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.

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!

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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
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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!

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: 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
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  • 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.

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!