COSTA DEL MAR TAG SUNGLASSES
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
INITIAL REPORT - June 24, 2011
FIELD REPORT - August 28, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - October 30, 2011
5' 9" (1.75 m)
145 lb (65.80 kg)
I have been hiking and camping for over 20 years and enjoy backpacking solo and with my kids in Scouting. I especially enjoy fall and winter backpacking and camping. My backpack and gear are older and weigh 40+ lbs (18 kg). This has limited the distances I have been able to cover while hiking. My goal over the next several years is to replace my existing clothing and gear with more suitable and lighter weight alternatives.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Costa Del Mar
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.costadelmar.com
MSRP: US $169.00
Listed Weight: NA
Measured Weight: 1.1 oz (31 g)
Frame options: Shiny Tortoise, Matte Black, Silver
Lens options: Amber, Copper, Gray
Frame Fit: ML
Frame Material: Nylon
Polarization: 100% Polarized
UV Protection: 100% UV A/B/C protection
The Costa Tag sunglasses are wrap around sunglasses that according to Costa "are perfect for smaller faces and walk the line between sport and style by featuring the best of both." The Tag sunglasses are one of over 50 different styles of sunglasses hand built by Costa Del Mar at their headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida. They are available with 580G (LightWAVE Glass) or 580P (Coated Polycarbonate) lenses as well as 400 series lenses in a variety of colors. This test series is on the 580P lenses which as previously mentioned are made of polycarbonate and coated with a proprietary product called C-Wall. Polycarbonate has the characteristics of being lightweight, impact resistant and durable while the C-Wall coating bonds to the lenses to repel water, oil, dust and scratches. It also adds anti-reflective qualities to the lenses. According to Costa, the 580P lenses block yellow light while boosting red and green light. The lenses are available in the colors of amber, copper and gray depending on individual preferences. Costa provides the following information on their website for those who need help choosing the right lens color for their needs:
Excellent all-around lens that delivers the brightest field of vision. Great choice for sight fishing, driving and everyday activities where high contrast is needed.
Made for sight fishing, driving and everyday activities. Cuts glare and enhances contrast and color, providing eye comfort in any conditions.
Perfect all-around choice for sports on water and land. Maintains color saturation and natural contrast in medium to bright sun conditions.
The Tag sunglasses are polarized and provide 100% UV A, B and C protection. The frames are made of Grilamid TR-90 nylon for toughness and UV resistance while the nose pad and earpieces are made of Hydrolite. Hydrolite is a rubberized composite compound that according to Costa provides outstanding grip even when sweating.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The Costa Tags come with a business card that states the lenses are 100% polarized and provide 100% UV A/B/C protection. The card also mentions that the 580 lenses eliminate almost all yellow light, which can be hard on the eyes, while boosting reds, blues and greens. Finally, the card states that the glass is 20% lighter and 20% thinner than average polarized glass. This last statement refers to the 580G (LightWAVE Glass) lenses which, of course are not being reviewed at this time.
The backside of the business card states Costa's lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship.
Care instructions for Costa sunglasses can be found on their website. Costa recommends cleaning the sunglasses with a neutral dishwashing liquid such as Dawn or a lens cleaning solution and micro-fiber cleaning cloth. They caution against using any liquids with a pH higher than 8 or lower than 5.5 such as Windex or Formula 409.
Costa also provides warranty and repair information on their website along with details on other lenses that are available with these frames such as the glass lenses or the 400 series lenses, which do not have a protective coating.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS AND TRYING THEM OUT
The Costa Tag sunglasses arrived in a semi rigid carrying case which was packaged inside of a small cardboard box. Costa's 'Backed for Life' warranty is printed right on the box along with their return address for handling any repair issues. Costa also lists six features that define their sunglasses: 1. Beyond polarization 2. Deliver 100% UV protection 3. Lenses built with no-compromises 4. Built by hand using the best materials 5. Fit so well you'll forget they're on 6. Backed by our lifetime warranty. The carrying case appears very well built with a zipper closure and a clam shell style design which neatly envelopes the sunglasses for safe storage. The rugged design of the case and warranty details on the box immediately gave me a good impression of this company and their products.
