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Sunglasses: Revo Guide S

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Revo sunglass lens choices
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Over the past 5 years I’ve ridden tens of thousands of miles with Revo sunglasses. The Revo Redpoint model were excellent for me with one issue: heavy sweating tended to streak the lenses.

Enter the Revo Guide S. This model is now my favorite cycling (and hiking and fishing) sunglass. Not only is the optical quality outstanding, the frame design somehow wicks my sweat away from the lenses instead of streaking them. Not completely but really well. It’s a Big Deal because blurred (sweat-streaked) lenses make for a serious nuisance on a fast and steep descent on a bicycle.

For many years I wore Revo glass sunglasses for driving and other activities, but on a bicycle there is the danger of an impact shattering even shatter-resistant glass lenses (e.g., a chunk of gravel at 40 mph), making the choice of polycarbonate or similar materials a smart move for biking. Hence the Revo Redpoint and now the Revo Guide S. The Revo Serilium polarized lens are superb and I have no concerns after 5+ years of use (and I’m very picky about optical quality as a photographer).

Continues below...

Revo Guide S polarized sunglasses, Open Road lens

Which lens color to choose?

For over two years now I have worn the REVO Guide sunglass (now Guide S) in the Blue Water tint. This is an excellent choice for very bright conditions: sun, snow, water, roads in the Eastern Sierra, high altitude, etc. The Blue Water REVO Guide S sunglasses have served me exceedingly well.

The one issue with the Blue Water lens is that (by design) they have the darkest lens of the line, blocking 89% of visible light, which makes them less appropriate in the darker months of the year, in fog, under tree cover, at dusk, etc. However, they are outstanding for fishing and for hiking near snow or ice or the white granite of the Sierra Nevada. Shown below is your author near Dana Glacier. In these conditions nothing beats the Blue Water lens.

In mid 2016 I elected to try two additional lens choices: the Open Road (83%) and Green Water (85%)... continues below.

Lloyd Chambers wearing Revo Guide S 'Blue Water' polarized sunglasses near glacial ice
f10 @ 1/20 sec handheld, ISO 100; 2015-08-13 14:35:18
Sony A7R II + Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 selfie

[low-res image for bot]

Experience report — Green Water and Open Road lenses

Because I bicycle all year through fall/winter/spring and because I often ride at dusk, in mid 2016 I elected to try two additional lens choices: the Open Road (83% transmission) and Green Water (85% transmission).

While 83% vs 89% transmission may not sound like much, the difference between 89% and 83% is about 55% more light into the pupil. At dusk or under tree cover that difference is a Big Deal for human eyes in their 5th decade of use. Those in their 20’s and 30’s won’t notice much, but by 40+ the pupils just do not let in as much light (incapable of opening as wide), nor do pupils respond as fast to changing light conditions. Hence a brighter lens becomes more and more of a necessity for less bright conditions or for mixed sun/shade conditions.

Lloyd Chambers wearing Revo Guide S 'Open Road' polarized sunglasses
during the 2018 Death Ride, approaching Monitor Pass

The Green Water and Open Road lenses are quite similar in color rendition. Both deliver a high contrast image with a magenta/red tint that tends to take out a lot of green, such as foliage. At first I was put off by this tint when mountain biking in bright conditions with pale sunlit dry California grass (vs the more neutral Blue Water). But over several weeks of using all the tints (even carrying two at a time on a ride), I gravitated strongly towards the Open Road lens for both my road cycling and mountain biking.

The Open Road lens is now my #1 choice for any cycling conditions in which the light is not full-on mid-day sun: late in the day or early morning, the October through March period, in mixed sun/shade and under tree cover. Even in mid-summer (July and August), I found that the extra light transmission was very helpful under tree cover when mountain biking and on road rides where I’d arrive home just after sunset; it is just easier to see into the shadows, very important when descending fast. I imagine that by October or so when the sun is much less bright that the Open Road lens will seem much better than the too dark (for the conditions) Blue Water lens.

I particularly like the high contrast rendering of the Open Road lens in the shade, and it also makes the dreary blue light of early dusk much more attractive. That is when cycling or driving. If more neutral color rendition is desired an/or when conditions are bright enough, then I still prefer the Blue Water lens. Bottom line is that one lens is not optimal for all conditions.

