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Reviews > Eye Protection > Sun Glasses > Dual Eyewear Bifocal Sunglasses > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
Dual Eyewear SL2
Test series by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: February 21, 2012
Field Report: April 25, 201
Long Term Report: July 3, 2012
Image courtesy Dual Eyewear
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing/kayaking and most other outdoor activities, but backpacking is my favorite pastime. I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo. I hike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid months of summer. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water.
I'm not an expert on sunglasses and cannot add much to the product description found on the website, but I do have a few thoughts on the SL2's. The SL2 style is popular with bikers and Iron Man competitors among others. I personally like the style a little better than the more traditional aviator style but looks are secondary to function for me. The lens is curved a lot more than aviator style sunglasses which should mean less chance of stray light getting in. They should also be more aerodynamic when riding my bike or recumbent (like I'm that fast...). Of course they feature the spot diopter (I call them bifocals) which is why they are called Dual Eyewear. The frame does not go under the lenses on the SL2 sunglasses.
The Dual Eyewear SL2's came with a soft cloth carrying pouch that looks like it could also serve as a cleaning cloth. However, I could find no mention of it serving that purpose. As a matter of fact, the only document included in the box the sunglasses came in was about the warranty. However, the website provides some basic information. Below is what it has to say about them. But first, here is a photo of the carrying pouch.
Soft cloth carry pouch
"The Italians call it Super Leggero (SuperLight); we took the liberty of shortening the name to SL2.
Dual SL2 shields tip the scale at just 20 grams without compromising durability and functionality.
Fit: All sizes
8 base lens curvature for uptimum [sic] wrap-around fit
Shatterproof and scratch-resistant polycarbonate lenses
100% UVA, UVB, UVC Protection
Optimized Magnification Zone (OMZ) reduces distortion and fatigue
Available in +1.5, +2.0, or +2.5 spot diopters
Sculpted non-slip TPR -50A rubber nose piece and arms inserts"
Why bifocals (spot diopter) in sunglasses
I'm now 50 years old and my eyes are getting weaker as I age. I first noticed the change at around 40 when it seemed like my arms were too short to read small print. Over the next several years I refused to do anything about it but at around 45 I finally gave in and started using weak 1.25 strength reading glasses. By the age of 48 or so I found I needed something a little stronger and got a pair of 1.5s. Now at 50 I even need a pair of 2.0's for real small print. However, I have continued to wear regular sunglasses when outdoors in bright sunshine. This is usually fine as I don't do much reading outdoors. However, I do use a watch GPS when hiking and riding my bike and sometimes need to change the setting on my camera etc. and thus often carry a pair of reading glasses. The Dual Eyewear SL2's should make it much easier to read small print when needed. I chose the 1.5 strength for my SL2's after reading the following advice on the website."Tips on how to choose a viewing power:
To select a viewing power, consider how you will be using your Dual Eyewear. If you are a cyclist, motorcycle rider, or driver looking for a clear read of instruments, you might want to consider a magnification that is a bit weaker than what you use to read a book. For example, if you use 2.0 readers at home or at the office, try a 1.5. This drop in strength will not hinder your ability to focus on small text items like your cell phone."
Choosing a lens color
I chose to test the brown color after reading the advice on choosing color on the website, mainly because I often find sunglasses too dark, especially when in the woods. I might like the grey better for kayaking but I really prefer polarized lenses on the water and neither color is polarized. Here is the advice given on color choice on the website.
"Tips on how to choose a lens color:
Smoke (gray), it transmits all colors evenly without changing color value. Light enough not to impair vision, but dark enough to provide overall protection from glare. Excellent for bright sunny days.
Brown, a warmer, slightly brighter lens than the gray. A good all-around choice for areas with changeable weather patterns. It helps highlight the different contrasts, particularly in green colors."
I should also note that there are 2 more colors listed under "Dual SL2 Accessory Lenses" on the website. Those would be clear and amber. They are listed at $19.95 each. They come with a small pouch that holds each lens individually. I'm tempted to order a set of amber for driving but I'm hesitant to change them out. I looked for a way to unsnap the current brown lens and they do not readily pop out of the frame and I'm afraid that if I do manage to snap them out they will be more likely to fall out accidentally. I have no proof of this, I'm just relaying my reasoning on why I'm hesitant to order the extra lenses. It does mention "Easy installation, instructions included" on the page that shows these lenses.
My initial impressions and observations
I prefer to at least briefly try out an item I am testing before making any observations, and fortunately, I've had a couple of chances to wear the SL2's. Unfortunately, it has been cloudy nearly every time I had a chance to try them out. Regardless, I found they were very comfortable, and despite looking a little small for my fat face (see left photo) I felt no pressure after wearing them a couple of hours. The SL in SL2 stands for super light and the SL2's are indeed light weight.
