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Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Zeal Optics Essential Sunglasses > Test Report by joe schaffer

Zeal Essentials Sunglasses

Test Report by Joe Schaffer

INITIAL REPORT - May 9, 2017
FIELD REPORT - July 17, 2017
LONG TERM REPORT - Septermber 6, 2017
NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 69
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.

Product: on face

Manufacturer:  Zeal Optics
    Manufacturer Info from website:
        Weight: not found
             Bridge: 19 mm (3/4 in)
             Height: 39 mm (1 1/2 in)
             Eye: 58 mm (2 1/4 in)
             Base curve: 8 deg
             Temple: 128 mm (5 in)
             Navy Blue w/Dark Gray lens, M/L fit
             White River w/Ellume Horizon Blue lens, M/L fit
             Shiny Demi Tortoise w/Copper lens, M/L fit
             Brown + Olive Fade w/Copper lens, M/L fitglasses in pouch
             Matte Black w/Dark Gray lens, M/L fit
            •Ellume Bio-Plastic Lens
            •Z-Resin Bio-Plastic Frame
            •Prescription Ready
            •Camloc Hinge
My Specs: 
       glasses  1 1/8 oz (33 g)
       case  2 3/8 oz (68 g)
       sock  3/8 oz (12 g)

MSRP: $99 US

Received: May 8, 2017

My Description:
   These glasses have relatively rectangular lenses, large enough and set on an angle to provide rather good coverage without having boots along the sides. The temples are spring-loaded to stay in place, either open or closed; and attach flush with the top of the frame, which is fairly straight across. The temples at the frame are about 7/16 in (10 mm) wide, increasing to a maximum of about 9/16 in (13 mm) before tapering in a slight arc over the ear. The temples are straight enough they can be pretty much pulled straight forward. A distinctive feature is the gray material bridging the inside top of the glasses, the nose pads and the temples inside behind the ears. The stow case for the glasses provides sturdy storage, quite rigid and fully zippered with a hang loop. A soft sock with a drawstring closure is included. The Navy Blue with Dark Gray lens colors look more black to me. Website says the product will ship with green canvas pouch; the pouch I got is navy with red trim. The brand logo 'Z' appears in gold on each temple about 3/4 in (2 cm) from the front of the frame; and a very small name presentation on the upper outboard corner of the left lens. The product has a two-year warranty on defects. A 30-day return is also offered, provided the product has not been used.

    My first impression is how gossamer light they are, said to be the result of the Z-Resin material. Then I jumped up and down the stairs and outside and was thrilled to see how well they stayed in place, perhaps the result of good fit enhanced by the traction properties of the gray material. It was a little cloudy so I didn't get much idea on how effectively the product meets the claim of reducing bright sun and heavy glare for richer, truer colors. I don't know how I will know if the lenses out-perform others in terms of eye protection and color enhancement; maybe after hours and days in the outback I'll have an impression. The bridge of my nose is narrow and often leaves glasses too loose, but these fit me very nicely. I like that the glasses can be pulled almost straight forward for removal, which is particularly suitable to any over-ear head gear. I'm fine with the reasonably discreet logo on the temples; I might whine about the name on the lens, though I cannot see it with the glasses on. That the lenses are manufactured from beans makes an interesting environmental consideration worthy of note. Perhaps that consideration accounts for no brochure or warranty card in the minimalist carton, suggesting to me that the company places resources appropriately (vs. crap in a beautiful box). The storage case is bomber. The sock feels cushy, but it doesn't seem to clean the lenses very easily. I did muck them up pretty good doing my scrupulously scientific evaluations. I often find polarized lenses valuable when stream-crossing, or assessing the prudence of an attempt; I'm not sure I notice otherwise. Warranty terms seem entirely reasonable for a company wanting to take care of good customers while limiting exposure to nefarious claims. Omitting scratches from the warranty is clearly spelled out. All warranty/return/repair terms are clearly explained under the customer service tab. Trying the product out voids the possibility of return--so you can look at 'em, but not through 'em.

