COSTA DEL MAR SUNGLASSES
TEST SERIES BY ROBB PRATT
January 22, 2019
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unicornv007 AT yahoo.com
Canton, Michigan, USA
5' 10" (1.80 m)
165 lb (74.80 kg)
I backpacked sporadically growing up and rediscovered it back in 2011. Since then, I've taken several weekend long trips a year. I also car camp with my family roughly a dozen nights a year when we use tents unless I can convince them I might snore and it would be better for all for me to use my hammock rig. I prefer a light pack (weight without food or water under 20 pounds / 9 kg). My backpacking stomping ground is northern Michigan that has small hills and I typically camp late spring, summer and early fall months.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Costa Del Mar
Year of manufacture: 2018
Website: Costa Del Mar
Weight (Manufacturer's Site): NA
Weight (Measured by Tester):
- Sunglasses: 1.3 oz (36 g)
- Cleaning Cloth: 0.2 oz (6 g)
- Storage Case: 2.5 oz (71 g g)
Dimensions (Manufacturer's Site):
- Frame Width = 5.3 inches (134.6 mm)
- Bridge Width at Smallest Point = 0.7 inches (17.0 mm)
- Individual Lens Width = 2.6 inches (67.0 mm)
- Individual Lens Height = 1.7 inches (44.2 mm)
- Temple Arm Length from Screw Connection to End = 4.5 inches (115 mm)
Dimensions (Measured by Tester):
- Frame Width = 5.7 inches (145 mm)
- Bridge Width at Smallest Point = 0.6 inches (15 mm)
- Individual Lens Width = 2.75 inches (70 mm)
- Individual Lens Height = 1.6 inches (40 mm)
- Temple Arm Length from Screw Connection to End = 4.5 inches (115 mm)
Product description: The Costa Del Mar Cape Sunglasses are sunglasses designed with an extra-large frame and lenses that are used to help prevent eye fatigue. Furthermore, they are created with a shape and angle similar to a costal cape, hence their name. They come in 4 different frame colors and 7 different lens colors (I received the Shiny Steel Gray Metallic frames with the Copper Silver Mirrored 580P Lens). The nose and temple pads are designed to prevent slippage and help manage sweat and heat. These specific lenses are listed as being especially useful for natural contrast (especially fishing) and will filter out the harsh yellow light, cut haze and reduce blur to improve clarity. They are polarized, have 100% UV light protection and are designed to absorb HEV light known to cause various eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. The 580P lenses have multiple layers that include a C-Wall Molecular Bond, Polycarbonate Lens, Polarized Film, another Polycarbonate Lens and a final C-Wall Molecular bond. Lastly, they are listed as lightweight and impact resistant. As added options, it's possible to get them in a specific prescription as well as a mirror finish.
The Costa Del Mar sunglasses came in a small box, neatly labeled with their contents. I was a little concerned about the packaging, but my fears were unfounded as the sunglasses were packed safely in the storage case with the microfiber cleaning cloth wrapped around them.
In addition, there was a small quality certification card, a small business-card-sized sticker to place on my car window and a pamphlet briefly describing the lifetime warranty along with some of the benefits of the different lens.
|SUNGLASSES WITH ALL STUFF LAYED OUT|
The frames are made of a firm plastic. I am not sure exactly what type, but they are surprisingly light weight for being as thick as they look. The two arms that wrap around my head are both soft and flexible. They each have a small hole at the tip. I am unsure what these would be used for but I am guessing it may be for some kind of retainer to prevent losing the sunglasses if they fall off my face.
|SIDE VIEW OF FRAMES|
There was a small sticker (580P) on the outside of one of the lenses. I was a bit anxious about removing it, but it came off easily using just my thumb and did not leave any marks or sticky debris behind. There is also a 580P imprinted on the corner of one of the lenses but it's very small and non-obtrusive.
The lenses look both smooth and clear. They are encapsulated around the entire circumference by the plastic frames. I did not see any blemishes, defects or even fingerprints on the surface.
