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Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Ryders Eyewear Vigor Sunglasses > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Ryders Eyewear Vigor Sunglasses

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - September 4, 2009

Field Report - November 10, 2009

Long Term Report - January 12, 2010


Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 56
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking background is mostly in Minnesota where I have lived most of my adult life.  I have hiked all of the Superior Hiking Trail, Kekekabic and Border Route through the Boundary Waters.  This last year included hiking in Michigan, Wisconsin, Utah, Colorado, south and North Dakota and Oregon.  My preferred/typical backpack trip has been one week, mostly in the Spring/Fall seasons, but I started doing more winter camping last year.  I recently moved to Tucson to take a new job, and am excitedly exploring the surrounding mountain ranges.  I have found with the brilliant sunshine here I need to wear a hat and sunglasses, especially at high altitudes.

Initial Report

The Vigor sunglasses are part of Ryders Eyewear Essential line, which means they do not have polarized, photochromic, photo-polar nor interchangeable lenses.  Just plain UV protection and light reduction.  Notable features include adjustable anti-slip nose pads and adjustable anti-slip temple tips.

The anti-slip property of the temple tips and nose pad derives from the hydrophilic (moisture affinity) materials used, giving them a "tacky" feel when they get wet.  The adjustability of these components results from the ability to pinch, spread or twist the nose piece and bend or twist the temple tips.  I guess I was fortunate that they fit me perfectly right out of the box.

Back of glasses showing nose pads
View of Vigor glasses from the back showing the substantial adjustable nose pads

The lenses are vented to let moisture escape from behind the glasses to reduce fogging.  There are three vents on each lens: top, bottom and outside lower corner.  The manufacturer claims the lenses are shatterproof and optically correct.

Closeup of lens showing vents
Left lens with top, side and bottom vents visible

The glasses were packed in a silky-feeling carrying pouch with a drawstring closure.  The pouch is nice and light and adds no extra bulk to the glasses, so I feel good about using it on backpacking trips to protect the lenses.

Carrying pouch
Vigor glasses in carrying pouch

The hinges give a nice amount of resistance when they are fully open, which should prevent some unintended fold-up of the glasses.  Once the initial resistance is overcome, they close and re-open smoothly with little effort.

I always have two problems with sunglasses:
  1. The hinges break.  The Vigor's hinges look pretty robust.
  2. The inside of the lenses get scratched from the temple tips rubbing against the lenses when the hinges are closed.  The good news is these frames are sized such that the temple tips cannot rub against the lenses: they are too long and contact the outer frame when the hinge is closed.

Product Information

Manufacturer: Ryders Eyewear
Year of manufacture: 2009
MSRP:
US $ 44.99
Manufacturer website: http://www.ryderseyewear.com
Lens material:
polycarbonate
Lens tint/coating:
Grey tint with 15% VLT (Visible Light Transmission), "Flash" coating gives a hint of a silverized finish.  The supplied brochure indicates the lenses are also available in brown and orange.
Frame color:
Gloss black.  The supplied brochure indicates the frames are also available in pearl white and bronzed carbon.
Size tested:
Only one size available: medium-large
Weight:
1.1 oz (31.2 g), 1.4 oz (39.7 g) with carrying pouch
No measurements (including weight) were available on the website, brochure or supplied packaging & labeling

Packaging/Instructions

The sunglasses arrived in a plastic bag inside the carrying pouch. Labeling attached to the frames indicated the manufacturer, website, "100% protection UVA & UVB" and the manufacturer's location on one side, and the barcode, SKU and MSRP on the reverse side.  There was also a tag indicating the nose pads and arm tips were adjustable for best fit.

Initial Use

I wore the Vigor sunglasses on a few commutes to work and on several strolls between the buildings where I am employed.  I found the glasses to be very light, comfortable and they kept me from squinting in the Arizona sun.  I held them up in front of my face and tilted them up and down to see if I could detect any visual distortion as I changed the part of the lens I was looking through -- I could see none.

They did not slide down my nose when I walked.  This is a particular problem for me as I have very oily skin, and my nose is pretty well lubed up all the time.

Glasses on

Summary

I am excited to use these sunglasses in the field.  My initial experience with them was a pleasant one and I feel good about the prospect of using them on all-day backpacking excursions.

This concludes my Initial Report.

