Have you ever lost your favorite shades overboard, watched them slip into the drink and quickly out of sight? Floating sunglasses have always made sense, but they haven’t always looked halfway decent, let alone attractive, as do the latest offerings from Gill. I’ve been wearing the Eclipse glasses for the past few events, and I’ve been impressed by how well these $80 shades compare to other pairs I’ve tested, buoyant or otherwise.
The first thing I noticed when slipping on the tortoise-shell, Grilamid TR90 frames with the smoke-colored polarized lens was how light they felt on my head. The foam floatation material lining the temples and brow of the frames has a cushy feel and provides excellent ventilation, whether you’re grinding in sheets or pedaling your bicycle.
The one-piece Polaroid S13 lens is sandwiched in a seven-layer cellulose acetate butyrate laminate that’s shatterproof and scratch resistant. On its website, Gill notes that distortion along the frame edges is possible; I didn’t notice that when spotting puffs aboard Hugh Bethell’s J/105 Jester at the Sperry Top-Sider Annapolis NOOD last week, but I did notice that the polarized lens lend a blue hue to the tamed glare. Overall, the optical quality is very good, once you get used to looking at the water in Smurf-vision.
The best thing about these sunglasses, aside from the low price, is the ergonomics. I always complain of headach-inducing pressure points at the temples, but the Eclipse’s flexible, foam-lined frames never bothered me, even after hours of activity. With their snug fit and the rubberized lining along the stems and nosepiece, these glasses aren’t likely to go sliding off your noggin. But if they do, you’ll have a a much better chance of retrieving them. Instead of sinking to Davy Jones’ Locker, they’ll wash up on the beach at Treasure Island.