The nose bridge is molded into the frame with embedded cushions/pads added. This is a welcome addition as I have had several pairs of less expensive sunglasses where this piece has fallen off, making the sunglasses nearly worthless.
Lastly, the arms and the frames are connected at a single joint on each side with a slotted screw (not a Philips). The screws are located on the underside of the glasses which makes me a bit nervous if the screw does loosen up, I won't have gravity to keep it in. I did check with a small set of screwdrivers and neither screw is loose to start.
|SCREW AND HINGE ON FRAME|
The storage case is made of a firm (but slightly flexible) plastic. It closes with a zipper that has an easy to pull tab on it. The inside is soft and the joints are well protected with fabric to prevent accidental scratches.
The microfiber cleaning cloth is 7 x 7 inches (17.8 x 17.8 cm). It has the Costa designed into it on one side while the other is smooth.
From an instruction standpoint, there really aren't any. They're sunglasses. Put them on and open your eyes. But I did spend some time on the Company's website to better understand exactly what these can do besides just being 100% UV protection and polarized.
They had a lot of information about the different frames and lenses. I now understood that the 580P are a lightweight polycarbonate lenses. They are used to filter out the harsh yellow lights while enhancing the reds, blues and greens. The copper silver lens in particular is used for natural contrast and enhances in-shore, intra-coastal stream and sight fishing. I like fishing. I also like being around water for things like kayaking and canoeing.
As for the lens construction, besides being made of polycarbonate, they have an added C-Wall Molecular Bond. Costa Del Mar is very proud of this process and went into detail where I learned quite a bit about it. In simple terms though, it is a process where a very thin, durable coating (C-Wall) is fused directly to the lens during the production of the lens. This is used to insure that the protective coating covers the entire lens and will help repel liquids, prevent smudges and provide a superior scratch resistance. They even had a rather technical test describing how steel wool (of a certain grade) would show no scratches on the lens after a certain number of cycles. I have no reason to doubt that claim, but I am not planning on taking abrasive materials to my sunglasses. Lastly, the lens and coating are shaped at a higher angle than other sunglasses which makes water droplets more likely to roll off the lens instead of flattening and spreading across the surface.
On their website, I also learned more a few care tips for their sunglasses. First off, I should avoid storing them in excessively hot or cold enviroments as this could lead to potential warping. They also recommend that I rinse the sunglasses with fresh water before cleaning with the microfiber cloth.
Costa Del Mar also had the dimensional specifications on their website. I tried to verify these but it's very difficult to take measurements that are not on a straight edge. I ended up using a piece of string to wrap around the various dimensions and then transfer the string to a ruler for measurements. I do not have a lot of faith in the accuracy of my measurement method, but I did find that they were reasonably close to Costa Del Mar's documented dimensions.
Lastly, there is a section online about their warranty. They will fully cover all manufacturing defects. While the warranty does not cover normal wear/tear, scratched lenses or broken hinges, they do have a repair program I could use if I had to. Hopefully, I won't need it as there are some costs, and I also would be without the sunglasses for several weeks.
TRYING THEM OUT
I admit I have never had a good pair of sunglasses. Most of the time, I roll through the local convenience store and snag a pair from the rack that I think look pretty good on me and are polarized. They work for a few months until I inevitably sit on them, run over them with the car or one of my kids thinks they are neat and wanders off with them, never to be found again. The sunglasses. Not the kids. I have yet to permanently lose one of the kids.
It is with that in mind, that I put the Costa Del Mar sunglasses on. The lens really does cut the harsh sunlight glare. I definitely find the greens and reds are more vibrant. But it's not an unnatural tint. The sky's blues are a bit darker but at the same time, I am not wincing as much as I do with my normal cheap pair of sunglasses when staring up toward the sun. The picture showing the split view really does not do the view behind the lens justice but I tried.
|SUNGLASSES WITH SPLIT VIEW OUTDOORS|
From a fit standpoint, they rest very comfortably on my nose and ears. They do not excessively pinch and the lenses are large enough that I have full peripheral visibility.