Field Report

Test Conditions

During the test period I wore the sunglasses daily for my commute to and from work as well as on walks between buildings during the day.  I also wore them while driving during the day for shopping, errands, etc.  The sun shines brightly every day in Tucson Arizona, and sunglasses are pretty much a requirement when outdoors for whatever reason.

The following table describes the conditions the sunglasses were used in specifically for hiking.

Dates
September 5-6, 2009
September 12-13, 2009
September 19-20, 2009 September 26-27, 2009
Oct 3,4 2009
October 9-11, 2009 October 24,25 2009
October 31-November 1, 2009
Location
Coronado National Forest  in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, Arizona in the Madera Canyon
Coronado National Forest in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, Arizona in the Madera Canyon.  Old Baldy and Agua Caliente trails. Coronado National Forest  in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, Arizona in the Madera Canyon.  Four Springs trail. Coconino National Forest just north of Sedona, Arizona.  West fork of Oak Creek Canyon.
Coronado National Forest in the Santa Catalina Mountains, just north of Tucson, Arizona.  Both hikes were from the Finger Rock trailhead.
Cabin Loop Trail on the Mogollon Rim in the Coconino National Forest just north of Payson, Arizona. Coronado National Forest in the Santa Catalina Mountains, just north of Tucson, Arizona.  Both hikes were from the Sabino Canyon trailhead
Canelo Hills section of the Arizona Trail south of Tucson between Sonoita and Patagonia
Altitude
5500 ft to 6800 ft (1675 m to 2075 m)
5500 ft to 8700 ft (1675 m to 2650 m)
5000 ft to 8100 ft
(1520 m to 2470 m)
5350 ft to 5800 ft
(1630 m to 1770 m)
3120 ft to 5500 ft (951 m to 1676 m)
6900 ft to 8000 ft (2100 m to 2440 m) 2000 ft to 5200 ft (610 m to 1585 m)
6400 ft to 4200 ft (1950 m to 1280 m)
Terrain
Forested mountains.  Hiking was mostly in dappled shade.
Forested mountains with open areas on slopes and saddles.
Forested mountains with open areas on slopes and saddles. Canyon with running creek.
Dry canyon
Coniferous forest with some oak and maple.  Some open meadow areas.  About 30% of the trip was road walking. Dry canyon Rolling hills with  oak and mesquite groves.
Weather
Sunny, temperature around 75 F (24 C)
Mostly sunny with thunderstorms, temperature around 75 F (24 C) Sunny and clear at the start, about 70 F (21 C).  Thunderstorms developed in the afternoon but cleared up by nightfall.  Low temperature was about 53 F (12 C). Sunny, temperatures from 53 F to 75 F
(12 C to 24 C)
Mostly sunny, temperatures around 70 F (21 C)
Sunny, night temperatures were 25 F and 30 F (-4 C and -1 C), daytime temperatures up to 78 F (26 C) Mostly sunny, temperatures around 70 F (21 C) Sunny with lows at night of 32 F (0 C) and highs around 80 F (27 C)
Hiking type
Day hikes of about 3 hours duration, 3-4 miles (4.8 to 6.4 km) in length
Backpacking 8.6 miles (13.8 km) on day one, 1.9 miles (3.1 km) on day 2
Backpacking 7.0 miles (11.3 km) on day one, 4.4 miles (7.1 km) on day 2
Car camping & day hike
Day hikes (2) of about 5 miles (8 km) each
Backpack 29.2 miles (47 km) over 2 days
Day hikes (2) of 10 miles and 7 miles (16.1 km and 11.3 km)
Backpack of 13.8 miles (22.2 km) over 2 days

Observations

Madera Canyon Day hiking

My wife Susan and I decided to spend the 3-day Labor Day holiday weekend exploring the area around Tucson.  We drove down to Madera Canyon stopping at a scenic mission along the way.  The canyon is a famous birdwatching spot, and in this regard we were not disappointed.  We stayed at the pleasant Santa Rita Lodge and day hiked from there.

The first two hikes were on western slopes that were heavily wooded.  I was wearing my wide-brimmed hiking hat, and put on the sunglasses only when we came to clearings.  I was sweating pretty well from the climbing exertion, and the Vigor glasses venting did a good job of preventing them from fogging.

