Jesse really likes aviators. If you follow us you probably know that (have you ever seen his actual eyes?). What you might not know is that he is one of the biggest product design nerds ever, from way back in his mechanical engineering days at Stanford and Ardica. He has patents on fuel cell technology and stuff. Big nerd. Huge.
But again, he really likes aviators. So what does a guy who likes aviators do in a sport filled with performance glasses better suited to space craft than Hasselhoffing? He holds out and collaborates with Roka to make performance aviators, of course. One year later, he gets the final prototype, wins an Ironman in them, and whoop there it is.
I watched all this transpire over the last year, Jesse and the Roka team going back and forth, starting from ground zero and rebuilding a classic style, testing various materials, features, etc, all with the goal that they wouldn’t budge, wouldn’t fog, wouldn’t rub your lashes, wouldn’t scratch easily, and basically would feel like wearing nothing at all. I thought it was a cool idea to make classic stylish frame designs into secret performers. I personally never liked performance glasses much because they look like performance glasses, and unless you were working out, it was like wearing a suit to a pub. I always tried to make wayfarers work, even though they got stretched out after a few weeks, and bounced around on my nose. Turns out they aren’t made for that. That’s a great way to ruin a perfectly good pair of fashion glasses.
Running without glasses is actually a bad idea (which people told me for years but I ignored them). Now I know because I got a pterygium from it. If you squint your eyes into narrow slits to minimize glare, that little slit still gets sun damaged, and develops a yellowy pink layer over it like a protective callous. Now mine gets irritated when it’s pollen season, or there’s smoke or smog, or cat dander, and a little rubbing leaves it all bloodshot. It’s just gross. Long story short, when I heard Roka was making more than just aviators in this performance line, including a wayfarer, I was like
I have a sponsorship contract with Roka for footwear, which are in the development process. I have no contractual obligation to wear or promote their sunglasses. I didn’t help develop them. I basically forced myself into their photo shoot in Bend when they came to shoot Jesse. Evidence:
I just love them. And I have three main reasons. They have lots of other reasons you may appreciate more than my reasons. I like those too, but these are the big ones for me personally:
- Style: They are the kind of glasses I like wearing every day, and I don’t have to take them off and put on a different pair of glasses to run.
- Damage Control: I’m more likely to protect my eyes when I run. I’m also less likely to lose my glasses when I have one pair that does both jobs. They have scratch resistance, and I haven’t been able to ruin them yet. That’s 3 kinds of damage being controlled there.
- Fit: These are spring-loaded to fit a variety of head and face shapes, and spring back into shape afterwards! All three sunglasses styles fit properly and look good. This never happens.
Other things to be excited about that I stole from the Roka website:
- NYLON FRAMES PROVIDE HIGH STRENGTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIO, STRONG ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS AND CORROSION RESISTANCE
- PREMIUM NYLON LENSES BY CARL ZEISS VISION WITH ANTI-SCRATCH, ANTI-FOG, HYDROPHOBIC, OLEOPHOBIC AND ANTI-REFLECTANCE COATINGS
- SUPER-HYDROPHOBIC AND OLEOPHOBIC COATINGS FOR ANTI-SPOTTING, FINGERPRINT RESISTANCE, AND EASY CLEANING
So there you have it. They just launched the Kona and Vendée last week to round out the collection. Next time you’re in the market for a new pair of running glasses that can do it all, these are definitely worthwhile. Check em out!
Sidenote: Roka founders Rob and Kurt are some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met, and it’s been a privilege to get to know them over the years and work with them. From swimming teammates at Stanford to business partners, they are raising the bar in the sports industry. If you see them exhibiting at an event, be sure to say hi!