Tried & New: Zeal Airstream

You can buy sunglasses just about anywhere—gear shops, grocery stores, gas stations—basically wherever there’s a cash register. But finding a pair that works for me can be more of a challenge. They have to feel right, not be too heavy, have full coverage yet not so much that they don’t fit with a helmet, and I don’t want them sliding around when I get sweaty. I own four pairs of shades, but only have one that really does it all.

$109 (discontinued) -

$109 (discontinued) –

I got my Zeal Airstreams about four years ago. They’re functional but have style; their lenses are polarized and of good quality; and the tint is just right for Vermont, where the weather can go from sunny to storming in minutes.

I don’t consider myself picky and don’t care a whole lot about styling. And while I don’t own a pair of skinny jeans (I think I’d overfill them, anyway), I wear a pair of skinny shades. That’s because my head is small and the bridge of most shades is so big they end up too close to my face and fog. Or they perch on my checks with the lenses focused on the ground. Bottom line, fit is paramount. My Zeal Airstreams have a small nose, narrow fit and grips on the bridge and arms.

After four years, my sunglasses are beat and pieced together with Hello Kitty duct tape. This past winter after a returned flight from Utah, they arrived broken in my checked baggage despite riding in the toe of my ski boot (must have been turbulence or some surly baggage checker). So I’m on the lookout for a new pair of skinny shades, but will keep the duct tape handy until then.

+ For four years, the arms have kept their spring and grippiness.
– The unilens is a bit odd, but I guess that’s style. Or at least Bono style.
= Good quality sunglasses for those of us with smaller heads. 



backcountry magazine december 2006 issue

Julbo MonteRosa
$160 (with Zebra Lenses)
With the MonteRosa, Julbo introduces a ladies-specific pair of shades to balance mountaineering functionality with fashion. Blinders are detachable, offering glare protection on-hill and a casual look, when removed off-hill. Additionally, Julbo offers a comprehensive line of lens options.



backcountry magazine december 2006 issue

Revo Converge
$209 (with Crystal Glass Lenses)
In making the Converge, Revo brought together polarized Crystal glass optics with a patented Eco-Use frame and a fit designed for smaller faces. The detachable leash keeps these glasses in place during the skin up and secure for the ride down.



backcountry magazine december 2006 issue

Native Trango
$150 (with Silver Reflect Lenses)
Ideal for women with larger faces, the Trango is one of Native’s lighter pairs of shades. “Cam-Action Hinges” lock the arms into place, increasing their durability. Interchangeable Sportflex lenses are included.



backcountry magazine december 2006 issue

Kaenon Burnet
$229 (Polarized G12 Lenses)
A pair fit for medium size faces, the Burnet mixes a fashionable aviator-style frame with functional, full-coverage polarized lenses. Thick arms make the Burnet bomber, despite their fashion-forward appearance.



backcountry magazine december 2006 issue

Zeal Zeta
$129 (Polarized Hyperion Lenses)
Better for small faces, the Zeal Zeta’s feature adhesive, malleable arms and a forehead piece that keep the shades in place during physical activity.


  1. WHat do you wear now? I was researching the lense tint because my airstreams are done after losing the nosepiece, and breaking the hinge after many long years of excellent bike riding and life adventures. I liked the unilense!

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