From a style standpoint, I decided to check myself out in a mirror with some incandescent lights. Okay. I tried. The lens tinting and polarization make it fairly dark indoors. Not a real problem but I won't be singing any Carey Hart songs with these on (old school reference there). My family will probably appreciate that as I have a singing voice best made for silent movies.
Getting back to the appearance, I think they are a little large for my head. I am not saying I do not like them, just that I usually wear smaller glasses and they are going to take a little getting used to. The Cape model though is designed to be over-sized, so this was expected. The lenses are also not mirrored. I had thought the Copper-Silver Mirrored Lenses would have significant mirroring but I can see my eyes looking back at me. I'll have to be extra careful where my eyes roam when I'm wearing these and ease back on my sarcastic eye-rolling. Probably both are recommended for a healthy marriage and for raising a few teenagers. Either that or I should sign-up for a test call on a first aid kit.
|SUNGLASSES ON MY FACE|
Wearing the sunglasses, I decided to check the polarization by looking at some nearby things: my computer, cellphone and the nearby creek. For the first two, the polarization definitely works, darkening the screens of both. This really is not a problem, just an observation as I likely won't be using these devices while wearing sunglasses. There is also a small creek in our backyard. I probably should clarify, this is more of a government water runoff but it does have water, crayfish, turtles and I would get wet if I stepped in it. It just is man-made and only a hand-span deep which makes me twitch at calling it a creek. Either way, I could see the bottom much easier wearing the sunglasses. I even spotted a few minnows cruising around.
For trial runs over the last few days, I have worn them while outside as much as possible. I have used them driving my car to pick up the kids from their various after school activities. I have also used them on my drive to and from work for several days. This is especially important as I have one of those commutes that force me to chase the sun twice a day. I have also worn them cutting the lawn and to an evening soccer game where we were staring right into the sun until it set. I have also used them for spectating two cross-country meets. So far, so good. I have not had any additional eye strain, I do not appear to be wincing to the sunlight as much and they fit comfortably on my head.
As a side note, after several days, I have found that the storage case's zipper hangs on one of the teeth slightly. I will continue to monitor this but it does not impact the function of the sunglasses, only how I store them when not using them.
For the few quick trials, I've worn the Costa Del Mar Cape sunglasses and they have performed well. They have been comfortable to wear for several hours at a time. They have cut the glare down and I haven't been wincing as much as I usually do out in the daylight. It is a little early to list a positive / negatives but if I was to express any concerns, it would be the storage case zipper sticks slightly on one of the teeth when closing.
This concludes my initial report. The field report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.
I also want to thank both BackpackGearTest.org and Costa Del Mar for letting me take part in this test.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
* Day Hikes for Pack Shakedowns - Maybury State Park (Northville, Michigan - USA). For these hikes, I was experimenting on my equipment fit to dial it in for future trips (as well as enjoying the weather and the fall coverage coming in). I typically did 3 to 5 miles (4.8 to 8 km), hiking at a pace over 3 mph (4.8 kph) whenever possible.
- Sept 19: Weather: 77F (25C), Dry and Sunny. Pack weight:
- Sept 24: Weather: 65F (18C), Dry and Sunny. Pack weight:
- Oct 3: Weather 75F (24C), Humid (but dry) and Sunny. Pack weight: 32 lb (14.5 kg)
* 3 Days / 2 Nights - September 28-30th, 2018 - Kensington Metro Park (Milford, Michigan - USA). Daytime temperature reached 60F (16C) while nighttime dropped down to 38F (3C). There was very little wind and a lot of sunshine throughout the daytime. On the second night, it rained from midnight until well after we broke camp.