My initial impression of the Costas sunglasses was also very positive. They are stylish and appear to be very sturdy with their solid looking frames and integral hinges. The frames are black with dark gray rubber on the nose pads and earpieces. Costa's logo is prominently displayed on the temple area of the sunglasses near the hinges. The lenses I chose are medium gray in color and have the word '580P' stenciled on the top of the left lens. A peel off sticker on one of the lenses read 'Costa 580P Polycarbonate 100% polarized 100% UV protection.' The Tag sunglasses have a close fitting wrap-around design that helps block sunlight from coming in around the eyes. Hopefully this will result in less strain on my eyes while backpacking in sunny weather.
Upon holding the sunglasses, I immediately noticed that the frames and lenses are very lightweight. They frames fit snugly but comfortably on my face and the gray lenses block a fair amount of light while still allowing me to see details. The hinges feel secure and function smoothly. Overall the sunglasses give the impression of being well constructed and of high quality. Notwithstanding the fact that they are brand new, I was very impressed with the clarity of the lenses. I am looking forward to wearing them for extended periods of time in the sunny outdoors.
Excellent vision and clarity
This concludes my Initial Report. Please check back in two months for my Field Report.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the field test period, I wore the Costa Del Mar Tag 580P Sunglasses on a daily basis. Besides backpacking, I also wore them while biking, day hiking and driving.
Location: Oldenburg, Indiana (IN)
Type of Trip: Off trail
Distance: 8 mi (11 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days
Backpack Weight: 32 lb (15 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Partly sunny with moderate breeze
Temperature Range: 62 F to 75 F (17 C to 24 C)
Location: Brown County State Park, Indiana (IN)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 5 mi (8 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days
Backpack Weight: 40 lb (18 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Hot and Sunny
Temperature Range: 80 F to 94 F (26 C to 34 C)
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
According to Costa Del Mar, the Tag sunglasses "are perfect for smaller faces and walk the line between sport and style by featuring the best of both." In my opinion these sunglasses are simply amazing. They are incredibly comfortable to wear, they perform exceptionally well in the field and they are stylish enough to be worn for more formal occasions around town.
COMFORT AND FIT
At 1.1 0z (31 g) the Tag sunglasses are extremely lightweight. In addition, their wrap-around frames provide a perfect fit that can be worn all-day long without fatigue. Until recently, the Costa 580 lens had only been available in glass. While glass is more optically correct and scratch resistant than plastic, it is heavy and it tends to shatter when dropped on a hard surface or subjected to high impact. Costa's newly designed 580P polycarbonate lenses are extremely lightweight while their C-WALL coating provides excellent scratch resistance and repels water, oil and dust.
Measuring 5.125" (13 cm) side-to-side, the frames are wide enough so that they do not touch my temples. This was welcome relief as compared to a pair of Aviator style sunglasses I own that fit snugly across my temples and occasionally caused a headache. By contrast, the Tag sunglasses rely on their contoured nose pad, a slightly springy frame and slight arm pressure by my ears in order to stay in place. Even after wearing the Tag's all day long, I barely noticed them. The Hydrolite material on the nose pad is smooth against my skin and the wire-core tips can be shaped for a perfect fit. Costa Del Mar has done a wonderful job of designing the Tag sunglasses so that they fit exceptionally well. As a matter of fact, all of my attempts, intentional and unintentional, to dislodge them from my face have failed.
My performance evaluation of the Tag sunglasses included several factors. Among these were light penetration, optical clarity, durability, slippage and fogging.
In order to protect my eyes from harmful solar radiation, I rely on sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays. Frames with a close-fitting wrap-around style seem to provide the best protection because they limit how much stray sunlight reaches my eyes from around the sunglass lenses. The Tag sunglasses provide 100% UV protection and do a great job preventing sunlight from coming in around the top and sides of the sunglasses with their wrap-around design. In addition, their 100% polarized lenses help reduce harsh glares that result from reflections off of water, snow and other shiny objects. I am a big fan of polarized lenses as they have greatly reduced my eye fatigue while fishing, boating and snow skiing.
The 580P lenses have superb optical clarity. They are crystal clear and provide virtually no distortion. These high quality precision lenses rival my eyeglass lenses in terms of clarity. In addition, Costa's 580 technology blocks yellow light and boosts red, green, and blue light for excellent contrast and definition. In the past I needed to wear contacts while wearing sunglasses because the sunglasses added another layer of distortion to my vision. However, while backpacking with the Tag's, I have noticed that I can forego contacts because these sunglasses actually enhance my natural vision.
