During the past several weeks, I've been wearing and testing Bolle's new "Draft" performance sunglasses with photochromic lenses during cycling and running workouts. Bolle provided Athletic-Minded Traveler with a few complimentary models (full disclosure) for testing purposes, but as with all of our product reviews, the freebies do not influence our opinions--our credibility is always paramount.
In all candor, prior to donning the Bolle's, I was skeptical about whether differences between their glasses and other eyewear I've used would be tangible. Shame on me. These Bolle's are impressively unique and superior in many respects.
Lightweight - When picking up the glasses, the first thing I noticed was their weight--or lack of it. Even compared to other sport-performance glasses, the Bolle Drafts are airy but not delicate. When wearing, the glasses are so light they are easily forgettable as is the extremely comfortable nose pad. That is the best measure of great glasses--do you forget they are there? For these Bolle's the answer is a resounding "yes".
Wide Lenses - The term "wrap around" can be vague, but in Bolle's case it's appropriate. On my face the lenses stretch to my temples creating a protected and shaded view throughout my peripheral vision. Compared to other brands, the lenses can be up to 1 inch wider. And, they are up to a 1/4-inch longer too so that there is no risk of having vision obscured by the lens bottom.
Photochromic Lenses - For an additional $30, purchasers can choose a photochromic lens. This decision is a no-brainer. Often i've fretted over what glasses to wear during a long bike ride. Here in San Diego, it can be gray and foggy along the coast (or early in the morning) but bright and sunny only 5 miles inland (or later in the a.m.). Choose a route that mixes both coastal and inland roads and frustration over not having the correct lenses is likely. Similarly, being out for several hours and having the weather change can also create vision issues without optimal lenses. Bolle solves the problem with their photochromic technology embedded in the lens. If it's bright and sunny, the lenses will react to the UV and darken. If the skies gray-over, the lenses will lighten on their own. It works so well, that while wearing the glasses you may not even notice that the UV brightness has changed around you. Very cool and effective.
Great Ventilation - I have yet to find performance glasses that do not begin to fog over after stopping for a few minutes. These Bolle's do the same, BUT, their great ventilation eliminates the fog after 10 pedal-strokes while on the bike and within 30 seconds on the run--basically immediately. That almost immediate clearing is about as fast as I've experienced.
Fog - As mentioned above, the glasses fog over when stopping after an intense workout (hot forehead). However, I have yet to find glasses that do not fog over in this situation AND the Bolle Draft lenses clear the fog very quickly (see "Pros" above).
Price - At $179, this great eyewear may be out of reach for some who could benefit from its wonderful characteristics. While we're not talking obscene cost--and the price is reasonable for the level of sophistication/technology--we receive a lot of feedback from our readers about trying to find quality eyewear under $100.
Bolle's Draft Performance eyewear with photochromic lenses receives our top "Gold" rating and strong recommendation.