Quality sunglasses on a budget?

OK, so I’ve recently sorted out contact lenses again and therefore don’t have the benefit of photochromic glasses stopping the sun attacking my eyes when I wear them. Sunglasses next on the shopping list, I looked round town and discovered that the range available seemed expensive or just crappy looking. Not a good start, but rather than waste my money on something I wasn’t sure about, I thought I’d leave it.

As I normally wear prescription safety glasses at work, I had a look at the range of safety glasses available and discovered that the vast majority of them are available with tints and solar UV protection. So I’ve invested in a couple of pairs of Bollé tinted safety glasses as they are remarkably well priced and boasted various different features.

The Bollé Safety website was a little unclear on the ‘Flash’ coating so I thought I’d play it safe at first and go for the polarised lenses on the Bollé Solis model. I’d been after some polarised specs for a while for their glare reducing ability, but the coating was £50 to put on prescription lenses which put me off somewhat. A grand total of £21.50 plus £1.95 P&P from [first published in 2009 so they’ve gone up since then!]. Took about a week to get here, but what with the postal strikes it’s probably unfair to blame them. Click the photo to be taken to their Amazon UK page.

Bollé Solis polarised

They look fine in my opinion and the polarised lenses certainly work as expected. The arms seem effective as rather than having ‘ear hooks’, they curve slightly downwards and the insides have a ribbed grippy rubber. My only issue so far is that the wraparound style seems rather susceptible to fogging up and this model does NOT come with anti-fog coating.

In the meantime, I had emailed Bollé Safety asking what the score was with the Flash coating, as I was rather taken with the Bollé Spider model. The website only mentioned it on the Contrast coating page as far as I could see, which suggested to me it only came with that coating. Turns out that it’s over a dark tint with UV blocking so it appears that would also work fine as sunglasses. I discovered later on that the Bollé datasheets show how dark they are in the numbers in the EN 172 compliance column. Anyway, behold the Bollé Spider Flash. Click the photo to be taken to their Amazon UK page.

Bollé Spider Flash 1

Bollé Spider Flash 2

Snazzy! Incidentally, I’m not actually trying to look hard-I’m tired and concentrating on taking the photo backwards. These DO have the anti-fog coating but they still mist up, it just seems to clear quicker. I suspect, or perhaps hope, that this will be greatly reduced when I’m outside with a bit of breeze.

Here are the Bollé Contour which I bought for work. Click the photo to be taken to their Amazon UK page.

Bollé Contour

Part of the specification on both the dark ones is ‘Not recommended for driving‘, so the next level of darkness down is needed. Coincidentally enough, the tinted Bollé Contour is at that level, so I may end up with a pair of them to chuck in the car too…

Overall, I’m very pleased with the savings here, considering Bollé’s ‘proper’ sunglasses are much more expensive than these. These should be just as tough too, I mean, they are hardly likely to build their safety glasses less rigorously are they?

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8 Responses to Quality sunglasses on a budget?

  1. stevecairney says:

    Bollé are really good and was always seriously pissed off if I left mine behind on a climbing trip. Much safer than just closing your eyes…

    Nice tip about the coating option!

  2. Charles says:

    On the Bolle Contours, I didn’t quite understand what you were saying about the tinted ones. I see they say that the glasses aren’t recommended for driving, but do you think they were dark enough to be suitable sunglasses? Or is there a way to apply a darker tint to them?


    • Dave says:

      Hi Charles,
      Thanks for commenting!

      I’ve not seen the tinted Contours in the flesh so couldn’t comment on whether they are tinted enough for use as sunglasses. My guess is that they aren’t given that they say they are ‘safe for driving’.

      I believe they now make a polarised Contour model but the specifications say they have the same level of light-blocking as the smoke version. My personal experience of the Contour is that they feel a little flimsy and the nose pads aren’t stuck on very securely. That said, I have lost one off the Spider’s…

      The Contour Smoke aren’t that expensive though, so if you decide to get some and they aren’t dark enough for use as sunglasses, I’d much appreciate you letting us know!


  3. Mitya says:

    Hey, Dave. Thanks a lot for posting your review of those Bolle’s. Look, I gotta question about Contour and Spider Flash models. Do these 2 models fit for prescription lenses? What I have in mind is not the additional clip-on (hate those clip-ons), but rather taking the “native” lenses out of the frame and actually replacing them with other lenses. So the question is do the frames of those models allow lenses to be changed? If you know the answer, pls enlighten me on this. It’ll be much appreciated. Thanks!

    • Dave says:

      Hi Mitya,
      I don’t think either of them do unfortunately. Both styles have wraparound style lenses which don’t lend themselves to prescription lenses.
      Bolle do another pair of safety glasses that do take prescription lenses, but I can’t remember which ones they are. They don’t look as good though…
      have you considered photochromic lenses in your glasses?

      • Mitya says:

        Hello, Dave.
        As a matter of fact, wraparound style is no problem for prescription lenses. I did a bit of research around local optics shops. Turned out that it’s possible to make a special order for prescription lenses even for wraparound styled frames. I’ve been said that making wraparound prescription lenses could be a bit pricey, but considering that the frames you mentioned are really cheap, I guess it’s worth it. And yes, you are right, they ARE good looking. The only problem is that not all the frames allow to replace lenses. That’s the main issue here.
        In fact, couple of days ago I emailed to Bolle’s sales department in the UK, asking them the same question I asked you, but they haven’t responded so far.
        Anyway, thanks for your comment !

        • Dave says:

          Thanks for popping back. If you get anything interesting from Bolle’s sales department, be sure to let us know!

  4. mike says:

    Dave, I’ve been using bills safety glasses as shades for about a decade now. I think it’s the best kept secret in outdoorsy pursuits. I don’t shout about it in cade bills get wise 🙂

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