Tried & New: Zeal Airstream

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Written by Holly Howard   

$109 (discontinued) -

You can buy sunglasses just about anywhereógear shops, grocery stores, gas stationsóbasically wherever thereís a cash register. But finding a pair that works for me can be more of a challenge. They have to feel right, not be too heavy, have full coverage yet not so much that they donít fit with a helmet, and I donít want them sliding around when I get sweaty. I own four pairs of shades, but only have one that really does it all.

I got my Zeal Airstreams about four years ago. Theyíre functional but have style; their lenses are polarized and of good quality; and the tint is just right for Vermont, where the weather can go from sunny to storming in minutes.

I donít consider myself picky and donít care a whole lot about styling. And while I donít own a pair of skinny jeans (I think Iíd overfill them, anyway), I wear a pair of skinny shades. Thatís because my head is small and the bridge of most shades is so big they end up too close to my face and fog. Or they perch on my checks with the lenses focused on the ground. Bottom line, fit is paramount. My Zeal Airstreams have a small nose, narrow fit and grips on the bridge and arms.

After four years, my sunglasses are beat and pieced together with Hello Kitty duct tape. This past winter after a returned flight from Utah, they arrived broken in my checked baggage despite riding in the toe of my ski boot (must have been turbulence or some surly baggage checker). So Iím on the lookout for a new pair of skinny shades, but will keep the duct tape handy until then.

+ For four years, the arms have kept their spring and grippiness.
- The unilens is a bit odd, but I guess thatís style. Or at least Bono style.
= Good quality sunglasses for those of us with smaller heads.


backcountry magazine december 2006 issue
Julbo MonteRosa
$160 (with Zebra Lenses)
With the MonteRosa, Julbo introduces a ladies-specific pair of shades to balance mountaineering functionality with fashion. Blinders are detachable, offering glare protection on-hill and a casual look, when removed off-hill. Additionally, Julbo offers a comprehensive line of lens options.

backcountry magazine december 2006 issue
Revo Converge
$209 (with Crystal Glass Lenses)
In making the Converge, Revo brought together polarized Crystal glass optics with a patented Eco-Use frame and a fit designed for smaller faces. The detachable leash keeps these glasses in place during the skin up and secure for the ride down.

backcountry magazine december 2006 issue
Native Trango
$150 (with Silver Reflect Lenses)
Ideal for women with larger faces, the Trango is one of Nativeís lighter pairs of shades. ďCam-Action HingesĒ lock the arms into place, increasing their durability. Interchangeable Sportflex lenses are included.

backcountry magazine december 2006 issue
Kaenon Burnet
$229 (Polarized G12 Lenses)
A pair fit for medium size faces, the Burnet mixes a fashionable aviator-style frame with functional, full-coverage polarized lenses. Thick arms make the Burnet bomber, despite their fashion-forward appearance.

backcountry magazine december 2006 issue
Zeal Zeta
$129 (Polarized Hyperion Lenses)
Better for small faces, the Zeal Zetaís feature adhesive, malleable arms and a forehead piece that keep the shades in place during physical activity.

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