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Native Eyewear Wells Review

These sunnies are light and comfortable for your face and eyes and a bit easier on your wallet
Native Eyewear Wells
Photo: Amazon
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $99 List | $78.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, stable, good on many faces, nice case
Cons:  Not overly stylish, run small, temple grips could be cleaner cut
Manufacturer:   Native Eyewear
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 27, 2021
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 14
  • Lens Quality - 30% 7
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Frame Quality - 20% 7
  • Style and Versatility - 15% 7
  • Coverage - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Native Eyewear Wells are a lightweight, comfortable pair of shades that offer excellent quality materials and performance for a lot less than many shades of similar quality. These well-balanced frames feature rubber grips at the nose and temples that do a great job holding them in place, even during a sweaty run or bike ride. Their polycarbonate lenses are protective and provide good clarity as well as impact resistance and hydrophobic properties. These glasses are easy to clean, easy to bring along, and even easier on the wallet.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Native Eyewear Wells
Awards Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award   
Price $78.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$36.88 at Amazon
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$49.95 at Backcountry
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$21.98 at Amazon
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Pros Lightweight, comfortable, stable, good on many faces, nice caseLightweight, comfortable, secure, good balance, versatile, look goodLightweight, true to color, minimal face touching, not super sporty-lookingLarge lenses, decent coverage, cool mirroring, good fit for large headsGood coverage, lightweight, many included accessories, inexpensive
Cons Not overly stylish, run small, temple grips could be cleaner cutHinges loosen, brown lenses are yellowyRun small, fairly specific style, large edge gapsSilicone details aren't the best, intense back-lens reflections, odd feelNot very dark, bad glare, odd fit and feel
Bottom Line These sunnies are light and comfortable for your face and eyes and a bit easier on your walletA solidly versatile pair of comfortable shades that are easy to wear and a great priceLightweight shades that stay solidly in place without looking as sporty as most of the restOversized shades that are a good fit for wider faces but not our favorite performersInexpensive, lightweight wraparounds with wide lenses and all the accessories to get you going
Rating Categories Native Eyewear Wells Suncloud Rambler Tifosi Swank SL goodr BAMFGs RIVBOS Polarized
Lens Quality (30%)
7.0
5.0
6.0
4.0
3.0
Comfort (25%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
4.0
4.0
Frame Quality (20%)
7.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
Style And Versatility (15%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Coverage (10%)
8.0
8.0
4.0
6.0
5.0
Specs Native Eyewear Wells Suncloud Rambler Tifosi Swank SL goodr BAMFGs RIVBOS Polarized
Lens Tested Crystal Grey Brown Brown Beelzebub's Bourbon Burpees Black Mirror
Ideal Lens Light Conditions Medium to bright light Medium to bright light Bright Light Medium to bright light Medium to bright light
Polarized Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fit Large Medium Medium Large Medium
Weight (grams) 26g 25g 23g 27g 25g
UV Protection 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) 12% 15% Not specified Not specified Not specified
VLT Protection Index Cat 3 Cat 3 Not specified Not specified Not specified
HEV/Blue Light Protection (claim) 90% None None None None
Infrared Protection (claim) 40% None None None None
Neutral/Contrast Neutral Increased contrast Increased contrast Neutral Neutral
Lens Material Plastic polycarbonate Plastic polycarbonate Polycarbonate Triacetate cellulose Polycarbonate
Impact Resistance Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Protective Coatings Anti-scratch, hydroleophobic Anti-reflective Anti-scratch Anti-scratch, mirror Mirror
Can take prescription lens? Yes No Yes No No
Hinge type Standard/barrel Standard/barrel Autolocking integrated hinge Standard/barrel Standard integrated
Case Included Semi-rigid zippered case, microfiber bag Microfiber bag Microfiber bag Microfiber bag Semi-rigid zippered case, microfiber bag

Our Analysis and Test Results

We tested the Native Wells with Crystal Grey lenses. They're designed as a crossover pair of shades to carry you through sports like running and paddling as well as driving and hanging out in the park. They run a tad smaller than their "Large" size had us believing, fitting more like a medium. They come with a zippered, semi-rigid shell case and a microfiber bag/cleaning cloth, and can take prescription lenses.

Performance Comparison


We found a lot to love about the performance - and the price - of...
We found a lot to love about the performance - and the price - of the Native Wells.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Lens Quality


Looking at the manufacturer's specs, the Wells provide some high-quality protection. Beyond the fairly standard polarization and 100% UV protection, Native claims to have packed 90% HEV (or blue light) blockage and 40% infrared blockage into these lenses — some of the boldest claims on the market. They also reportedly have a 12% Visible Light Transmission (VLT), making them good category 3 glasses for the midday sun. The polycarbonate lenses are naturally impact-resistant and have been treated with both anti-scratch and hydrophobic coatings for additional protection.

Crystal Grey Lenses
  • Polarized
  • 100% UV Protection
  • 12% Visible Light Transmission (Category 3)
  • 90% HEV/Blue Light Blockage, 40% Infrared Blockage
  • Color: Crystal Grey, Material: plastic polycarbonate
  • Impact Resistant, Anti-scratch, Hydrophobic

While polycarbonate lenses have a reputation for lower clarity (compared to glass lenses), we did not find this to be the case with the Crystal Grey lenses. Because they're grey and not amber or brown, they don't enhance the contrast of what you see through them. We've had these shades for a few years now, and one of our testers likes them so much, he bought them with Amber lenses. This brown version offers all the same impressive clarity with the added pleasantness of extra contrast in viewing the world around you. Both colors have anti-reflective properties that help to minimize the reflection of your face in the back of the lens, and the curve and shape of the lenses go even further in preventing you from being blinded by a reflection.


