the time.  The result was a company that has innovated and grown to include several product lines.  Today, I am reviewing a model in their Kore Performance line, the Hard Kore.  Here are a few key features to highlight:

  • All Kaenon models start with their proprietary SR-91 lens.  This is their bread and butter.  SR-91 not only received the highest optical resolution score that you can get, but was the first non-polycarbonate material to pass the high-mass impact ANSI Z.87.1.  In other words, they offer unsurpassed clarity and durability.
  • Polarized lens that eliminate glare while offering full broad spectrum UV protection.
  • Supports prescription lenses so you don’t have to sacrifice vision quality.

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Price: $175+ on Amazon (click to view)

Use

I actually got these at Outdoor Retailer back in August (shame on me for taking so long to review), so I have had several months to wear the Hard Kore and put them to the test.  I chose the copper lenses due to their better contrast on the trails and have not been disappointed at all with how they have performed.

Above all else, they provide excellent clarity, allowing me a great view of the trail in both sunny and shaded conditions.  The polarization also provided great protection against glare of any sort without distorting the clarity whatsoever.  I did have some minor fogging on one chilly and rainy run, but that seemed to be either a one-time occurrence or unique to the cold/wet weather combination.  Beyond that, the clarity was never compromised in any other instance over my three months of testing.

From a comfort perspective, the frame stems are a bit wider/taller than you will see on most products out there and there were some pluses and minuses to this design.  On the plus side, the added contact to the sides of the head aided to keep the glasses in place.  As a result, I never experienced any bouncing or slipping of the frames.  The way they hugged the sides of the head also made them extremely comfortable.  Most recently, I spent 10 hours running in the Grand Canyon and never felt the need to take them off.  These are definitely an all-day pair of sunglasses.  On the flipside, I found that the footprint of the frames did interfere with some hats, most noticeably trucker style hats.  I usually run in the Headsweats floppy hat style, which gave me no problems, but you should keep that in mind.

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Conclusion

There are a lot of sunglass options out there of all shapes, sizes, and price.  Kaenon definitely prices alongside other premium brands, such as Oakley and Rudy Project.  While they would probably price too high for most people when it comes to everyday wear (myself included), I have always been of the mindset that one should always invest in a great pair of optics when it comes to activewear.  Perhaps it’s because I tend to be clumsy on the trails, but I feel that one shouldn’t sacrifice quality when it comes to having crystal clear vision on the trails.  That being said, if you are looking to make a solid investment in your gear, you should definitely give a hard look at the Kaenon Hard Kore.  Here are my pro’s and con’s.

Pro’s:

  • Light weight – They are super light on the face, which keeps you from noticing that they are even there.
  • Stable – They don’t slip or bounce on your face, which is important, especially because of how annoying it can be when you have to constantly push sunglasses back up on your face.
  • Optics – Probably, the most important feature to any trail runner, I found the optical clarity to be fantastic.  I went with the copper lens color because that color provides the best contrast on dirt terrain.  These were probably the best quality copper lenses I have ever worn.

Con’s:

  • Frames – They do hug the head nicely, but they are stems are wide/tall.  I didn’t find this to be a problem without head wear, but since I run with a hat on 95% of the time, I found that they do get in the way with certain types of hats.
  • Fogged up slightly during one heavy rain day with cooler (mid 40’s) temperatures.  Did not experience this on days when it rained, but the temperatures were higher.

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Shaba VS-12C Mini Bluetooth Speaker

One of the things I LOVE about doing product reviews is the chance to expand the horizons of my readers through the discovery of products of new or relatively unknown brands.  I have found some really great products out there simply by digging a little deeper.  My latest find is the VS-12C mini bluetooth speaker from Shaba Audio.  Shaba’s parent company is also a manufacturer and exclusive distributor of Sherwood Audio in China.  Shaba’s product line is focused on portable audio devices, such as the VC-12C.

The market today is flooded with choices when it comes to bluetooth speakers, which can make it hard to find one that balances cost and quality.  You can go out and buy one for $100+ and get something that sounds good, is waterproof, etc., but aside from being pricy, products in this price range generally aren’t the type of thing that you would walk around with.  On the smaller side, you can spend less money, but most of them that I have run across either have poor sound quality, are cheaply made, or both.  I found the Shaba VS-12C to be a pretty solid middle ground.  Let’s take a look.

