Native Eyewear Wells Review
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
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Native Eyewear Wells
|Price||$78.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$209.00 at Amazon||$178.93 at Amazon||$169.00 at Amazon|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$54.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
|Pros||Lightweight, comfortable, stable, good on many faces, nice case||Great clarity, excellent contrast, minimal color distortion, very comfortable, look good on pretty much everyone||Great color retention, superb coverage, quality construction, fits many face sizes, great case and cleaning cloth||Good lenses, secure frames, pretty universally stylish||Lightweight, comfortable, secure, good balance, versatile, look good|
|Cons||Not overly stylish, run small, temple grips could be cleaner cut||Peripheral coverage not ideal, can still bounce a little||Heavy, large lens "look", weird inside reflective patch||Colors are distorted, can see through mirror coating||Hinges loosen, brown lenses are yellowy|
|Bottom Line||These sunnies are light and comfortable for your face and eyes and a bit easier on your wallet||Exceptional lenses in impressively comfortable frames that manage to be extremely functional while still looking casual||Top-notch coverage and superb color retention make these large-fit shades well-equipped to protect your eyes from water-reflected light||A pretty good pair of shades with super-enhanced colors that look good on most faces||A solidly versatile pair of comfortable shades that are easy to wear and a great price|
|Rating Categories||Native Eyewear Wells||Kaenon Clarke||Costa Del Mar Rincon||Smith Lowdown 2||Suncloud Rambler|
|Lens Quality (30%)|
|Frame Quality (20%)|
|Style And Versatility (15%)|
|Specs||Native Eyewear Wells||Kaenon Clarke||Costa Del Mar Rincon||Smith Lowdown 2||Suncloud Rambler|
|Lens Tested||Crystal Grey||Ultra Brown 12||Grey 580P||ChromaPop Polarized Bronze Mirror||Brown|
|Ideal Lens Light Conditions||Medium to bright light||Bright light||Bright Light||Bright Light||Medium to bright light|
|Visible Light Transmission (VLT)||12%||12%||12%||14-15%||15%|
|VLT Protection Index||Cat 3||Cat 3||Cat 3||Cat 3||Cat 3|
|HEV/Blue Light Protection (claim)||90%||None||100% HEV blockage||None||None|
|Infrared Protection (claim)||40%||None||None||None||None|
|Neutral/Contrast||Neutral||Increased contrast||Neutral||Increased contrast||Increased contrast|
|Lens Material||Plastic polycarbonate||Plastic - "SR-91" polycarbonate||Polycarbonate||ChromaPop polarized polycarbonate||Plastic polycarbonate|
|Protective Coatings||Anti-scratch, hydroleophobic||Anti-reflective back, hydroleophobic, anti-scratch||C-WALL (anti-scratch, hydroleophobic)||Anti-reflective, hydroleophobic, mirror||Anti-reflective|
|Can take prescription lens?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Hinge type||Standard/barrel||Standard/barrel||Spring||AutoLock barrel hinge||Standard/barrel|
|Case Included||Semi-rigid zippered case, microfiber bag||Semi-rigid zippered case, microfiber bag||Semi-rigid zippered case, microfiber bag, microfiber cleaning cloth||Microfiber bag||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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Maggie Brandenburg