Wearing these glasses on mountaintops over 10K feet, hiking at midday, running during golden hour, and driving extended road trips proved that they can handle a pretty wide range of lighting conditions and remain comfortable even after hours of wear. They're a great middle-ground option that we think is just as comfortable at high noon as they are at dusk. And despite cramming them in suitcases, dropping them in gravel and on pavement, and using various shirttails to clean them over the past few years, they have not a single scratch.

The polycarbonate Crystal Grey lenses provide good clarity and solid...
The polycarbonate Crystal Grey lenses provide good clarity and solid performance across a range of lighting conditions.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Comfort


At 26 grams, the Wells are about average weight for our lineup. They have great balance when worn, never feeling front-heavy or on the verge of toppling off your face. Depending on the specific topography of your face, they may touch lightly on your eyebrows or rest lightly on your cheeks, and raise a tad when you smile, but they always seem to go back down when the face returns to a relaxed position. They have embedded rubber nose pads that are the ideal amount of grip. When our faces were dry, we couldn't even feel them. With a thin layer of sweat, their powers kick in and they grip the face to stay put even on a long trail run.


We're less in love with the rubber grips on the backs of the arms. They do what they're supposed to — keep the glasses in place — but don't feel the greatest. They have a pretty intense crisscross texture that we don't notice while they're on but feel when we take them off and put them on repeatedly. Both the pairs we've tested for the past few years have temple pads jutting out a bit from the surface of the frame, creating another abrasive edge we don't love. That said, once they're on, we love how these fit and feel.

No matter how long we wore these shades, they stayed comfortable.
No matter how long we wore these shades, they stayed comfortable.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Frame Quality


With acetate frames and rubber grip pads, the Wells don't stand out much from the crowd for their frames. We read conflicting reports about the exact nature of these frames, but they performed adequately in all our testing. They're slightly flexible, helping them to more easily withstand rough usage. The pair we received had perfectly placed nose pads with no edges sticking up or anything that might indicate future issues.


Upon further inspection, we discovered that the temple pads aren't quite of the same caliber as the nose pads. They have some rough, unrefined edges that we worry may be their eventual downfall. That being said, even after a couple of years of use now, we've had absolutely no issues with the durability of our frames, despite our concerns.

Rubber pads, crisscrossed with grooves, adorn the bows of the Wells...
Rubber pads, crisscrossed with grooves, adorn the bows of the Wells. Their rougher edges are one of our few concerns about the construction of these glasses.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Style and Versatility


In the realm of sports sunglasses, the Wells are a pretty decent pair to wear around town after you finish your trail adventures. We tried two different versions of these shades to see how they look. The main pair we tested with a matte black frame and lenses that reflect blue, giving them a much sportier appearance overall.


On the other hand, the exact same model of Native Wells with brown lenses and a brown frame look much more at home during an outdoor brunch or afternoon at the beer garden. From a wide pool of both men and women testers, no one disliked the black and blue version, but everyone preferred the look of the brown pair far more.

All the testers who wore the Wells think they look "just fine" for...
All the testers who wore the Wells think they look "just fine" for pretty much any activity.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Coverage


Here again, the Wells are about average among models we tested. Though we couldn't find it listed, they seem to be made with a base curve of 6, which is slightly rounded but mostly flat — definitely not wraparound. The 43mm tall, 55mm wide lenses are about average among contenders as well, and fairly narrow bows that don't add much when it comes to blocking sunlight. They offer decent coverage and protection from the sun but don't stop light from entering in from the side or over the top if you like to wear your shades lower on your nose. While Native advertises these glasses as a size Large, compared to the rest of our lineup we estimate them to be more of a Medium, bordering on almost Large.


However, where the Wells shine is in their ability to stay put on your face. Their combination of snug fit, excellent CUSHINOL rubber nose and bow pads, and low weight is the Goldilocks of staying in place. This makes them an excellent choice for a crossover pair of sunnies that can keep up with you from backpacking to rock concerts, practically melting into your face (in a good way) with their secure coverage.

One tester loves the Wells so much, he purchased them with Amber...
One tester loves the Wells so much, he purchased them with Amber lenses for himself. Turns out, we like the look of these even more!
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Case Quality


Native, like many other modern sunglasses manufacturers, sends two cases with every pair of shades they ship. Their semi-rigid, zippered clamshell is one of our favorites for its trifecta of low weight, durable protection, and ease of use. The microfiber drawstring bag helps to shed ounces when you really can't afford those extra 72 grams and does an excellent job keeping lenses clean no matter how many times you smudge them with dirty fingers.

Though the case doesn't count in the overall score, we like both...
Though the case doesn't count in the overall score, we like both cases that Native sends with these shades.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


The high level of performance we found in the Native Wells can be found in many popular sunglasses today, but for a much higher cost. These shades bring some serious game to an expensive market for far less than much of the competition — in some cases, about a third of the price. We've tested several styles of Native glasses and consistently find them to be high-value items and well worth their investment.

Conclusion


The Native Eyewear Wells bring a lot to the table, even in a market with increasingly high standards. They're lightweight, comfortable, clear, and stay put exceptionally well. Across every metric, we're impressed with the performance of these high-value shades.

From mountain tops to road trips, the Wells bring high-quality...
From mountain tops to road trips, the Wells bring high-quality performance to a lower-budget price.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Maggie Brandenburg