I initially wore them on a short 4 mile (6 km)) mountain bike ride and was impressed with how I was able to quickly glance down at my GPS mounted on my handle bar. The location of the spot diopter was just about perfect for this activity. The normal portion of the lens did seem a little dark but it was a cloudy day and I really did not need the sunglasses. It was 58 F (14 C) during the ride.
I next tried them while out while shooting my pistol which uses iron sights. And yes, it was cloudy again. This time the spot diopter was not in the best position for viewing my sights. In other words I needed to look up much higher than I normally do to see them. This also brings to light a problem I have with any strength reading glasses. I found the sights blurred but the target in focus if I did not look through the diopter but if I did look through them it was the other way around (sights in focus but target blurred). That is one reason I like shooting my rifles with a scope and am considering a laser for my pistol.
I finally got a chance to wear them in full sun on the 20th when I rode my recumbent about 10 miles (16 km) to weigh them at the local post office. However, due to it being Presidents Day the post office was closed so I rode on up to the local drug store. Their scale (for FedEx) did not even register the sunglasses so I waited one more day and returned to the post office to get an official weigh-in. I really like how they performed on this ride (on the 20th). A cold front had moved in but it still warmed up to 54 F (12 C) by the time I left the house at 2 PM. I could see the road great through the upper portion of the lens but when I wanted to look at my speed it was much easier to see it than before when I had on regular sunglasses. I hit 28 mph (45 kmph) on a few short downhill sections and the SL2's kept the cool wind out of my eyes. I also tilted my head pretty far to each side and they still kept the wind out. I had to look almost 90 degrees left or right or straight up or down to get any wind past the lenses. The ride the next day for a second attempt to weigh the sunglasses was much the same as the one the day before, only this time it was much windier. I have yet to see the lens fog but I have not had a chance to wear them in real cold weather when this is usually more of a problem.
Likes so far
* light weight
* comfortable fit
* excellent wind protection when riding my bike
* no need to carry reading glasses when outdoors
* I look much cooler on my bike wearing these instead of reading glasses...
Dislikes so far
* no hard case provided
Testing Locations and Conditions.
This has been the winter that never was. Since I first got the Dual SL2 sunglasses in mid February it has not been below freezing at night and the day time highs have often been in the mid 70 F (around 24 C) and even low 80s F (around 28 C) a few times. I did manage to wear them on early morning hike when the temperature was 38 F (3 C) and a recumbent ride when the temperature actually dropped 2 degrees form 45 F to 43 F (7 C to 6 C) during the ride. The rest of my day hikes and bike rides were in warmer conditions. It rained once when I was out hiking, but otherwise has been nice spring like weather when wearing the sunglasses. My hikes were all on local trails, usually to the holler behind the house. My rides were also local if you count driving anywhere from 7 to 15 miles (11 to 24 km) to meet some friends for a ride, but most were trips right out my front door, some on the road on a recumbent and some on trails on my mountain bike. I'm not sure how many miles I have worn the sunglasses but I have ridden or hiked on average three or four time a week and often did both on the same day. My longest day hike was 4 miles (6 km). My longest bike ride was 17 miles (24 km) twice, but several more were around 10 miles (16 km). My mountain bike rides were usually about 6 miles (10 km) and took about an hour to complete. I recently wore them on a three hour paddle that covered about 5 miles (8 km). I also wore them quite a bit when driving my truck or riding in the car with my wife.
The short and sweet version is that I really like the Dual SL2 sunglasses. They have been excellent at shading my eyes but with the added benefit of being able to read the speedometer on my bike or the readout on my GPS watch. I have also used them several times to read text on my phone and to change the settings on my camera. A perfect example was on a day hike to the holler when I wanted to take some pictures of some boots while crossing the creek. I was by myself so had to place my camera on a rock on the bank and set the timer. It only gives me a max of 10 seconds but I have to pick between that or the 2 second timer. I could not tell which was which without some sort of reading glasses but the 1.5 diopter on the Dual SL2's was perfectly adequate.
I have also liked the comfort of these sunglasses. They are barely noticeable. I have noticed that when hiking on some of the warmer days that they made my face sweat a little more than normal, especially around my eyes, much like wearing a ball cap makes the top of my head sweat more. This photo shows me sweating on a hike on a warm afternoon.
They also stay in place very nicely. I know that when hiking this is not saying much, but when riding my mountain bike my head is really bouncing around. I have videos I've taken with a camera mounted on my helmet to prove it. The one thing I really missed was that the Dual SL2's are not polarized. I wore them on a paddling trip just recently and while I was not fishing, the guy I was with did. While he fished I piddle around and watched some fish and several turtles under the water but could have seen everything much better with some polarized lenses.
