Sam HillInternational mountain leader, adventure photographer and ultra running coach, whether fastpacking, ski mountaineering, sea kayaking or bikepacking, Sam’s passion in the outdoors can be summed up in one word – journey.
Designed with the weight conscious, all-day runner in mind, the SunGod Ultras stay put all day and are light, unintrusive and can be customised to suit the wearer.
Whilst style might be in the eye of the beholder, these frameless sunnies certainly don’t compromise on substance. SunGod has set out to make a piece of eyewear that doesn’t get in the way of your trail and mountain adventures, and the Ultras deliver by staying fog-free and glued to your face, however far you run.
The first thing that anyone said to me when I first put these sunglasses on was:
‘It looks like you are getting ready to go and light a Bunsen Burner.’
It was a fair point – on first glance, when the photochromic lenses are completely clear, the SunGod Ultras do have a slight science lab safety glasses look to them… but I was determined for this initial comment to not influence my review!
I’m not really a person that goes in for style or follows trends, so over the last few years, having seen the rise in popularity of oversized and futuristic looking sunglasses, I just assumed that it was mainly style over substance. So, I was pleasantly surprised that when I put on the Ultras for the first time they were instantly comfortable and I could tell that they were going to be great to run in. They felt light, unintrusive and stayed glued to my face. I was a little bit wary that because they are so light, they might be a bit delicate – how many pairs of sunglasses have we all broken over the years?
The Ultras have a flexible frame rather than being rigid, which suggests that they won’t just snap the first time you stuff them into the pocket of your running vest and the fact that they feel so solid once they are on your face is a testament to their good design work.
What I’m Looking For
When choosing a pair of sunglasses for running I think about a few key things:
Firstly, are the lenses made well and are they durable? UV Protection – will they actually protect my eyes from harmful rays?
Also, will they stay put on my face while I am running, especially on technical terrain? Will they stay ‘fog free’?
Comfort is key of course, and lastly on the list, in an attempt to make me not look too vain (but really we all know its number one on the list), do they make me look cool?
I got hold of the Ultras a few days before heading to Cortina in the Dolomites to deliver a trail running camp. This was the perfect opportunity for me to really put them to the test, as I spent four days running in the glasses, at different times of day, in different environments and whilst running at different intensities. The big test for me would be whether they would be comfortable in the heat over the duration of a full day of running (between 7 – 8 hours).
The sun was beaming down every day and it was baking hot – ideal for testing a pair of sunglasses. The terrain in these mountains is really varied, we were running on everything from perfectly groomed trails in open woodland to steep and technical high mountain single track. Once above the tree line you are exposed to the elements and the sun reflects harshly off the white limestone of the steep cliffs that define the character of these mountains.
The big test for me would be whether they would be comfortable in the heat over the duration of a full day of running
Who are these sunglasses for?
These sunglasses have been designed with the weight conscious, all-day runner in mind. SunGod has set out to make a piece of eyewear that doesn’t get in the way of your trail and mountain adventures. They are fully customisable to suit your unique preferences and style and come with a lifetime guarantee.
What Stands Out?
The way that they have been designed to sit on your face using the nose pads to create an airflow gap works exceptionally well.
You have the option on SunGod’s website to choose the frame colour and material as well as the kind of lenses you prefer, the sock, right down to the SunGod icon colour. I chose grey frames made out of their recycled material and the photochromic lenses. This package came to £170.
I have already mentioned how secure these glasses fit to your face. You could be in the middle of the mosh pit at an Iron Maiden gig and walk away with your sunnies still in place.
The fit and comfort is really one of the best features of the Ultras. It’s pretty rare that you find a pair of sunglasses that you can wear all day and not have to touch… they just kind of become part of your face. I really hope that the hinges and plastic don’t stretch meaning that the fit deteriorates over time.
My biggest complaint about the Ultras was the lenses – I just didn’t feel like they gave my eyes enough protection. I was finding that by the end of the day my eyes felt tired and I was having to squint. I mentioned that I opted for the photochromic option which was really useful when running in and out of the forest but when I was in the full strength of the Italian sun the lenses didn’t seem to go dark enough.
Value for Money
I am a big believer that if you spend a lot of time in the outdoors, you should do your best to choose high quality sunglasses. I have always tried to look after my eyes but that said, I have never spent over £100 on a pair of sunglasses and would struggle to justify spending anything more.
As with most things that we spend our money on, you have the choice to buy something that is functional or something that is functional and stylish, and the latter tends to be a bit more pricey. I do think that it is worth mentioning here that SunGod does offer a ‘lifetime guarantee’ with their sunglasses, which covers everything apart from loss, theft and lens scratches. So if you look after them, they could be the last pair of sunglasses you ever buy…
if you look after them, they could be the last pair of sunglasses you ever buy
BASE Bottom Line
Whilst SunGod’s Iris photochromic lenses of course offer 100% UVA/B protection, they are probably better suited to places like the U.K, where the weather is more transitional and isn’t too intense (or plentiful). So, from now on I will be saving my Ultras for days when the weather is a bit more variable, and sticking with a single category lens from SunGod’s 8KO range for brighter conditions. You can order replacement lens kits for your Ultras, so switching them out is pretty straightforward should you need to.
If you are in the market for lightweight, comfortable, all-day trail sunnies, you will not be disappointed with how the Ultras fit, feel and (I imagine) how long they will last – but do give some thought to what lens type will be best for you.
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