Gear of the Year

Sunglasses & Binoculars

May 19, 2005
Outside Magazine

Rudy Project Maskeryna $125

Rudy Project hits the sweet spot where sportsworthiness becomes fashion and vice versa. This frameless wonder fends off 70-mile-an-hour winds as effectively as ski goggles, but it'll also turn heads in Santa Barbara. Add dreamy optics and negligible weight and the result is a Gear of the Year award.

1. The whole shebang—lens and tendril earpieces—is a springy unit that holds onto the head delicately yet quite securely. Without being conspicuously sport-shield-like, the Maskeryna gives all the protection any athlete could ever need.

2. The no-frame wraparound uni-lens is undeniably chic—but it's also trs sportif, at just over half an ounce. You'll forget you're wearing it. Plus the Maskeryna slayed the wind when I stood up in a convertible doing 75 on the Ventura Freeway.

3. The best polycarbonate lenses are injection-molded under very high pressure—and Rudy pummels these shades with over five and a half tons of it per square inch. The result? Crystalline clarity and acuity, plus improved scratch resistance.

4. A warm orange-brown tint blocks blue light—a bane of sharp focus—rendering everything suitably crisp and 3-D. But don't blink; you might miss the perfect view: This tint also helps speed up visual navigation and, by extension, your road- or mountain-biking pace.

5. Silicone-compound schnoz pads anchor the Maskeryna when you're sweaty and taking hits and dips from the trail and can also be adjusted for fit. Vanity points: These slender, teardrop-shaped grippies don't leave deep, red nose-dents.

Brunton Epoch Zoom $1,900

A couple years back, Brunton bagged its first Gear of the Year award with the burly, waterproof, scalpel-sharp Epochs. For 2005, greatness gets an upgrade. The new Brunton Epoch Zoom invites you to view the whole horizon, then drill in tight with the touch of a lever. Result? Another trophy for the mantel.

1. The gunmetal-gray synthetic-rubber coating is simultaneously supple and grippy, and helps these big barrels stand apart from the competition you'll find at the local wildlife refuge.

2. Most zoom binoculars are gimmicks, with the required extra glass and adjustment lever contributing little more than weight. But the Brunton Epochs are a serious high-performance tool; they allow you to optimize magnification—from 8x to 15x—for the task at hand.

3. A burly but light magnesium-alloy frame keeps the weight of these feature-rich magnifiers at a respectable 32 ounces, while also providing a stout chassis to rebuff the knocks and dings of heavy field use. Oops, backed the Land Rover over your Epochs? The company will resupply anywhere in the world at no charge.

4. The view through these binocs is bright and true: no fogging, color aberration, or distortion on the edges, thanks to nitrogen-filled barrels and fully multicoated lenses and prisms.

5. A supersize, center focus wheel hooked to a variable-speed focusing system—offering fine-tuning close in and lightning-quick target acquisition farther out—makes for smooth transitions from that warbler in the willows to the hawk on the horizon.

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