When driving, the Open Road (or Green Water) lens is outstanding—crisp high contrast rendering. But again, if conditions are very bright, then I prefer the Blue Water lens, just to tone down environments with strong reflections of buildings, pavement, etc. But as the day draws on to an hour or two before sunset, I find that switching to the Open Road lens is a big plus.

Shown below is the fairly confusing selection of lenses. As it stands I’ve tried the Blue Water, the Green Water and the Open Road. My recommendation is to go with the Blue Water and the Open Road as an excellent combination for a wide range of conditions. Other tints may serve other purposes of course, but in my view the 83% transmission plus 89% transmission combination is most versatile. The Green Water lens may be an excellent choice as a terrific all-arounder if only one sunglass is possible—I liked it just as much as the Open Road except for the brightness factor.

Revo Guide S polarized sunglasses

Long term

Usage note: the Revo lenses are not oleophobic (fat averse), so smudges from body grease, sunblock, etc do stick to the lens, and they must be cleaned; I use a special optical soap under running water when possible, so I generally take good care of the lenses.

As much as I’ve tried to take care of my lenses, they inevitably suffer insults over time. The Revo lenses have both an anti-reflection coating on the internal side of the lens, as well as a hydrophobic coating. Over the years, scratches and abrasions degrade that performance. I’ve essentially worn out the Redpoint models (5 years of heavy use), meaning that the lenses are marred more than I’d like. No lens could hold up over time any better, so I am quite happy with the long term performance given the extensive usage I’ve had.

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About REVO lens technology

In a nutshell, I choose Revo because they do an exceedingly good job of protecting my eyes* while having outstanding optical quality.

Having tried various other brands (none of them cheap), some definitely lack the crystal-clear clarity of the Revo lenses. Polycarbonate lenses can be quite mediocre**, but Revo Serilium is a definite exception—and I say all this as a pro photographer who is exceedingly picky about optical quality. While I might prefer glass lenses in my sunglasses, glass is just not appropriate for cycling. Also, glass is heavy, which makes for a comfort issue over a long day. Still, glass lenses from Revo are superb (I have a decade-old pair that I sometimes use for driving).

* Incredibly, some cycling glasses are transparent to infrared. While infrared is not harmful like ultraviolet is, infrared is heat, so eyes take a beating over the course of the day, particularly if the lenses are dark to visible light. Revo lenses block infrared. See Are your sunglasses protecting your eyes? for photographic proof.

** Some of the worst offenders can be certain brands of cycling glasses. At night, double reflections, can be readily seen, but these reflections are there in the daytime also. These reflections cause eye fatigue over time, even if not consciously noticed.

Revo’s description:

Founded in 1985, Revo quickly became a global performance eyewear brand known as the leader in polarized lens technology. Revo sunglasses were first created by utilizing lens technology developed by NASA as solar protection for satellites. Nearly three decades later, Revo continues to build on its rich tradition of technology and innovation by offering the clearest and most advanced high-contrast polarized eyewear in the world. Revo supports the Buy Vision, Give Sight initiative in which (through 2016), $10 from the sale of every new pair of Revo sunglasses, up to a total of $10 million, will be donated to the charity.

The Revo lens palette includes 8 lens options for a variety of light conditions. All lens feature the Revo Light Management System™ (LMS) and the Revo SurfacePro™ Protection System. Lenses are available with Serilium™ lenses (an exclusive lightweight, shatterproof polycarbonate) and Crystal lenses (a higher form of Crown Glass that is scratch-resistant and ground and polished to about the same standard as a camera lens).

The 3 parts of the Revo Light Management System™ (LMS) include:
• Manages the full spectrum of light, including blue light and high-energy visible (HEV) light
• Filters out harmful light, while selectively allowing light that is helpful for vision
• All lenses feature Digital Polarized Plus™ technology for 100% polarization to protect against glare, while still allowing you to view devices, watches, phones, etc.

The 4 parts of the Revo SurfacePro™ Protection System include:
Revo Exclusive Mirror Coatings: 3-6 layers of high-tech,performance mirror coatings based on NASA lens technology used for satellite protection
Revo Back-Surface Protection: 5 layers of protective coatings that help reduce intrusive back-surface reflections
Authentic Revo Hydrophobic Coating: Permanent coating on the back of the lens that repels water and sweat
Authentic Revo Oleophobic Coating: Permanent coating on the front of the lens that repels oil and fingerprints

Revo Guide S polarized sunglasses

Reader comments

Serko A ordered the Green Water Revo Guide S and writes:

The outside world looks so crisp and colorful. Impressive!

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