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Eyewear For The Mountains – SOS Expedition Sunglasses Review

Finding the right sunglasses for use on the mountains or on an easy hike requires a fine balance between cost, quality and of course aesthetics. Any product fulfilling all of the required criteria for its use-case, has to be a decent choice – after all, what more can you ask for? Coming across that product is usually quite tricky, so in the case of sunglasses, I think I’ve done the leg work for you.

Most people have a favourite pair of sunglasses, whether they’re a trendy pair of Holbrooks or a cheap pair from Burton’s. Both options present us with a problem however. An expensive, lifestyle pair of Oakleys are great for walking around town, but who wants to risk scratching the lenses or losing them while scrambling along Aonach Eagach? As for the cheap pair, they might be easier to replace but they’re even more likely to get damaged; and then there’s the actual protection they offer. There are of course other options – you could purchase a pair of Oakleys designed specifically for sport, but they’ll set you back over £140. The idea here is to get something ideal for the situation, on a budget that won’t blow the bank.

SOS Expedition sunglasses allow for 100% clear visibility.

SOS Expedition sunglasses allow for 100% clear visibility.

Survival Optics Sunglasses (SOS) have a model in their range which is well priced, able to take a battering and offers 100% UV protection (UV400 rating) while still looking the part. At just $50 (£33), they come with a rugged case, microfibre bag/cloth and a very effective neck cord.

The SOS Expedition Sunglasses sunglasses come with ‘smoke’ lenses which are Polycarbonate, shatter-proof and 35 times stronger than glass or plastic lenses. They’re also anti-fog which is a bonus on colder days. In addition, they block out invisible infrared radiation, which is the number one cause of dry, scratchy eyes. The Xtreme 2.2mm lenses are finished with DuraCoat which gives additional scratch resistance and having taken them on a number of outings now, I have yet to see a mark appear.

The body is a lightweight composite ‘shock frame’ which was designed to absorb big hits and offer the ultimate durability while maintaining a level of flexibility. Around the lenses is a foam cushion, which allows for a snug fit while letting any moisture out through the gaps in-between. The entire frame is softly finished which gives a rugged pair of sunglasses a more comfortable hold, along with their wrap around design.

Foam-edged lenses and an adjustable toggle on the neck cord.

Foam-edged lenses and an adjustable toggle on the neck cord.

The arms are finished off with a rubberised cap, secured in place by two lugs and a u-shaped end. The caps can be removed, should you want to attach the neck cord. The cord is easy to fit, simply sliding it over the end with a strong grip, gives a very tight connection, leaving no doubt about their security when you leave the sunglasses hanging. The back of the neck cord has an adjustable slider too, so you can snug it up around your neck when security is essential. The sunglasses fit snugly without the cord, but it certainly adds another level of security, so you’ll never leave them behind or forget they’re resting on your head when you bend down and drop them on the floor.

The Neck Cord slides tightly over the arm.

The Neck Cord slides tightly over the arm.

The wrap-around design provides much more protection from the sun, compared with my expensive Holbrooks which have always allowed me to look sideways, or below, into a comparatively dazzling environment. Further, I enjoyed having a clear view at all times – another testament to this kind of design – rather than the bottom of the frame blocking my view, I can see what would otherwise be behind it – similar to a car windscreen pillar shielding a small part of your vision. When scrambling, climbing or just hopping across boulders on the east side of Scafell Pike, it’s helpful to have 100% visibility and the SOS Expedition sunglasses excelled in that sense.

Stealth black.

Stealth black.

With the adjuster tight, the shades are immovable.

With the adjuster tight, the shades are immovable.

I was surprised to find myself so in favour of the design but given their use-case and all the positives associated with this type of design, I’ve grown to love them. The matte-black frame, with dark, reflective lenses makes them very stealthy and understand, plus they go with any type of clothing. The design is only broken up by the grey and orange SOS logo adorning either arm around the temple area.

An understated design results in a stealthy looking product.

An understated design results in a stealthy looking product.

Last to mention, is something that backs up the listed specification, promises and my review claiming good durability. I first saw these sunglasses being worn by Bear Grylls, many years ago (they’re also used by the military) and eventually got myself a pair to see if they were actually any good. If there’s anyone that’s going to rough them around, whether you like his antics or not, he would do so. I should also point out that he’s not paid to wear these sunglasses, unlike his extensive clothing range, so that should adds to their merit even more.

Eyes are 100% covered by the wrap-around design.

Eyes are 100% covered by the wrap-around design.

SOS offer a Lifetime Replacement Guarantee, though it has to be said that there would still be money to pay if you were to somehow snap an arm off five years down the road – shipping back to the US isn’t that cheap.

I had my pair imported from the States, because at $50, once I had added on shipping and import duties, it still came out as cheaply as purchasing from an un-official UK store or from elsewhere in Europe. The US Store, at least at the time of purchase, also shipped the neck cord, while others didn’t.

So, if you’re after a pair of rugged, well-priced, aesthetically pleasing sunglasses, that offer a high level of UV protection and comfort for your days’ on the mountains then the SOS Expedition sunglasses could well be the right choice for you.


Mentioned Products

SOS Expedition Sunglasses – US Store


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