At this point, I don’t need to tell you about the merits of Kaenon sunglasses. Because if you don’t already own a pair, you’ve had to listen to at least one racer gush about how you just can’t beat Kaenon’s polarized lenses.
And it’s true. The glare-taming, puff-defining qualities of Kaenon’s SR-91 lenses have set the standard for polarized sunglasses. While Kaenon isn’t the only source for high-performance shades—I really like the versatility of the polarchromatic Smiths I tested a few years back, and Gill’s polarized floaters are a great value—chances are if you’re looking to splurge on a nice pair of sunglasses, you’re going to end up wearing the big, scripted “K” logo on each temple.
Call it narrow minded, but for many racers, choosing a pair of shades isn’t so much a question of what brand as it is what style of Kaenons. The company now offers its signature technology—available with prescription lenses—in more styles than ever, from lightweight and edgy to large and glamorous. This summer, I tested a pair of the Trade glasses, which fall into the latter category with their oversize frames, thick plastic construction, and wide temples.
Initially, I thought the Trades would be too bulky for high-performance racing (which it would be a stretch to call the kind of racing I do, anyways). But I wore the glasses on a variety of boats in a variety of conditions, and even in the hottest, steamiest, low-side dwelling misery, I all but forgot I was wearing them. The Trades may be large, but they’re not heavy. Most importantly, the frame geometry avoids pressure points by spreading the load between the bridge of your nose, the top of your ears, and your temples. The extra wide temple tips are sweet relief, and the Variflex nose pads keep the glasses anchored in place. Despite all the contortions I put myself through in a summer’s worth of sailing, the Trades never once fell off my head, let alone into the drink, which is where I typically lose at least one pair a year.
If you’re looking for a pair of sunglasses that you’ll only wear racing, I’d suggest going with something more lightweight and sporty, like the Hard Kore. But if you want to spot the faintest of puffs while looking cooler than cool, the Trade model could be your pick.