The third hike was on an interpretive trail on a northern slope that was quite open to the sun, and I neglected to bring my hat.  I wore the sunglasses during the entire hike.  My eyes were very comfortable despite the bright sunlight.

During all of these hikes I had no problems with the glasses slipping down my nose or falling off.  They stay in place nicely, yet do not exert pressure on the ears or temples.

Madera Canyon Backpacking - Old Baldy

After day hiking the canyon I decided to go back the following weekend to backpack and explore in more depth.  I hiked up near the summit of Mt Wrightson (Old Baldy), but had to bail out of going to the top due to approaching thunderstorms.  The following photo gives an illustration of the trail, the lighting and the high desert vegetation looking southwest from the saddle before the thunderstorm rolled in:

Old Baldy Saddle
Southwest view along the ridgeline from Old Baldy Saddle

After a rest I took the Aqua Caliente trail to the Aqua Caliente Saddle and spent the night there, descending to my car in the morning.

I worked up a good sweat on the ascent, and I did have a problem with perspiration dripping on the interior of the sunglasses.  This is a tough situation to avoid.  I was pleasantly surprised that my sweat drained off the lenses nicely, leaving only a very thin film of salt behind.

My morning hike out was directly into the rising sun, and I greatly appreciated the protection afforded by the Vigor sunglasses.  I had no problems with lens flare or other optical issues.

Madera Canyon Backpacking - Four Springs trail

I returned to the scene of the crime from the previous weekend to explore the northern side of the canyon.  I wore the sunglasses in sunny areas, and took them off in shady areas.  I set up camp pretty early at 3 PM and settled down to watch the storms roll in from Green Valley below:
Storms rolling in
A cloud about to rain on me

It was great to be able to wear the Vigor sunglasses because I was staring right into the late afternoon sun watching the storm (OK, one black cloud dumping rain).  Moments after the photo above was taken, I had to take cover to get out of the rain.

The next morning I put on the sunglasses when the sun cleared the mountain behind me on my descent.  I was sweating pretty hard and the glasses did steam up a bit despite the vents.  I wiped off the lenses with my bandanna, and it got stuck in a vent.  I was able to pop the bandanna out without a problem.  This happened to me once before, so apparently this was not a freak occurrence.

I also noticed that the nose piece was slightly out of place and the temple tips were a little bent.  Too much jostling around in my pocket while getting dressed/undressed apparently can cause the adjustable features to go out of alignment.

Coconino National Forest

On Saturday September 26 myself and two companions drove from Tucson to just north of Sedona.  We left at around 6 PM and the first 30 minutes of driving were directly into a setting sun, and I was glad I had the Vigor glasses to protect my eyeballs.

After a night of car camping we set out the next morning to hike as much of the Oak Creek West Fork Canyon as we could in one day.  We started hiking about 7:45AM and ended around 4:30 PM.  I started wearing the sunglasses around lunchtime, as prior to that we were hiking away from the sun and the canyon was quite deep and shaded.

Lunch in Oak Cr canyon
Lunchtime in Oak Creek Canyon

I have to stop getting profile pictures taken of me with my belly hanging out.  At least the sunglasses looked good!

I used the Vigor glasses all afternoon off and on as we went in & out of sunny areas.  They performed flawlessly.

Finger Rock Day Hikes

These two day hikes both began at the Finger Rock trailhead in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  I had just relocated to new temporary housing, and I wanted to explore the hikes close to my new locale.  There are three trails that begin at this trailhead, two up Pontatoc Canyon, one up Finger Rock Canyon.

The second hike was the most notable for the Vigor sunglasses, as I wore them for the entire duration of the hike due to the bright sunshine.  I was sweating profusely, particularly on the ascent even though the weather was reasonably cool due to the exertion of the altitude gain.  I achieved a better understanding of the value of the lower vent on the glasses.  My sweat was running down the lenses constantly, and the vent allowed it to drain without puddling on the frames.  This worked quite well and my vision clarity was maintained.  I did wipe the lenses off once at the top of the climb, but the sweat started running down them again quickly during the descent.

