Sunglasses are essential gear for some; let me explain. My childhood friend Big Terrence and I had more than the devoted love of savory pies in common when we were nine years old—we both had big blue eyes and would do anything to avoid the wrath of Mrs. Anderson, our mole-nosed math teacher. One sunny coastal day in 1983, Big T was mollycoddled off to the optometrist by his flat-shoed mama and returned obediently to school wearing a pair of James Dean-Esque dark sunglasses, looking rather cool, and primed for nuclear bullying. Big T explained, over a slice, that blue eyes are more sensitive to light than darker eyes due to something called pigment, and he was required to wear sunglasses at all times while outdoors. The very next day, I hurtled recklessly to our city center school on my blue BMX, wearing a remarkably similar pair of sunglasses to complement my buddy and our school uniforms. Together we repulsed the onslaught of the entire school led by the wicked Mrs. Anderson—pre-pubescent Blues Brothers sitting on a bench in the shade, enjoying pampered eyeballs and yet another South African schoolboy delicacy: the fish paste sarmie on white. Don’t knock it until you try it.
Forty years later, Big T and I have sadly long since gone our separate ways, but my love and dependency on sunglasses remain. Blue eyes really are more sensitive to light than darker eyes and are at higher risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, but I, for some explicable reason, long ago decided to spend the vast and overwhelming majority of my life outdoors. For many years, I lay on the sparkling Atlantic, squinting into the horizon, waiting for that one last wave, hoping not to be eaten. I have lost count of the days driving a Land Rover west in a strange land, hoping to reach a refuge before the sun went to bed—all while squinting, constantly squinting, if I forget my sunnies. My days are spent outdoors or a foot from nature; sunblock and sunglasses are as essential to my lifestyle as engine oil, the US dollar, and a good egg sandwich.
I spend very little time in front of a mirror, but there are others who have to look at me all day, every day, for their sins. With age, my once-good looks have deteriorated to the point that I have realized that a (well) trimmed beard and an attractive pair of sunglasses can do wonders to distract from my old man’s otorhinolaryngology (the study of ears, nose, and throat). You would be forgiven for thinking I might have a sunglass fetish of sorts and an extensive, conceited collection. The truth is, I requested a high-quality pair of brand sunglasses for Christmas 2016 and had only that pair until they were replaced by exactly the same style in 2022.
Enter the Glade Townie sunglasses. These beauties are designed in Boulder, Colorado, and handmade in Italy (one would be forgiven for assuming those roles reversed) with an emphasis on fit, style, and retention, meaning they will stay on my face while improving it and serving an actual purpose. You see, the Townie sunglasses feature polarized lenses, effective grippy inserts on the nose and temple which keep the glasses glued to your face, and a featherweight Grilamid bio-based frame construction (Grilamid is a high-performance polyamide developed and manufactured in Switzerland and is a revolutionary new transparent plastic with exceptional properties.) The Townie scratch-resistant lenses provide 100 percent UVA and UVB protection with enhanced glare reduction and color contrasting technology.
I happily received my test pair in California and then took the shades for a sunny six-month journey down and around Baja, mainland Mexico, and to a volcano in Guatemala. The rather flat profile of the glasses and narrow temples (arms) of the Townies are a dead giveaway that these glasses were not designed for windy, dusty environments, and this is the one environment where the Townies, naturally, do not excel. But, for every other sunny environment and activity, they perform very well. Whether hiking the Sierra Madre Oriental, walking 10 miles a day in Oaxaca on a blissful street food tour, driving the most wonderful roads in Mexico, trying not to be killed driving the beautiful, terrible roads of Guatemala, or slamming across a wind-swept high altitude lake in a water taxi, the Townie sunglasses are a perfect companion to my essential daily gear. The polarized lenses are a treat for the eyes, not only eliminating glare and UV but also elevating colors making them richer and deeper.
Despite daily use and occasional unintentional abuse which is associated with overland travel, my Townie sunglasses are nearly as good as new. While the sunglasses have been knocked about and occasionally dropped the glasses are no worse for wear, the spring hinges remain firm and rigid with no jiggle or looseness, and the lenses are nearly scratch free (I blame my wife for the one long, vertical scratch; she blames me). They are easy to clean with the included microfibre cleaning bag with spiffing results and an occasional wash with lukewarm soapy water removes all oily residue.
The Townie’s Glade craftsmanship guarantee ensures that if the glasses are faulty for any reason and the manufacturer finds the product defective, they will repair it, replace it, or refund your purchase price at their discretion.
$ 99 | www.shopglade.com
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