Field Conditions:
1. May 14-15, 2017: Three hours driving in sun, one hour in heavy overcast/rain. Clark Fork, Stanislaus National Forest; two hours fiddling about in partly cloudy at 6,100 ft (1,860 m).
    2. May 22-26, 2017: Seven hours driving in sun. Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite Wilderness, California; 31 hours woods-wearing, mostly bright sun on a 15 mi (24 km) backpack, 4,660-6,480 ft (1,420-1,975 m).
    3. Jun 5-8, 2017: Loon Lake, El Dorado National Forest, California. 400 mi (645 km) driving; 10 mi (16 km) backpack; and two mi (3 km) day hike; three sunny days and one rainy day camped at lake edge.
    4. Jun 13-16, 2017: Bergson Lake, Carson Iceberg Wilderness, California, 6,420 ft (1,957 m). 350 mi (565 km) driving; 10 mi (16 km) backpack/3 mi (5 km) road hike. 80-65 F (27-18 C), bright, hot sun.
    5. Jun 20-23, 2017: Shasta National Forest, California. 400 mi (645 km) driving. 8 mi (13 km) backpacking. 90-70 F (32-21 C) hiking temps in bright sun. 5,720-6,840 ft (1,745-2,085 m).
    6. July 4-9, 2017:  Emigrant Wilderness, California. 300 mi (480 km) driving. 11 mi (18 km ) backpacking. 80-60 F (27-16 C) hiking temps in bright sun. 7,200-8,600 ft (2,200-2,600 m).
    7. July 11-16, 2017: Yosemite Wilderness, California. 300 mi (480 km) driving. 18 mi (29 km) backpacking. 70-95 F (21-35) hiking temps in bright sun. 5,000-7,600 ft (1,525-2,300 m).

Backpacking totals: 202 hours wearing; 106 mi (170 km) backpacking and hiking.

    1. CLARK FORK: I wore the glasses in intermittent sun/overcast wandering around in light forest pouting because I couldn't find any snow at the end of the road. I am amazed at how dark the lenses are, yet how well I can still see in less than bright sun. While it could be bias and/or difference in conditions, I drove to Clark Fork wearing a different pair of glasses than I did on the return trip. The first hour on the way back was cloudy, and for an hour heavy rain. But as I think about it, I didn't remove the glasses from the sunny start at my campsite. I felt like I had a little less eye strain on the return trip. The color is noticeably different with the Zeal glasses and I like it.

    2. STANISLAUS/YOSEMITE: On this trip I wore the glasses for about 8 hours a day. I never felt any discomfort or eye strain. I thought the shades I've been wearing for the last 20 years were pretty good. I feel less eye strain in the Zeal glasses and I like the color better. The pitch on the website would seem to be accurate on those claims. I often want to remove sunglasses as I don't care for the darkening, but I'm finding I don't think about the Zeals at all and leave them on through sunset.

    3. LOON LAKE: I spent most of daylight wearing the glasses to cut glare and sometimes wind. I was camped for two days close enough to the lake that even in the shade of the trees lake glare still found a way to be annoying. The day I left that spot was so windy my eyes were watering without glasses, so for those reasons I kept them on. It's no bother as I tend not to think about them. I found even hiking in deep shade I could still see so well I never thought about having sunglasses on. The last day hiking out and driving home was overcast, but I still found the glasses allowed me to relax and never squint. They are light enough and fit well enough I just don't think about them.

    4. BERGSON LAKE: Nothing new, still loving them.

    5. SHASTA NF: All hiking was in hot temps and blue sky. I wandered between open sun and deep shade and occasionally snow drifts under bright sun. In these varying conditions, and a few places where I felt a little stuck, I'd expect to remove my shades for a brief 'real-time' evaluation of circumstances. Never did. No eye strain in difficult conditions, and this includes six hours of driving each way in bright sun.

    6. EMIGRANT: Above 8,400 ft (2,560 m) we encountered lots of snow fields. The intensity of the sun was just a bit more than a match for these glasses. If I were planning to spend an outing on snow in bright sun, I'd pick mountaineering glasses.

