Native Eyewear Highline Review
Cons: Small size, may hit eyebrows, frames picked up scratches
Manufacturer: Native Eyewear
Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested the Highlines with Brown Lenses, best used for casual everyday use and light hiking. They're a size medium and come with a semi-rigid zippered case and microfiber cleaning cloth/bag. They're not available with prescription lenses.
The Native Eyewear Highline sunglasses are definitely up to the task of protecting your eyes and seem to be quite durable to boot. They are not only polarized and UV blocking but also block 96% of HEV or blue light and up to 40% more infrared rays than average sunglasses. These plastic, poly-crystal carbonate lenses are impact-resistant and coated with an anti-scratch material and hydrophobic layer to help shed any stray water droplets.
- 99.9% Polarization
- 100% UV protection
- 13% Visible Light Transmission (category 3)
- 96% HEV/Blue light blockage, 40% Infrared Blockage
- Color: Amber/Brown, Material: Plastic, poly-crystal carbonate
- Impact resistant with anti-scratch and water repellant coating
We tested the Brown lenses, which are Category 3 lenses, allowing just 13% visible light transmission (VLT). They do an excellent job of increasing the contrast of objects around you. This allows more accurate vision, even in variable light conditions like when clouds pass over, or the sun begins to set. We found that these lenses provide a clear and crisp image and enhance reality. They have none of the distortion associated with low-quality lenses.
We also found that the Highlines don't smudge easily from hair grease or environmental dust. They are also quite easy to clean with a cleaning cloth or the corner of your shirt. Most other pairs we tested were harder to keep clean. Native also offers optional interchangeable lenses, if you're hoping to extend the usability of your new shades.
While we love the lens quality of the Highlines overall, we did come across one flaw during our testing. After several months of use and wear, we noticed that some odd parallel lines appeared along the outside of the right lens. They looked like perfectly straight breaks in the lens coloration. We're not sure what caused those lines to form, but it does seem to point to a durability or manufacturing issue. Even with these lines, we still think the Highlines have great lenses that provide excellent optics.
The flexible frames, well-positioned padding, and exceptionally low weight make the Highlines pretty comfortable sunglasses to sport. Tipping the tiny scales at just 28 grams, the Highlines are light and well-balanced, without the pressure points of the other glasses. Their arms are a medium length and more straight than curved behind the ear, giving them a feel-good vibe. These glasses are so lightweight, some of our testers found it easy to forget they were wearing them! This, combined with good balance, also help them to stay on top of your head when you need them out of the way.
The biggest obstacle to the Highline's comfort is their size. They are a fairly small pair of glasses with a slightly narrow space for your nose. They also have standard barrel hinges and aren't made to overextend to fit faces wider than the glasses themselves. Testers with small faces loved the feel of the Highlines, but those with wider faces had a harder time with them. A few testers noted that the Highlines ride against their eyebrows when pushed all the way up, which may or may not bother you. At the end of the day, we found these glasses to be comfortable and easy to wear happily all day long.
Made of thermoplastic, the Highline frames are lightweight and flexible, tipping the scales at a measly 28 grams. The extra flex in the frames helps make up for the lack of flexible hinges. This is helpful when you accidentally open them with a little too much exuberance or when you run into your sailboat's boom while you're not paying attention.
The Natives easily withstood all the dropping, cramming, and playing we did over months of hard use with no problem. Native also boasts a warranty policy against manufacturing defects that's free for the first year and just $30 for the rest of the life of your shades. They also offer $30 repairs for the lifetime of your sunglasses, which is one of the best manufacturer repair deals we came across.
Though our Highlines worked amazingly well, we did pick up several minor scratches on the Stout Fade frames we tested. They don't detract from the glasses performance or appearance though. We aren't in love with the standard barrel hinges, and the frames are rather creaky as they bend. But overall, we have no real complaints about their performance.
Style and Versatility
This is another category where testers with smaller faces tended to favor the Highlines over testers with larger faces. Some people appreciate the color, and most testers enjoy the feel of these glasses. They are fairly versatile.
However, if you aren't down with the look of smaller sunglasses, you're unlikely to be impressed by the Highline style. As one wearer put it, "These don't look as good on me as they feel." But if smaller size doesn't deter you or style matters less than functionality, the Highlines might be just the right pair of sunnies for you.
The Highlines provide reasonable coverage, but not for every face size and shape. They are slightly curved, which hugs your face and keeps dust and extra light from entering through large gaps. They also stay in place quite well, because of the nose and temple pads. So if they do fit your face, you can be pretty sure they'll stay put as you let gravity bounce you back down that summit hike.
As we've said, the Natives are compact glasses with small lenses and narrow frames. If you don't describe your face as small or narrow, the Highlines may not provide as much coverage as you'd like. This small size not only opens up potential gaps on larger faces but also puts the frame in the way of your vision. But if you're rocking a smaller face, or find that smaller glasses tend to fit your head better, the Highlines might provide you exactly the coverage you desire.
The Highlines come with two cases that do a pretty good job of protecting your investment. The rigid zip case, nearly identical to the one that comes with the Costa Hinanos, provides decent structural protection for your shades. It's enough to jam them in a bag and not worry about them again, but we wouldn't recommend driving a car over it or dropping a large boulder on it. The case also weighs just 71 grams, which is important for those of us who want to protect our glasses but also need to cut down weight while backpacking.
Additionally, Native sends a soft case that doubles as a cleaning cloth. If you're merely keeping your shades from getting scratches when rattling around in the drawer or in your glove box, this will likely do the trick. Between these two cases, which are included with your sunglasses order for no extra charge, your Highlines will have a fair amount of lightweight, durable protection.
This is where the Highlines shine bright. Not only do these sunglasses pack an exceptional amount of eye protection into a durable design, but they're also one of the least expensive sunnies in this review! And with free returns for 30 days after purchasing, we think you'll be happy giving these sunglasses a try. It's hard to argue with this combination of high scores and low price, which is why the Natives handily take home our Best Buy award.
The Native Highline sunglasses are an impressive package of top-notch lenses, all-day comfort, and enough durability to make it through all your adventures. Though they are best suited for smaller faces, we think these glasses are a fantastic solution to all your eye protection needs. Whether you're on the mountain, on the water, in a car, or out on the town, the Highlines have got you covered. If that isn't enough, they are among the least expensive pair of sunglasses we reviewed, skyrocketing their value and clinching that coveted Best Buy award.
— Maggie Brandenburg