Monday, May 21, 2018

District Vision Review: Easy on the Eyes, Stylish Technical Running Sunglasses

Article by Sam Winebaum

District Vision 
     Nagata Speed Blade Black Rose Lenses 23 g ($249)
     Yuraki Sport Yellow Lens 24g ($199)
In the sports world, and particularly in run sunglasses, style and technical capabilities often clash. We all know of the aggressive style of many blade type sports shades or the "fashionable" yet optically and functionally challenged high style models.

District Vision is a New York City start-up focused on run sunglasses. The founders, both runners and previously involved in the fashion design industry, believed there was a way to combine classic yet modern style with running focused frame designs, high quality run focused optics along with a variety of lenses for different conditions into a line of run sunglasses.  And they were really tested outside of the concrete canyons of NYC as Ricky Gates wore District Vision on his 3600 mile un-supported Transamericana run last year

District Vision Nagata Speed Blade with Black Rose Lens

More than just a gear company, District Vision has a deeply grounded holistic approach to sport and their products:

"We research and develop tools for runners, creating products that are equally function-first and performance enhancing. We believe in a holistic approach to athleticism and the idea that mental wellbeing is the foundation of every form of physical exercise.

Our first experiment was initiated over two years ago when we started testing sports eyewear technology with a group of downtown runners. Combining real-life feedback with Japanese engineering, the Keiichi running sunglass system was born – a proprietary solution for athletes, handmade in Japan.

As part of our holistic vision for the project we want to make meditation available to more runners and active souls in New York and beyond, through a series of talks and our Mindful Athlete Program (MAP), working with leading teachers in both fields."

Handcrafted in Japan, the quality of the materials is outstanding with therapeutic grade lenses, a titanium inner temple wire, and subtle, very light nylon frame materials. At approximately 23 g the Nagata and Yurkui are remarkably light, on the face and on your eyes. We think District Vision has succeeded brilliantly in combining high style and high performance.

While style is of course in the eye of the beholder, we like the modern take on classic styles here. Our Nagata is a more subtle and less aggressive take on the classic blade sport style. Others such as the Yukari recall driver styles, while the Keiichi are more modern with a Japanese vibe. Not surprising and quite unusual in this day and age District Vision glasses while designed and tested in New York City are hand made in Japan.
We like to look good in our sunglasses and we love the look here but always key to us is the optical quality, run utility of the lens tint and eye protection.

I can truly say that the Black Rose lens in my Nagata is very easy on the eyes. District Vision calls out that their lenses are designed to reduce eye strain while exercising: "Our lens technology is engineered around a proprietary approach to light transmission, color science and material innovation to protect and relax the eye muscle. To enhance athletic performance, D+ lens technology ™ is shatterproof, water / oil repellant and features reverse lens anti-reflective coating. We offer four different lenses to enhance visibility for altering performance conditions"

Comparing to my Oakley EVZero Path Prizm withTrail lens (RTR review) and Julbo Aerolite with Zebra Light lens (RTR review) I note a more natural view, plenty of contrast but far less of the orange somewhat eye straining artificial looking high contrast of the Oakley and the slightly more yellow orange tinge of the Julbo.

The Black Rose lens has a visible light transmission range of 15-31%. I have found them effective in both brighter light and overcast conditions. For low or flat light even night running the Sports Yellow is a great option.
District Vision Yarkui with Sport Yellow lens
The D+ lenses of all tints are made of a very high quality therapeutic grade polycarbonate with the best optical clarity of any sun glass I have tested. To help produce that notable reduced eye strain they have unlike many competitors a reflective coating on the inside instead of the outside of the lens. The sharpness of bright light is muted as a result and we would also expect as the coating is inside it is less susceptible to scratching. I sweat a lot and often my sunglasses get gummed up on the outside. The lenses are called out as sweat and oil repellant and in my testing for sure I am cleaning them less than my usual glasses. This repellency may also be assisted by the more vertical less wrap around geometry of the lenses as well.
The geometry, shape and size of the lenses plays a big role in their visual performance. As noted, they are more vertical with less curvature and wrap around than many others I have tested. I believe also very importantly that the very high and broad flat surfaces quite dramatically enhance my field of vision. The Nagata is a massive 54mm high with more high surface than my Oakley which only matches the height in a much smaller area closer to the nose piece.

District Vision Yarkui with Sport Yellow lens
The Yukari above is bigger yet at 58mm and is a great option for low light and winter snow running where contrast is needed.
District Vision Nagata Speed Blade with Sport Yellow lens
Lenses need frames and here beyond the classic yet modern edged styling District Vision, as with the lenses, the focus is on comfort and run utility. The nylon frames have titanium inner temple wires and are thinner and lighter than conventional temples. Instead of a bulbous sticky temple end piece District has an up swept, lightly sticky coated "frame" which also serves as the attachment point for an optional sports retention strap. Both the temples and nose piece are adjustable and hypo-allergenic The fit on the head is incredibly light and easy yet very secure. 

Every District Vision sunglass can now be outfitted with the Caitlin Sports Strap ($22 in black, gray, and red). This ingenious soft and slightly stretchy strap securely snaps into the holes at the end of temples. As I wear my District Vision over regular eyeglasses I now have a totally secure hold.

Style, craftsmanship, and performance all come together in the District Vision sunglasses. They perform in a more gentle and soothing way than typical run sunglasses. You will look sharp, protect your eyes with less eye strain and see the world in a new and pleasing light.

Sam Winebaum is the Editor and Founder of RoadTrailRun . He has been running trails and roads and run shoe and tech geeking for 45 years. As he turned 60 in 2017 he was thrilled to clock a 1:35.24 half as well as 2 days after his 61st birthday a 3:40 marathon.  He runs his roads and trails in coastal New Hampshire and Park City, Utah.

Comments & Questions Welcome Below!
The District Vision glasses were provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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