The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Peppers Beachcomber Polarized Review

Though they float and don't cost much, we're still not sure they're worth it.
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Price:  $50 List | $40.22 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Very lightweight, float, inexpensive
Cons:  Not great contrast or clarity, tend to ride up during facial expressions
Manufacturer:   Peppers
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 11, 2019
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44
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 12
  • Lens Quality - 30% 4
  • Comfort - 25% 4
  • Frame Quality - 20% 4
  • Style and Versatility - 15% 5
  • Coverage - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Beachcombers are impressively lightweight and shockingly inexpensive. An impressive feat for water-oriented sunglasses, they also float! However, they can't match the quality and crispness of other options and have some pretty intense color distortion. The majority of our testers also found that while they stay well at rest, a simple laugh or smile sent them bouncing high over our noses, leaving an awkward gap - and sometimes only coming back down with a push of the hand.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Very lightweight, float, inexpensiveGreat clarity, excellent contrast with little color distortion, flexing frames, works for most facesExcellent protection, great clarity, extremely comfortable, good for active endeavors, good for many facesExcellent eye protection and coverage, durable design, great contrast with minimal color distortion, superb caseGreat lens clarity, universally flattering style, surprisingly comfortable, durable build, good eye protection
Cons Not great contrast or clarity, tend to ride up during facial expressionsPeripheral coverage not ideal, cleaner bag a little stiff, may be sporty-lookingDeveloped a slight lens defect, fit is less secure, coverage could be betterHeavy, large overall size and fit, expensiveNot polarized, heavy, large, case not overly protective, expensive
Bottom Line Though they float and don't cost much, we're still not sure they're worth it.A high-quality blend of functionality, versatility, and style.Great protection and amazing comfort, but not completely perfect.A high-performing pair of shades with great coverage and exceptional lens quality, though a bit heavy.These shades are protective, clear, and very cool.
Rating Categories Peppers Beachcomber Polarized Kaenon Clarke Costa Del Mar Spearo Maui Jim Kahi Vuarnet District Medium Round
Lens Quality (30%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
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7
Comfort (25%)
10
0
4
10
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8
10
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9
10
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7
10
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7
Frame Quality (20%)
10
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4
10
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9
10
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8
10
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8
10
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8
Style And Versatility (15%)
10
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5
10
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7
10
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7
10
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6
10
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9
Coverage (10%)
10
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6
10
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7
10
0
7
10
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8
10
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7
Specs Peppers... Kaenon Clarke Costa Del Mar Spearo Maui Jim Kahi Vuarnet District...
Lens Tested Blue Mirror Grey 12 Pacific Blue Mirror Blue Mirror HCL Bronze Brown Lynx
Ideal Activity water sports water sports water sports everyday everyday
Ideal Lens Light Conditions Bright light Bright light Bright light Medium to bright light Medium to bright light
Polarized Yes Yes Yes Yes No, but it is available
Fit Medium Medium-Full Medium-Large Large Medium-Large
Weight (grams) 20g 29g 29g 40g 37g
UV Protection 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) 12.0% 12% 10% 15% 9%
VLT Protection Index cat 3 cat 3 cat 3 cat 3 cat 3
HEV/Blue Light Protection not specified not specified 100% 95% 97%
Infrared Protection 0% 0% 0% "infrared effective" 93%
Neutral/Contrast Neutral Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast Increased contrast
Lens Material plastic - triacetate plastic - "SR-91" polycarbonate glass - 580 Polarized (polycarbonate available) glass - "SuperThin Glass" glass - mineral glass
Impact Resistance No Yes No No Yes
Protective Coatings Anti-scratch, hydrophobic, mirror Anti-reflective back, hydro-oleophobic, mirror Anti-scratch, hydro-oleaophobic, mirror Anti-reflective on front and back Anti-reflective back, silver bi-shade mirror
Can take prescription lens? No Yes Yes Yes No
Hinge type Spring/flex Standard/barrel Spring/flex Spring/flex Standard/barrel
Case Included Stiff zippered and cleaning cloth 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

Our Analysis and Test Results

We tested the Beachcombers with a Blue Mirror lens, designed for on- and near-water activities. They're a medium fit and come with a stiff zippered case and a microfiber cleaning cloth. They are not offered with prescription lenses.

Performance Comparison


We're not in love with these shades from Peppers  though we do love that they float.
We're not in love with these shades from Peppers, though we do love that they float.

Lens Quality


With lenses made of triacetate, the Beachcombers just can't quite deliver the same clarity of other manufacturers using glass or polycarbonate. They're not terrible and have no distortions like some others do, but they're unimpressive. We actually found the Blue Mirror lenses to be a distracting amount of color that actually takes a little bit away from the contrast and detail you get.

