The realm of sunglasses runs deep. They obscure the eyes, the windows of the soul. Concealment was, indeed, the whole point for 12th-century Chinese judges, who wore darkened lenses to hide their emotions. Today’s poker pros don them for the same reason. And admit it: you lurk behind your lenses and secretly scope out others. Cloaking devices and facial pheromones are what we’re talking about. That, plus performance and safety—seeing the world more clearly in the sunshine, so you can play better while protecting your eyes from discomfort and even permanent damage. Eyeballs are precious and irreplaceable. They deserve primo shades like the ones in our mix.


Electric Stacker 

Gear of the Year

Compromise is overrated. The Stacker avoids the bland middle ground between fashion and sport, managing to be both très chic and goggle grade when it comes to performance. The linchpin is the genius snap-in, snap-out eyecup gizmo. It works like the leather side shield on old-time glacier glasses, but it’s translucent and instantly detachable. Pop the thing off and you’ve got stylish eyewear that doesn’t look the least bit gear-weenie. The big, flattish polycarbonate synthetic gray lenses recall yesteryear’s anchorman glasses, but in a good way. Dropped temples, which meet the frames below the top, bump up the urban factor. Sticky rubber patches—a must-have for sweaty athletics—don’t show a bit. Nor do built-in slits for defogging ventilation. We love the Stacker for paddle sports, cycling, and shaking things up.

Price $260

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Julbo Breeze 

Best For: Ultrarunners who smile and say hello. 

The Test: Those round lenses—instead of the pointy arrowhead-shaped ones found on most running shades—give these performance glasses a refreshingly friendly look. Frames and temples in festive hues support this vibe. But the Breeze is in it to win it. Coverage, optics, comfort, and security are all stellar. Photochromic Zebra Light lenses adjust quickly to the low to middle light levels that can complicate the view at daybreak and late afternoon, when most of us train. Temples bend into the shape of your choice. Size and fit favor average-size heads or smaller, which makes the Breeze a winner for women, too. Not for the street, except in Chamonix.  

The Verdict: Love that funny, sunny, ultra-athletic face.

Price $180

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Native Eyewear Hardtop Ultra XP 

Best For: Mountain biking with your girlfriend’s parents.

The Test: You see what it is—a light performance unit, with half-frames that are just right for going all-out. Still, you don’t quite believe it, because the design comes off as sort of dressy. Tortoise frames are fine for the street in mountain towns and pretty much anywhere on weekends. The optics are also all-around performers. Polarized bronze-tinted polycarbonate makes hazards stand out long before impact. No worries about fog, thanks to concealed vents up high. Light green mirroring adds flash, but the look is still quiet. This larger-lens model offers more coverage than the popular Hardtop Ultra.

The Verdict: Ride hard—then roll into town.

Price $129 and up

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(Rudy Project)

Rudy Project Synform 

Best For: Euro-style roadies.

The Test: Think of the Synform like a Lamborghini—gorgeous, Italian, crazy expensive, and not for everybody. These superlight glasses look like they’re racing (and winning) even before you put them on. This is Rudy’s first folding frame, and it’s a joy just to take the Synform out of its compact, egg-shaped case and open it up to full size. Ride all day: ImpactX-2 photochromic synthetic lenses auto-adjust from nearly clear to dark enough for full-blast sun. They change amazingly quickly, and the optics are delicious. Even the unpolarized Laser Black (a.k.a. gray) tint pops detail and depth. Temple and nosepiece are infinitely adjustable, making fit part of the perfection. 

The Verdict: High-strung, expensive beauty.

Price $350

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Smith Colson

Best For: Long drives and hikes in gorgeous places. 

The Test: People keep buying sporty glasses with wrap-back lenses, and for good reason. They’re crossover performers up to reclevel athletics and acceptable for the street. This pair is better than acceptable, with squared-off lenses and general elegance that doesn’t seem so wrappish. Springy arms hang onto your head, sticky rubber is artfully concealed at the nose and temples, and the optics are great for action, rendering the world sharp and vivid. Polarized bronze synthetic lenses feature Smith’s ChromaPop+ tech to punch up color. Design-wise, the Colson comes across as old-school—a comfort to some, meh to others. 