Regarding durability, the nylon frames still appear new and have not faded or gotten brittle with exposure to the sun. At this point I cannot comment on their ruggedness as I have not accidentally sat on or crushed them. In fact I have been very careful to store these sunglasses in their clamshell case when not wearing them. The lenses have also held up very well despite getting hit by a tree branch while I was walking through the forest. They have no visible scratches or smudges that I could not wipe off. In order to clean the lenses I've simply used a soft cloth and water.
The nose pad and curved arm tips keep the frames from slipping. Rarely have I had to adjust the sunglasses back up because they slipped down. Hydrolite in the nose piece and the arm tips makes sure they do not slip off my face even in high temperatures where sweat has caused other sunglasses to slip down my nose. I have yet to experience any issues with fogging since I've been wearing these, even in very humid conditions.
Finally, in my opinion the Costa Tag's are quite stylish with their black frames, grey lenses and slimmed down wrap-around profile. I have gotten several complements regarding their appearance.
Iíve really enjoyed the Tag sunglasses these past few months. They are lightweight and fit great so that I hardly notice them on my head even after hours of hiking. They also seem to be doing a great job of protecting my eyesight as they have reduced my eye fatigue when outdoors for long periods of time and I rarely need to squint even in bright sunlight. Most important their clever design and polished finish make me want to wear them which of course is the ultimate goal.
This concludes my Field Report. Please check back in two months for my Long Term Report.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the past two months of Long-Term Testing, I have worn the Costa Del Mar Tag sunglasses on an almost daily basis while commuting to and from work. In addition, I wore them for five days of backpacking in Southern Indiana and for a 40 mile (64 km) Harvest Day bike ride. The weather during my trips was excellent with cool dry days and plenty of sunshine. Temperatures during this test period were mild with morning lows reaching just below freezing and afternoon highs approaching 65 F (18 C).
Five days backpacking in Southern Indiana
40 mi bike ride
Several day hikes
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Tag sunglasses have performed flawlessly during the past few months. Overall, I really like the gray lenses as they provide a very true representation of colors for more natural vision than some of the other tints, which tend to block certain colors of the spectrum. The gray lenses are tinted enough to reduce eye strain when in bright sunlight for long periods of time, and yet they are not so dark that I have to remove them in the morning or late afternoon. In similar respect, I have been able to wear the Tag sunglasses in changing light conditions, such as while day hiking last weekend at a local park, when the trail led into and out of the woods on several occasions. Of course the fact that the lenses are polarized has been a big plus for me as well. While camping with family last month we did some late afternoon fishing and the Tag sunglasses did an excellent job of reducing the glare coming off the water. In this regard, I am really looking forward to wearing these sunglasses in winter, when glare becomes a much more common occurrence as the sun traverses the sky at lower elevations.
Regarding durability, the Tag's have held up admirably. I have seen very few indications of wear on the sunglasses. The frames still look new and the hinges have shown no indications of loosening. There are a few tiny scratches on the lenses at this point, but that is far fewer than I would have expected given the use they have endured. In general, these sunglasses have required very little in the way of maintenance. Occasionally I put them under running water and wipe them off with a soft, lint free cloth. As mentioned in my Field Report, I am careful to store the sunglasses in their hard case when not in use, and it has done a good job of preventing them from getting smashed in my backpack. The case is rather large due to the fact that these are wraparound sunglasses but it is not overly obtrusive and I feel much better knowing the Tag's are stored securely. The fact that these are wraparound sunglasses has proven invaluable on many occasions, not just for blocking stray sunlight but also for protecting my eyes from dust and dirt in windy conditions. In addition, while biking they have prevented my eyes from tearing up and eventually drying out. One other thing I have noticed while biking is that the Tag's have remained fog-free despite early morning rides in crisp temperatures near 32 F (0 C).
I really like the Costa Del Mar Tag sunglasses. They provided excellent vision and clarity and the polarized lenses do a great job of reducing glare. They also performed very well in varying light conditions and the gray lenses were even useful on overcast days. The Tag sunglasses are very well made and comfortable enough to wear all day long with no irritation whatsoever.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to Costa Del Mar and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
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Read more gear reviews by Brian Hartman