Fair disclosure up front: I love Native Eyewear sunglasses. I’ve owned different pairs of them for many years and gone from neutral grey glass to blue and then to brown, trying to find the perfect glass color. You might not realize it, but there’s quite a bit of difference between the different glass colors you can get with top end sunglasses, and not only that, but the color of the front of the glass isn’t necessarily indicative of the color that’s filtering what you’re seeing through the lens.
I reached out to the Native team and asked them about the differences between different color lenses with sunglasses and they said that it’s mostly individual preference, but offered to send me a bunch of different lenses to try out. Here’s their suggestion for matching color and usage:
Blue Reflex/Gray/Silver Reflex Lenses:
· Best for bright sunlight
· Lenses darken vision, but does not alter colors
Green Reflex/Brown/Bronze Reflex Lenses:
· Best “all around” lens color
· Improves contrast, clarity, and depth perception
· Best for low-light conditions, foggy or hazy conditions
· Increases clarity and contrast
Clear Crystal Carbonate Lenses:
· Best for dark conditions
Also in the box were a pair of the brand new Native Hardtop Ultra XP glasses in the default N3 Violet Reflex / grey color combination, along with SportFlex spare lenses. on the right, you can see me doing my best to look cool with them on!
Fortunately it’s a beautiful day and a beautiful spot on the edge of the Rocky Mountains, so it offers a great opportunity to really see how the different lenses affect what you see.
To start, my reference photograph is directly from the Apple iPhone 7 rear facing camera without any filters, adjustments or sunglass lens involved:
Nice, contrasty, though the colors are a bit washed out as they would be for your naked eye in the bright noonday sun.
The first lens I tried was the default lens, the N3 Violet Reflex:
To accomplish these photos, I literally held the lens in front of the camera lens on my iPhone, so if there’s any added distortion, that’s my bad. As you can see, this is a lot more yellow and it reduces the contrast between the green of the grass and the yellow of the foothills.
I then pulled out the first of the separate lenses that Native sent me. They are just denoted as #1273 (green), but you can see since it’s subtractive, the green ends up looking red and frankly it ends up looking like I’m on a terraformed Mars and it’s 400 years in the future:
The other lens kit that they sent is #1271 and though it looks like a dark grey, it’s blue according to Native. You decide from this photo:
The results of looking through it are definitely pleasing:
The best part is that it’s surprisingly easy to swap out lenses, even on the slopes or while hiking. They literally pop out and the new ones pop right back in:
And, finally, when I put the 1271 lens on (as above) and tried ’em, they’re fantastic. Heck, I even look cooler wearing them with the green tint on the front!
I have to say that I really like Native sunglasses. I’ve worn other brands, but their lenses stay crystal clear, the styles work really well for me and align well with my tastes, and they’re reasonably priced for high end sports sunglasses. These Hardtop Ultra XP are definitely keepers.
In terms of price, the glasses with extra SportFlex lenses are $149, and each additional lens kit is priced at $70. You can learn more about these glasses and various other style glasses at NativeEyewear.com
Disclaimer: Native Eyewear sent me the Hardtop Ultra XP glasses and both additional lens kits for the purpose of this writeup. Much appreciated.