Tuesday, February 4, 2014

REVIEW: X-Kross prescription sports glasses

Since prior to last year's HÅEC competition, I've been looking for a pair of prescription glasses that I can wear while training and competing. Due to astigmatism in my left eye, I've never had much luck wearing contact lenses due to comfort issues. My regular glasses tend to be intolerant of training, and I managed during 2012's Vasastaffeten to break a frame, and during the early spring of 2013 to drop a pair of glasses on the pavement in Uppsala, rendering them permanently scratched. So last May I started looking pretty seriously at getting a dedicated pair of glasses for training and competing, even spending an afternoon at a Smarteyes store looking at Oakley glasses which can be ordered with a prescription lenses. Unfortunately, the Oakleys were super expensive (more than 5000 SEK) and could not be delivered with my exact prescription due to the curvature of the lenses.

Late this year, I stumbled across X-Kross sports glasses which are made by the German company SZIOLS. X-Kross is a modular system, where you can change out the frame, outer lens (the sports lens) and inner lens (the optional prescription part), building and replacing parts as you go. It's a fantastic concept because you can adjust the product based on your needs (or preference on things like color), and the prescription lens can be made to any prescription. Also for a klutz like me, the system has the advantage that the outer lens protects the more expensive inner lens, so if you drop the glasses and scratch them, the cost of replacement is just the non-prescription part.

Here's a picture of the disassembled glasses:


Assembly is really slick. The bridge of the inner lenses fits snugly into a groove in the frame. Then the outer lenses get fastened in place with a "lens lock" in the center which fits into a special mounting point in the frame. This is how they look when fully assembled:


The ones I have are the Gun Black frame and the Bike Pro ClearMirror lens.

I've had the glasses now since late December and I've worn them while running, biking, and even downhill skiing. They are super comfortable and fit snugly--no bouncing around during hard sprints or challenging mountain bike runs thanks to the rubberized ear pieces. The folks at SZIOLS really seem to have thought of everything when they designed these glasses. They even come with multiple nose pads so you can adjust the fit precisely to your face. Lenses are available for biking, running, golfing, water sports and even winter sports. (I've managed to avoid fogging using the Rodenstock wipes that I wrote about in November, but I have to admit that the dual-glass winter lenses are tempting nonetheless.) X-Kross also throws in a high-quality nylon case as well to protect everything when you're not out on the trails.

The outer lens is wide enough to provide good protection from wind and weather but not so wide that they feel huge. (I wear a size 53 frame in my regular glasses.) The sides are ventilated, which helps to reduce fogging during cold weather training.

With respect to the prescription lens, the quality of the prescription cut is very good. I provided X-Kross with my (tricky) prescription and they provided a ground lens for the reasonable price of 1695 SEK.

The whole package (frames, outer lens and inner lens) cost just under 3200 SEK--nearly 2000 SEK less than the Oakleys I had looked at, and these have the advantage that the glass is the correct prescription.

The bottom line: if you are looking for a great set of sport glasses, and especially a pair with prescription lenses, you can't go wrong with the X-Kross system. The fit is fantastic, and the interchangeability of parts is great for multisports or just cosmetic upgrades as well. SZIOLS obviously has given a lot of attention to detail and to functionality and they continue to develop new variants all the time.

I'm looking forward to wearing the X-Kross glasses in Åre and all of Team form multisport's 2014 competitions

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