Mogollon Rim Backpacking

This trip turned out to be more road walking than I expected, especially along the Rim Road that parallels the Mogollon Rim.  For those unfamiliar with the geography of the area, this is literally the edge of the vast Colorado Plateau that makes up so much of the great topography of the southwestern United States.  The following picture shows myself and one of my hiking companions perched on a rock outcropping on the edge of the Rim, and it is quite apparent from the photo how bright the Arizona sun is in these conditions, even with a little bit of overcast:

Mogollon rim
Taking a break on the Mogollon Rim

I wore the Vigor sunglasses off-and-on for most of the weekend daylight hours.  I put them on when on a road or open area, and took them off when we were in more dense forests.  The weather was a little cooler at altitude, so the sweat dripping problems I had experienced before were not much of an issue.

One of the things I am starting to really appreciate about these glasses is I can wear them all day long without getting a headache or eye fatigue.  The high optical flatness is a big benefit over cheaper sunglasses.

Canelo Hills Backpacking

I was fortunate to be led on this backpacking trip by Rich Corbett, steward for this section of the Arizona Trail.  He knows this area like the back of his hand after overseeing its maintenance for the better part of the last decade.  Here's a pic of Rich and I pausing for a short "stand-up break" in the Canelo Hills:

Canelo Hills

The weather, vegetation and terrain in this photo were pretty typical of the two days of backpacking the trail.  Despite the hat the sun was still strong enough to give me a sunburn on the back of my neck.

I wore the Vigor glasses all day long both days with no issues.  The weather was a little cooler, so sweat dripping down the lenses was not much of a problem on this trip.

Daily Use

I have come to appreciate the nice cloth carrying sack that is supplied with the Vigor glasses.  They have protected the lenses from scratching, but still allow the glasses to fit in my pants pocket.

I have put the glasses on and taken them off 100's of times, and have had no problems with the hinges.

I like using the Vigor glasses for driving.  They have the right amount of light transmission for my taste, and are comfortable to wear for long periods of time.  I particularly appreciate the flat optics and lack of distortion when driving, as I have owned other pairs of sunglasses that did not have this quality and they would cause a lot of eye fatigue.

Summary

I have greatly enjoyed using the Ryders Eyewear Vigor sunglasses during the Field Report period for both hiking and daily use.

Likes:
  1. Comfort
  2. Effective venting
  3. Block the right amount of light
  4. No optical distortion
  5. Attractive
  6. Good value for the money -- I am impressed with the quality afforded by the Vigor sunglasses in this price range
  7. Shed sweat well, do not get filmed up
  8. The temple tips are long enough that they do not rub against the lenses when folded.  I have no scratches on the interior of the glasses from the tips scraping against them.
Concerns:
  1. The adjustability of the flexible frames is nice, but when stuffed into a pocket or pack they will bend on their own.
  2. A cleaning cloth (e.g. bandanna) can get stuck in the vents.

Long Term Report

Test Conditions

During the long-term report period I continued to wear the Vigor sunglasses on a daily basis for the drive to and from work, and for walks between buildings at my employer's campus.  Winter is just as sunny in Tucson as summer (if not more so), and in these southern latitudes the sun does not get that low in the sky even at the winter solstice.  Sunglasses are necessary here year-round.

The following tables documents the use of the Vigor sunglasses during this report period specifically for hiking, both day hikes and backpacking.

Dates
November 14-5, 2009
December 5, 2009 December 6, 2009 January 1, 2010
Location
Saguaro National Park, just east of Tucson, Arizona in the Rincon Mountains
Catalina State Park, Romero Canyon Trail, northeast of Tucson in the Catalina Mountains Picacho Peak State Park, northwest of Tucson Upper Javelina Trail, Tortolita Mountains northwest of Tucson
Altitude
3088 ft to 6000 ft (941 m to 1829 m)
2758 ft to 3735 ft (841 m to 1138 m) 1900 ft to 2960 ft (579 m to 902 m) 2650 ft to 3600 ft (808 m to 1097 m)
Terrain
Rocky high desert.  Hiking was all in the open sun.
West-facing rocky trail up a mountainside
The trail begins in a gentle cactus forest, then transitions to steep climbing requiring the use of cables & chains for handholds
Rocky high desert.  Hiking was all in the open sun.
Weather
Sunny, daytime temperature around 75 F (24 C)
About 65 F (18 C) and sunny About 60 F (16 C) and sunny About 70 F (21 C) and sunny
Hiking type
Backpacking total length of 13.8 miles (22.2 km)
Day hike
Day hike, 5.1 miles (8.2 km)
Day hike 6.2 miles (10 km)

Saguaro National Park

Ever since I moved to Tucson I had good intentions of doing some backpacking in Saguaro National Park.  There are actually two parts to this park, one on the west side of the city in the Tucson Mountains, and one on the east side in the Rincon Mountains.  I heard the view from the Rincons was spectacular, so on the weekend of November 14 I thought I'd give it a try.

