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For mountain bikers, eyewear is about a lot more than keeping the sun out of your eyes. It's protection from tree branches, something to catch the mud and keep contacts in place on white-knuckle descents. Oh, and there's that sun thing, too.
Zeal Optics Flyer Sunglasses
The founders of Zeal Optics are former professional mountain bike racers, and it shows in the riding-inspired Flyer. A close fit with plenty of wrap provides full coverage protection and a super wide field of vision that feels almost like a goggle. The company's ZB-13 polarized lenses place a hint of rose-coloring on the world and proved themselves perfect no matter the light conditions, whether blasting from sun to shade through aspen groves, cutting though the shadows in heavy tree cover or heading right into late afternoon glare.
The Zeal Optics Flyer's fit is comfortable and resists sliding when sweaty and still providing consistent ventilation on lung-busting climbs. Oversize style should translate well off the trail and near-neutral tint and polarization aren't intrusive. The Flyers earn the best thing you can say about sunglasses: It's easy to forget you're wearing them. The Zeal Optics Flyer is listed at $110.
Ryders Eyewear Shore Goggles
Ryders Eyewear Shore goggles are made with the freeride huckster in mind. Comfortable and light with the protection and optics hard chargers demand, the goggle provides plenty of vents for excellent ventilation and crisp optics from edge to edge. The shatterproof polycarbonate lens is available in both clear and gray polarized and features tear-off posts for those days when the weather doesn't cooperate with race day.
The clear lens is a good bet for sun/shade transitions, and the polarized does a fine job taking the glare off but can require a moment to refocus when diving into the shade. Fit and field of vision are excellent and the Shore goggle is compatible with full-face helmets. The Ryders Eyewear Shore lists at $49.99 with clear lens and $69.99 for polarized.
Smith Optics Pastrana Intake Sweat-X Goggles
Smith Optics Pastrana Intake Sweat-X goggles are straight-up moto goggles, and they proved themselves equally adept when the bike is pedal-powered. Clear lenses with superb optics keep the trail in focus, and the flannel-inspired styling makes sure no one misses you while you pass.
The goggles feature tear off posts compatible with both standard tear offs and Smith Optics' "Roll Off" system to keep nature at bay. A silicone-backed section of the strap keep the goggle firmly planted on full-face helmets, and the lenses' anti fog coating keeps things clear up front. The fit best suits medium-sized faces and angling "outriggers" attaching the strap help ensure compatibility with any helmet. The Smith Optics Pastrana Intake Sweat-X Goggles has a suggested retail price of $65.
Alex Strickland was born and raised in possibly the least mountainous and outdoorsy city in America – Memphis, Tenn. Despite the lack of trails and people to enjoy them with, he became a hiker, mountain biker and runner. Today, he's traded up for the Wasatch Mountains of Utah and added skiing to the mix, once someone explained what snow was.
A former newspaper editor in small-town Montana, Strickland enjoys freelance writing and photography for publications around the Mountain West and sharing his love for the outdoors through his work.
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