BOLLÉ RAINIER SUNGLASSES
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M KIDD
INITIAL REPORT - June 01, 2012
FIELD REPORT - August 27, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - October 29, 2012
Steven M Kidd
5' 9" (1.75 m)
196 lb (88.90 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 25 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Image Courtesy of Bollé|
Manufacturer: Bushnell Outdoor Products
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: http://bolle.com
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: Sunglasses: 1.1 oz (31 g); Bag: 0.3 oz (9 g); Case: 2.3 oz (65 g)
Measured Lens Size: 70 x 45 mm (2.75 x 1.75 in)
6 Available Colors: Dark Satin Gray with True Neutral Smoke Lenses; Holographic Silver with Rose Blue Lenses; Shiny White with True Neutral Smoke Fire Lenses; Shiny Red with Photo Rose Gun Lenses and Dark Satin Gray with True Neutral Smoke Polarized Lenses (Testing this final style)
The Bollé Rainier's are wrap-around style sunglasses. They sport no less than six proprietary properties. The lenses are made of Trivex and use B-Clear technology which is designed not to fog and has both oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings in an effort to repel dirt and keep the lenses perspiration free in even the most strenuous conditions. The pair I'm testing is also polarized.
The sunglasses have a scratch resistant coating known as Carbo Glas. The frames are made of a nylon material called B88 with the intention of being durable and lightweight. I measured the frame arms at just under 5 in (127 mm) long.
The nose pad, which is one continuous piece that I measured at 2 in (51 mm) is adjustable for a tailored fit. The nose pad and brow rest, measured at 5 in (127 mm), are made with Thermogrip. This is designed for a comfortable fit that absorbs moisture and keep the glasses in place. The material is softer than the nylon frames, slightly spongy to the touch. Finally the temples are vented with two slots on either side of the frame. One is 0.625 in (16 mm) and the other is 0.375 in (10 mm) long.
The Bollé Rainier sunglasses arrived in an appealing recycled box. I opened the box to remove a black hard shelled protective case with a Bollé Alpine logo on the case top, a zippered opening with another logoed zipper pull and a tap with a plastic clip for attaching the case to D - rings or the like. I unzipped the case, which took some effort the first time. The glasses were in yet another soft cloth bag with a cinch draw. I removed the sunglasses from the bag and was immediately impressed with how light they felt.
I slid the glasses on and they felt nearly weightless. The polarized lenses are certainly dark as they are designed to work best in bright light and high glare conditions. I was so enamored by their lightweight feel that I walked in and put them on the scales. As mentioned at the start of the report they weighed just 1.1 oz (31 g), and with the case, bag and all it weighs just 3.7 oz (105 g). I certainly will use the case when I'm backpacking for protective purposes, but I found it interesting the case weighed nearly twice a much as the glasses.
When I first gazed in the mirror I noticed how large the lenses were in comparison to both the sun and eyeglasses I generally wear. In fact, these lenses are approximately 25% larger than the eyeglasses I'm wearing while creating this report. Although I'm not typically one who wears larger framed glasses I thoroughly understand and appreciate the way these frames wrap the face and minimize bright light from sneaking in on the peripheral.
One of the things that intrigues me most about the Rainier sunglasses is the hydrophobic and no-fog claim promoted by Bollé. I often do not wear sunglasses on the trail for this key reason. I begin to sweat and then the glasses become dirty and foggy. If this statement is true I'll be elated and happy to use them on the trail. The Thermogrip material feels comfortable on my brow and nose. The venting slots also appear novel and I hope to see if they aid in keeping the glasses moisture free as well.
The Thermogrip material is a bold lime green color contrasting with the muted nylon satin gray frames and gray hued lenses. Most of the green is on the inside of the frames and along the back of the ear pieces, so although the green is bold, it blends in well with my conservative taste in eyewear. Bollé, however, does offer these sunglasses in some bold options with varying styles of lenses. I may have gone the milk-toast route, but these were also the only style available with polarized lenses, and I felt this would be beneficial for water use and potential snow glare in the winter.
CARE AND CLEANING
Bollé suggests cleaning the glasses with a lens cloth or cotton and using a mild diluted liquid soap. They state never to use paper products on the lenses or any chemical cleaning agents. As salt is highly abrasive the company suggests rinsing them after use in ocean water before cleaning. They should also never be placed face down and are best stored in their protective case or pouch when not in use.
The lenses are designed to be twenty times more impact resistant than glass and are scratch resistant, but certainly not scratch proof.
Many of these suggestions appear to be common sense, but almost every pair of sunglasses I've ever seen damaged was due to improper storage or care, not general use and wear.
I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest and Bushnell Outdoor Products for the opportunity to test the Bollé Rainier sunglasses. Please check back in a few months to see how well they've held up to my profuse perspiration on the trail!
So far I'm truly excited by the Bollé Rainier sunglasses. They are lightweight; provide full coverage from the sun and the craftsmanship appears impeccable. I'm excited to try them in the field. I look forward to using them at the pool with the family this weekend and in the Caribbean next weekend when I spend the better part of a day on and under the water doing some scuba diving. After this I'll get a thorough field test in the backcountry.