The hike up from the trailhead was quite warm, and the altitude gain was constant and grueling with my pack loaded with 5 L of water.  I was dressed in just shorts and a T-shirt, but still sweated profusely, and it ran down the sunglasses in sheets.  I stopped several times to wipe off the lenses with my bandanna, and had a problem with the cleaning cloth getting caught in the bottom vent almost every time.  Not a big deal, just had to pop it out.  I wore the Vigor glasses during my entire ascent, as the afternoon sun was beating brightly on the western slope of Tanque Verde Ridge which the trail follows.  That night I camped in Juniper Basin, the site I had registered for with the park rangers.

The next morning I set off on my descent at about 7:45 AM.  I didn't wear the sunglasses for the first hour because the sun was still pretty low in the sky behind the peaks, but soon it was too bright to go without them and I took them out of the carrying pouch.  I noticed the left temple tip was slightly damaged, a bit of a nick taken out of the plastic.  I have no idea how this happened, but it did not impact wearability.  On the descent back to my car I had no issues with sweat, as a cold front had rolled through the night before and it was perfect for hiking.  The view was spectacular in the morning as the air was extremely clear -- I could see all the mountain ranges surrounding the Tucson valley, and with the optically flat Vigor lenses my view was not distorted.

Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park doesn't sound impressive, but it actually has one of the better trails leading up into the Santa Catalina Mountains on the west side of the range.  The weather had cooled down substantially, so sweating was not an issue on this hike.  The sun was not overly bright on the ascent, as I was looking down at my feet most of the time facing away from the sun.  The descent was another matter, as I was facing west the whole way down right into the blazing afternoon sunshine.  The sunglasses did a great job of protecting my eyes.

Picacho Peak State Park

Picacho Peak is a nice little mountain just northwest of Tucson on the interstate that leads to Phoenix.  It has a great trail that leads up the backside of the mountain all the way to the peak, with beautiful views to the south for much of the trail.  Once again I didn't need the sunglasses too much on the way up, but on the descent I was staring right into the afternoon sun, but they did a great job of keeping me from squinting.

Tortolita Mountains

Hiking in the Tortolitas
Hiking in the Tortolitas on New Years Day

The picture above illustrates the type of hiking terrain, the brightness of the sun, and my typical hiking configuration of hat plus sunglasses.  Note the hat does a pretty good job of keeping direct sunlight out of my eyes, even when faced directly towards the sun as I was in this picture.  That is a field of Saguaro cactus behind me, not a good place for bushwhacking so I stayed right on the trail.  The lenses are quite reflective: a Saguaro with its "arms up" can be seen in the reflection in the left (my left, the picture's right) lens.

Even though this hike was on January 1, it was warm enough for me to break a good sweat on the uphill leg of my hike.  The sweat ran onto the glasses several times, and I had neglected to bring a bandanna so I had to clean them with my shirt.  No problems with the shirt getting caught in the lens vents, it seems to be a problem more with cloth edges.

Conclusions

I don't have a lot to add beyond my earlier summary from the Field Report.  As mentioned above, I did notice a slight amount of wear on the temple tips where they would occasionally catch in the frame of the glasses.  This seemed to be cosmetic in nature only, but I would think after a year or two of wear they could abrade to the point of breaking at the very tip.  The following picture illustrates how the temple tips can get jammed into the frames, and the wear at the tip.

Temple tips
Wear at the temple tips where they can get jammed into the frames

I have now worn these sunglasses nearly every single day for four months both in the car and on the trail.  They have held up incredibly well: I have no visible scratches on the lenses, which is quite remarkable in my book.  I don't know for sure if I just cared for them well, or if they are simply that scratch-resistant.

My bottom line is that the Vigor glasses will continue to be my every day sunglasses and hiking gear for the foreseeable future.  I like their comfort and optical clarity.  They are great sunglasses for the price.

Many thanks to Ryders Eyewear and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.



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