Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Zeal Optics Sable Polarized Sunglasses Review: Run and Around Town Ready

by Jeff Valliere

Zeal Optics Sable Polarized Sunglasses
28 grams
$149.00

Zeal is an innovative, environmentally conscious company who prides themselves in making high quality sunglasses out of plant based materials with their Z Resin frame and Ellume lens.  The Z Resin used to make the frames is produced from castor oil derived from the castor plant, a renewable resource that reduces CO2 in the manufacturing process, replaces petroleum based products and ultimately produces a lightweight, comfortable and durable frame.  The polarized Ellume lens is also created from plant based materials, while retaining impressive impact resistance, durability and optical clarity.



Beyond the innovative plant based materials and environmental consciousness, Zeal is also noted for their ability to integrate a casual lifestyle look with athletic performance.  They make a few models that have a solely for sport "look", but the vast majority of their models have a lifestyle look, while still being lightweight, well ventilated and durable.

I have been somewhat leery of polarized sunglasses due to a pair I owned years ago that gave me headaches and distorted auto glass and camera/phone screens  The Zeal Ellume Copper lens however seems to be much more "user friendly" with only minimal screen distortion when looking at my iPhone, hardly any noticeable difference in the car and thus far, no headaches.
The advantage of polarized lenses to a trail runner however becomes evident on days where there is snow, ice, wet trail and especially advantageous when the trail is a mix of the above.  Polarization really brings out crisp contrast and helps me to better identify the texture of the trail surface and thus can better anticipate what I'll be stepping on (composition of the snow, ice or wet trail).

It is difficult to present the level of contrast in photos, but the photos below represent trail conditions where I found polarization most useful.



The Ellume Copper lens has a 14% light transmission rate and though this is a bit lighter lens that I normally prefer, I found it to be a versatile lens for all but the very brightest high altitude, snow bowl glacier travel sort of outings.  Otherwise, it is plenty dark enough for bright sunny days, yet light enough to maintain good visibility going in/out of the woods or use on partly cloudy days, though a bit too dark for use at dawn/dusk or really overcast days and in deep woods.

The Z Resin Sable frame/glasses are reasonably light at 28 grams and fit me perfect out of the box.  When running, they stay well planted on my face with little to no bounce and have a wide field of vision with great wind protection, yet are well ventilated and only fog up in the wettest of conditions (snowing/raining combined with hard uphill effort) that would fog any sunglasses.  If they do fog however, they de-fog relatively quickly.

Ideal use:  The Zeal Sable are versatile and perform well for running, and a wide variety of other sports (though I might pick a larger style for cycling or skiing). They do so with a casual style so they are a good choice if you a want one pair of sunglasses that easily crosses over from sport use to day use without looking like you just got done with a bike race.

The Sable also come in two other flavors, Matte Black with Dark Grey Polarized lens (9% light transmission) and Atlantic Blue with Horizon Blue Polarized lens (12% light transmission).



Comparisons:

Oakley EVZero Path with Prizm Road - Best for lightest weight and near imperceptible on face, top notch optical clarity, definition and unobstructed visibility.  Prizm Road lens ideal for moderately brighter conditions and also do well in/out of shade/sun.

Oakley EVZero Path with Prizm Trail - Best for lightest weight and near imperceptible on face, top notch optical clarity, definition and unobstructed visibility.  Prizm Trail lens ideal for cloudy days, shady trails.

Bolle 6th Sense with Modulator Brown Emerald Oleo AF lens - Best for changing light conditions, from moderately shaded trails, cloudy days, early morning, late evenings all the way up to the brightest sunny conditions.  Great definition, optical clarity, very light and unobstructed field of vision and very custom fit with malleable ear stems and nose bridge.  

Julbo Aerospeed with Zebra Light Fire lens - Large lens for maximal coverage and frameless design for a wide field of unobstructed vision.  Very light for the size, the Aerospeed is hardly noticeable when wearing and the infinitely adjustable nose piece helps give a custom fit.  The Zebra Light Fire lens is about the best photochromic lens on the market that covers you from dim light to bright sun.

adidas Zonyk Aero Pro with Chrome Mirror lens - Best for maximal coverage on the brightest, sunny days with optional brow pad.  Chrome lens struggles to bring out definition on shaded trails.  Not the lightest of the bunch, but secure and high quality.  The Glow Vario lens is a top pick for dark or cloudy conditions, but unsuited for sunny days.

Reviewer
Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 2d Masters in 2015. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the Colorado 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several. 

The Sable  were provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere and Zeal

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