I live in sunglasses. I have to. The sunshine in Australia can be intense, especially at the peak of the day. Yet, it can also rapidly change with weather conditions, particularly in places like Melbourne (of “four seasons in one day” fame), meaning I’m either interchanging sunglasses to suit, or just coping with whatever I happen to have on. If I’m cycling, trail running, hiking or just in the outdoors for most of the day, the latter isn’t really an option. But carrying around multiple pairs adds weight and takes up space in my pockets, carry case or backpack.
Amongst my favourite solutions is US-based Switch Vision’s Magnetic Interchange Lens System. Using high-energy magnets embedded in both the lens and frame, you can quickly swap out your lenses as the light conditions change. The magnets are strong enough to keep from popping out when jarred during mountain biking, for example, or even dropped, yet easy enough to replace with just a small tug at the lens. With a single Switch Vision sunglass frame, including multiple lenses with varying tints, I have a good, workable solution to changes in the weather, time of day, or even the terrain.
When Switch Vision got its start in 2009, the focus was on the lens and the magnets. Switch Vision lenses are made with a shatterproof polycarbonate, coated with a thin film the company calls TriGuard that causes water to bead up and run off the lens. The coatings are also scratch resistant and smudge resistant, adding to their performance.
The real benefit of Switch Vision lenses, though, is both the numerous shadings for variable light and sport specific colours. Rose Red, for example, is most useful for motion sports like cycling, enhancing the contrast and visibility of traffic and brake lights. Amber Orange helps trail runners, hikers and mountain bikers increase the definition of contours in rough terrain. Yellow is intended for skiers by improving the visibility of moguls, uneven snow and ice, particularly in flatter, low light and cloudy conditions.
More recently, what’s further defined Switch Vision has been their frame offering. Not only has the range expanded greatly, the frame technology is a highly engineered thermoplastic nylon to make the sunglass frames lightweight, yet rugged enough for outdoor pursuits. Switch Vision has added a specially formulated TPR rubber to the nose pad (and the ear hook in some models) that increases grip when moist from sweat, snow or rain. The lens shape and nose pad have also been engineered to allow for air flow channels that reduce fog build-up.
I carry around the Switch Vision B7 frame that has a sport wrap design to block exposure from sun rays, wind and debris, and offers 100% UV protection, much needed in Australian conditions. The extra lenses I have come in small plastic pods that are easy to bring with me on my outdoor activities.
While Switch Vision does not yet have a distributor in either Australia or New Zealand, I’ve seen most of their frames and lenses on online sites, such as amazon.com, that will ship to the southern hemisphere. Or visit one of the many retailers that carry Switch Vision in the US if you happen to be travelling there.
Featured Photos: Switch Vision Media Images