Sunglasses are a bit like shoelaces – the form and function have been there forever and we’re getting through life just fine. Do we really need to mess with that? This year, we’ve seen some alternative lacing systems for shoes (i.e. Speedland SL:PDX), and it turns out that, yes, it can be messed with, and it can be for the better.
Which is why we were part skeptical, part intrigued when Ombraz approached us about reviewing their armless sunglasses. Ombraz (we think it’s pronounced “hombres” so we’ll go with that) started out as a crowd-funding project and has now become a viable brand catering to extreme sports athletes who need a more secure-fitting sunglass. While I think of runners as extreme, most of the world probably doesn’t, but the point remains– we runners also need sunglasses that stay on the face during activity.
So what’s their deal? Ombraz features a few styles of sunglasses in the aviator-adjacent design realm (Classic, Leggero, and Dolomite), built with Carl Zeiss optic lenses and hand-crafted acetate frames. And then there’s the kicker – a marine grade cord with two ergonomic sliders that wraps around your head, supplanting the archaic sidearm technology of sunglasses past.
Now, to be completely honest, when I first saw these, I thought, “Yeah, theres no way these can be both comfortable and remain secure on the head. This is just a gimmick.” I am pleased to admit that I was 100% wrong. The seamless comfort, fashionable styling, and ease of use have made Ombraz my favorite active sunglasses right now.
They sent us three different models to test: the Dolomite in both slate and charcoal frames, with polarized grey and polarized yellow lenses, as well as a Classic frame.
Here’s what I can tell you about my experience with them over the last couple months.
First, let’s get the elephant out of the room: The armless cord system seems odd, because it is. Sunglasses are supposed to have arms, right? But the Ombraz design works and works incredibly well. When wearing them, the recycled Japanese nylon cord cinches to the head in a seamless way with its two ergonomic sliders. You can fine-tune the fit to exactly how you like it. The cord disappears on the head; you don’t even realize it’s there. Meanwhile, the fit of the glasses is somehow never too tight and somehow always just right. The frames are light and retain the same level of comfort as their nylon cord counterpart. To put it bluntly, Ombraz sunglasses just disappear on your face.
On the run, I experienced no bounce whatsoever, and no discomfort, even on my longest runs. For warm weather, it can’t be beat– you’ll never worry about these sliding down your nose since they’re properly secured to your face.
But where the sunglasses really shine is during winter running. When wearing a beanie or neckwarmer pulled over the face, it’s always a huge pain in the ass to jam sunglasses under the sides of them (which also allows the cold air to get in, super annoying). But with the Ombraz system, you just put the cord over your hat (or under, either way works), cinch it tight, and you’re on your way.Shop Ombraz
I also bike commute to work and, again, wearing normal sunglasses with a bike helmet is always obtrusive as the helmet straps always get in the way. But the slim profile of the Ombraz cord allows for a secure fit that disappears on the head without engaging the helmet straps. Truly couldn’t ask for anything better. Again, just like on the run, the sunglasses stay secure throughout.
While I haven’t tried them for any winter sports like skiing or snowboarding, it seems they have a core user base that wears the sunglasses for those activities as well. Basically, they’re ideal for anything active.
Of course, when you take them off, you can just dangle them around your neck, which I always appreciate because I lose sunglasses even more than I lose my car keys, which is really saying something.
The styling is on point as well, as the sunglasses look good for pretty much any activity, whether it’s running, hanging out, or going to the beach. Clarity of the lenses is as good as you would expect from a polarized lens, and I haven’t had any scratches on them yet, despite the fact that I never use the soft carrying case that comes with each pair.
One thing to note– the frames are made out of a biodegradable acetate, which sounds great, but Ombraz has notified its consumers that it does degrade in marine environments. Starting in spring 2022 they’ll be moving to a more durable material to withstand harsher conditions, so if you live in Seattle or spend a lot of time on a boat, you may want to hold off until then. Personally, I’ve seen no deterioration with my pairs.
All models cost $140, which is maybe a bit high, but not totally unreasonable. They also seem to regularly discount them to $120 which is more palatable. Either way, they’re totally worth it, if only for their innovative design and function.
You can pick up a pair and learn more about Ombraz by using the shop link below.Shop Ombraz