Do These Sunglasses Actually Make You Happier?
An unscientific journey to test Spy's new Discord shades
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
Spy released a new version of their popular Discord shades (from $120) this month with a litany of bold claims about the lenses. These glasses feature the brand’s Happy Lens Technology, which hit the market in 2013, and it has continued to refine since. Spy claims the new version, Happy Boost, enhances all colors by 30 percent compared to the naked eye. The brand also says it maintains white balance while delivering that enhancement, which keeps that color looking natural (i.e. not distorted by tints in the lens).
I’ve tested and been impressed with this technology various times. The basic premise is that it allows serotonin-stimulating blue light through (which some lenses don’t) while blocking all of the harmful rays from the sun. For the Boost version, Spy says they used AI to test over 10,000,000 color and tint combos to find the just right mix to maximize colors while maintaining the white balance. The result, the brand says, makes you happier.
After wearing this polarized pair for all of my outdoor activities and as my daily drivers for nearly three months, I can say definitively that I am not a happier person. I am, however, very happy with the lenses’ clarity, color, and how distinctly they highlighted subtle changes in terrain while mountain biking and skiing in various light conditions.
Free Gear UpcyclingWhen it’s time to upgrade your gear, don’t let the old stuff go to waste–donate it for a good cause and divert it from the landfill. Outside’s partner, Gear Fix, will repair and resell your stuff for free! Just box up your retired items, print a free shipping label, and send them off. We’ll donate 100 percent of the proceeds to The Outdoorist Oath.
While I frankly have no idea how to independently test if sunglasses actually make me happier, I did have 15 different people put on the pair and asked them what they thought. Unprompted, every person mentioned the enhanced color. Even my four-year-old daughter said, “Wow, Dada, you look way more tan.” (That did make me happy.)
On top of getting feedback from my toddler and the peanut gallery of my friends, I wore them for all of my activities during an extremely active early spring and summer. I tested them out in conditions ranging from pelting wet snow to nose-blistering full sun while skiing Mount Bachelor. I also donned them mountain biking in mid-day and flat light. I drove with them on for over 40 hours in my car, and also kept them on while chasing my toddler around most afternoons. I wore them while rowing my raft down a Class II stretch of the Rogue River in southern Oregon. After all that, I’m comfortable saying that these are undoubtedly special lenses for an outdoor enthusiast.
And I’ve tested plenty: over 100 high-end, sport-specific pairs for this publication over the years, by my last count. In my experience, the Happy Boost lenses deliver more color pop and crispness than anything I’ve tested. Personally, I could give or take the color, but that crispness allowed me to note subtle changes on trails as well as in wet snow, which I really appreciated while recreating in variable spring conditions. I also noted great detail on the surface of the water above and beyond normal polarization, like a small eddyline or V of a few-inch high wave.. The pair of Discords I tested will continue as my daily driver sunglasses for the summer and fall ahead.
But am I going to throw away any of the other sport-specific sunnies in my eye protection quiver? No. My life was not changed by these lenses. Has Spy really delivered on a lens that is legitimately different and will positively affect my experience outside? Absolutely. I suggest anyone looking for new shades this summer, whether as an addition to your stable or as a do-it-all pair, to try them.