SFS Gear Reviews: Protecting your eyes without breaking the bank

Sunglasses are a critical piece of gear if you plan on spending prolonged periods of time in the sun. Not only do they protect your eyes, but the right pair can help you spot marine-life swimming below the surface or boost your bird-watching prowess. An enormous, multi-billion dollar industry has formed to produce and market the right sunglasses to the right people.

It’s all bullshit.

Five dollars. Five dollars is the most any field scientist should commit to a pair of working sunglasses. Why? Because they break, get lost, and wearing a $200 pair of Oakleys on your face screams “I have valuable things, come look through my pockets.” Plus, no matter what the sunglass store says, you can get all the same features, and more, from a moderately priced pair of safety glasses.

Safety glasses?

You too can look this cool while working in the field. photo by Amy Freitag

Safety glasses. Walk passed the fancy sunglass display at your local superstore and head to the tool section. There you will find tinted, polarized safety glasses that not only look just like regular sunglasses, but are much more durable. I have a pair of Berkley polarized safety glasses I got for $1.99 that have held up for years. If you’re working with tools, you should be wearing eye protection anyway. And at a few bucks a pop, you can bring an extra pair for when you accidentally lose them.

You may look a little goofy, but plenty of designer glasses make you look goofy too, so who cares? Find a pair that fits, looks decent, and does what you need and buy a few extra. Leave the brand names at home for looking cool on campus and take the work glasses to work.

Utility – 4/5 (you won’t need them on the night shift)

Durability – 5/5 (they’re built to keep shrapnel and the sun out of your eyes)

Comfort – 5/5 (pick the right pair and you won’t know they’re there)

Price – $

Statement of use – I’ve had 1 or 2 pairs with me on every field season I’ve ever done and I wear them whenever I’m using power tools.


January 20, 2011 • 1:30 pm