Capital Sunglasses by Smith Optics

Polarchromic lenses both cut down glare and adjust to changing light conditions. "Gear Up" from our November 19, 2008, /SW eNewsletter/

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Courtesy Smith Optics

With $200, you can get yourself an excellent pair of sailing sunglasses. In this price range, expect high-quality, polarized lenses, durable, plastic frames, rubbery pads embedded in the nose bridge, and a brand associated with celebrities on vacation and/or skater punks.

Smith Optics' Capital sunglasses certainly fit these criteria. Best known for making first-rate goggles for skiing, snowboarding, and motorsports, Smith also crafts a killer pair of shades. The Capitals boast rugged, Grilamid TR90 frames and Techlite glass lenses. The pads at the nose and temples relieve pressure and keep the glasses securely in place. You can hang your head upside down and the Capitals won't slide off, which just might save your bacon the next time you go to clear the rudder, pick up the mooring, scrub the scum line, etc. The styling is brilliantly basic: sporty, but not techy; close-fitting, but not wraparound. This is everyday eyewear that won't let you down on the water.

The exceptional thing about the Capitals is the option of polarchromic lenses (copper or brown). Smith's proprietary technology combines the glare-taming qualities of a polarized lens with the light-adapting characteristics of a photochromic lens. In essesnce, polarchomic lenses serve double duty. They cut down the glare off the water and adjust to changing light conditions. In brighter light, the tint of the lenses darkens, and vice versa. For anyone predisposed towards excessive sunglasses use, this feature won't help matters. The Capitals don't stop working indoors, so it's up to you to know when it's prudent to remove your sunglasses. Just remember, this isn't the World Series of Poker, and you're not in a rock band.