Once moving to Tahoe and dealing with the higher elevations I have put more of a priority on eye protection. Over the years I have been very happy with the glasses and eye protection I have experienced from brands such as Oakley, Smith and Revo but I have never had good luck with models that have claimed to have the option to change lenses, they were either a lower quality lens or were difficult to take out and replace in a timely manner and not put finger prints all over them. So, needless to say, I was skeptical when we were approached with a new and improved concept.
A relative “newcomer” to the sunglass/sports optics world has seemed to solved these problem of a simple interchangeable lens system without compromising high end optics and eye protection. Switch Vision has solved the interchangeability with the simplicity of magnets, yes magnets. Attached to each high quality lens is two strong magnets that hold the lens in place not only in the frame but also in the accessory case (more about that later). The ability to switch (hence the name) out the lenses is where Switch differentiates themselves from other high end optic offerings. Each pair of glasses is available with either a polarized or non polarized lens standard along with an additional set of low light amber lenses contained in a VERY well designed clamshell, aptly named “Lenspod”, case that not only protects the lenses from scratching but also from being crushed or damaged. Each pair of glasses are available for $149.00 with a polarized mirrored lens or $139.00 polarized, with no mirror. The lens are hydrophobic (to shed water), oleophobic ( easier to clean), has a anti-reflective back coat to increase UV protection and a hard coat to protect the lens. Switch does offer selected models with non polarized lens also. These start at $99.00 and also come with two lens. You have a choice of either a grey or contrast amber polarized lens as the base lens with a additional set of low light rose/amber lens non polarized for use in early mornings or late afternoons where glare isn't as much of an issue. The second lens comes in a VERY well designed spring loaded clamshell that the company calls a "Lenspod" the lens magnetically attach to each side of the Lenspod and there is a silicone buffer between the two lens so they don't get scratched. Also included is one of the higher quality microfiber soft cases that doubles as a cleaning cloth. (this is where the info corrections above would start)
While the magnetic design is where Switch is making their claim to differentiate themselves from the competitive eyeglass world but it is this design that allows them to really separate them but what they can DO with with this design. Need a prescription? Switch has an Optics Laboratory. Need just readers? Switch offers their Sun Readers lenses that have a small reading zone built into the lens that allows you to read maps, score cards, play lists on your iPhone/iPod or book at the beach without having to trombone your arms or change glasses. The Sun Readers are available in grey or brown mirrored lens (and also a clear) and are available for ALL frame designs, powers range +1.5 +2.0 and +2.5 powers.
Even with having Lasik, I knew I would have to deal with reading glasses at some point and unfortunately, now is that point. I have found myself reaching for reading glasses more and more. Where Switch has solved this problem is offering a reading glass built into a sunglass lens. INGENIOUS! I really appreciated the benefit of this feature when we were sitting outside in the Squaw Village and I was checking some e-mails that came in. I can understand why most sunglass manufactures don’t do this, simply expense and inventory but Switch figured a way to integrate this into their lenses at a reasonable cost.
For the past month or so, Trekchick and I have been testing various styles and lenses in different conditions here is Tahoe. We went to the Concour D’elegance boat show in Carnelian Bay which allowed us to view some magnificent wooded boats docked in Lake Tahoe’s bluest of blue waters. Here is where we had a chance to test out the polarized lenses. We were able to look not so much at the water the boats were in, but more so through the water to the rocks below, truly impressive. What was also impressive was the quality of the polarization, where many lower quality glasses, reduce the ability to look at displays from iPhones and technical displays, the Switch lenses had minimal rainbowing.
I tend to err on a lighter lens than darker so the low-light Rose Amber lens was next on the menu to try. The Rose Amber lens is the second lens that is offered on most of Switches offerings. While this lens is not polarized I did like it in all but the brightest lights and did a very good job as a driving lens. I also got a chance to play with the Trail Lens in it’s intended environment, on a mountain bike trail. I will say the contrast that this lens allowed was of the best I have experienced on the trail especially in and out of the trees of the Tahoe Rim Trial. I did like that the frame for this test, H-Wall Wrap worked very well with my Poc Helmet and the very well executed anti fog nose pieces did their job.
Now what to do with all of these parts and how do you managed these extra lenses and keep them safe? Switch has you covered here. Where other manufactures that offer glasses with interchangeable lenses usually provide an extra microfiber bag with pockets for the lenses, Switch includes a well designed hardshell “Lenspod” that protects the lenses not only from the elements but also from being crushed. I did my favorite “drop & kick” test, where as I dropped the case, mid stride, I kicked the case with my foot and it skipped a good 30 feet across the parking lot and no damage to the lenses. Much thought went into this case, it has metal springs and each pod is individually contoured for each individual lens design. There is even magnets in the cases so the lenses do not move around.
Switch Optics has done a very good job with not only the lens quality, but also their concept of a simple interchangeable lens system. You can go to www.switchoptics.com and if you look under http://www.switchvision.com/dyn_locator.asp, you will see that the vast majority of locations are optometrists which immediately shows the commitment to the quality of their optics, the balance are ski shops & specialty sporting goods stores which are carrying them. I am sure that Switch’s availability will expand will increase due to their stellar showing at the Outdoor Retailers Show. Switch has shown that there is always room in the market for a new and revolutionary product.