Each July I look forward to the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) annual trade show. This year it was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. It will be held in Orlando next year before it rotates back to Las Vegas. The show drew approximately 11,000 visitors. You can read my ICAST review on www.examiner.com.
During my two days at the show I visited many of the sunglasses, eyewear and/or eyegear exhibitors to see what has changed since last year. The big brands like Smith Optics, Costa, Maui Jim, Wylie X Eyewear and Native Eyewear along with a load of smaller brands were all exhibiting their latest and greatest sunglasses.
This year I have picked three brands of sunglasses as my “Best in Show” because two of the exhibitors gave the angler the biggest bang for their money. Each brand has similar features, different price points and a special feature that puts each product line directly on competition with the big brands above.
I started my 2014 ICAST experience at the Guideline booth where I met Brittany N. Mench early Thursday morning. She works for Celeste Markey. Celeste Markey is a public relations, marketing and social media firm that handles the marketing campaign for Guideline Eyegear and Fisherman Sunglasses. We spent time looking at and talking about the new Guideline Eyegear.
Guideline is rolling out four new styles, Surface, Surface Bifocal, Eddy, Hefe in their 2015 catalog. Each style has the Guideline multi-layer injected-molded polycarbonate lens system and the Grilamid BTR Frame. This frame material contains 54% bio based (castor bean) polymer which makes it very durable and flexible. It was the combination of the flexible Grilamid BTR frame, the quality of the polarized lens and the price point of $49.95 to $79.9 that put these sunglasses on my “Best in Show” list. Having a large face, the average pair of sunglasses always feels tight on my face. When I tried a pair of the Eddy with the flexible frame these sunglasses the fit was very comfortable. Guideline Eyegear lenses come in four tints, gray, brown, amber and copper with three mirror coatings, blue, green and silver flash. All Guideline Eyegear has an integrated rubber brow and nose pads. You can purchase these sunglasses on the Guideline website Guideline Direct, Amazon or at your local Bass Pro Shop.
On day two as I was walking all the isles, I visited the Typhoon booth where I met Roy Burchett and Rich Howes. Roy is the C.E.O. of Sunbelt Optic. Typhoon is one of Sunbelt Optics’ four brand labels, Typhoon, S4 Optics, Gone Fishing Optics and Kidz Optix. Rick is a professional bass angler who won the 2013 Bassmaster Southern Open Championship on Lake Toho, Florida and he was the first qualifier for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville. The time I spent in the Typhoon booth was so much fun talking with Roy Burchett and Rich.
Roy has been in the optics business for a long time and has a wealth of knowledge on the manufacturing of sunglasses. We talked about the process of making sunglasses, especially lens for almost 45 minutes. Roy really tested my trivia knowledge about eye protection and sunglasses. Here are two tidbits of trivia that I learned talking with Roy.
Trivia #1 - Did you know that some of the earliest eye protection was created by the Inuit people of the Arctic to prevent snow blindness? According to Roy and Wikipedia, the original goggles were made of a piece of bone or ivory pierced with slits. These goggles fit tightly against the face so that the only light entering is through the slits. The slit is made narrow not only to reduce the amount of light entering but also to improve the visual acuity - the greater the width of the slits the larger the field of view.
Trivia #2 – The first polarized sunglasses first became available in 1936, when Edwin H. Land began experimenting with making lenses with his patented Polaroid filter. I did not know this fact. I always thought that the first Polaroid sunglasses were developed in the 1950s around the time Sir Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay scaled Mt. Everest. Boy was I off by a few years.
After Roy and I discussed sunglasses in general, he got right to giving me the entire tour of the Typhoon Optics line of sport sunglasses. All the lenses in the Typhoon Optics brand are made by Carl Zeiss. Carl Zeiss has been making lens for about 150 years. The Zeiss lens technology maximizes your peripheral vision, with up to 50% larger clear fields of view and provides enhanced UV protection.