Full sun protection
Larger frames and lenses than I'm used to wearing
Zipper on the case has given me some trouble
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
14 -15 July, 2012: Long Hunter State Park, Hermitage, Tennessee. This was a two-day and one-night outing that covered 11 mi (18 km) along the 5.5 mi (9 km) Volunteer Trail that emerges on J. Percy Priest Lake. The high elevation of the park is 522 ft (159 m). Temperatures were humid and oppressing with highs around 95 F (35 C) during the day and a low around 87 F (31 C) at night. There was no moisture at all on the outing.
10 - 12 August, 2012: Bear Island on J. Percy Priest Lake. The island is a fifteen minute paddle from Anderson Boat Ramp, in Davidson, Tennessee (a part of the Metropolitan Nashville Area). Lake elevation at full summer pond is 490 ft (149 m) and I hammock camped less than twenty yards from shore on this three-day and two-night outing. Temperatures were amazing and dry; they averaged no higher than 82 F (28 C) during the day and dipped to as low as 59 F (15 C) on the second night. No true mileage was covered on this outing as it was a "Group Hang" of hammock campers from the middle Tennessee area and mostly involved water sports and fishing.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
|Atlantis Diving Trip|
Since receiving the Rainiers I've been on two backpacking trips, but they've certainly tested much more thoroughly than those two individual weekends. I wore them extensively on weekend outings on the water and in the car. I spend an average of 900 -1,000 mi (1450 -1600 km) per week behind the wheel.
The first extensive trip I was able to utilize them on was a five-day and four-night getaway to Freeport Island in the Bahamas. The weather was in the mid 90's F (~35 C) during the sunny hours and the days were mostly dry. Humidity wasn't prevalent on the beaches and definitely not a concern on the scuba diving trip I took. I am pleased to report both the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings worked beyond my expectations during this early portion of the test and in fact throughout my trial. This pair is polarized and they handled the reflections of the sun on the ocean surface perfectly in my opinion.
The glasses are so lightweight I rarely even noticed they were on my head. When wearing frames for the better part of the day I can at times suffer from minor headaches in the temple area, but this never once occurred with them.
Both the backcountry outings in which I used the sunglasses were on or near a lake. The second trip included boating which put me directly on the water. The polarization again worked well. I did perspire heavily on these outings only to positively report the glasses handled it without problems. The Thermogrip clung well to my skin and the lenses stayed dry and clean most of the time. I wasn't constantly pulling a lens cloth out to clean them and that excited me!
In early August we took a family vacation to the east coast of Florida where I met my brother and his family. My brother broke his sunglasses in the airport on the way to the vacation home, so I loaned him the Rainiers for a few days. I did this for two reasons. The first was that one of my thorns in the initial report was that the glasses are larger than I normally wear, so I decided to choose a different set of shades for family beach photos. The second thought was to get another opinion on several of my initial thoughts. Interestingly, after using them for a few days he gave me a very similar opinion to the one I had already formed. He thought the lenses were crystal clear and provided absolutely no reflection. His thoughts on drawbacks were the size, and that the nose piece wasn't adjustable. However, after he returned them to me he shared with me that he never adjusted them as he didn't want to mess up the way I had them set up. I showed him how simple it was to bend the single Thermogrip nose piece. He tried them on and it changed his entire perspective.
The other key complaint he had, and something I only noticed after the initial report had to do with cleaning the interior lenses of the Rainiers. I assume it has to do with one of the coatings, but when simply wiping a lens cloth across them the fabric tends to drag and not want to clean. A cloth glides smoothly across the exterior of the lenses as it would with most sunglasses, but definitely not on the interior. This caused us both a little trouble. It tends to be when I'm in the field and want to do a quick wipe on the frames. This inconvenience causes me no such problem when cleaning with mild soap and water, only during field cleaning.
|A True Sweat Test!|
Just before this report was due I believe I put the Bollés through their most complete test to date. I worked two a day Habitat For Humanity house build on the weekend of 25-26 August, in 95 F (35 C) dry heat. Each day was oppressive with minimal cloud protection and we worked from 7 AM - 4:30 PM. I realize this wasn't a backpacking outing, but the conditions were certainly more strenuous, involved more sun exposure and perspiration than any backpacking trip I generally take. The first morning we were erecting walls on the home and by ten in the morning my moisture wicking shirt was soaked. Funny enough I never paid much attention to the sun protection on my eyes. Midday I was using sunscreen on my pink neck and arms and I realized my glasses were perfectly clean. Albeit I never loved the large frames on the Rainiers I finally realized this trade off in vanity was well worth the eye protection I was receiving. More amazing was how dry and clean the interior of the sunglasses were. The lenses never fogged up, oils from my skin or lashes never dirtied up the interior. Basically I was thoroughly impressed with the product!
