Kaenon Clarke Review
Cons: Peripheral coverage not ideal, cleaner bag a little stiff, may be sporty-looking
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|Price||$209.00 at Backcountry||$141.71 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Great clarity, excellent contrast with little color distortion, flexing frames, works for most faces||Excellent protection, great clarity, extremely comfortable, good for active endeavors, good for many faces||Excellent eye protection and coverage, durable design, great contrast with minimal color distortion, superb case||Great lens clarity, universally flattering style, surprisingly comfortable, durable build, good eye protection||Good contrast, superb clarity, excellent protective coatings, stay in place, lightweight, all-day comfort|
|Cons||Peripheral coverage not ideal, cleaner bag a little stiff, may be sporty-looking||Developed a slight lens defect, fit is less secure, coverage could be better||Heavy, large overall size and fit, expensive||Not polarized, heavy, large, case not overly protective, expensive||Not very stylish, lighter tint suffers in bright light, copper lens distorts colors, too small, expensive|
|Bottom Line||A top-notch combo of versatility, functionality, and style||Excellent protection and great comfort, though not totally perfect||A great pair with excellent coverage and top-notch lens quality, but a bit heavy||Not only do these sunglasses provide good eye protection, they also have swagger||For any activity on the water, you’ll be happy to have the top-notch quality and performance of these glasses|
|Rating Categories||Kaenon Clarke||Costa Del Mar Spearo||Maui Jim Kahi||Vuarnet District Medium Round||Costa Del Mar Hinano|
|Lens Quality (30%)|
|Frame Quality (20%)|
|Style And Versatility (15%)|
|Specs||Kaenon Clarke||Costa Del Mar Spearo||Maui Jim Kahi||Vuarnet District...||Costa Del Mar Hinano|
|Lens Tested||Grey 12 Pacific Blue Mirror||Blue Mirror||HCL Bronze||Brown Lynx||Copper 580P|
|Ideal Activity||water sports||water sports||everyday||everyday||everyday|
|Ideal Lens Light Conditions||Bright light||Bright light||Medium to bright light||Medium to bright light||Low to bright light|
|Polarized||Yes||Yes||Yes||No, but it is available||Yes|
|Visible Light Transmission (VLT)||12%||10%||15%||9%||12%|
|VLT Protection Index||cat 3||cat 3||cat 3||cat 3||cat 3|
|HEV/Blue Light Protection (claim)||not specified||100%||95%||97%||100%|
|Infrared Protection (claim)||0%||0%||"infrared effective"||93%||0%|
|Neutral/Contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast||Increased contrast|
|Lens Material||plastic - "SR-91" polycarbonate||glass - 580 Polarized (polycarbonate available)||glass - "SuperThin Glass"||glass - mineral glass||glass - 580 Polarized|
|Protective Coatings||Anti-reflective back, hydro-oleophobic, mirror||Anti-scratch, hydro-oleaophobic, mirror||Anti-reflective on front and back||Anti-reflective back, silver bi-shade mirror||Anti-scratch, oil repellent, water repellent, naturally scratch resistant|
|Can take prescription lens?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Case Included||Rigid zippered and soft/cleaning bag||Rigid zippered and soft/cleaning bag||Hard rigid clam case and soft/cleaning bag||Semi-rigid flex case and cleaning cloth||Rigid zippered and cleaning cloth|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested the Clarkes with Grey 12 Pacific Blue Mirror Lenses designed specifically for water and paddle activities. They're a medium-full fit, come with a zippered semi-rigid shell case and a soft bag/cleaning cloth, and are available with prescription lenses.
The Grey 12 Pacific Blue Mirror lenses we tested in the Clarkes are high-quality SR-91 lenses made of a proprietary blend of polycarbonate. We are impressed with how clear these lenses are to look through, considering they're up against some solid glass competitors. They also block specific wavelengths of light between red, green, and blue, providing optimal contrast for the human eye without distorting colors. They're very comfortable to wear in just about any lighting situation, and their blend of coatings on top of impact-resistant lenses makes them very able to withstand the abuses we put them through - including throwing them into the gravel and dropping them into the lake
- 100% UV Protection
- 12% Visible Light Transmission (Category 3)
- 0% HEV/Blue Light Blockage, 0% Infrared Blockage
- Color: Grey, Material: SR-91 Polycarbonate
- Impact Resistant, Anti-reflective Back, Anti-Scratch, Hydro-oleophobic, Mirrored
Their Blue Mirror coating help cut out even more stray glare, making them a great choice for a sunny day deep-water fishing. They also have an anti-reflective coating on the back of the lenses, that goes a long way toward preventing you from seeing your own reflection on the backside of the glasses as you wear them. The hydro-oleophobic coating is also one of our favorites of the bunch, making wiping off dust, dirt, and smudges much easier.
