I’ll admit that I am at fault for encouraging the continued purchase of cheap sunglasses. I’ve had frames break, hinges unthread and lenses chip and scratch more times than I can count. Add to that, having lost so many different pairs while on the water, it’s hard to justify another pair of $100 shades when they’re destined to lie at the bottom of a lake. In the course of launching The Watercraft Journal, I’ve tested and reviewed over a half a dozen different pairs of sunglasses from various different manufacturers. All have shown promise in one way or another; innovation in materials, venting, flexibility, flotation features, and more. Gimmicks and features aside, the two major factors from which I evaluate all sunglasses (particular for use on PWC) is design and protection.
While walking the unusually lightly-trafficked concourse of last year’s IJSBA World Finals, I heard my name yelled over the din of high horsepower engines revving at the starting line and the announcers constant banter. Locating the source of the beckoning was Abaco Polarized’s own President, Greg Sarkin who called me over to his booth. Abaco Polarized has been on the fast track of becoming the industry’s leading 100-percent UV protecting sunglasses manufacturer for a couple of years now, with several racers, freeriders and more brandishing the different colors and shapes from the brand. Greg and I had talked previously, but this was our first face-to-face:
“I got something for you,” he teased, leaning down and reaching into a special unlabeled box. He produced a cellophane-wrapped microfiber case. Inside were a pair of Abaco’s new Dockside sunglasses in Matte Black and with brilliant Polarized Blue Mirror lenses. I gave a low whistle and tried them on. The sat lightly on the bridge of my nose and aptly covered the entirety of my view – no daylight creeping in from around the frame. “I only have a couple made from an early run. I wanted you to try out a pair,” Sarkin continued. I pocked my old, battered gas station cheapo’s, and took a closer look at the Docksides. The frames were soft with plenty of give, but not rubbery like you might’ve seen from lesser brands. The stainless steel double-barrel hinges shined and were gratefully tight – I hate it when the temples are floppy.
The frames are made from impact-resistant polycarbonate, accounting for the flexibility and giving them a durability that others don’t. I prefer the square styling over rounded aviators or knock-off Wayfarers, as they block out more sun infiltration, so while my personal taste on style may be subjective it’s not without justification. Equally, squarer frames also hug the face a little closer, which is far superior for riding a PWC; glasses that sit out too far are the first to be whipped off of your face while at speed. The lightweight shades feature Abaco’s glare-free polarized lenses providing UV400 protection. The Blue Mirrored finish is deep, brilliant and really cool looking, but from the inside, the tint isn’t distorting or refractive, and still allows you to read the surface of the water surprisingly well (a major deciding factor).
Unfortunately, the life of a pair of sunglasses in my hands is a hard one, and I had to re-tighten the hinges twice over the past 6 months. It’s not a big deal to anyone with a pair of jewler’s tools, but some folks will simply let the hinges loosen until the screws fall out. Equally, we have already scratched the mirrored finish on both lenses, which has effected visibility. “No problem,” Sarkin replied when we let him know about the lenses. “Every pair of Abacos is covered under a Worry-Free Warranty. We maintain a Lifetime Warranty for all damage (including accidents)!” So yeah, I guess that isn’t a problem after all. With that reassurance, we’re going to send in our Docksides to get the Abaco warranty treatment.
Abaco is leading the way with amazing customer service – and not just with me. We asked around to a few of Abaco’s sponsored racers and riders and they all echo the same sentiment. In addition to a killer warranty, Abaco gives its customers free shipping on all purchases and free returns and exchanges (within 30 days of purchase), offers that just don’t exist with other companies. Priced at $50.00, our Docksides in Matte Black and Blue Mirrored lenses are some of our favorites that we’ve had the joy of testing (plus each pair come in a nice Abaco cleaning cloth/microfiber pouch). If you’ve been watching The Watercraft Journal’s bi-monthly YouTube show “Long Haul” I’m sure you’ve seen me wearing my Docksides religiously – there’s a real good reason for it too.