* 3 Days / 2 Nights - October 19-21st, 2018 - D-Bar-A Scout Camp (Metamora, Michigan - USA). Daytime temperature reached 50F (10C) while temperatures low was 28F (-2C). It rained and sleeted occasionally during the second day and into the evening hours but there was also a lot of sun in the morning and mid-afternoon.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I have used the Cape sunglasses extensively during the last two months. Initially, they were used for driving to and from work, soccer games and cross-country meets. After that, I used them on a pair of camping trips as well as several day backpacking hikes for gear trials.
During the last weekend of September, I took them on a base camping trip where canoeing was the primary focus. While it was very chilly out to start, there was a lot of sun and almost no clouds in the sky. We were on the Huron River from morning until late-afternoon. I found the sunglasses fantastic to use during this time. They removed the sunlight glare bouncing off the river. They also provided a great view underwater. It was hypnotic watching fish and even a few turtles swim past and I even caught myself several times just sitting in the canoe and not doing my part paddling just to observe the green-tinted seaweed swaying in the current. I removed the sunglasses occasionally to compare and I could not see the fish or bottom of the river except in extremely shallow areas. The seaweed only showed up near the surface and it had a dirty brown muted color. The glare off the river also caused me to wince.
|Canoe Trip - Beautiful Day|
I also used them extensively back at camp while we completed camp chores and prepared dinner. The sunlight was still very bright and I was happy to have the sunglasses on. I realized too late that I should have put on sunscreen as I noticed the next morning that my cheeks, nose and ears were sunburned. The area around my eyes was fine.
I found the sunglasses also fit very comfortably around my head. They stayed on tight but at the same time, did not pinch too much. I did not experience any headache feeling I sometimes get from sunglasses with snug frames. I even tried shaking my head violently a few times but they never came off. I also had a great view through the oversized lenses. I quickly became comfortable with the additional vision I had where other sunglasses that had smaller lenses would have spaces where my eyes were not protected.
One other thing I noticed later is that initially I found I could see my eyes when I looked in the mirror at my house. Outside in the sunlight, the sunglasses provided much better mirroring.
I think the only downside I found for the Cape sunglasses during the canoe trip is with the enhanced vision, I was seeing the garbage and litter on the river bottom. I spotted an abandoned canoe paddle, several bottles and cans, an old tire and even a bunch of golf balls. I will try to stay off my soapbox, other than to wish more people would practice "Leave No Trace".
I have gotten a few smudges on the sunglasses from touching them with my fingers after eating sticky food in camp. They have always cleaned up very easily using the microfiber cloth included by Costa Del Mar.
I also used them multiple times to take late afternoon / early evening hikes in the nearby state parks. For these treks, I have typically hike over an hour at a pace greater than 3 mph (4.8 kph) which is enough to cause me to sweat. Occasionally, I have stopped part way into the hike to simulate setting up camp only to pack up and head back afterwards. I have found the sunglasses fit very comfortably and help cut the glare, especially as the sun starts to set and I'm hiking to the west. In spite of sweating significantly, I have not had any issues with sweat pouring down the lenses. A few times, I have had the sunglasses fog up but it dissipated quickly when I shifted them slightly on my face. On one of these hikes, the sunlight faded enough near the last twenty minutes, that I took the glasses off and hung them from my shirt collar. They remained in this spot while I walked. I also found they would cling to the top part of my ballcap but I was afraid of forgetting them or having them get knocked off by a low-hanging branch so I chose to either hang them from the chest strap or put them back in the storage case. Thankfully, I have a backpack that has very large belt pouches. The storage case fits snugly but it does fit. This allows me to put them away safely without stopping to remove my pack.
|Sunglasses Hanging from Shirt after a Long, Fast Hike|
I also took them along on another camping trip late in October where the Michigan weather was in full force - one minute with bright sunlight and the next with a thunderstorm that brought hail. I used the sunglasses occasionally but they also spent time hanging from my hammock ridgeline or stored in their case.
From a vision standpoint, I found the Costa Cape Sunglasses made the fall colors POP. What normally looked like muted colors to me turns vibrant and spectacular. The reds, oranges and yellows were brilliant and hypnotizing. I never found the colors unnatural, only more vivid and I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed walking the forest lines as the season changed.
