Product Review: Gargoyles Recoil Sunglasses

Overview
For this review, I am taking a look at their Recoil model.  If you read my past Gargoyles review, you know how highly I speak of the company and their products.  I whole-heartedly believe in the principles that they follow in designing their products.  In fact, I believe in their quality and performance so much that since I had the opportunity to review some of their other products for my previous review a few months ago, I have used them almost exclusively.  I look forward to their continued growth in the high-end running market and will continue to provide you with an overview of their products along the way.

DISCLAIMER: I am currently supported by Gargoyles and they provided me with these sunglasses for this review.

Description
Recoil is a functional, light-weight sport frame who versatility caters to a number of different uses, whether driving, running, biking, hunting, or catching a baseball game.  It features locking hinges so that the stems stay open or shut.  The half-rim design minimizes obstruction in the viewing area.  The Recoil comes with polarized, treated lens designed to minimize glare, reduce smudging, and repel water.

Recoil 2 - Brown      Recoil 1 - Brown     Recoil 3 - Brown
(Click to enlarge)

Price: $175.00
Product Page: Gargoyles Recoil Black/Bronze

As with most of my eyewear reviews, I like to break down my review into five main categories and rate them based on their performance while running:

Comfort/Fit (3.5 / 5.0)
This may really be the only category for which I can mark down the Recoil as it was a bit tight around the ears, which resulted in a little bit (not much) of discomfort after about two hours of wearing them.  Of all Gargoyles models that I have tested in the past, these may have the least amount of rubber grip on the stems of all of them.  You can feel the plastic on the stems as you are wear them.  I suspect that adding a bit more rubber padding to the stems may alleviate much of the issue here.  Still, they caused no issues on sub-two hour runs or during everyday wear.

Here are a couple pictures showing the fit on my face.

Recoil Fit Front Recoil Fit Side

Lens Quality/Clarity (4.5 / 5/0)
As typical with every other pair of Gargoyles that I have tested, they excel in this area.  I tested the bronze polarized lens model, which I think is becoming my preference for trail running.  The bronze lens provides the perfect color and contract for running on trails and spotting obstacles and the clarity is as close to perfect as you can get.  The advertised treatments on the lens worked as promised to maximize clarity, with no smudging or glare that would otherwise be a problem.  Lastly, I experienced a bit of fogging at times.  The lens, given its wrapping face coverage, could benefit from more of a vented design.

Performance/Ride (4.5 / 5.0)
The performance of these glasses were great on the run, especially since I group these in more with a multi-purpose model.  There was only a hint of bounce on some faster downhills, but it was minor.  Like the feedback I provided in the comfort section above, I think this would also be easily remedied with a bit more rubber on the stems.

Durability/Quality (5.0 / 5.0)
The Recoil have a thick and sturdy frame, which gives them a very solid feel.  The lens are thick and virtually indestructible, which is also nice in the event of the inevitable fall.  No issues in this area here.

Aesthetics/Looks (4.5 / 5.0)
Overall, they look great for everyday wear, although they looked a bit big on my face.  This is a great thing for protecting the eyes, but when wearing them around, I prefer something a little smaller to match my somewhat smaller face.  Aside from that, they have a sporty look to them.

Conclusion

Overall Score: 4.4 / 5.0

I would liken the Recoil the half-frame version of the Havoc, which I previously reviewed.  They are very similar in design, with the Recoil being a half frame (which I prefer for running trails because of its less-obstructed viewing area).  I said the Havoc is a very versatile pair of sunglasses in that you can wear them while driving and then immediately on the trails without ever taking them off of your face…the same goes for the Recoil.  I think these are a great option for everyday wear and shorter runs.

Pro’s:

  • Maximum eye coverage which should do nicely protecting the eyes from debris, tree branches, etc.
  • Versatile; caters superbly to multi-purpose usage.

Con’s:

  • Definitely not enough padding on the stems, which takes away from the comfort during extended periods of athletic use.  I will use them for everyday use and for shorter runs, but not likely during an all-day ultra race.