    7. YOSEMITE: The terrain on this hike varied from deep forest to open granite, all with the sun shining brightly. Once again I never found myself wanting to remove the glasses in the shade, yet they provided complete comfort out in the granite.

Minor suggestion: Skinny the bow ends. They fatten out enough I have to work pretty hard to get my Croakies over them snugly enough to stay put. I rarely need the lanyard, but I still like to use one. And since I only use one, it's now stretched too much for glasses that have skinnier bow ends.

Field Conditions:
8. July 22-26, 2017: Willamette National Forest, Waldo Lake. 2 mi (3 km) backpacking XC, 20 mi (32 km) hiking trail. Around 80 F (27 C) in bright sun. 5,400 ft (1,645 m). Eight hours driving in bright sun.
    9. July 26-29, 2017: Yolla Bolly Wilderness, California. 10 mi (16 km) backpacking trail.
Around 85 F (30 C) in bright sun. 5,600-6,900 ft (1,700-2,100 m). Five hours driving in bright sun.
    10. August 3-11, 2017: Emigrant Wilderness, California. 35 mi (56 km) / 25 hours backpacking. 75-90 F (24-32 C) hiking temp at 7,200-8,900 ft (2,195-2,713 m). Conditions partly cloudy to blazing sun.
    11. Aug 18-20, 2017: Blow Lake, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon. 3 mi (5 km) backpacking 55 lb (25 kg) and 3.5 mi (5.5 km) hiking trail. 70-80 F (21-27 C). 5,050 ft (1,540 m). Mostly sunny, but heavy smoke.
    12. Aug 22-25, 2017: Waldo Lake, Willamette National Forest, Oregon. 1.5 mi (3 km) backpacking 55 lb (25 kg) and 8 mi hiking (13 km) XC in dry, open forest. 80 F (27 C). Mostly sunny, but heavy smoke.

8. WALDO: Bright sun tested the glasses in conditions ranging from dense forest to wide open burned spaces. On the (20 mi/32 km) hike around the lake I got pretty tired, which often causes me to stumble and that makes me not want to wear sun glasses; but I never took off the Zeals.

    9. YOLLA BOLLY: Short hikes at high altitude and bright sun through mostly dense forest. I like very much being able to transition from shade to sun and back so frequently as encountered in forest hiking without my eyes having to adjust. I can step out of shade and into sun and vice versa without worrying about tromping a rattlesnake my eyes couldn't see in the transition. (The odds of that, you might ask? Not great, but the devil knows what he's doing in perpetrating egregious consequence!)

    10. EMIGRANT: First three days of this trip were sunny mornings and then partly cloudy afternoons, while hiking through forest and open granite or meadows. The remaining six days were hot and hotter under clear sky. Once again I found the transition from bright sun to shade very accommodating. On this trip I had several longer-than-usual hiking days in high heat with heavy load and I noticed that the glasses stay in place on the skinny bridge of my nose. Seems a small thing, but when I'm tired and especially when things are forcing me off plan, not having to keep pushing my glasses back in place is something to feel good about.

    11. BLOW: The weather was generally sunny but smoke from a nearby wildfire clogged the sky. I probably could have gone without sunglasses.

    12. WALDO: The first couple of days were so smoky from the same fire that I didn't use the glasses, and camping and hiking in the forest thereafter I somehow managed never to have them on me when I wanted them. 

Total use:  295 hours wearing, includes driving to/from trailheads;  172 mi (277 km) backpacking (includes some day hiking.)

SUMMATION: Great glasses for nearly all the conditions I've encountered backpacking. (They aren't dark enough for long hikes in bright sun on snow.) I like the coverage. They feel light and comfortable. They stay put on my face. They haven't melted on the dashboard. No scratches yet. Total satisfaction.  

Quick shots:
a) light weight
    b) comfortable
    c) good color
Thank you Zeal Optics and for the opportunity to test these sunglasses. This report concludes the test.

Read more gear reviews by joe schaffer

Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Zeal Optics Essential Sunglasses > Test Report by joe schaffer

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