For the past couple years, I've been on the hunt for cool, affordable sunglasses that I can wear while I run, but that are also hip enough that they can double as normal wear sunglasses. I know that the uber lightweight triathlete-looking sunglasses are probably the most practical type of frames for running, but I'm sorry, I just can't handle the dork factor of those things.
I've tried on tons of frames from a number of different brands with price tags ranging from $100-$250, and nothing stuck. Nothing seemed worth the money.
Upon moving to Boulder, Colorado, I realized that this was a more urgent need than it was in Brooklyn. It is so sunny here. The sun is literally brighter due to the fact that Boulder is 5,000+ feet closer to the sun. Wasn't something I thought about or prepared for in advance, but it makes sense. I started wearing my trucker hat on all of my runs, but that didn't prevent me from having to squint and from my eyes watering.
While I was on a run with a new friend, she mentioned her preferred brand was Zeal Optics. I hadn't heard of them before, so obviously I looked them up.
Zeal Optics is a local brand, based in Boulder, Colorado. What sets them apart from other brands is the fact that their frames and lenses are made from plant-based materials. As a company, Zeal cares about the environment and about social change. They partner with organizations across the globe to build awareness and support people who are trying to make a difference with things like deforestation and access to clean water in third world countries. Also, they're really nice people. I met with some of their marketing department to learn more about the brand, and they couldn't have been more kind and helpful!
- Durability - these babies are built to last. The fact that they're made of plant-based materials doesn't mean they're not as durable as their plastic-based cousins.
- Super Lightweight - the frames are incredibly lightweight, making them easier to wear for both athletic and everyday activities
- Proflex Rubber - I can bend my head over and shake it around and my sunglasses won't fall off. It keeps the frames in place and creates a comfortable cushion
- Spring Hinge - the hinges at the temples are double jointed, making them easy to put on and take off, without making them stretched out and falling off your face
- Available in Prescription
Like I said above, if my number one priority was comfort, I probably would have chosen one of their dorky options. But that wasn't what I wanted. The Kennedy frames barely feel like wearing anything -- it's like how wearing a pair of Lululemon leggings barely feels like wearing pants. They fit snug on my face. Because of the spring hinge, they only apply just enough pressure to stay on, not so much that they give me a headache.
Their Ellume Dark Gray lenses are polarized and color enhanced to provide clarity while protecting my eyes from UV rays.
The overall integrity of the Kennedy glasses is strong. The lenses and frame are scratch resistant and the flexibility of the frames makes them feel hard to crack or break. That being said, I'm definitely going to keep them in the case they came with and won't be throwing them around like a pair of science club goggles.
At $139, the Kennedy frames aren't the cheapest option, but they're also not the most expensive. They're cheaper than the big brand options like Oakley and Nike. And I'd say the value they bring is worth forking out some real money instead of buying another crappy pair of $20 sunnies from Urban Outfitters.
Cool Factor: 10/10
I feel so cool wearing these. While we were walking on Pearl Street after purchasing my shades, I couldn't help but look at my reflection in the windows of the shops we passed. The style is perfect for me.
I LOVE these sunglasses. Matt's already jealous of them and wanting a pair of his own. These hit the nail on the head with being exactly what I was looking for. So if you're looking for a pair of running sunglasses, I would highly recommend choosing the Zeal Kennedy frames. They're functional, comfortable, and stylish. I wear mine on a daily basis, both for running/adventuring and for just going to lunch.