The Verdict: Solid melding of street and sport.

Price $209

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Bollé 527 

Best For: Knock-around Saturdays. 

The Test: The 527 riffs on cool 1950s sunglasses but with a supremely relaxed, light touch. There’s a lot to like for the money, both for street and for casual outdoorsiness. The gold-mirrored polarized synthetic lenses (one of many options) are tinted amber, which punches up and sharpens the view. Premium lens coating repels water and oil. But this frame comes down on the stylish side of the fashion-sport divide. It’s playful and even shares a little secret with the wearer—pastel mod patterning inside the temple pieces that nobody else can see. Note: fits medium-sized heads best.

The Verdict: Retro refreshed, and we’re digging it.

Price $120

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Oakley Latch 

Best For: Skate parks and dance clubs.

The Test: This new fashion number’s name refers to a tricky mechanism that involves a little band of springy stainless steel. The hinges latch into closed position, so your glasses grab securely onto your collar and stay put. (Think of a pen’s pocket clip.) Oakley puts an edge on a familiar round-lens design with a keyhole-shaped gap at the nose. The temples are sleek and straight, and there’s that ineffable Oakley-ness. Mirroring on the Ruby Iridium synthetic lenses gives you eyes of fire with a lightish tint that’s more for the street than bright sun; the optics are fine but not polarized like the Latch’s less intense color options.

The Verdict: Monster style. 

Price $150

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Dragon SeafarerX 

Best For: Après surf.

The Test: Dark gray polarized polycarbonate lenses with water- and oil-shedding coatings, detachable temples, floating leashes, and the name SeafarerX attached to them suggest something more nautical than the design really is. A little too much light leaks in at the sides for long hours on open water. Not a problem, though, because this dark and handsome piece is more about living the ocean dream of big-wave hero Shane Dorian. (The SeafarerX is his signature model.) And who wear shades on waves, right? Hard not to dig the camouflage dashes on the slate gray temple pieces, like a code from outer space. 

The Verdict: Supreme eyewear on or near sand. 

Price $220

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(Maui Jim)

Maui Jim Mavericks 

Best For: Brunch in the islands.

The Test: Even narrow heads can look macho and mysterious wearing this downsized titanium aviator with blue mirroring. The world sees nothing but reflection and flash, while you enjoy a sharp, glare-free view. New polarized Blue Hawaii glass works optical wonders with a basic gray tint that’s dense enough for high noon. The mostly flat teardrop lenses don’t cover quite well enough for full-on photon hells like open sand and water, and the vibe isn’t right for action sports. But aviators are more about big, bad things done elsewhere. So bad that maybe you don’t want to talk about it.

The Verdict: You, sir, are a steely-eyed aviators kind of guy, or you are not. 

Price $299

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The Best Cameras of 2016

One could argue that the iPhone 6s is the most versatile camera on the market right now. It takes stunningly crisp photos, shoots rich 4K video, instantly connects with Instagram—and, most important, because it’s your everyday communication hub, it’s the camera you’ll use all the time. But even if you concede that fact, there are many good reasons to purchase a dedicated camera—or even a drone. While smartphones take great images and video, serious cameras are capable of nailing the details and capturing high-speed action. We’ve been blown away by new mirrorless models that have mind-bogglingly high ISOs and drones

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The Best Photo Accessories of 2016

Build the dedicated shooter’s everyday kit. Pakpod Tripod (Pakpod)  Pointed, swiveling stakes keep the Pakpod steady where lesser tripods struggle—sand, snow, shale. At less than a pound, the plastic body won’t weigh you down but is sturdy enough for a DSLR with big glass.  Price $99 Buy Now Kodak Professional Tri-X Film  (Kodak)  This might be the most versatile black-and-white film ever, courtesy of its wide exposure range, exceptional sharpness, and the ability to deliver pristine detail in the shadows. Price $5 Buy Now Levi’s 501 Original Fit Strong Jeans  (Levi's)  Perspective is everything, which is why you find yourself snapping while

