For your eyeballs, going for a trail ride is probably about as fun as doing an hour of Crossfit with live babies duct-taped to your knees.
Your eyes perform a slew of tasks while you’re hooting and hollering down the trail, and if they fail to do their job, you’ll very quickly find yourself feeling like one of those babies: shaken, at best. A good pair of glasses can make your eyes’ jobs easier by reducing glare from the sun, improving contrast on the trail and offering protection from wind, bugs and branches.
But eyewear can also make life more difficult, getting covered with sweat, fogging on humid days or not offering the right amount of tint. Ryders has sought to put an end to the latter two of those ills with its anti-fog and photochromic technologies, both of which are featured in these $130 Seventh sunglasses, which also sport adjustable hydrophilic nose and temple contacts. The polycarbonate lenses are impact resistant and offer 100 percent UV protection.
On Photochromic Lenses
The same basic idea behind Transitions lenses applies here. The millions of silver chloride and silver halide molecules in the lenses are transparent in the absence of UV light, but change shape and block light when exposed to UV rays. All photochromic lenses begin to transition instantly, but the full transition takes much longer–we’re talking at least a minute for a noticeable change to have taken place when going from darkness into UV light, and longer going the other way.
It’s also notable that the photosensitive molecules react to temperature, darkening more in the cold and less in the heat. I didn’t test these lenses in any really cold conditions, but they darken effectively in July SoCal temperatures. Ryders injects the photosensitive material into the lenses (as opposed to dipping the lenses into the material), which results in longer-lasting photochromic performance.
Fit and Function
The Sevenths’ flat-top, semi-rim frame gives off a semi-casual vibe, but these glasses have enough technical features to make a triathlete blush. The anti-fog coating works as promised: Even on humid summer days in the woods of Massachusetts, I was only able to get a small patch of fog to appear on the lenses, and it dissipated almost as soon as it appeared. It’s more difficult to gauge the efficacy of the photochromic treatment, but simply put, these glasses kept my eyes comfortable in all daylight riding conditions.
The lenses have a slight tint in their clearest state, and don’t get anywhere near a blackout lens at their darkest. The Sevenths provided what seemed like the perfect level of tint both in the full sunlight of our Southern California trails and in the dappled light of East Coast forests, where the faint tint filtered out intermittent blasts of light without noticeably affecting depth perception. I wasn’t bothered by the lag in the photochromic adjustment when diving into partial shade from full sunlight, but I did notice the lenses’ tint when going into full shade–especially when I was trying to make out fine details on the trail or navigate a rock garden.
I have a pretty average-shaped skull, so I didn’t mess around much with the adjustable temple pads, which bend laterally to accommodate various noggins. The nose pads adjust both laterally and vertically, giving you control over how tightly they fit your nose and how far the glasses sit from your face. I found that a 5-millimeter gap between the pads and the frames offered good airflow without moving the frames into my field of vision. The Sevenths never fell off my face or shifted during riding, thanks to the adjustable fit and hydrophilic pad materials, which get tackier as they get wet. The frames do have some flex, which makes them feel a bit cheap when handled, but this flex is at least partially responsible for the Sevenths’ comfortable fit. In all, these sunglasses do a lot–which means that your eyes do less–and, importantly, they do it all for a significantly lower price than most of the competition.