Gear Test: Native Triumph Sunglasses

Blues-Brothers simplicity plus off-terrain versatility make these sunglasses from Native the go-to shade for this editor.
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Blues-Brothers simplicity plus off-terrain versatility make these sunglasses from Native the go-to shade for this editor.

(Photo Courtesy Native)

I’m pretty unoriginal when it comes to sunglasses. I don't need much, but because I abuse the hell out of them, they need to be three things:

1. Versatile: Hiking and running are a given. So is sea kayaking. And sailing (yes, sailing). But my shades should also go with the suit I wear to Thanksgiving dinner and not fall off when I’m riding a motorcycle, bike, or even a unicycle, if it really comes down to it. They should do the job on cloudy days with tons of glare, and on sweltering days when the sun is beating down.

2. Durable: If I throw them in my pack with a multi-tool, “accidentally” drop them in a pocket with my keys (every day), or if they tumble five feet onto concrete, roll around my car and get stuck under the seat, etc., they should not scratch (okay, within reason). I’ve had expensive sunglasses before and if I didn’t hold them like glass orbs, they’d be broken within a week.

3. Cost Effective: I’m not paying $500.

Oh, and I don’t want to look like the (original with Ahnold) Terminator. Cyclops from the X-Men—occasionally—fine. Terminator, no.

I don’t think that’s too tall of an order but for some reason, over the course of 20 years, I’ve only had a handful of sunglasses that have chocked up high marks in these categories.

I’m psyched to say that Native’s Triumphs fit the bill.

Weighing in at a little more than an ounce, the Triumphs have been my go-to shade for the past 7 months. I’ve sported them on trail runs, hikes, motorcycle rides, and everything in between on the Front Range here in Boulder and on the East Coast— in cold weather and hot. I also wear them to formal occasions, semi-formal occasions and flat-out barefoot occasions. And they’ve stayed put no matter what.

I’ve dropped them (a lot), forgotten they were in the same pocket as my car keys, lost them, found them, and lost them again. And for some reason they always look brand-freaking-new. I now only lose it just a little when I can’t find them because I know they’ll eventually turn up, looking as sparkly as the day I got them.

With the Triumphs, Native has taken classic, Blues Brotherian (yes, it’s a word) simplicity and updated it for the on-trail crowd. With smooth, standard lines, a durable polymer frame, and a lens that provides just the right amount of protection, they’ve performed for me in pretty much any situation.

Added features are useful but not annoying : Don’t look for snap on, snap off components, rubber earpieces etc-- just the basics, slightly enhanced.

For example, a sturdy plastic nosepiece with a flexible rubber housing allows you to adjust the positioning of the frame without breaking the nosepieces off (unlike those standard thin metal attachments), and ventilation holes in the top of the frame prevent them from fogging up in moist conditions.

They probably aren’t perfect for serious endurance athletes but for almost everyone else, they’re just about right. As a nice bonus, the price point ($120 with Native’s polarized “Reflex” lens) is relatively reasonable for a pair of shades that’ll last you for years.

Speaking of the lenses, I’m no snob, per se, but I have terrible eyes and am constantly squinting so I want something that cuts the glare even on a cloudy day.

The polarized silver “Reflex” lens did the trick. You won’t get Emerald-City like contours, but it’s balanced just about right for all weather conditions I’ve worn them in. That said, if you’ve got more specific needs, with Native’s Interchange technology, you can swap the lens with ten different varieties—from a “Rose Base” hue to a “Polarized Green”— to fit your flavor.

The verdict? Native’s Triumph is a solid, go-anywhere shade for pretty much any occasion. I may actually need another pair—just in case.

—ANTHONY CERRETANI