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The Best Dog Accessories of 2016

Treat your pups right with everything an adventure companion needs for out-of-town journeys. (Ruffwear) Ruffwear Haul Bag  Think of this as your dog’s go-to daypack. With 25 liters of storage and a wide opening, the Haul easily fits food plus other essentials. Price $80 Buy Now (ResQ Co.) ResQ Co. Strong Leash  A three-strand marine-grade rope makes this lead almost Kevlar tough—essential if your furry friend is a gnawer. And it looks handsome to boot. Price $54 Buy Now (Kong) Kong Ball with Rope  Unlike tennis balls, this Kong will withstand years of loving abuse. Go ahead: put the dense rubber

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The Best Luggage of 2016

Roll it on or pack it in with these trusted haulers. (Pelican) Pelican Elite Vacationer  At more than $500 and weighing nearly 20 pounds, the 47-liter Elite Vacationer stops just short of being a rolling safe. Made of double-walled, high-impact plastic with hard-resin latches, it’ll withstand loads up to 1,500 pounds. Thanks to O-ring seals, it can be submerged for a half-hour in three feet of water; a waterproof valve maintains inner pressure. Price $575 Buy Now (High Sierra) High Sierra RS Series 21.5" Hardside Spinner High Sierra’s well-priced carry-on ticks two essential frequent-flier needs: four wheels that spin 360

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The Best Watches of 2016

Try these loyal wrist warriors for whatever you get up to. (Filson) Filson Scout  Traditionalist outfitter Filson combines mountain rugged with urban modern in this sturdy aviator watch with Shinola Argonite quartz movement. A scratch-resistant crystal with antireflective coating adds practicality, Super-LumiNova hands stay bright all night, and the thick bridle-leather strap lends an Old West feel to this hefty but handsome timepiece.  Price $700 Buy Now (Seiko) Seiko Prospex Solar Flight Computer Chronograph  “Flight Computer” refers to a series of bezel markings that help calculate your fuel consumption, speed, and distance—nothing you need in the age of onboard GPS,

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The Best Travel Shoes of 2016

Style meets comfort in these versatile kicks. (Clarks) Clarks Desert  This boot goes with everything: slacks, jeans, even shorts. The suede can handle a few scuffs and look even better for it, and we love the plentiful color options. The crepe sole added a bit of spring to our step. Price $130 Buy Now (Picolinos) Pikolinos Durban  Lots of dress shoes come across as staid. The Durban—with a pop of color on the sole to contrast with the rich leather—does not. It’s equally at home in the office as it is outside at a summer barbecue. Price $180 Buy Now

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The Road Tripping Essentials of 2016

Anything can happen on the open road. Be ready. (Yeti) Yeti Tundra 75 Cooler  Lots of very cold beer, securely stowed—that’s why we like the Tundra 75. Essentially a portable fridge for your car (it’s 18 inches tall and 33 inches wide), this super-tough cooler holds 50 cans. And with nearly three inches of pressure-injected insulation in the walls and lid, it kept a bag of ice frozen for five days. Price $450 Buy Now (Thule) Thule Force L Cargo Box  When it comes to rooftop storage, the holy grail is lots of room in a low-profile design. Thule pulls

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The Best Women’s Travel Accessories of 2016

Kit up for your next weekend—or yearlong—getaway. (Lanston) Lanston Cutout V Maxi Dress  This long cotton dress has a touch of modesty, while side slits add some sass. Take it out to dinner or on a mellow trail. Price $158 Buy Now (Eagle Creek) Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Quick Trip Bag  Buy a bunch of these superlight (just one ounce!), tough organizers to store everything from toiletries to dirty laundry. Price $25 Buy Now (Filson) Filson Bucket Bag This twill and leather 21.5-liter tote makes the perfect carry-on, easily holding a book and an extra layer.  Price $160 (Seea) Seea

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