For its size, it provides surprisingly good quality audio output, both in terms of quality and volume.  The VS-12C is about the size of an egg, which you can see in this picture:

In terms of audio quality, it packs a decent punch too.  For comparison purposes, I would say that the audio volume output is about 75-100% more than that of an iPhone and the quality is considerably better.  Whereas sound quality can often degrade as you approach max volume on most devices, the sound quality is pretty consistent on the VS-12C.

Aside from just playing audio via bluetooth, it has some other pretty cool features as well.  Here are some highlights:

  • A selfie button, that allows you to prop your camera up and take a picture using the VS-12C as a remote.
  • A speakerphone capability that allows hands-free communication through your phone.
  • LED lights, that make it easy to use in the dark.

I could see a number of uses for this little guy.  For example, if you want some music while out hiking, walking, running, etc., it is the perfect size to carry in your hand, fasten to your pack, or hang it around your neck.  Really, it is pretty convenient for any situation where portability is a main concern.  Here is a basic pro/con list of highlights:

Pros:

  • Size makes it super portable for just about any situation.
  • Sound quality.  I am not going to use it to DJ a party anytime soon, but the sound quality was well above my expectations for something of that size.  It is perfect for personal, portable needs.

Cons:

  • I don’t like it hanging around my neck and would have much rather preferred if they built a clip onto the back of it so I could clip it to things instead.

If you like this post and would like to stay up to date when future gear reviews, race reports, and other related posts are released, please follow my Facebook page at Ultrarunner Joe!

XTAR Moon RC2 Rechargeable Light

As I have said many times before, one of the things that I enjoy most about reviewing products is running across unique items from lesser known companies within the trail and ultra space.  While the big names continue to bring us new, innovative products, I have had the best luck with companies that aren’t so entrenched in the space.  They often tend to think a little outside of the box.  The Moon RC2 rechargeable light from XTAR is one such item.  Let’s have a look!

Product Overview

The XTAR Moon RC2 is shaped like an egg and only a tad bit larger.  It comes with a clip on the back that is used to secure it in place.  It offers flood-mode lighting in 4 levels:

  • High: 120 lumens / 4.2 hour runtime
  • Medium: 60 lumens / 9 hour runtime
  • Low: 30 lumens / 16 hour runtime
  • Moonlight: 3 lumens / 120 hour runtime

It is waterproof and offers a built-in battery that is rechargeable using Micro USB and at 87.5 grams, it is not too bulky either.  You can get a basic idea of the shape and size from the photo of the Moon RC2 in my hand.  The light is controlled by a single button on the top of the light that allows you to toggle between the four different light modes.  Here is a link to their product page as well for more details:

Moon RC2 Product Page

     

The easiest place to get your hands on one is at Amazon, and at $20, it is a pretty solid deal!

$19.99 at Amazon.com (click to view)

In Action

As with all of the reviews I write about lighting products, I like to show images that give you some feel for the light coverage.  On the left, you will see an image of the light in HIGH mode and on the right, you will see the light in LOW mode.

     

The Moon RC2 does not offer a beam mode, but as you can see, it is capable of outputting a good amount of light.  I found it to be pretty ample for running, but I did find myself missing beam mode for those times when I wanted to focus on something in the distance.  What I liked most about it was the ability to clip it on to pretty much anywhere.  While running, I clipped it on to the waistband of my shorts.  It provided for a great light angle and didn’t slide around at all.  The clip is strong enough to hold it securely in place, whether you want to clip it on to your shorts, water bottle holster, or hydration pack.  This versatility may be the best thing about the Moon RC2.  In terms of battery life, it was on par with other lights that have similar lumen output, but the lack of a swappable battery does make it difficult to use as a primary light for all night runs.

Pro’s

  • Can clip it anywhere making it versatile for many types of use.
  • Light quality was good.
  • Simple to use interface and easy to recharge.
  • Battery life was on par with competing products with similar lumen output.

Con’s

  • No beam mode
  • No swappable battery

In general, while I am sure they could do some things to improve upon it, for the price and size/weight, the Moon RC2 will make a great backup light to keep around or to use for shorter distances in the dark.  Along with it’s versatile clip-on interface, I will find myself using it for many other purposes as well.  For example, it would be great as a secondary rear-racing light to put on my pack, camping, hiking, and even those times when you simply need a hands-free light.  Worth checking it out for sure!

If you like this post and would like to stay up to date when future gear reviews, race reports, and other related posts are released, please follow my Facebook page at Ultrarunner Joe!