Everyone knows that you're not a cool pilot without awesome pilot sunglasses, right? Ok so that might be a bit of a stretch but it is important to have a good pair when flying high in the sky. My eyes have always been sensitive to sunlight and I consider a good pair of sunglasses absolutely essential both on the road and in the air.
I have a knack for losing two things - sunglasses and winter gloves. Seriously, I've been through more black leather gloves in my life than the suspects in the OJ Simpson murder investigation. Accordingly, I was quite apprehensive about buying an expensive pair of sunglasses even though I knew it was a very worthwhile investment as a pilot. Logic won out and I bought myself a pair of Serengeti Velocity Titanium aviator sunglasses with Drivers Gradient lenses for about $100 in August 2009.
Compared to the sunglasses most folks are used to, which come with polycarbonate lenses, these sit a bit heavier as the lenses are all-glass. It's not a problem for me personally but it is something worth noting; I'd recommend you try them on for at least 10-15 minutes before deciding if they are for you. I think the glass lenses provide more clarity than any other pair of sunglasses I've ever owned.
The Drivers Gradient lenses provide an astoundingly clear picture. They are a brown/amber tint that gets darker as you move from bottom to top. This is great both in the car and in an airplane because it allows you to see the dashboard or instrument panel on cloudy days or other times when it's not as bright out. I think the lenses cut through haze incredibly well and I'll often leave mine on until the sun has gone below the horizon. This is a great example of when the gradient tint allows me to see everything on the instrument panel while still providing that haze-cutting view outside.
The one knock I have against them is durability. I have been extremely careful with my pair (note my initial comment about losing sunglasses - this is quite an achievement!) and the left lens still managed to pop out last week. I went to push it back into place and realized one of the screws holding the frame together had fallen out. Whether it simply came loose or the threads became stripped I do not know. I contacted Serengeti (through their parent company, Bushnell) to ask for a replacement screw and the told me I would have to mail in my sunglasses. That seems a bit silly and expensive to me - just sending me a tiny screw (I'd happily pay postage!) has to be easier. Thankfully, the guy working at our local Sunglass Hut this evening understood great customer service and repaired my aviators for free!
I am quite pleased with these sunglasses after over a year of ownership. Without question, they increase my ability to spot landmarks on the ground and other airplanes in the sky. I love the color of the lenses and their ability to cut through haze and improve visibility. The durability issue is the reason I'm not going to give these a perfect rating but I still recommend them - just be sure to handle and store yours carefully!
Rating: 4/5 Cubs
If you decide to purchase these sunglasses based upon my review, I would appreciate if you do so by clicking on an Amazon link in this post. It really helps support the blog. Thanks! -Steve