Goodr, a new player in athletic optics, is making waves with $25 sunglasses it says are as good or better than its $200+ counterparts. I got in touch with them, and a few other top optics companies, to put them to the test. Can a pair of $25 sunglasses really beat $200 athletic shades?
Goodr – Going To Valhalla…Witness $25
No, you didn’t suddenly slip into a Mad Max: Fury Road review. Goodr’s names for their various colorways are as much fun as the sunglasses themselves. And the name is appropriate; the silver-on-silver frame and lenses look like they could be plastered on the face of one of Immortan Joe’s War Boys. Goodr also threw a pair of purple and gold-lensed “Tigers Throwin’ Shade” in the box because, why not? They’re only $25 each. While Goodr keeps costs down by only offering one frame style, visiting the Goodr web store is a dangerous exercise in fiscal control. There are always new color combinations with all kinds of crazy names, from the black-on-black “A Ginger’s Soul” to the brown-and-gold “Doc Brown’s Sizzurp Habit.”
But funny names and low cost don’t mean anything if they don’t work well on your run. At only 22 grams, Goodr’s sunglasses don’t weigh you down. The polarized lenses cut through glare and are fog resistant. They don’t pinch, slip, or bounce while you run, impressive since they don’t have nose pads but are instead covered in a grip coating. My only issue was that they don’t have peripheral coverage, which makes morning and evening runs a bit squintier. But I’d rather have spent $25 and discover that issue as opposed to $200, which brings me to…
District Vision – Keiichi Standard $219
District Vision lent me a pair of their Keiichi Standard sunglasses in “District Water Gray.” They’re impressively thin when compared to the bulkier Goodr shades, but a titanium core in the nose pad keeps the weight at 22 grams. Still, they feel lighter, like they should fly off your head while you’re running. But thanks to the aforementioned nose pad (made out of hypoallergenic rubber) and the rubber temple tips that rotate to fit your ear, the Keiichi stays in place even on gnarly up and down trail runs.
The lenses are polarized and oleophobic, which is why their tendency to fog up whenever I slowed down on my run was a little confusing. The lenses are well vented, so maybe it’s just that District Vision needs to do some more testing in the swamp that is Florida. They also aren’t wraparound shades, so while optical clarity was fantastic, I still missed the benefit of it by having to squint whenever I was running parallel to sunrise or sunset. That could have been mitigated somewhat if the frames were a little larger. I found their standard size to still be fairly small. Which is not a problem I had with my next test pair.
Oakley – EVZero Stride Prizm Road $173
If you put on a pair of Oakleys, they’re immediately noticeable. The large, prismatic lenses provide ample protection from the sun, and anything else the road might throw at you. The loaner pair of EVZero Stride Prizm Road sunglasses that Oakley sent me were no different. Weighing the same 22 grams of the other sunglasses in the roundup, they never felt heavy or bulky on my face. The “Unobtanium” (yes, really) nose pads kept the shades from slipping, no matter how sweaty I got during a run. They’re also frameless, so there’s nothing to obstruct your view while wearing them.
The lenses are where Oakley’s technology really shines. Their Prizm Road lenses are polarized, boost whites, and enhance yellow, green, and red tones; the takeaway being you can see changes in the road and hazards before you wipe out. Being wraparound lenses, they provide superior peripheral protection. They’re well vented and don’t fog at all. Rain and sweat bead up on the surface of the lenses, keeping your vision clear even if you get stuck in a downpour.
So Does Goodr Got It?
If I were a dedicated triathlete, I would put some serious consideration into digging up the extra cash for the Oakley EVZero Stride Prizm Road. While I tend to look at descriptions of optics technology with a grain of salt, I can’t deny that Oakley’s lenses are superior to anything else in this roundup. The sunglasses are comfortable to wear and, despite being fairly expensive, they provide a demonstrable benefit for anyone who participates in road sports.
But is that benefit worth a 7x markup over Goodr? Road sports are hard on sunglasses. They get dropped, stepped on, sat on, tossed in the bottom of gear bags, misplaced. Goodr’s secret weapon in the optics arms race is not only that they’re cheap, but that they’re just good enough to make you hesitate before dropping $150 or more on running shades. If Bad Things happen to my Goodr sunglasses, I’ll be disappointed, sure, but not all that broken up since I’ll get to shop the new colorways. If something happens to a pair of Oakley or District Vision shades? That’s a different story.
My recommendation is to go to your local run shop, grab a pair of Goodr sunglasses, then see if they’ll loan you a pair of fancier sunglasses to try on a run (organized store runs are great opportunities for this). Then do your own comparison to see how they feel and evaluate if the extra optics tech is worth the extra $150.
Me? Goodr proved they’ve got it where it counts. I’ll save some cash and drop the money on a new pair of shoes for the upcoming season instead.
Visit the Goodr, Oakley, and District Vision websites for more information on the sunglasses showcased in this article. Thanks to Goodr for providing samples for this article. Thanks also to Oakley and District Vision for loaner pairs. Opinions and squinty eyes are my own.