As for the storage case, when not being used, I keep the glasses in the case most of the time. Initially, I found a spot on the zipper that caught slightly and makes the case difficult to close. I have come to realize that this is dependent on the way I hold the case when closing the zipper. If I pinch the case in this spot and close the zipper slowly, it works just fine. If I'm in a hurry though, it snags at this spot. The case also has enough rigidity to survive being thrown around in my pack without any damage to the sunglasses.
|Sunglasses in Case in Backpack Pouch|
1. Wide view from the oversized lenses
2. Comfortable fit on my head
3. Great underwater vision
4. Vivid color enhancements
5. Light weight
Really having problems finding a negative about these Sunglasses. While they are more expensive than the cheap pairs I normally purchase at the local convenience store, they really do a specular job. While I don't find the oversized lenses as stylish on my head, they still look good on me and I have found I prefer the wider view.
This concludes my Field Report. Thank you to both BackpackGearTest.org and Costa Del Mar for allowing me to test the Costa Cape Sunglasses. The Long-Term Report should be completed within 2 months. Please check back then for further information.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Over the months of December and January, I have had a lot of difficulty getting out for an overnight trip. Between the weather, the holidays, the kids and my wife being leery of me tromping along in the woods by myself, I have been limited to daytrips with my pack for both exercise and pack shakedowns for the coming spring.
I have managed a half a dozen hikes, putting in almost 30 miles (48 km) during this time period. The temperature has ranged from 8 F to 45 F (-13 C to 7 C). My pack weight varied between 20-32 lbs. (9.1-14.5 kgs). I have only had one experience with freezing rain and another with light snow during this time.
Occasionally, the Costa Del Mar Cape glasses were stored to the case in my pack belt pouch but for the majority of the time, they were on my face, providing protection from the sun as well as enhancing my vision. I even found I was wearing them on overcast or cloudy days as they were comfortable and provided some glare protection.
The most interesting observation of all of these hikes was when I had high winds with freezing rain coming in at an angle. Normally, this would cause a lot of problems but I found the sunglasses acted a bit like goggles. They did a great job of shielding my eyes from debris. Furthermore, the oversized lenses prevented the wind from blowing around the lenses and into my eyes. I found they also did a great job of making the snow easier to look at when the sun was shining bright.
|Icewall along the Shores of Lake Erie|
After wearing these for several months I checked them again carefully. The screws are still in tight with no signs of loosening. Although I keep them in the case when not actively worn, no scratches have developed in the lens. Furthermore, the plastic shows no signs of degradation even though I have left them out in the freezing cold overnight a few times. Basically, they still look as good as the day I received them.
I have also had no further issues with the storage case. Initially I had some concerns about the zipper catching occasionally but all of that worked out in the first few weeks and was my fault. Furthermore, I am pleased that the case is rigid enough to protect the glasses when my pack was haphazardly thrown around a few times.
From a recommendation standpoint, I had to think long and hard about the Costa Del Mar Cape sunglasses. I think they are absolutely fantastic sunglasses. They make the fall colors look like I suddenly pressed the vivid button on my television. Everything is stunning. They also are great glasses for walking in wintery conditions. I never had problems with snow blindness or high winds ripping the tears from my eyes. They are also incredibly light weight and fit great on my head. My only real negative is the high cost. That being said, I have found from personal experience that it is better for me to invest in high quality once and enjoy the benefits instead of cutting corners and being only mildly pleased or even unhappy when something breaks or does not live up to my expectations. With that in mind, and having now personally experienced a high quality pair of sunglasses, next time I would spend the extra money to purchase a high quality pair like the Cape.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.
This concludes my long term report. I want to thank both BackpackGearTest.org and Costa Del Mar for letting me take part in this test.
Read more reviews of Costa Del Mar gear
Read more gear reviews by Robb Pratt