New for 2015: Gargoyles Performance Eyewear Zulu and Classics

Some pretty exciting new additions have been released over the past few months into the Gargoyles sport and lifestyle product lines.  While there are several new models (half a dozen or so), as a runner, it was the Zulu and the Classics that caught my eye (for different reasons…more on that in a moment).  If you have read any of my past reviews, you know that I LOVE Gargoyles products, which I find to be unmatched in terms of clarity and durability.  I am stoked to see them experiencing a resurgence and expanding the product line to give people even more options to choose from.  In past reviews, I have exhaustively commented on their high level of quality, durability, and clarity.  I can say right up front that both of these new models did not deviate from that same standard of excellence.  So instead of rehashing the same info, let me take a different approach to each.

DISCLAIMER: I run exclusively for Team Gargoyles in 2015.  They provided both of these models for my personal use and review.  As always, I will make every effort to remain impartial in my feedback for the benefit of you as a potential user and for Gargoyles in the spirit of continuous product improvement.

Zulu
sunglasses-10700157.qtm.1_1
Price: $160 ($120 for non-polarized)

Key Features:

  • Full-rim design
  • Aluminum frame construction
  • Polarized, mirrored lens
  • ANSI Z87.1+ certified durability and protection standards
  • Anti-reflective and water repellent
  • 100% UV Protection

I have stated pretty openly in previous reviews that I don’t particularly care for full-rimmed frames while running because they tend to obstruct my view.  That being said, what caught my eye about the Zulu is that the bottom of the frame seemed to be fairly thin in comparison to other models.  I wanted to try them out to see if my observation was true and was glad to find out that it was.  If you are a bit picky like me when it comes to this, these might be a good middle ground for you.  I did not find them much obstruction at all and have even gotten so used to them that I don’t really notice anymore.  The aluminum frame is a super light alternative to plastic that adds durability without the weight.  One thing to definitely point out is the fit.  If you have worn Gargoyles before, you should know that they made the Zulu slightly more narrow compared to other models.  The plus side to this for me is that they hold super secure to my head and face and do not bounce at all, even on a fast downhill.  The down side is that if you gravitate toward a wider fit, these likely are not the best model for you.  If you are thinking of picking up a pair of these, I would definitely suggest measuring your face and comparing it against the specs on their page.  With that said, I have been running almost exclusively in these since I got them a little over a month ago, mostly on runs under 3-4 hours long, and am pretty satisfied with them.  So, other than ensuring that the fit works for you, I don’t really have anything negative to say about the Zulu.  This is definitely a solid add to the product line…if the fit is right.

Classics
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Price: $100

Key Features:

  • Rimless design
  • ANSI Z87.1+ ANSI Z87.1+ certified durability and protection standards
  • Anti-reflective and water repellent
  • 100% UV Protection

They are back! Yes, that was a miserable attempt at a Terminator reference, but how can I avoid reminding you that it was the original Classics that graced the faces of both Arnold’s model T-101 as well as Clint Eastwood’s old school tough guy Dirty Harry!  Gargoyles really made the right decision when they decided to re-release the Classics, which come complete with some subtle design updates (to stay true to the originals) while also incorporating some of the latest technology.  For me, it took some getting used to “the look” since I don’t generally wear aviators or other large-lens styles, however, if aviators are your thing then you will love these (so says my wife).  From a running perspective, I also tend to run in sport style models.  So while you can run in these, and those of you that prefer to run in aviators will love them, they fit more into the lifestyle category for me.  They didn’t bounce like I expected…in fact, the didn’t really bounce at all while running.  All of that aside (because that was really nothing more than a rant about my personal preferences) I love wearing these around.  They provide phenomenal, unobstructed viewing, but that is not what stood out to me the most.  No, with the Classics, it was the clarity.  I know, I said I wouldn’t beat the “clarity” dead horse, but these far surpassed even the stringent lens quality standards that I have become used to with Gargoyles.  In fact, I can honestly say that I saw more clearly with them on than I did with my naked, LASIK-enhanced eyes.  So yeah, while I may gravitate toward other Gargoyle models that better suit my preferences on the trail, I will be rocking the Classics everywhere else…and looking like a complete bad ass while doing it!

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Product Review: Gargoyles Stakeout Sunglasses

Over the past year or so, I have been fortunate enough to review most of the performance line of sunglasses from Gargoyles.  With each pair I seem to fall in love more with the brand.  While they don’t necessarily develop and market their products exclusively for the our community, their stellar reputation for durability and lens clarity that makes them a favorite among the law enforcement and military communities are the same traits that should resonate with every trail runner.  My most recent review is on the Stakeout which, not to spoil the rest, is my favorite in the entire line.  Let’s take a look.

Description
From a running perspective, I have had some constructive criticism for all of the past Gargoyles models that I have reviewed. I try hard to remain honest and unbiased in all of my reviews in hopes that the constructive criticism I provide gets funneled into revisions that make the products better.  With that said, when I reviewed the Stakeout, I couldn’t find a single complaint with them.  While there are things I would like to see from the brand as a whole (I have already told Gargoyles that I want to see photochromic lens), I could not find a single issue with the Stakeout specifically.  So instead of getting wordy with the rest of this review, let’s take a different approach.  First we will take a look at them and then get into the features that stood out the most to me.

Gargoyles Stakeout Blue/Silver

Stakeout 2     Stakeout 1     Stakeout 3
(
click to enlarge)

  • Price: $140.00
  • Rx-compatible
  • Available in (4) lens/frame combinations — $120 for the brown.

Experience

In terms of what I like, it all starts with the lens that are a staple on all Gargoyles.  I would challenge anyone to find a pair of sunglasses with a lens that offers the equivalent clarity AND protection of any of their products.  This is what a trail runner should care about the most.  Whether it be a branch to the face or a tuble down the trail, these stand the test.  Additionally, the phenomenal clarity ensures that rocks and roots don’t sneak up on you.  As far as the Stakeout specifically, the shape of the lens and face coverage is perfect, offering a non-obstructive view and eye protection that you can be confident about.

Beyond the lens, the frame on the Stakeout nails it.  It is light and stays in place nicely, helping you to quickly forget that you are even wearing them.  The padding on the nose and stems allow you to wear them all day without any annoying rub spots.  The downward curvature of the stems allows you to wear a hat or other headgear at the same time without issue.

Aside from this, they look sharp.  Truly and honestly, these are my favorite sunglasses.  I wear other models of sunglasses for daily wear and training, but on race day, these are all that go on my face.

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

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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.

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!