We really like these lenses for both on-water activities and everyday usage. Really, the only place they lose out when it comes to lens quality is that they lack some of the protections other lenses offer, like HEV or blue-light blockage and infrared blockage. While this makes nearly no difference to what you see (HEV and infrared are both outside the visible spectrum), both these wavelengths of light have been implicated in some causes of eye fatigue. So while we wish these already impressive lenses had a bit more protection from potentially harmful wavelengths, for the visible spectrum, we're very comfortable and happy with the protection and quality they provide.
Weighing 29 grams, the Clarkes are pretty light - and much lighter than most glass options. They're well balanced, helping them to stay put on your face comfortably. The Variflex nose pads are embedded in the frames and add just a touch of rubberiness to hold them on without being so sticky they feel weird on your face or pick up millions of fuzzies from wiping them on your shirt. The bows - like the rest of the frame - are slightly flexible, helping them to maintain a comfortable, secure grip above your ears without squeezing hard enough to give you a headache after a few hours.
Unlike many other sunnies, the Kaenons don't have spring hinges. Instead, they went ahead and put standard, fixed barrel hinges on semi-flexible frames. This actually makes them equally as flexible as most options with spring hinges on rigid frames, and we think that taking the flex pressure off the hinges and distributing it around the rest of the frames is a great solution for a pretty comfy pair of shades. Depending on how close you like to wear your sunnies to your face, you may find these touch your eyebrows or your cheeks. If that's something that bothers you, these might not be the most comfortable shape for you. But if you tend to wear your glasses a touch down your nose, they're unlikely to hit anything and we think they're a pretty comfortable pair to wear even on long days in the sun.
Made of TR-90 Grilamid co-injected nylon, the Clarks frames pull together lightweight durability and flexible functionality. We love that these frames flex without feeling like they're about to break, which also gives us a lot more confidence in their longevity and ability to withstand all the abuse of years of wear. Kaenon backs these shades with a 30-day trial return period, a 1-year manufacturer's warranty of the total package, and a lifetime warranty on the lenses specifically. It's great to see them stand so strongly behind their product - though those warranties don't cover damage sustained from user error.
We did manage to pick up a couple of superficial scratches on the frames after flinging them wildly while trying to extract a large beetle from a bike helmet crossing a bridge in the woods. The beetle was more jarred than the Clarkes though, and after a quick t-shirt polish, the scratches are hardly noticeable unless you know where to look. All in all, these frames do a great job matching the protection and quality of the lenses.
Style and Versatility
If you're after the most stylish pair of shades, the Clarkes probably aren't being worn down any Italian runways. However, our crowd of testers and judgment passers actually think these shades are pretty stylish for getting out there and doing awesome on-water activities and don't look out of place heading to the grocery store or wandering through downtown on a busy weekend. Even through a sizeable array of face shapes and sizes, the Clarkes do a great job of working for pretty much everyone. We're impressed with how universally they're accepted and actually even enjoyed by some people who thought they wouldn't look good on their faces.
With that being said, they are a bit more sporty than some of the other options we tested. While we think they bring a classic look that's fairly timeless, we also admit they're probably not the optimal choice for wearing with a cocktail dress or tuxedo. But for everyday looks and a style that won't be "out" next year, these are a solid pick.
A base curve of 6 means the Clarkes are mostly flat but with a faint curve to better contour to your face. This does help a bit with their coverage, but there are many gaps. The sides, in particular, are like most non-wrap sunglasses, with plenty of space for sidelight to enter. Also, depending on how close to or far from your face you wear these, they can let light in over the top, which we think is far more annoying than sidelight. These issues tend to be exacerbated on smaller faces that take up less space inside the frames.
And yet, these aren't deal-breaker issues for most of our testers and most of the activities we like to wear sunglasses for. Unless you have overly sensitive eyes, we think they probably won't be dealbreakers for you. Other than that, the lenses of the Clarkes are a good size to provide decent coverage to most wearers, and we think that the protection you get from these is totally adequate for most activities.
The Clarkes come with a semi-rigid zippered case and a soft cleaning cloth bag. Though we aren't the biggest fans of how stiff the bag is for cleaning the lenses, it certainly does the trick. And the zippered case that comes standard with any pair of Kaenons is one of our favorites we tested. It's large enough to easily fit the shades without worrying you'll scratch them on the zipper and said zipper works easily and consistently, unlike many other zip cases we tested.
Considering how well these sunnies performed in our testing and how much we love them for a huge range of activities, we're impressed that they're not more expensive. Though they're not cheap, they're far from the most expensive pairs we tested, and we think, offer an incredible performance that absolutely is worth their price.
This pair of sunglasses is not only a standout performer when it comes to the protection and quality they offer, but also a great all-around option that works exceedingly well across activities and sports and is a favorite to wear for both comfort and style. It's easily our favorite pair across the board, and we think you'll like them too.
— Maggie Brandenburg