As difficult as it is to admit for us here at gear-geek headquarters, sunglasses are usually pretty boring. Sure, they come in all styles and sizes. Yeah, some lenses have cool filters that do neat things. But, for the most part, if you pick up a nice pair of shades that fits you well, you won’t notice what’s going on in front of your eyeballs. Apparently, SHRED Optics was dissatisfied with that. Ted Ligety and company have a Kickstarter going right now for first dibs on the latest addition to the lineup – SHRED sunglasses. They sent us a pair of their Stomp shades to test out.
What makes SHRED sunglasses special?
I was going to say two things, but really, the two things that are special are the only two components of a pair of sunglasses. So, SHRED sunglasses are just all-around special. Skip all the technical mumbo jumbo and find out if we think you should support the campaign by clicking here.
SHRED Liquid Urethane, Contrast-Boosting Lenses
SHRED’s lenses are made of liquid cast urethane. Most sunglasses have polycarbonate lenses – the same stuff your colorful water bottle is made of. When polycarbonate is injected into a lens mold, it doesn’t flow in evenly and begins to solidify immediately. So, when the lens is complete, it looks like a solid piece of plastic but it’s not uniform. That lack of uniformity creates visual distortion.
Some nicer sunglasses use a material called CR-39. CR-39 is optically awesome, but brittle. It’s almost as easy to break (and almost as heavy) as glass. That makes it bad for activities where your lenses might hit things – the ground, a tree, handlebars…
Liquid urethane, on the other hand, remains liquid until all of the material is in the mold. So, it distributes evenly inside the mold. Liquid urethane has a pour time of anywhere between eight and 400 minutes. That means, unlike polycarbonate, it doesn’t begin solidifying until all of the material is poured. And, unlike CR-39, it is ridiculously impact resistant. It’s also lighter.
The results are an optically superior lens that’s light weight and impact- and scratch-resistant. Of course, that’s all dandy, but you need good filtering to make a good lens. SHRED has that covered. They developed a lens tint that works in all conditions and for all activities. SHRED decided they didn’t want to specialize like some other companies – a lens for snow, one for trails, one for water, etc. You don’t have to buy multiple lenses or entire sunglasses with SHRED. Does it sacrifice some contrast in the name of simplicity? Probably. But it’s refreshing to find a company that doesn’t force you to buy every item in their product line to get good performance.
SHRED lenses also include the now-standard oleo- and hydro-phobic coatings. SHRED deposits them using physical vapor deposition rather than liquid dipping to ensure even coating. Each lens is available polarized and non-polarized, mirrored and non-mirrored, so you can pick the features that best suit your needs.
SHRED NoWeight Frames
SHRED incorporates two nice features into their frames. The first – the plastic is made from 54% renewable sources – castor bean oil. SHRED isn’t the first to use plant-based plastic for frames, but it’s still nice.
Second, SHRED shaves as much plastic off the frames as possible to make them extremely light without sacrificing strength. The outside of the frames look sleek and, well, normal. On the inside, you can see where SHRED reduced plastic thickness wherever they could while maintaining strength and thickness where necessary.
The frames are also extremely flexible. If your sunglasses tend to die a horrible death by crushing, SHRED’s shades will out-survive the other brands you’ve been buying.
Available SHRED Sunglasses Shapes
SHRED is offering three shapes:
The Belushki (is this a Blues Brothers nod, SHRED?) is a classic, Wayfarer shape with a base six curve lens that sits a bit flatter on your face.
The Provocator uses a base eight curve and offers more coverage and protection in a wrap design and has vents on the outer edges of the lenses to keep fog at bay.
Our tester, the Stomp has a slightly larger lens than the Belushki and is a bit narrower for a more modern style in a flatter, base six lens.
Should You Back SHRED’s Kickstarter?
Heck yes. I’ve had a lot of sunglasses on my face over the years and I’ve never felt that any of them were special. Nice, sure. Plenty of them were nice. Most of them, in fact. But SHRED sunglasses are special. They’re lighter, more comfortable, and have noticeably better visual clarity than anything in their price range.
SHRED plans on retailing these shades for $160 (non-polarized) and $200 (polarized). As of press time, there are still 222 of 250 early-bird slots available at $120 for the non-polarized. There are 102 of 250 early-bird slots left for the polarized at $150. Both offer a 25% discount off retail.
SHRED is hoping to deliver their sunglasses in December, so these could make an awesome holiday gift for your favorite cool person. Find out more on SHRED’s Kickstarter page. If you’re reading this after the campaign has ended, seek these shades out and buy them. They’re the bees knees.