All Typhoon Optics sunglasses come with the Aqua View Technology which means that the lenses are water repellent, smudge proof and are anti static. The lens set has a lifetime warranty and is anti-glare, 100% UV protection with an unbreakable injected molded polycarbonate construction. While wearing these sunglasses in a harsh outdoor environment, water, sand, dirt and other types liquids will not impede your vision. These Hydrophobic Polarized lens will provide you with a superior, clear, clean field of vision.
According to Roy, the polarized lenses filter out 99.9% of the day's reflected glare and 100% of the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays; this enhancement shields your eyes and provides the ability to see fish, objects and movement beneath the water’s surface with amazing clarity. Lenses are made of lightweight, scratch-resistant, double-injected polycarbonate, a plastic so impact-resistant, it exceeds the FDA's requirements by a factor of 40. Typhoons come with a floating optical case, a microfiber cleaning pouch and a lifetime warranty. When Roy was talking about the lifetime warranty, he told a story of a pair of sunglasses that were returned under the warranty. Roy said that he could tell immediately that the sunglasses were abused so bad that the damage was not covered by the lifetime warranty . He went on to say that he replace the sunglasses anyway according with the terms and conditions of the warranty and added a note not to send any more back for replacement.
While we were talking, I was wearing my reader glasses hanging from my neck by my red Chums sunglass tether. Roy immediately picked up on that and he gave me a tutorial on how the Typhoon sunglasses bi-focal magnifier sweet spot was the best on the market. He explained that if you can even see any of the magnifiers while looking through the center of the lens that the magnifier is placed too high. He showed me a pair of Typhoon sunglasses where the magnifier was sandwiched between lens layers and placed perfectly where the magnifier did not obstruct ones vision when looking through the center of the lens. He said that if you wanted the magnifier even lower, all you had to do was spread the nose bridge to make the sunglasses rest lower on ones nose. He gave me pair of Typhoon Mariner II, Black with Meridian Blue lens with a 1.5 magnification to try out. I wore these all the way home after ICAST from Orlando to Melbourne in the bright Florida sunshine and I can tell you first hand that these sunglasses were everything Roy said they would be.
We rounded out our discussion on prescription lenses for the Typhoon sunglasses. Typhoon has a Create - Your - Own Rx sunglasses program that all you need is a prescription that is less than 18 months old. You have your choice of 8 frame styles and two lens colors, Horizon Grey and Sunset Brown. You can get single vision ($269.99 / $289.99 depending on frame) or progressive ($364.99 / $384.99 depending in frame) polarized polycarbonate Carl Zeiss lenses. The sunglasses come with a case and a microfiber pouch.
Out of all the times I have attended ICAST, I have to say that my time talking with Roy was one of my more memorable moments.
You can try on and purchase Typhoon sunglasses at West Marine, Bass Pro, Cabelas, Sport Chalet, Turners Outdoorsmen, Amazon, Shoe Buy, Tackle Warehouse, FLW, H&M Landing, and Bett Fishing Tackle and Wholesale. Depending on style, the MSRP price point for all the Typhoon sunglasses are $64.99 - $94.99. This pricing is well below the big brands I mentioned earlier in my article.
In my opinion, the high quality of the frames, Carl Zeiss lenses, the bifocal sweet spot and the price points make Typhoon Optics a winner .
My third sunglass brand in my “Best in Show” hales from Mississauga, Canada. Vigor Eyewear is a new brand that was started in 2013. They are big in the Canadian professional fishing circuit. The Vigor polarized sunglasses lens has an eight (8) layer construction with a hydrophobic top layer on the inside of the lens and a super hydrophobic layer on the front side lens.
What really caught my eye and what put them in my “Best in Show” was the frame flexibility. You can literally bend the frame out almost straight and the frame will not break. See the pictures of the bendable frame on my slide number 10. Flexible frames allow the sunglasses to fit more face shapes where more rigid frames will fit more snugly. So if you are looking for a really rugged pair of sunglasses, Vigor just may do the trick.
Well that wraps up my “Best in Show Sunglasses” for the 2014 ICAST.
Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great our doors.