Blue Mirror Lenses
  • 99% Polarization
  • 100% UV Protection
  • 12% Visible Light Transmission (Category 3)
  • 0% HEV/Blue Light Blockage, 0% Infrared Blockage
  • Color: Blue, Material: Triacetate
  • Not Impact Resistant, Anti-Scratch, Hydrophobic, Mirrored

A mirror coating adds to the polarization of these lenses, doing a great job keeping glare at bay. An anti-scratch layer adds to the protection of these lenses that are not impact resistant. And though they have a hydrophobic coating, they lack the oleophobic layer that makes so many of their competitors' lenses so easy to clean.

Not the highest performing pair of lenses we tested.
Not the highest performing pair of lenses we tested.

Comfort


Weighing just 20 grams, the Peppers are amazingly light, even against some stiff competition in this category. They're very well-balanced and have a good hold on your head with their very-curved bows without feeling too tight. However, the majority of our testers found an oddity with their fit and comfort: upon making any sort of big expression (i.e. smiling or laughing), the Beachcombers lift right off our noses and sort of hang there in the air. For a small group of those that experienced this, stopping their laugh or smile wasn't enough to return the shades to their noses, and a hand was required to assist. This is an odd problem to have and made these glasses "off-putting" and uncomfortable for most of our testers to wear - especially while trying to have fun in the sun!

Whoops! Making a face mid-conversation pops the Beachcombers right off the top of most our testers' noses.
Whoops! Making a face mid-conversation pops the Beachcombers right off the top of most our testers' noses.

Frame Quality


Constructed of Grilamid and TPX nylon with a hidden air chamber inside, the Beachcombers actually float in water. This is a great feature, as it no longer means the death of your sunglasses if you knock them off the edge of the boat or drop them from your paddleboard. They feature a spring hinge and a moderate amount of flex. They also have visible seams and lines running around them, giving them a "cheaper" look. They offer a lifetime manufacturer's warranty, though fixing or replacing them after 1 year of ownership costs half as much as just buying a new pair. During our several months of testing, we didn't have any actual issues with the durability of these shades, but we read a ton of other online user complaints about a whole myriad of issues. Again, we experienced none of those personally, but that many problems doesn't give us a ton of confidence in the longevity of these glasses.

The Peppers have no extra nose pads or bow pads to help them stay put.
The Peppers have no extra nose pads or bow pads to help them stay put.

Style and Versatility


The mirror coating on these lenses is a bit more rainbow-y than most others. We can see green, blue, and purple in their reflections. That may be a selling point or a turning away point for you, but it is interesting and different from the other pairs we tested. The Beachcombers are voted as "sporty-looking", which again may appeal or repel you. We don't think they're necessarily the best choice for wearing with a tuxedo, but would look great cruising around the lake on a jet ski.

Perhaps you can dress up these shades with a cool hat? Or just enjoy them in the pool.
Perhaps you can dress up these shades with a cool hat? Or just enjoy them in the pool.

Coverage


A base curve of 6 makes these specs on par with the happy medium of many other glasses we tested. Overall, mostly flat, though with a slight contour that helps add just a bit of coverage. Just like most the other pairs we tested, they easily let light in the sides, and will let it in the top too, depending on where you like to push your sunnies up to. Really what killed the coverage for most of our testers was that weird phenomenon of riding up (and staying up) during any sort of smile.

What could be decent coverage is somewhat lessened by these glasses' inability to stay on our noses.
What could be decent coverage is somewhat lessened by these glasses' inability to stay on our noses.

Case Quality


The Peppers come with a stiff zippered case and a microfiber cleaning cloth. It's much less rigid than most of the others we tested and can be pretty easily crushed with just your bare hand. It does spring back into shape when you release it though, so it's not totally destroyed. However, it's just not the same level of protection you get from the rigid or semi-rigid cases most other models come with.

The Beachcombers come with a zippered case and cleaning cloth.
The Beachcombers come with a zippered case and cleaning cloth.

Value


The Beachcombers are by far the least expensive pair of sunnies we tested. In terms of quality and style, they just don't live up to the rest of the pack, but they also cost a fraction of what the others cost. That being said, they're more than your standard $20-30 pair you pick up each spring and don't feel bad about losing or destroying throughout the summer, without offering much more in the way of performance. If having a pair of floating specs is worth the extra cash for you, we get it. But truly we think there are many better options out there.

Conclusion


These floating budget glasses from Peppers are an alright, but relatively unimpressive pair of shades. They just can't match the contrast, protection, clarity, or quality of so many others. But they beat them all when it comes to price. We'd recommend trying them on first to see if they stay put when you smile and if you like the color distortion they provide. They could be exactly what you're looking for, but they're not our favorite.

Don't worry about losing your sunnies in the pool - the Beachcombers  float!
Don't worry about losing your sunnies in the pool - the Beachcombers float!


Maggie Brandenburg