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Product Review: Gargoyles Performance Eyewear

Company Overview

G_VIPER_PE_Horiz_b-w LOGO

About 35 years ago, Gargoyles was founded on the back of innovations that revolutionized lens technology. Since then, you have seen them being used everywhere, from the US Army to Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator.  Gargoyles has made a name for itself by bringing the highest quality products to the market that are known for durability, high clarity, and aesthetics.   By following the most demanding industry standards, such as ANSI Z87.1+, they are able to bring to market products that meet anything thrown at them (literally).  To get even more detail on the care and innovation that goes into their products, you can take a look at the technology overview on their website:

Gargoyles Technology

Despite their prominence among military and police, they have not been a huge player in the endurance athlete realm in recent years.  I was intrigued to talk to them because I believe that many of the same standards for durability and quality that they meticulously incorporate into their products apply directly to the world of trail running and obstacle course racing.  When I synced up with them, I soon discovered that they are indeed very interested our world and wanted to find out how their products held up.

Below is my attempt to put these to the test.  As always, I will test them from the perspective of a trail and mountain runner, perhaps with some other activities mixed in for good measure.  I intend to focus on a few main areas:

  • Durability/Quality
  • Comfort/Fit
  • Lens Quality/Clarity
  • Performance/Ride
  • Aesthetics/Looks

My hope is to provide you with an accurate assessment of the products that I tested as well as to provide feedback to Gargoyles to aide in their effort to make the perfect running and OCR sunglasses.

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with Gargoyles.  However, they provided me with product for purposes of this review.

In The Box:

Each pair of glasses comes with a hard case and lens wipe cloth (pictured below)

Gargolyes Case

Product Overview:

Assault
The Assault ended up near the top of the models that I reviewed…overall, they were awesome!  The Assault is a half-frame model. The lens are vented in the upper outside corner. The stems have a nice fit with rubber grip running along the back half. They also curve downward slightly toward the back preventing discomfort when wearing a hat.

Breakaway
In all of the models that I reviewed from Gargoyles, I found the Breakaway to be the best option for running.   The Breakaway is a half-frame model. Similarly to the Assault, the stems have a nice fit with rubber grip running along the back half. They also share the same nose pad. Overall, they have a very similar fit.

Flux
The flux offered a slightly more fashionable (versus sporty) look to them, but don’t let that fool you, they are still high performing sunglasses. The Flux is a half rim model. They have less rubber on the stems, limited only to the back. The nose pad is also a deviation from the rest of the models I tested, and seems to be a bit grippier.

Pursuit
When I look at the Pursuit, I immediately get the impression that they are targeted toward the world of cycling/triathlons…they just have that look to them.  They have vented lens, good wraparound coverage, and are super light.

Havoc/Squall
I have mentioned in previous posts that I am not a fan of full frame sunglasses when running on trails as I tend to glance down by tilting my eyes instead of my head, which results in the bottom of the frame partially obstructing my view.  At the same time, not everyone shares my opinion so I wanted to give them a shot.

The following chart provides a side-by-side review of each model (click to enlarge).

Gargoyles Product Review Chart v2

Conclusion

During my exhaustive testing, I was able to jump immediately to a single revelation: Gargoyles KNOWS how to make performance sunglasses!  Sure, not every pair fit my face perfectly, but we all are shaped differently and that is to be expected.  What I mean is that they are everything and more that you would expect from a high end product.  With Gargoyles, it all starts with their lens.  They are engineered to provide the highest level of durability and clarity.  Beyond that, it is clear that they care about bringing well constructed products to the market and it shows from the time you first hold a pair.  While their current product line was not engineered purely from a running perspective, they can compete with other high-end brands and their increased focus on this market segment should result in future models that excel even more.

Gargoyles Brand Pro’s:

  • Polarized lens are high quality, they blow every other brand I have tested out of the water.  This probably stems from the fact that they are owned by Foster-Grant, one of the top lens makers out there.  In fact, the lens quality, clarity, and durability in general is second to none in my opinion.
  • Very light yet durable frames that are made from high end materials and constructed to last.
  • Hinged stems on the frames are a nice feature on all of the Gargoyles I tested.  They keep the stem from opening up accidentally, preventing them from getting caught on things.  This is a small detail that helps decrease the chance of breakage.
  • Brand history and reputation.  Gargoyles and their parent company Foster Grant are leaders and innovators in the space.  They are a brand that has built loyalty, and they have done that with great products.

