In the search for performance eyewear, very little seems to set apart a pair of sunglasses which retail at $200-plus dollars and those that cost $50. We see roughly the same shapes, materials, and optics features roll out year after year, much to the dismay of a small-headed-sap like me who is continually looking for the best running sunglasses. I’m often left pining for specifics when I ask sales reps, “What makes these (insert outlandishly expensive sunglasses company name here) cost three times more than these (insert upstart sunglasses brand).” I have yet to hear a satisfying answer besides:
Sales Rep: “Oakleys are made in the USA.”
Me: “From start to finish?”
Sales Rep: “I don’t know.”
Yes, I’ve heard you can throw Rudy Project sunglasses in a blender and then send them back to the company only to be graced with a new pair. But in trail running, I’m more likely to sit on my sunglasses erroneously in the front seat of my car than break them shredding the gnar running eight-minute pace in the mountains. In other words, I’ve never broken a pair of sunglasses running.
Swedish Optics company Bliz Eyewear is a major player in Europe, creating sunglasses for some of the best nordic skiers in the world. In creating sunglasses for skiers, Bliz thought outside the box a bit in inventing some technologies and features that are new to the running-sunglasses market. They brought these features and applied them to a more running and cycling specific frame and the results were quite surprising.
I had the pleasure of thoroughly reviewing two of Bliz Eyewear’s running specific models and I put these babies through the ringer. They were pelted with graupel and sleet as well as hot, exposed runs during which sweat poured down my face.
Bliz Pace ($100)
The Bliz Pace is marketed as “One of the most technically advanced designs every created for smaller faces,” and as a runner many of our gaunt and boney visages meet this description. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been excited to try on a pair of sunglasses only to find my face dwarfed by the mammoth frame. Sports sunglasses seem typically made for beach volleyball players, not distance runners. But, with the Pace, Bliz makes a frame that fits both small and medium faces well with a ton of coverage. These glasses are available in all the classic finishes and combos with the frames, but that isn’t anything new or groundbreaking. However, great optics that clean up easily and don’t fog up are groundbreaking. Plus, the Pace comes with an extra set of amber lenses, a clip-on windshield (seemed best while road biking), and a soft-yet-protective zip case.
Strap it On
The arms of the Pace are easily removed to allow for a strap to be used to secure the frames. At first this made me feel like I looked like Kurt Rambis, but within minutes I was appreciating the complete lack of bounce. I also found that I could adjust the strap to go over my hat or visor, keeping the Pace secure until I the sun came out. The adjustable strap also eliminates the feeling of sore ears when wearing snug fitting glasses for half the day on long trail runs.
While I don’t yet sport the coveted Scorcese eyebrows, my furry caterpillars do seem to hold sweat. The Pace comes with a removable Sweatbar, which is a molded piece of foam with little pods on it that seem to soak up sweat. The Sweatbar snaps on to the Pace and is easily removable for cooler days, and while the Sweatbar adds a little weight to the glasses it did prevent beads of sweat from dripping onto the lenses. Giddy up, Frida!
Bliz Motion ($45)
While the Pace shows off all of Bliz Eyewear’s design breakthroughs, the Bliz Motion is a study in simplicity. Sporting huge coverage which doesn’t dwarf the wearer’s face, the Motion features highly adjustable nose pads which compliment a perfect fit for my head. When going long this summer, I’ve brought the Motion.
What surprised me most about the sunglasses, other than their price, was that they never fogged up and they aren’t ventilated lenses. Even on long hands-on-knees mountain climbs when it is humid and I’m dripping with sweat, the Motion never fogged up. The simple lens (I reviewed the smoke with silver mirror lens) was cleanable on the fly and many times I’ve used my shirt while running to clean sweat, rain, and slush off the lenses. The Motion does not come equipped with the strap or Sweatbar and the simplicity of these sunglasses is reflected in the price.
As the performance-eyewear market gets more competitive, and cheaper options become available, I expect that more runners will be asking themselves what they are getting for $150-$200. Is it a warranty? Is it optics? Is it domestic construction? But, what most impressed me about this Swedish company is that all of Bliz Eyewear is constructed in 100% recycled material and packaged using the same standards. Besides, the performance of these sunglasses is hands down on par with anything I’ve worn and costs a fraction of the price. I’ve enjoyed racing ultras twice in Bliz Eyewear and the best review I can give any product is when I choose to wear it on race day.
While you likely haven’t heard of Bliz Eyewear, there are currently forty Bliz dealers in the US.
This is their American website with the latest news, updates, and sponsorships.