On day two I found myself working on the roof for part of the morning and never having a concern for glare. Later I was under the roof nailing hurricane braces to the walls and trusses. I only realize now that I was doing so under the cover of a roofed house with the shades on. It was never too dark for me to perform my task, and although they are certainly not safety glasses I noticed at the end of the day the exterior of the lenses were covered in saw dust, but the interior was relatively clean.
|A "Blackbird's" Eye View of the Lake|
When I first received the Bollé Rainiers I was a bit skeptical about them do to the fact they were quite a bit larger than the average pair of sunglasses I typically use for leisure wear or driving. Honestly, I believe it was a vanity concern. Quickly through both backcountry field use and average daily use I learned they were designed to perfectly to protect my eyes from the sun while keeping both the glasses and my face clean and dry throughout the day. Will they ever be the pair I grab to lay on the beach with my family or friends? Probably not, but when I'm hitting the field, doing something athletic or outdoors oriented they are currently my Go-To glasses! I simply believe they perform in the manner just as the engineers that designed them expected.
I've been delighted with the sunglasses on long days in full sun, on the reflective surface of the water on sunny days and even under the cover of a just roofed in house. They are great.
They are lightweight, stay clean, rarely fog and more. They basically go unnoticed on my head. Something I cannot say about most sunglasses. I had two concerns at the outset of the test, one being the vanity issue. I've overcome that. The zipper on the case still gives me trouble, and in fact was a complaint my brother had during his use as well. My final frustration is the difficulty to easily clean the interior of the lenses with only a cleaning cloth. To wipe them thoroughly I need soap and water. However, this minor inconvenience is not enough of a detraction to cause me to negatively rate them. To date, I love the glasses. This is a tall statement, as I've rarely tested an item for which I have such adoration.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
15 - 16 September, 2012: King's Chapel Pond, Arrington, Tennessee. I couldn't get the kids to the woods, so I took the woods to them. Our neighborhood has over 300 acres of untouched farm and hunting land that allowed us to take a short 0.75 m (1.2 km) hike to a well established irrigation pond on the farm. The elevation is 767 ft (234 m) and the temperatures were in the mid 60s F (18 C) and dipped to 48 F (9 C) during the evening. There was very heavy dew when we awoke the next morning. In fact, it was wet enough to cause my 5 year old daughter to think it had rained overnight.
19 - 21 October, 2012: Foster Falls, South Cumberland State Park, Marion, Tennessee. My entire family went on a three day and two night outing on the Cumberland Plateau. Mileage was short, less than a mile (1.6 km) each way, although I think the distance may have been tougher on my wife than it was on my four and five year old children. Temperatures ranged from around 58 F (14 C) during the day to lows around 37 F (3 C) at night. There were some mild wind gusts, but the sun was out during the daylight hikes.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
As the test series is concluding, I'm still as impressed with the glasses as was the day they arrived. In the final phase of the test series, I was able to use them on two specific backpacking outings, but like the earlier phases in the report I used them throughout the test in many facets.
|A Cool and Sunny Mountain Morning|
My later outings allowed me to test the Rainiers in cooler temperatures and I had no concerns to report. I expected this as I was so impressed with the way the sunglasses handled my perspiration and oiliness in the more extreme temperatures of the test. During my final outing I was camping along a gorge in the Cumberland Mountains. Early morning and late afternoon walks on the ridge allow for some breathtaking views of the vistas, but as the sun rises and sets it can have a blinding effect. The sunglasses certainly aided in combating the blinding sun and allowing me to enjoy the sunrises and sunsets. The manner in which the frames wrap around my face truly limits any peripheral sun exposure and that is one of the features that impressed me the most
I'm very particular when it comes to my sunglasses and treat them with kid gloves, but did drop them in the woods and they bounced on a fire pit rock and onto the ground. I'm not certain if the lenses hit the rock or not, and I picked the frames up holding my breath with hesitation and saw absolutely no damage to the lenses nor even a scratch on the frames.
Even in cooler temps they did get a little dirty during field use, and that is one of the key drawbacks I have with the lenses. Field cleaning the interior portion of the lenses is a little more difficult than I prefer, but I'll take the coating as it keeps them clean longer than any other lens I've ever used in for either leisure or outdoor use.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
I've truly come to appreciate the Bollé Rainier's in the nearly five months I've been testing them. I own nearly a half dozen pair of high end sun protection, but this pair of sunglasses has easily become my favorite for field and water sport use. They stay clean when I perspire heavily, they keep the glare of the water from blinding me and they also protect my peripheral vision. They are so lightweight that I don't see myself not tossing them in my pack, even on ultralight outings.
Cleaning the interior lenses in the field causes me some frustration, but I have no concerns when I do so with mild soap and water. The zipper on the hard case still gives me some trouble and I have a little bit of a vanity issue with them. I've always felt they looked really large on my face and I've lost significant weight during this test series, so when I look at the frames on my face they seem to appear even larger now.
These minor drawbacks in no way would cause me to not suggest these fine sunglasses to any person that is looking for great eye protection for field use. One pair of my aforementioned sunglasses is over twenty years old, and I hope to be using this pair in two decades as well!
I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Bushnell Outdoor Products for the opportunity to test the Bollé Rainier sunglasses.
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Read more gear reviews by Steven M Kidd