Gargoyles Brand Con’s:

  • While many of the products I tested performed well during running activities, they could knock it out of the park with a few minor tweaks geared specifically toward runners. Many of these were called out in the individual reviews above, but the most common were:
    • Better nose guard with more grip to prevent bouncing/movement.
    • Vented lenses to prevent fogging and improve air circulation.
  • Completely absent from the product line was photochromic lens option.  This NEEDS to be there in my opinion, particularly for trail runners that are used to running through areas that alternate between covered to exposed.
  • Price is going to cause people to shy away from these.  For those that take their eyewear seriously though, it shouldn’t.  You get what you pay for and there is a ton of value in Gargoyles despite the price range due to their quality and performance.  Aside from losing them, you can expect to have them for a long time!
  • Color options.  I might be getting nit-picky here, but I have seen a trend toward more colorful, fashionable sunglasses.  Outside of the Flux and Pursuit, many of the color options were limited to darker colors, black or brown.  Color has nothing to do with performance of course, but it does have to do with appealing to a broader audience.

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!

Product Review: Ryder’s Strider Sunglasses

Overview
Ryder’s (www.ryderseyewear.com) is a popular name in the trail running scene, and for good reason.  This brand, based out of Canada, is known for making reliable, durable, and great fitting action eyewear; all characteristics that trail runners look for.  I have not personally had much experience with their products, but I did get the chance to review the Strider model recently, which is the subject of this review.

DISCLAIMER: I have no affiliation with Ryder’s, but they did provide a pair of their Strider sunglasses to support this review.

Description
The Strider comes with a number of different options, including lens types and frame colors.  The model I reviewed were black and gray frames with a photochromic lens as pictured here:

Ryder Strider Photochromic

Price: $79.99
Product Page: https://ryderseyewear.com/node/6805

As with most of my eyewear reviews, I like to break down my review into five main categories:

Comfort/Fit
The Strider excelled in the area of comfort.  The thermoplastic provides flex in the frame that allows them to fit securely on your face, no matter what size it is, without being too tight or restrictive.  I didn’t have any issues with irritation, even after four hours of running.

Lens Quality/Clarity
As a trail runner, I am a huge fan of photochromic lenses, in large part because where I typically run involves moving in and out of shaded areas.  Photochromic eyewear eliminates the need to take them off because they adjust to the changing light conditions.  A trade-off that I often find with photochromic lenses versus others is clarity; they seem to be a bit foggy.  With the Strider, there is a hint of that, but these are remarkably better than other brands I have worn in the past.  In fact, it is barely noticeable.

Performance/Ride
My initial impression of the nose pad was that its smooth surface would not hold the front of the frames in place well enough.  It seems that I worried for nothing.  Their hydrophilic rubber material provides a splendid amount of grip, even more so when they start to get a bit moist, which is consistent with their marketing message.  They rode very well with no need to adjust mid-run.

Durability/Quality
Ryder’s touts their durability and I didn’t have any cause to doubt that in my experience with them.  They don’t appear to be poorly constructed and seemed to hold up well enough.

Aesthetics/Looks
They have a pretty slick look on the face.  While I wouldn’t wear photochromic eyewear around for everyday use, I think they look pretty sweet when out tearing up the trails.

Conclusion

Score: 4.8 / 5.0

These might be my new go-to sunglasses when I know I will be running at bit at night or in and out of shady areas.  As far as photochromic options, these are a great buy.

Pro’s:

  • Light comfortable fit
  • High quality photochromic lens with better clarity than I have seen from other brands I have worn
  • No bounce on the face while active

Con’s:

  • Lens are not vented.  While that rarely causes problems with me in Salt Lake City where it is typically dry, I HATE fogging!  I generally like some sort of venting, just in case.