We’ve literally asked avid riders, “What’s the one item (of riding gear) that you’re always replacing?” It’s not gloves, it’s not boots/water shoes and it’s definitely not vests – seriously, have you seen some of these guys wearing faded pink and purple nylon vests from 1991? Yeah, so anyways, the answer is almost always sunglasses. Glasses get scratched in glove boxes, get bent or broken or simply blow off of your face when clipping along at a pretty quick rate. It’s happened to the best of us. So much so that we’ve come to abide by ZZ Top’s council to always don a pair of “cheap sunglasses” because there’s nothing worse than watching $150-worth of Oakleys vanish into the water.
Over the years we’ve even tried a handful of different floating sunglasses and can’t get past the big puffy patches of buoyant foam pressing against our temples. Floating sunglasses are a great idea, and once a pair come along that don’t look goofy or wrap your face in Hydro-Turf, we’re going to have to pass. For the longest time, we’ve resorted to an ancient pair of Arnette Catfishes. Y’know, those old wrap-arounds from 20 years ago? Well, the design made sense: they wrapped tightly around our face, fit comfortably, and had a wide range of vision. But because they’re trashed, we’ve been going the cheapo route.
Fatefully, during our last photo session, we lost a pair of $18 gas station shades. After posting our loss on Facebook, a message came through asking us to try out a pair of Abaco Polarized Sunglasses. Admittedly, we hadn’t heard of the brand before, but were happy to give them a try. Their website is rife with hundreds of designs and color combinations, and Abacos are found in several major sunglass outlets. With dozens of designs for men, women and even kids, Abaco had a selection that actually made it hard to whittle down. Unfortunately, we found nothing to replace our trusty Catfishes’ look and feel, so we tried our best to find a pair that didn’t make us feel like Tom Cruise on “Risky Business.”
The pair of “Dockside” shades we did select have a nice, thick impact-resistant polycarbonate frame with decent flex to protect against shattering, and what Abaco calls “premium” metal hinges which doesn’t mean stainless steel. Offsetting the matte-black frame are a pair of brilliant Blue Mirror polarized lenses. Providing UV400 protection, we quickly realized that they greatly reduced strain by blocking glare that our cheapos simply could do. The blue tint doesn’t throw off your color spectrum either, and helped to pick up some contrast, allow us to read the water better. And as per Abaco’s website, each pair is covered under a Worry-Free Warranty, plus comes with an Abaco Cleaning Cloth Microfiber Pouch.
Unfortunately, there’s really nothing particularly PWC-specific about these sunglasses, and during our second jaunt out on the lake, quickly blew from our face while checking for cross traffic. The large, square lenses look cool, but can whip off of your face with just a slight sideways glance. Lesson learned. Our next time out had a lanyard tethered to the frames. And priced at $40, it’s not so painful if you lose a pair to the drink like we did. Since then, we’ve come to enjoy our Abacos more and more, and the polarized blue mirror lenses are simply superior to any off-the-rack junkers we’ve been wearing. Polarization is still a premier treatment for lenses and radically helps to reduce glare and damage to your retinas. Consider it sunscreen for your eyes, and it’s always wise to wear protection.