There’s a new player in the fly fishing market for sunglasses, which seems like something I end up saying every year. This time, though, I expect to see the company stick around. Hobie, known for its kayaks and surfboards, not to mention its vast line of surf clothes, has jumped into the polarized shades market.
What’s so special about that? Well, they are targeting a mid-market price point, that’s what. Up until now when it came to polaroids you basically had two options: dirt cheap, sometimes literally gas station cheap, and ultra high end. These generally broke into the sub $50 price point and the more-than-$150 category (sometimes a lot more). In the sub $50 range there were some good options (such as Suncloud) which could get you in a decent looking shade with a decent looking lens, but you were necessarily going to sacrifice some visual clarity.
Hobie’s chosen market sector is the $80 to $150 class. The key factor here is that they seem to have prioritized lens quality over frame quality. The plastic of the frames does feel a little lower end than, say, Costas, although the build quality is still well above the gas station cheapy. But the lenses now–there’s no sacrifice here. As far as I can tell Hobie is using the same class of lens that you’ll find in base level polycarbonate shades across the market (Oakley, Costa, Smith, etc.) in the $150 category, but thanks to the reduced emphasis on frame grade, you get them for $80!
Fit and finish are actually excellent. You might be able to tell wearing them that they are a little lighter and less rugged than top-end models, but no one would be able to tell by looking at you. I’ve demoed the Boneyard and Los Feliz models and both look fantastic–both on your face, and through the lenses.
For $80, these are highly recommended and will really fill a much needed niche.