A Little Mishap...
I had a wreck on my mountain bike on April 3 but I was not wearing the Dual's at the time. I started the ride late in the afternoon and only had about 45 minutes to get in a quick ride before dark. As a matter of fact, the low light conditions probably caused my wreck, well that and the fact that I dodged a brier just before hitting a log. I ended up going over the handle bars and landed hard on my right shoulder and skinned the side of my face pretty badly. I broke my right collar bone and will be limited in my activities for the next several weeks. However, I can still walk and have already taken several day hikes to the holler since the accident. I just have to walk slow with my arm in a sling so as not to jar my right arm. Anyways, my sunglasses testing will be limited to those walks and driving myself to my rehab appointments for a few more weeks. I've already driven to several appointments but I'm now driving my wife's vehicle which is an automatic as opposed to my truck which is a straight shift. The sunglasses are still doing just fine for these limited activities.
Summary so far
My likes and dislikes have not changed much since getting the Dual SL2's other than wishing they were polarized. I will sum this portion up by just saying that I find the Dual SL2's are excellent sunglasses for reading and general outdoor use. Please stay tuned for my long term report in about two months from now to read about any further discoveries I make.
Testing Locations and Conditions
Most testing was here in Northeast Alabama on day hikes and bike rides. Temperatures were hot during the long term testing phase and record breaking the past few weeks with several days over 100 F (38 C). I experienced much cooler weather on a road trip to Niagara Falls Ontario that included me driving about 900 miles (I split driving time with my wife). It was 50 F (10 C) when we left out of Ashland Ohio and 47 F (8 C) on the morning we woke up in Ontario Canada. I wore them the most (while hiking or driving) in the late afternoon when the sun was low but also some in the morning, especially on my bike rides. In other words, I basically wore them anytime the sun was low in the sky and I was headed in that direction. I carried them on one overnight hike but did not need them for hiking. However, I did use them while setting up my camera for some photography.
Long Term Test Results
The Dual Eyewear Sunglasses are still performing great! I did run into a slight problem on a day hike in May when I took the glasses off and put them on my shirt (hung by one ear piece) while hiking very late in the day. I got home and was putting my gear away when I noticed my sunglasses were missing. It was already dark so I waited until early the next morning to go back and find them. I was afraid an animal might decide to try them out, but fortunately, they were lying right in the middle of the trail about halfway up the trail from the swimming hole. The next time I was in town I bought a strap to keep them more secure when not wearing them. You can see the strap in this photo.
Since the woods have become so shady I did not use them a lot when hiking other than to see my phone or set up my camera, but I did wear them on several bike rides and also when riding my StreetStrider (an elliptical on wheels). I usually had on a GPS watch and it was always easy to see my speed or average speed while riding. The upper portion of the lens always did a good job of not only blocking potentially harmful sun-rays but also made seeing clearly in the bright sunlight much easier.
The only problem I have experienced (other than almost losing them) was that when I was hiking or riding in really hot weather I would get a few drops of sweat on the lens when looking down. This would almost always happen when I would be looking at my phone or fooling with a camera setting, but did happen a few times when looking into my bike bag when stopped for a break. I would then wipe them with my shirt tail and also wipe my brow, but as hot as it has been lately, this usually only lasted a few minutes. Fortunately, when just walking around I never had this problem, even when sweat would be rolling down my face.
One thing that surprised me was how handy they were for reading while going down the road (with my wife driving of course). I would be using my regular reading glasses and the car would turn in such a way that there was a lot of glare coming off the page. I then put on the SL2s and voila! I was able to easily read again. Of course when I was out of the bright light they made reading a little more difficult than my clear reading glasses so I did quite a bit of swapping back and forth on this trip. Fortunately, on the interstate highway we were not changing directions often so I usually managed to read several pages before needing to swap. I also used them in restaurants several times to read the menu. This was not an ideal use as the light was usually dim, but it was better than not being able to read the menu at all. There were a couple of times the light was so dim that I could not read the menu and I had to just trust my wife...
The SL2 Dual Eyewear sunglasses have proven to be ideal for most outdoor situations, whether it be hiking, riding my bike, driving or reading while driving (OK while my wife was driving). They are great as sunglasses in the bright sun but can instantly be used as reading glasses when needed. I won't harp on them not being polarized but that would have been icing on the cake.
This concludes my reporting on the Dual Eyewear SL2 sunglasses. I would like to thank Dual Eyewear and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these cool looking sunglasses.
Read more reviews of Dual Eyewear gear
Read more gear reviews by Coy Ray Starnes
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