There are (give or take) about a million different types of sunglasses on the market these days. Are you a cyclist? There’s a high-tech ergonomically-fitted pair of sunglasses for you. An angler? There are glasses designed to help you reduce glare on the water so that you can spot the big ones. Need a stylish pair of versatile sunglasses for your travels? There’s about a billion different styles out there for you. But for adventure travelers searching for a budget-friendly one-stop-shop pair of shades that seamlessly transition from the trails to town, SPY‘s new Helm 2 sunglasses are worth taking a look at.
For starters, the company’s update on the popular Helm model has a sleek but sporty design that looks just as good casually exploring a new city or hanging at the beach as they do bombing down a mountain. The Helm 2’s come in five different bold frame/lens color combos, including the stylish Matte Black Ice frame and Happy Bronze with Emerald Spectra pairing. As an avid traveler that always tries to incorporate outdoor adventures into my travels, the style factor (without sacrificing the function factor) of these sunglasses is a big plus for me. As an equally avid abuser of sunglasses (I beat my SPY Helm 2’s up pretty solidly, accidentally leaving them at the bottom of a gear bag with some pretty gnarly muddy hiking boots, and dropping them on the rocky banks of my favorite fishing spot), I also appreciate how durable these glasses have proven to be after almost daily use over the past few months. Through it all, aside from the dust and smudges from my most recent outdoor excursion, the sunglasses virtually look brand new.
Pros: Hands down, my favorite feature of the SPY 2’s is the Happy Lens technology which is designed to enhance color and contrast, increase clarity and improve mood and alertness. On a five-hour drive to Crested Butte, Colorado earlier this month (and every other time I’ve donned the glasses), I noticed that my eyes felt more relaxed and less fatigued, and since the lenses offer 100 percent UV protection, my eyes weren’t red and irritated when I arrived at my final destination, which is an issue that I’ve had with lesser sunglasses on road trips in the past. The SPY 2’s are made with a very brawny Grilamid® plastic polymer frame, which enables the glasses to be lightweight but still sturdy enough to resist impact and cracking. These sunglasses also have some pretty heavy duty five-barrel hinge action on the frame, which adds an extra level of durability to the overall design. For those that struggle with size issues and slippage when buying sunglasses, the SPY 2’s also feature double injection rubber on the inside temple tips of the frame, which helps them stay secure on your face, regardless of what activity you’re getting into. Whether running, biking, or fighting a big fish, I’ve yet to experience any problems with the glasses sliding down my face. These sunglasses, however, do not feature the same grippy addition on the nose, which wasn’t an issue for me and actually seemed to help eliminate those pesky red marks that some glasses leave behind after extended use. And at a price point of $100, these sunglasses won’t break the bank, which is always a pro in my book.
Cons: I tested out the Happy Bronze with Emerald Spectra lenses, and while I’m a fan of the Happy Lens technology, this specific combination was pretty inefficient when faced with the slightest bit of cloud cover. On a mid-morning fly fishing adventure in the mountains of Colorado, fast-moving clouds overhead meant I was constantly taking my sunglasses off and putting them back on to be able to get a clear view of my line.
Where We Took It: On sunset trail runs, early morning hikes, and Colorado fly fishing adventures.